Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gotta Go Study!: A #BlogElul Post

I consider myself a lifelong learner.  Having recently completed a master's degree a full 27 years after finishing my bachelor's degree is, I think, fairly good evidence of this self-characterization.

And then, of course, there's the less academic learning that goes on in the course of any given day.  Today, for example, in perusing the URJ's Facebook page, I learned this:  Food encased in dough is popular for Rosh HaShanah because of the visual reminders of being "sealed" in the Book of Life in the coming year.

I re-posted a slightly edited version of the text on my own Facebook page and, not unexpectedly, a conversation ensued:
WendyHence, kreplach!
JanetheWriter:   And for Jews in other cultures, there are wontons, empanadas and Hostess fruit pies!

KarenSaw that too - was thinking ice cream sandwich!

JanetheWriterAnd for Indian Jews, samosas!
But back to the more serious learning for a moment...  

Now that I'm not reading and studying so rigorously on a regular basis, I find that I do, in fact, miss the intellectual stimulation and the way graduate school continually expanded my horizons.  So, I've taken on a new learning challenge. This one, however, has a very short time frame:  Between now and the second day of Rosh HaShanah I will learn to chant in Hebrew (using the High Holiday troupe, of course) these four verses from Genesis:
God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky."  God created the great sea monsters, and all the winged birds of every kind.  And God saw that this was good.  God blessed them, saying, "Be fertile and increase, fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth."  And there was evening and there was morning a fifth day.
This challenge, too, like my graduate studies, provides further evidence of my status as a lifelong learner.  After all, the last time I chanted Torah was at my bat mitzvah -- in 1976!

Gotta go study! 

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima,this post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year.