Fungus Can Dance

Sheesh, the Forward sure ain’t your bubbie’s newspaper anymore: They’ve got a feature up on Israeli trance band Infected Mushroom, whose new album is catching up to crazy, no-pants Lady Gaga on the international charts.

Here they are in Tel Aviv, performing “Legend of the Black Shwarma.” While that sounds like something gross borne out of something you left for six months on your refrigerator, the music’s cool. A dab of Neosporin and they could be fun guys, heheheh.

Not My Holiday

Christopher_Columbus6Even as a schoolkid, I was never a big fan of Christopher Columbus.

When my third grade teacher presented cartoon pictures of this helmeted saint conquering the New World while little brown natives rejoiced on the shore, I thought to myself “But how could he have ‘discovered’ a place where people were already living?”

Whether it’s just guilt or Jewish genetic social consciousness, I’ve always had this inherent preference for the underdog, especially indigenous peoples whose land is invaded by syphilis-riddled sailors. Though I did not yet have the vocabulary to tell Mrs. Tipton why I colored Columbus’ face green on the ditto she passed out while the other kids chanted about the Nina, the Pinta and that Santa Maria, I saw right through the propaganda: Rich, white dude who’s the pet favorite of the queen gets to sail around the world like a trustafarian Trump and be entitled to whatever he finds. (In junior high I tried to ramp up enthusiasm for a formal protest to repeal Columbus Day as a national holiday, but trying to convince 7th-graders that a day off school wasn’t a good thing proved to be difficult, and also branded me as a social idiot.)

So, yeah, I’ve always thought CC was a bit of a douche. And this was way before I learned that he set sail on August 3, 1492, the very day after Queen Bitch Isabella and her bloodthirsty dick of a king, Ferdinand, ordered that all the Jews be expelled from Spain. The Catholic Church conducted its horrific Inquisition during this time, torturing and stealing from anyone suspected of lighting candles on Friday nights. (My mother wrote an incredibly interesting book of fiction, The Blind Eye, based on this time, which you can order here — it’s fascinating!)

In the five-and-half years I’ve been blogging about Jewishy thangs, much has been written about the reclamation of Judaic roots by many Latinos who descended from Spanish and Portuguese Jews who hid their religion by pretending to accept Catholicism (known as “conversos”). Once in a while I’ll come across a theory that Columbus himself was actually Jewish — that he was in fact a converso who finagled a very expensive expedition as an escape. I haven’t found anything truly definitive, but it seems that although he was clearly a loud and proud Christian, his family tree had some Hebraic branches. In any case, his interpreter and two of his financiers (who happened to be along for the ride) were conversos, and he made use of Jewish historian Abraham Zacuto’s astronomical tables and charts on the voyage.

But even if some archaeologist finds Columbus’ bar mitzvah certificate this afternoon, does it matter? It doesn’t change the imperialist invasion of indigenous cultures that set the stage for our own country’s decimation of its native peoples, it doesn’t assauge the anti-Semitism in the world. Would history be rewritten to reflect it other than as an anecdotal footnote? Doubtful.

Look at all the hullabaloo out last week claiming that Iranian democratically-elected president Israeli sponge expert Mamoud Ahmadinejad has Jewish leaves on his family tree: Even if it were proven the stamps in his passport reveal that his grandparents were tzitzi makers, the Arab world would never accept it.

Like Ahmadinejad’s, Columbus’ Jewish roots are irrelevant — they’re both douchebags with a penchant for genocide. The fact that one has an official holiday in the United States is asinine — and hell yeah, I’d stand up in front of Mrs. Tipton’s class and say it if I could.

Tomorrow’s Rape of the Moon

imagesI am feeling just supremely ill that we’re just finding out today that our government is bombing the moon tomorrow.

I posted the following tirade as a response to a friend’s Facebook comment, and though I understand his point that this might help solve our planet’s energy issues, I’m still shocked that someone gets to decide to do this without consulting the rest of us.

I’d love to know if y’all think it’s no big deal or if this is hurting your soul:

Really? The rotating body that orbits our planet in a perfect 28-day rhythm that affects our tides, oceans and bodies (we’re at 55% water; our kids are 78%) is a CASH CROP?

I’ve never heard of anything so revolting or short-sighted.

What happened to using less, making pollution and toxins illegal, creating a sustainable future? Instead of a beautiful, serene moonrise, we’re going to see a constant assembly line of moon mining ships in the night sky? What are we going to do after we break the moon? Attack Mars? It’s as pathetic as it is predatory.

Not to mention what the moon represents to humans symbolically and spiritually: According to the ancient myths and Earth-based religions, it is the very seat of the Divine Feminine, a force that’s been hidden away from our collective conscience but nevertheless still exists. Every single woman’s menstrual cycle — and by definition, conception and birth itself — follows this same monthly rhythm. What does it say about our society that we are allowing the clean, white glow of the moon be pierced with a MISSILE? It’s f*cking RAPE. We will never be able to repair this damage to our shared psyche and our environment.

Obviously, I’m really, really sick and sad about this, but to keep things positive, let’s all look at how beautiful the moon is: You can click here, but wouldn’t you rather go outside and see for yourself?

Flower Power and Other Sukkot Musings

Yo, Yenta and Herb Boy at the SEWHC

Yo, Yenta and Herb Boy at the SEWHC

It’s been an adventurous week for the Yenta, so please excuse the slow posting!

Though my Sukkot skillz may be lacking, my son and I managed to sleep under the stars and shake some foliage this weekend at the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference near Asheville, NC. Organically organized by the amazing women of Red Moon Herbs, the conference is three days of workshops and classes about the uses of the plants that grow all around us — bridging the practical with the spiritual, the medicinal with the ethereal. We learned that dandelion leaves aid digestion and taste delish in a salad, chewed up plaintain leaf to make a spit poultice for bug bites and bathed in marigold rose tea prepared under the full moon (does that count as a mikveh?)

This is our third year at the conference; everyone not only tolerates my boy as the token male, but adores him. He soaks up the Goddess worship just like he does his Hebrew lessons; rather than conflict with our family’s spirituality, the references to the Divine Feminine appears to fit right in with his cosmic belief system. (Yes, he’s quite advanced for 9.) I appreciate this incredible opportunity to teach him about the forgotten wisdom of the earth — knowledge about how to relate to our environment that’s been not only suppressed, but actively deleted from the human experience, including from our Jewish traditions. This is the information women were burned at the stake for as witches, and it’s the information that’s going to save us from the poisonous disaster our greedy brethren have made of the planet.

The weekend stoked the fire within me that says this is the only real work there is in these unstable times. As a parent, I think this kind of tactile study is fundamental to our Jewish faith. And because I enjoy seeing how far the boundaries of tradition can stretch before they break, I’m going to go the extra sacreligious mile and suggest that it’s even more important than studying the Torah if we’re going to raise conscious, responsible adults out of our children. We can talk all we want about appreciating the infinite manifestations God’s tremendous creation, but no kid is going to learn about the difference between black and white sage within the walls of Hebrew school. What’s a child going to remember more: Writing alephs in a Hebrew workbook a hundred times or rubbing the furry part of a mullein leaf against his cheek?

I’m not saying we should abandon the books, but I think Jewish education needs to bring us back to the plants and flowers. The more time we spend outside, the more closer we are to our Creator — which seems to me the entire point of Sukkot. But what if we actually celebrated it within the context of the Divine Feminine, called the shekinah in Hebrew? I wonder how much of Jewish tradition can be interpreted to incorporate this lost, invisible piece of our souls?

Food for thought. And speaking of food, I’m off to gather some dandelions for dinner.