Saturday, September 29, 2007

Perks of being a biologist in Israel

It's Succot in Israel, a Jewish fall festival where we leave our homes and live in huts outside. We have a particularly nice hut built by my husband out of wood on our balcony off our apartment. The holiday lasts eight days and according to Jewish law we cannot work on the first or last day, but ideally we shouldn't work at all. That was never an option when I lived in the US, and often the holiday meant trying to squeeze in the important bits with work/school etc. Living in Israel in my field it is perfectly acceptable to not work for the entire holiday. It's great to actually celebrate and enjoy Succot. Hope you're feeling the chag, wherever you are!

Monday, September 3, 2007


We're all busy. I rarely speak to someone with too much free time on their hands. Often things that are important to us slip. When I was in Penn I used to have at least one chevruta (learning partner to study Jewish texts) a day. Then I made aliya and after a short stint at midrasha it dropped to 2 to 3 hours of learning a week. When I got married it turned into once a week and when I had a baby it dropped to nearly nill. Sigh.

But then came KMTT. It's a podcast with five high level shiurim in English (there is also a hebrew site called Keshet) a week. Every day as I drive to work (and if its been a calm day on the way back too) I listen to a shiur. Now I come to the Shabbat table with something I learned about the parsha. Before every Chag I have a chance to think about it beyond what I'm serving. This half hour of Torah makes me think about being Jewish which is really important to me, despite the fact that life is a mad rush. Once I was even lucky enough to hear a series of shiurim by Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik recorded in the seventies. That was a treat! Another Torah podcast I listen to regularly is Kosher Tidbits by the OU. If you commute, jog or have a lunchbreak in a quiet corner check it out.