octagon head & eyes.

This is a good example of why I love working at the temple.

One of the kindergarten classes made this poster.

I mean there are the obvious reasons why it’s a fascinating job.  You get to observe and learn about another faith, but in a fly-on-a-wall kind of a way, not in a conspicuous way.  And in this case, you get to learn about a whole other culture that’s separate from / in addition to the faith part.  And sometimes you just hear the best things come out of the mouths of children, who in their youth are allowed to think whatever they want.  <3.

red horseradish quest ’09

Today I ran around town looking for Passover food for work.  Sure sure, send the Christian girl to the store to find obscure specialty Jewish items.  FAIL.  I’m learning, though.

Apparently everybody wants red horseradish at Passover.  Red horseradish?  I didn’t even know it came in red.  Neither do most of the people who work at grocery stores.  They don’t carry it at Kroger, or at least they didn’t have it at the Carytown one.  I was finally able to find an ample supply all the way out at the Westpark Ukrop’s.  Insider tip: It lives in the dairy section, near the eggs and cheese.  Who knew?

Anyway, the traditional Passover meal has various elements to it that symbolize different parts of the Exodus story.  In the past few weeks I’ve learned way more than I ever thought I would know about Passover, and yet today as I assembled ingredients for the kids’ seder on Sunday, I was still completely confused.  That’s what’s fun about this job — immersion in a different culture and the opportunity to learn snippets of another language.

Bonus for reading this far down: Red horseradish is red because it’s mixed with beets.

of chore charts and chanukah.

So, a quick update on recent events (just hitting the highlights):

  • 11.20.08: Went to a VASPER meeting and learned about the coal mining history of Chesterfield County.  Who knew?  I’m going to go into more details on the Midnight Society site once I get a chance.
  • 11.21.08: Went to the Couture for a Cause fashion show at Plaza Bowl, and wrote about it for RVANews.
  • 11.22.08: Launched the shop.  Saw my little cousin Abigail compete in the Miss Snowflake Pageant in Hopewell, VA.  For some reason it’s a family tradition for the girls to do this pageant.  I was in the top 10 and my sister was the first runner up.  I remember that the year my sister did it, the girl that won was one of those hyper-plasticky, Jon-Benet-type 3-year-olds.  Truly chilling.  Anyway, it was fun and amusing to watch the small girls in evening gowns trying to answer simple questions like “What do you want for Christmas?” and failing miserably and adorably.  Later, saw the new James Bond with the family.  Borrrrrrrrring.  If there’s anything I hate more than a movie about jock dudes shooting at each other, it’s…well, nothing.
  • 11.23.08: Breakfast at 821, mandatory shopping trip due to the embarrassingly frayed state of my purse (ended up being a fruitless trip), church, etc.
  • 11.24.08: Started my new job, and actually had fun at work.  I think I’m really going to like it here.  Later, brought dinner to Valerie and Ross and got to meet the new baby, Jackson Ross.  He was super cute and soft and covered with blonde hair.  Future ladykiller.
  • 11.25.08: Work.  Then I made a chore chart for our house!  So organized.  Then small group!
  • 11.26.08: Work, then enjoying Thanksgiving break.

So, the most exciting thing going on has been starting my new job at the synagogue.  I have been having a blast so far.  My first day I furiously took notes and was overwhelmed with the amount of things I needed to remember, but looking at each task I can see that once I get my routine in place, it won’t be difficult at all.  I’m excited to help them improve their web site and email newsletters, and VERY excited to organize the five or ten closets all around the complex that need organzing.  Piles of popsicle sticks and shabbat candles and books for 4th graders, as far as the eye can see.  I’ve been told I’ll get to fix all of it, so it’s a neat freak’s paradise here.  Also, the people I work with are friendly and fun, and not in a fake or strained way.  They genuinely want you to succeed and want to help you, instead of having a naturally competitive urge to make you fail.

The coolest thing about my job thus far is that I share an office with the guy who runs the Hebrew Cemetery.  I’m surrounded by maps of the cemetery, showing all the plot numbers, etc., and card catalogue files with old index cards with typewritten records of deaths and charges on them.  The Hebrew Cemetery is one of the prettiest cemeteries in town, probably second only to Hollywood, and I’ve always loved seeing it from the highway at the junction of 95 and 64.  It’s so amazing that I ended up working here in the midst of all its bookkeeping.

One thing that I’m most excited about is getting to learn more about Jewish traditions.  I’m picking up a little Hebrew from having to run off copies of stuff with Hebrew words on it, and just from walking around to the different classrooms and seeing the kids’ work on the walls.  So much of Judaism seems confusing and laborious at first glance, which is why a lot of us avoid studying the Old Testament like the plague.  But I’m really excited to be working here because learning about their customs puts my own faith into perspective and helps me get a better picture of what life was like for Jews during Jesus’ day. 

This synagogue also is a constant hive of charitable activity.  One thing I learned this week is that for your Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, you’re required to do a big project that somehow helps the world around you.  They strongly emphasize that it needs to be something unique that the kids come up with themselves, and which fits their particular interests and styles.  This is huge!  I think that having kids do something like this on their own can really set the stage for being able to perceive where help is needed in the future.  Anyway I’m excited to be a part of this place, and can’t wait to contribute to it and also learn a lot from it.

Special thanks to Talia for mentioning this job to me in the first place.  I can hear her cute sneezes from my office!