Tuesday, hatam_soferet sent me a wonderful amazing present which totally made my day, in fact, my month. She has made me all kinds of lovely crafty stuff, googly eyes drawing pins, a seriously gorgeous necklace, and a rainbow set of drinks coasters with beautiful designs which say "my cup runneth over" in Hebrew, which is the best coaster message I have ever seen ever.
Wednesday I went to a demonstration of Swedish folk dance, run by the international researchers group. It's very cool, both similar and different to the kinds of country dancing I'm familiar with. There is a lot of interweaving chains of people; they did a version of the running through arches with dancers stacked three deep tying themselves in knots. When a man burls his partner it looks as if he's lifting her by the waist, but after watching carefully I think it's just that they coordinate their steps to give the illusion of flight. And quite a few dances which represent men fighting over women, including one where it's really a ritualized fight, with slapping, kicking, wrestling etc (they hammed it up so that it was as slashy as hell).
I think I'm going to sign up for their beginners' class; even though I'm uncoordinated, dancing is a way to get exercise which is both fun and intellectually stimulating, and I really do need both exercise and social contact that doesn't involve too much volunteering. The group had a real mixture of graceful dancers with people who were flat-footed and just barely keeping time, so I think I'll be ok.
Thursday I taught my first Jewish adult education class. It went extremely well, got lots of good discussion going, and managed to get across both basic information and some new ideas that the more knowledgeable people hadn't come across before (there is quite a range of backgrounds in the class, which I expected). I'm really pleased with this, and looking forward to the rest of the course.
blue_mai turned up in Stockholm on a work trip to study some of the innovative housing developments here. So we met up for drinks after the class, starting with overpriced alcohol in my favourite Fenix, and then coffee in Cozy, more because it happened to be local and open at 10 pm than because it's wonderful. But it was a fantastic chance to talk properly, which never seems to happen in my whirlwind visits to England.
Friday night I helped Joanna and SS run the first of our newly revived traditional egalitarian services. There was some degree of logistical trouble and miscommunication amongst the various bits of the community (unfortunately extremely typical), but we sorted it out in the end. We got about 15 people, including some who are rarely seen in shul. Joanna had wanted to keep things as much traditional as possible, which means just going straight through the service, but I realized that a lot of people were lost, so I started giving page numbers and brief comments to let people know what was going on. We managed to keep things going smoothly, even with three of us changing our approach on the fly. I feel good about the service, though most of the credit goes to Joanna for leading lots of simple, singable Carlebach tunes and creating a really nice atmosphere.
The community dinner afterwards was less than inspiring, though that's partly because I was barely able to keep my eyes open by then. But at least I met some interesting new people, a young couple, her Israeli-American, him Swedish, who have recently moved here, and a Paideia student who is an English Reform Jew I somehow hadn't previously met. She was slightly evasive when I tried to play Jewish geography, so I hope I didn't offend her by being too nosy.
Saturday I accompanied blue_mai and a few of her colleagues who could manage to drag themselves out of bed Saturday morning, to see the Woodland cemetery, a UN world heritage site I somehow hadn't even known existed just outside Stockholm! It was a misty, melancholy autumn day, just perfect for wandering around a cemetery designed to integrate with some really beautiful parkland. The leaves are just starting to turn, and it's going to be a fantastically colourful autumn. The cemetery is indeed impressive, it manages to combine awe-inspiring vistas with very intimate spaces, and somehow fits together the very severe straight lines of the buildings with the natural environment. We came back via Markuskyrkan (St Mark's church) which is the work of an architect called Lewerentz; very useful touristing in your own city with actual architects. I was very taken with it, it somehow alludes to churchness without having most of the features of a typical church. And the wavy brick walls are cool.
Several people have independently told me that I absolutely must try the fried herring from the funny little stall just outside Slussen station; it looks like an avoidable fast food stand, but with so many recommendations I was more than willing to get past its unpromising appearance. And indeed, they served us some really tasty nystektströmming. Mm. I had about an hour to kill, spent wandering round the old city, before a meeting of the secret Talmud study cabal. We actually failed to study any Talmud, because we got distracted talking about Judaism and women's rights. But all fun.
The other awesome thing in my life is that I'm going to Florence next weekend!!!! This is mainly because cartesiandaemon is wonderful, but I have to admit he can't actually take personal credit for the fact that Florence exists. I'm almost afraid that I won't make the trip because I'll explode from squee first.