Ok, this is a long, random recounting, so bear with me.
My sister thinks that her trip on a Greyhound bus to a casino — where, no joke, a medical conference and training were being held — brought her very close to the common denominator of humanity. She emailed me that when she got to the bus gate at Port Authority, the woman in front of her on line just started talking to her. The woman was traveling back from Florida to Providence. She had to go to Florida to get her mother’s ashes, which were in the shopping bag that she showed to my sister in case she wanted to see. (I wish my sister knew how to use the camera feature on her cell phone. I picture would have really made the moment.) The woman had spent 3 days on a bus and needed to smoke a cigarette, had trouble in her childhood but has now straightened out, etc.
Dear SOB (sister of blogger), welcome to my world. It is good that you experience your birthright — i.e., Mom’s magnetism for the strange, creepy and absurd.
Well, I am at a synagogue retreat. It was a rustic experience. Lots of rules — you need to observe the Sabbath and subscribe to the Jewish dietary restrictions — not on the quantity but on the depth to which the culinary arts must sink in order to conform to Kosher laws. Alcohol is Kosher, for which many people gave thanks to G-d. Also, no coffee Saturday morning because it is the Sabbath and one cannot use electricity or fire. Really? Really? Does anyone want really want to deal with me de-caffeinated? G-d bless POB (partner of blogger) who brought iced coffee for the ride yesterday and so I had something in the room. Also tonight someone by accident started making coffee before the end of the Sabbath. Before we could descend on the heavenly libation, the moshkiach (the Kosher police) told the kitchen workers that they had to dump out the coffee. Wastefulness CAN’T be kosher.
There are many blessings that are new to me. The place has helpful plaques to assist in mastering them. I took a picture of the blessing after one eliminates in the bathroom, thanking G-d for the creation of certain cavities in the body. Really? My orthodox grandmother said this prayer? Even when she had indigestion? This must be an invention of those “too cool for shul” types. I am not kidding. Look at the picture.
SOB and I, ever trying to make lemonade out of lemons, decided that we would learn this prayer and recite it every time our father discusses his irregularity. Maybe we could teach it to him. Clearly, I am going on the slow boat the Hell.
The place was kind of like that. As you enter, there is a sign saying, “We are blessed by your presence”. Ok, someone should be holding judgment until we leave. There should even be a sign flashed for a specific few (like me), “We are blessed by your leaving.”
“Blessed by your presence”? Trying to create holy, kumbaya, religious space and energy at crash-landing impact, after braving hellish Friday night traffic. I thought to sing, “someone’s kumbaya-ing my Lord,” but I didn’t want to say kumbaya to that. This is getting to crazy, with the aggressive, reverse Kumbaya on the Sabbath. Slow boat. Nah, I am taking the express train to Hell.
As you may have surmised, we couldn’t do much documentation on the Sabbath because that required use of electricity or batteries, so I had to take pictures in secret and I couldn’t blog. Now that was harsh. As my own little rage against the machine, I turned on my iPod just BEFORE I left the premises to go on my run. Ah, the little subversities. But, as usual I digress.
Friday night, after blessing the group with our presence (or so the sign said), we proceeded to our promised charming two bedroom cabin. The advertising was so wrong it should be a felony. So one civil crime justifies a religious crime — desecration of the Sabbath — to take these pictures:
Is this a charming two-bedroom cabin? Type that into wikipedia and I bet that you won’t see a picture of this. Really?? This is a three-bed cabin. Ooops, there must have been a mistake. No? No mistake, this is the very finest that the camp has to offer? In the county in Connecticut with the highest per capita income? Really? Really? I am in a mood most foul and approach the rabbis about the relative merits of, say, a Ritz Carlton. Not so my friends can get business, but it is a base level that to which we should become accustomed.
But at least the turn-down service left conflict-free chocolate on the beds:
But the real kicker is that in the light of day on Saturday, I realized that I had parked my rented super-huge, gas-guzzling monstrosity here:
Ok, I am a convert: There, but for the Grace of G-d, go I.
~ the Blogger