Tuesday, March 15, 2011

forty-third visit: March 15th 2011 Orthodox Judaism

7:15pm tuesday
Shaare Torah

2319 Murray Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15217

squirrel hill

... "I know who you are," he said. ("You do?") "Yes. You are the lady who gave Dorothy her ruby slippers."

I am usually in Baltimore at this time each week, teaching. But spring break has gifted me a Tuesday during which I have had the luxury of working on my dress all day long (a little behind am I still), and attending Mincha/Ma'ariv (weekday prayer) service.

The service: I enter the women's seating section of the sanctuary, back corner, sectioned off. Two rows, four chairs each row. One female worshiper in attendance in addition to me. She acknowledges me with such quiet kindness, handing me a prayer book, indicating which page to begin. Translucent white curtains hang 6 feet to the ground to our front, and also top the bookshelves to our left. My companion worshiper opens the curtains during the sermon.
Queen Esther of Persia, heroine of Purim (a holiday, March 19-20) and misunderstandings of certain lineage. Curtains close during prayers. Stand, sit, stand, bend knees and bow, 3 steps back, 3 forward. I follow the English version on the left-side pages.

There's a familiar feeling coming from this weekday having been made holy by observance, like that from my childhood when Christmas falls on a day other than Sunday.

I actually feel that my dress should be bigger and more unusual by now. But maybe that's only my opinion. Every once in a while I sense a reminder that to others, it's speaking clearly. Often I'll run a errand on my way home and am greeted upon my return with a smile from my husband: "You went to the grocery in that?"

Relating to this, tonight's comment comes from a young boy, as we leave the synagogue—it's my
favorite comment so far. "I know who you are," he says. ("You do?") "Yes. You are from the Wizard of Oz. You are the lady who gave Dorothy her ruby slippers."

Note to self: Research to include Wiccans in gatherings.

I am also aware that in a certain light, the dress looks very Middle Eastern, and even more so with my headscarf on, as is the case tonight. This was not specifically my vision from the beginning (the sewing pattern I used for the basic shell of the dress is described as Gothic)... but the Middle East does include 'the Holy Land,' no? So I let it have its way as things evolve. More than once Rabbis have asked me, "Where are you from?" Because of the question's phrasing and the silence after my answer, I'm starting to think that the expected answer would be the name of a country, not a Pittsburgh neighborhood.

One of my students, a few weeks ago, commented that being an artist means having a free pass to do whatever it is you need to do in order to express your ideas, while (most of the time, but not always) escaping the label of "crazy." It's one of my favorite aspects of choosing an artistic life. Maybe living a pious life can achieve the same, at times? Yeah, maybe.

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