January 5th, 2007


"But the Queen is not a subject." - Oscar Wilde

A big shoutout to metaphorge, just arrived in Krakow ... you and silverseabear are making me want to visit the homeland of Copernicus, Marie Curie, Joseph Conrad, and Stanislaw Lem. (And the space visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was born into a family of Polish immigrants, even though the Russkies claim him. How would you spell that in Polish ... Cielkowski?)

Meanwhile those three Iranians are still looking for a way to make 'Aliyah to Israel ... but they'll have to convert first:
The three Shi'ite Muslims left Iran and approached the Israeli embassy and Jewish communities in Azerbaijan, but were rejected. It is impossible to convert to Judaism in Iran, as they would be considered heretics, a crime punishable by death. They are now waiting in a makeshift city in Turkey for a United Nations hearing on their application for refugee status.

The three left Iran two months ago and immediately approached the Israeli embassy in Baku. According to N., they were given a chilly reception. N. points out that embassy officials did not invite them into the building, but talked to them on the street. ...

Turkey's Sabah (Morning) newspaper now reports:
They were living in an Islam Republic, Iran where conversion is prohibited. They decided to convert into Judaism; which was impossible in their own country. So they chose Azerbaijan for conversion. Their application was rejected by the Israeli embassy and the Azerbaijani authorities directed them to the neighbor country Ukraine where they were directed to Turkey; as Ukraine rejected them. They were broke; homeless; and unemployed. They applied to the UB immigrants supreme committee in Ankara. The authorities stated that they can not live in the three metropoles. So they chose a city in Aegean region.

My two years in the Aegean city of Izmir, Turkey (1985-87) were an entirely positive experience, and being "out" as a Jew (though not "legally" converted then) was never a problem. None of the Turks I met were anti-Jewish. But I do not know how representative my experience was of Turkey as a whole, either then or now.

The Tenth of Tevet (which fell on December 31 this past year) marks the anniversary of my own conversion. It's been eighteen years now. I converted with an Orthodox Beth Din and was a practicing Orthodox Jew for several years. I was deeply influenced by Rabbi Soloveitchik's "Halakhic Man" and by a very warm and welcoming Orthodox community in San Francisco.

I no longer consider myself orthodox but I've gained a respect and appreciation for the Rabbinic tradition. Even in those areas where I have ideological issues with rabbinic Judaism (specifically, gender, sexuality, and the whole fundamentalist mindset) I can understand where the tradition is coming from; so I know what it is that I'm accepting or rejecting.

Just after I get back from my upcoming visit to San Francisco, I'll be attending a talk by Rabbi Steven Greenberg - the world's only "out" gay Orthodox rabbi - who will be in Portland in January. He'll also be paying a visit to Keshet, the local gay-Jewish group.

This week's Parasha, "Vayechi", ends the book of Genesis. The opening line of the Torah portion informs us that Jacob lived 147 years. I don't know whether there is any Kabbalistic significance to this number. [Looks at liorah_chanah.] Bill Heidrick's gematria page says it has the same value as "Ein Gedi", which is one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the world, and is mentioned in Song of Songs (1:14) and a few other places. BTW, the gematria page gives the factorization of 147 as "147 = 3x72" which is of course a typo; it should read "147=3x(7^2)", three times seven squared.

Yasher koach to mosellegreen, and bruchah ha-ba'ah to the Hebrew-speaking world!

Even though it's merely the secular new year and not, say, Rosh ha-Shanah, I'm taking on a few new projects. Planning to indulge some of my more eclectic interests, including crop circles, which has been a dormant interest of mine for some time. More broadly, I'll probably renew my acquaintance with various other areas of the esoteric. Generally I consider myself an open-minded skeptic: I'm deeply interested in the unexplained and the so-called "paranormal" but I'm not going to just believe anything because it sounds cool.

Also I'm going to be reorganizing my Web presence somewhat. And lots more work on creative writing, including finishing The Queen's Courtesan and following up on my earlier work, The Rose of Paradise and The Zero Ring.

A recent post by snarkout_rat got me thinking about youth, aging, and the meaning of life. I mused on these subjects a while back in my essay on the Kabbalah. I might tackle these things again soon.

Finally, hoping to expand the circle of "people I know in real life".

Have a great new year, or whatever it is. May lots of good things come your way.