We're finally winding down from our annual new year's gathering, which brings some forty-odd people (yeah, the "odd" is intentional) here for several days. We cooked up a storm, we went on walks, we feasted and conversed, we sang, we rolled back the rugs and danced, we built a ger -- it was wonderful, exhausting, and totally the highlight of my season, as always.
I'd like to return to my usual blogging ways today, but tomorrow I'm off to a conference (about which more shortly) and I'm scrambling to clean the house and tidy the chaos of new year's, and to do laundry and print out travel documents and generally get ready for my trip. So in lieu of drafting something insightful of my own, I'll extol three of the terrific blogs I've added to my aggregator in recent days.
My friend Margaret recently pointed me to In the Barren Season , a blog by "Persephone," an Orthodox Jew who has been struggling to become pregnant for a very long time.
There is so much that is the same about infertility, no matter what one's faith. And yet there are things that are unique about the experience of being childless while observing taharat hamishpacha, of trying to complete testing and treatments without violating halacha... I hope all of these blogs very quickly become motherhood stories. But I also hope that other women out there like us are gaining from our stories, whether it's information about halachic options, or just the knowledge that they are not alone.
She's pregnant now -- with twins, baruch hashem! -- and her blog is a fascinating read.
Another recent discovery, found via the comments over at Baraita, is On Chanting, "In which I talk about chanting Torah, singing, life, you name it." The anonymous author has been posting a series of reflections on the High Holiday worship experience; one of my favorites is her short post about serving as gabbai:
Trying not to trip over the many layers of white fabric draped around my body (skirt, blouse, parachute-sized tallit), I ran up the side steps to the low, deep stage. It felt, oddly, like a living room that just happened to have one wall missing, a thousand people in upholstered seats in its place. To the left were the musicians, instruments resting carefully at their sides as they waited for everyone to assemble at the bima. At my right, a row of folding chairs was filled with nervous, whispering teenagers getting ready to chant haftarah...
And, in a departure from the kind of blogs I usually link to here, I want to recommend Teju Cole, the exquisite and powerful travelogue of a Nigerian-American man visiting Nigeria for the first time in a long while. The writing is stunning, and the photographs beautiful, but what really strikes me is the way this blog wrestles with the question of what it means to go home again, and whether one ever really can:
The muezzin’s call has never sounded so pure in its music. The call to prayer floats across the valley that separates our house from the minaret. A gentle music that rouses me on my first morning back home. There is still no electricity. Natural light leaks into the living room. I make tea. Cockerels' crows, from another direction, skitter over the crier's melismatic Arabic. A smell of cooking smoke in the distance, as though the smoke were hands lifted in prayer.
That's from one of my favorite posts there so far, though the author might prefer me to quote the one that begins, "The most important thing to know about Africa is that it is normal..." Anyway, it's a gorgeous read. Honestly, all three of these are terrific; I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.