Sunday, March 7, 2010

Miscellaneous videos and books I read/watched while converting....

Ok, I'm too lazy to fix all the tenses and grammar to make this correct. Use your imagination. It was written around my first Pesach... six monthes into my process.

I am attempting to make a brief summary on some of the miscellaneous things I did the first six months or so of my process. This includes videos that make for a visually stimulated learning, classes which create opportunities to share the Jewish learning process with others and finally, CDs both computer and music.

Videos: It seems like I’ve watched more. Although, I know I re-watched, “When Do We Eat?” for Passover and I watched Esther Kahn in two pieces because it was due back at the library before I finished it. Esther was a Jewish stage actress. Not heavy in Jewish learning but, it was one of those movies that offered a growth experience. There are some, “what not to dos” in there.

G-d is Great and I’m not is a French subtitled movie about a woman who discovers her new boyfriend is Jewish. She starts reading and ends up going through the conversion as part of the movie’s story. Although, the romance is the main story. It’s interesting that the guy doesn’t live Jewishly. He just is Jewish. She takes on more of a Jewish life than he ever has during the course of the movie.

“Pillar Of Fire” was a seven hours documentary that I didn’t finish. It spoke of the history of Israel, as we know it today. It started with Theodore Hertzl and the Balfour Declarations. There was an interview in there with the woman (very old now) who was the first to be brought up speaking Hebrew. Her father secluded his kids and got them pets (male and female, of course) so that they would be immersed in the speaking of Hebrew.

“The Long Way Home” was also a documentary. This is the documentary we watched at shul. This also had to do with the establishment of the Jewish Israel. However, it differed in that it covered the journey from liberation to Israel, primarily speaking of events that happened outside of Israel and England’s refusal to provide refuge to the Jewish people. Whereas “Pillar Of Fire,” covered Israel and the struggles against the Arabs and England taking place in that land.

“Crown Heights” was a movie about some good that came out of a very tragic situation. After the incident, the youth leaders from the Jewish and African-American communities got together and got their youths together. From this effort, one of the Jewish boys, Yudi and TJ, an African-American became friends and thus the project was furthered with their joint love of music. I’ve just looked at Dr. Laz, the Jewish youth leader’s website and found that he wrote a book about his year teaching in the inner city of Buffalo, where I grew up. So, I have put in a request for that book.

“Virtual Chanukah” was a children’s movie about Chanukah. It covered the history, telling about Antiochus Epiphany’s edict that Jews weren’t supposed to be studying Torah. What they did, though, was study anyway and the dreidl was their invention in order to not get caught. When someone was coming they would put the Torah away and play dreidls instead. There were clips of a children’s choir singing Chanukah tunes. There were clips of children putting on Chanukah plays. My favorite part of this video was the menorahs around the world section. For example, there was a floating menorah in San Antonio, where I used to live. There was also a menorah on the Eiffel Tower. I noticed a lot of Maimonides style menorahs. Methinks there was a Sephardic producer or two on that video.

I watched a movie called, “Focus” which was about a New York couple during World War II. They weren’t Jewish, however they looked Jewish enough that they had to work in New Jersey and their neighbors were out to get them in the same way the neighbors were after the Jewish man, Finkelstein who had a newsstand on the corner.

In addition to the videos, there have been some CDs. I’ve listened to various CD’s of Jewish music. These include: “Behold!” by Vocolot, an all women’s group, “Friday Night Live” and “Shabbat Workshop,” which also contained, “Hatikva” Israel’s national anthem.

In the way of Hebrew learning, I have used NJOP’s “Virtual Shabbat.” This has their entire course on computer CD. Additionally, most of the songs in the Artscroll Siddur can be played and it gives the Ashkenazi page numbers so that one can follow along, thus working on Hebrew reading, very good for when the lessons start to get boring. For conversational Hebrew, I have used the Pimsleur method. I am currently waiting on the next set of lessons at the library. I expect it mid-June. I’ve also used “In Flight Hebrew” which isn’t as good as Pimsleur but, it helps build the vocabulary.

When I wrote this I was reading. “Choosing To Be Jewish” by Rabbi Marc Angel of the Spanish and Portugese shul near Lincoln Square Synagogue. Really, at that point, it was review; however, I like to have something to read in waiting rooms and on the subway. Plus, the stories from the converts themselves were interesting.

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