my disillusion with affiliation, or: orthodoxy when you’re less than 100%

me: “they were talking about marriage and i was like really guys? i was the heckler.”
amy: “i knew when you left that you’d end up being the heckler”

It’s interesting. I’ve come back to W&M and in some ways it’s like I never left. I still have my gemara open in the middle of the dining hall (sitting by myself, usually). People still come up to me asking “what language is that?” or “is that a Bible?” At least now I know how to learn gemara instead of just reading the ArtScroll commentary (thanks Drisha!) and at least for now I’m a little nicer to the people who ask me what language that is.

But it’s also not really a pressing issue in my life that much. I think I’m having a quarter-life crisis because nothing is as clear as it was before I left. In fact, a lot of times I think I have nothing left. I think this sometimes when my friends from New York don’t text me back, so I think such things as “my entire time there was a lie” etc. I know it wasn’t, really. But in a way it was nicer having that idealized view of New York. I still like it. I just know I can’t be a part of it. So now what? If hadar doesn’t accept me, I don’t think there is anything left for me in judaism. (I mean, I could still go into jewish communal service if I wanted, but I wouldn’t have a true blue community or anything.) But if hadar does accept me I’ll have to reevaluate what I want from judaism all over again. Like, starting from the beginning. Either way, whatever I’m going to do next is a mystery to me.

Just like it was very weird to sit in the shul on yom kippur wondering whether I’d even be religious anymore at all in the next few weeks, it’s also very weird to learn gemara not knowing whether you’re going to give up out of frustration in a couple of weeks/months. You can only go so far by yourself, you know. And any time I’m feeling exasperated with my secular life/friends, I think “well I still have judaism” and then I think “well maybe I won’t still have judaism.”

Quarter life crisis.

There is something still brewing though and that’s the idea that the denominations are an illusion. I’m realizing that this whole thing…it’s all just me and judaism like david and goliath. It’s all just about that and what I want to do with it. There’s no orthodoxy or conservative or reform. Obviously, I think Conservative and Reform are especially an illusion, but I also am thinking more and more that orthodoxy is its own self-perpetuating box. It’s made out of people. It’s made by people. I mean, you do hear “we’re orthodox, so such and such” as often as you hear “we’re conservative, so such and such.” Things can be halachic but not orthodox. Things can be orthodox and have nothing to do with halacha. I know that community is important but sometimes some of these things that make orthodoxy what it is (and so stable) leave people out. And that’s how I know it’s not real. Orthodoxy leaves jews out and how can judaism leave jews out? Sure it can make demands and say that it’s possible not to live up to those demands. But judaism can’t just leave whole groups of people out in a ditch. That’s no religion; that’s just a social group.

And orthodoxy isn’t a democratic process. There are still authorities and hierarchies and structures. I’m realizing this. I’m still as radical as I’ve always been and I don’t really love all that. I can see how it’s necessary for the crazy world we live in, but I simply can’t abide by these structures.

This is where things got weird. People would tell me, “well you better stop trying because that’s non-negotiable.” People also told me, “you can become orthodox and then if you’re not observant after that, fine but you’ll still be jewish at least.” And I learned from that: you can’t go by what people tell you. I tried to abide by the structures. I went to aish classes (!) and I wore my long black skirt. But you can put all that external stuff on the outside and that doesn’t mean it’s gonna change anything that’s inside.

Being gay is not a choice and I know because it’s not very fun most of the time. So it’s not like I have this great homosexual “lifestyle” as they say to go back to when I’m rejected by judaism for being gay. It’s not like I’m in some great relationship where I can say “oh I don’t even care about judaism anymore cause I have this great thing in my life.” A couple of people who I really liked talking to stopped talking to me when I told them or when (presumably) they found out. They were both orthodox and very kind to me until (presumably) they realized WHO I TRULY WAS~

And that was pretty sad but then again, I had people tell me “you should just give up now it’s not worth it” and I had people tell me “you can still be jewish and gay it’s not a big deal.” And I learned from that: you can’t go by people who reject you. They have their own interpretations. But orthodoxy is one of those interpretations; one that is a whole system and as I said before if one piece breaks the whole thing breaks. And even though you shouldn’t worry about what people think it gets pretty grating when everyone and their mom wants to tell you that you’re single-handedly ruining the orthodox system.

And it’s for something I’m not really getting much enjoyment out of or anything anyways. I wanted to be orthodox because it seemed most genuine to me and I wanted the least haskala-influenced interpretation available. Whatever I was going to end up being, I knew it would be influenced by orthodox thought. But even orthodoxy isn’t purely jewish. It’s been influenced by other cultures and eastern europe and even conservative and reform. Orthodox is a very nice way to be but I can’t be it. I wish I could just learn gemara myself and know all the answers but I’m still not knowledgable enough to know whether there even was a time in jewish history when people just learned for themselves and didn’t rely on a rabbi OR custom. It’s the minhag that will get you sometimes.

The thing that was getting to me the most was the fact that only reform and recon accept patrilineal. I wasn’t thinking about the majority of jews who wouldn’t care. I was just thinking about denominational lines. And even though I never wanted to be any denominations, I couldn’t stop thinking outside denominational lines. This is why I would really like to know hadar’s position on the issue, which I can guess based on hearsay, but if they’re pro- then the whole linear denominational “well only reform accepts it so I can’t be halachic” thing would go out the window. Really, at the “end of the day” (as everyone at drisha would say) at the moment I really only care what hadar would say because that’s where I think my views align. Which is why I really need to go there and find out if that’s actually true once and for all.

I don’t feel like a convert and I also stopped living as if i’m trying to convert. Therefore I stopped feeling like I had to pick a denomination. It’s very freeing I suppose. It’s not something I could just CHOOSE to stop feeling but this whole brooklyn thing where I was unwanted for something I didn’t even choose was quite jarring.

See what happens when you play by the rules?


I love tzitzis and glitter and skateboard helmets, I love them especially all at once

“Where are my presents?”
“You got your present.”
“What present?”
“That the Hanukkah Man gave you.”
“That thing from last year?”
“I’ve been gypped by the Hanukkah Man!”

So, I came across this picture:


Those were good times, yet terrible times. They were the best of times and the worst of times.

I look at myself and think: “Why didn’t they ship me to hadar immediately?” Then I think: “How did I get to a place like w&m?” Then I think: “How did w&m get someone like me?”

Want to know what those pins say? They say: “Moshiach, we want moshiach now” and “Tzitzis, we want moshiach now.” They were a gift, OK? (Once, a guy in Prospect Heights saw one of my pins and said, “So, you want moshiach, huh?”)

I don’t try to be eccentric, you know? I am a walking collection. For instance, my mom got me a skateboard helmet for my birthday and so I was sitting there like derp listening to Matisyahu wearing my skateboard helmet. And now I have glitter because the “hanukkah man” aka my mom gave it to me aka she re-gifted it from when I didn’t want it last hanukkah. Also, I collect stickers on the back of my computer. Look closely and you can see a real live leopard.



I don’t want tzitzis to be a fashion accessory. I don’t want it to just be a part of my collection of things I seem to acquire. But I know from experience that–unless you’re a halachically jewish orthodox man–there’s absolutely no threshold you can cross where you won’t still be questioning your motives. (I say orthodox cause it’s not really expected so much outside of orthodoxy.)

Honestly, I have no way of knowing whether I’m just trying to have a fashion accessory, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. When I look at a woman with tzitzis I don’t think: “She just wants a fashion accessory.” I think she must be really dedicated to put herself out there like that. I look at that picture of me and I think “Why was I so hard on myself?!” If it were someone else in my situation, I would have judged them favorably. If they showed that kind of dedication, I wouldn’t have done all that, like, pilpul. I wouldn’t care what their lineage was, either.

I’ve had friends who consider themselves gentiles converting to judaism, and I’ve had friends who consider themselves jews converting to judaism. I think the way you see yourself makes you see your conversion quite differently. Maybe it was being in new york, but I don’t think you can dismiss subjective experience so easily anymore. There’s no “official answer,” which I was in denial about for a long time. Of course, though, not having a right answer doesn’t mean there are no wrong answers. I’ve known people who wanted to convert–who believed they had jewish lineage, even–but whose resolve and tenacity I doubted. Oh, don’t think I don’t still judge people! If someone told me they wanted to wear tzitzis and then in the next breath told me they’ve decided to follow Jesus/the Buddha/whoever, I will probably doubt their dedication.

But I also have friends who are converting, whom I wouldn’t doubt for one second, and whom I treat as jewish.

This, so far, is working better for me in everyday life than my outdated system of judging people solely by halachic standards as if I were their conversion rabbi. A conversion rabbi, of course, is concerned with the integrity of the system, but this is sometimes to the detriment of a person’s psychological well-being. I know this well. I can’t know which way of looking at people is the right one. Maybe I really am compromising the integrity of the system. But if God isn’t about to come down and tell us, all we can do is guess. And if God isn’t about to come down and tell us, we can’t exactly feel bad about making a best guess. That goes for anything, really.

And that’s all well and good.

I don’t know what all this means for me, though. I don’t know my own motivations most of the time, but I tend to believe that I should (like most of us, I presume?) And so I analyze it to death, a sound and fury signifying nothing. If I wanted to wear my tzitzis again, it’d have to go beyond “which mitzvos a non-jew can do” and “what does patrilineal mean philosophically.” It would have to go deeper. I’d have to enter a whole new system. I know I can’t be orthodox, and I know I can’t be conservative, reform, or recon either. It’s kind of an open field right now. Everything is free for the taking. I could be anything. I could be renewal (I’m not). I wish I didn’t have to convert (and therefore pick one…currently it’s RCA and currently I don’t want to change that). I wish I could just be. You know, in the margins. Like I do. I don’t feel like a convert. I don’t want to continue acting like I’m converting. I don’t want to be a gentile. I don’t want to be a righteous gentile. I davened like a jew. I learned gemara like a jew. I went off the derech like a jew. I came back like a jew.

Something has to change here.

A new playlist for a new year

If there’s one thing I like to do, it’s make playlists. If my CD player wasn’t broken right now, I might even burn this one because I think it’s pretty good. I put it on Grooveshark for you. It includes artists like Popol Vuh, Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, Nick Cave, Sleater Kinney, and Idan Raichel.

I listen to like half Israeli/Hebrew and half American/English music (for obvious reasons, it was harder to find my Hebrew music on Grooveshark). Story of my life. I remember reading some article (probably on Beyond BT or something) where it said that BTs will never fit in entirely even if they talk the talk and do everything “right,” because they don’t have the background. They will always remember pop culture and recognize secular music. It almost made it sound like BTs could never be “real Jews,” although obviously that’s not what it was trying to say explicitly.

After reading that, I briefly considered deleting all of my non-Hebrew music out of iTunes (I didn’t even think about my record collection, weirdly). I did get some stuff deleted (I hated the Beatles anyway), but a couple of days later I thought about how dumb the whole scene was. I’m proud of my music collection. I’m pretty forthright about the fact that I don’t listen to “everything,” but I’m pretty knowledgeable about the stuff I do know, I think.

I keep going back between Torah and my secular joys. For most people, this is no problem, and maybe I’m just making it a problem, but I really sometimes feel like I’m the only person trying to mix the two. And maybe it’s just because the “secular” stuff I’m trying to mix is really reminiscent of my rebellious atheist days in high school, so it’s strange to me. Like, for instance, I used to really want to be a musician in high school, writing songs against religion. So now, I guess, trying to pick up the old keyboard again still has a trace of that feeling. When I’m reading a shiur about the kzayis I really, really don’t care about anything else, and I really, really think I could live in that world learning Torah all day. But when I’m listening to my Violent Femmes or watching True Life: I’m Transsexual, I feel like Torah is just keeping me down. I’m really torn.

This isn’t new or anything, but it used to be an exciting adventure, and now it’s just giving me an ulcer.  I guess someone could say that it’s not Torah that’s keeping me down, but machmir interpretations of it, but still I can’t help but wonder whether just ignoring things I don’t like is a great thing to do. It’s not really things like “Who should I listen to?” so much as “What’s really there?” For example, deciding how long your skirt ought to be is obviously up for interpretation (and I’m against letting old men decide such things), but I feel like whether you can wear pants is a more divisive issue. Similarly, I used to wear boys’ clothes in high school. Bad? Like, in my mind there’s no inconsistencies, but in real life I have to wonder if I’m just being idealistic.

The thing is, I can’t just leave it at that. Part of the journey is supposed to be “the struggle,” I guess, but I feel like that doesn’t apply to converts, particularly Orthodox converts. If you’re born Jewish, you don’t know how easy you have it, because you don’t have this “end goal” you have to get ready for. You don’t have to sell yourself to the rabbis. You don’t have to worry about whatever arbitrary thing they won’t like you for. And you don’t have to worry about whether your slate is untainted enough. You think they’d call someone who cares about transgender rights, would rather go to yeshiva than get married, and listens to music from 1996 (from headphones attached 24/7 like a limb) a good conversion candidate? Sometimes it seems that if I’m not 100% certain that I can get rid of all my less-than-compatible beliefs and traits, it’s no use converting (and since I’m like 60% Lithuanian, I also eternally look like I’m twelve. I can just imagine it now—I’ll be 30 and they’ll still be saying “You’re too young, far too young”). Why should I even want to convert anyway, if Orthodoxy means submitting yourself to Torah, when I’m so obviously not willing to?

Other things are less daunting. Like, for example, I don’t find it weird to listen to Sleater-Kinney “Do you think I’m an animal? / Am I not?”, then Matisyahu “Chabad philosophy / is the deepest wellspring”. That is just me and that’s probably not changing. After all, I decided that Judaism doesn’t really come alive in the synagogue surrounded by old people you don’t know, probably, for most 21-year-olds. Many times—and I know this sounds lame—my music is a more religious experience than making challah or going to shul on Yom Kippur or whatever else you’re supposed to do. It’s not a really Jewish thing to “listen to music,” and I’m not really an advocate of syncretism or anything, but that’s just the way. But part of me still wonders whether I’m really committing correctly, like I can’t tell if I’m in it to win it or not. At what point is it too much to “want it my way”? If I don’t like to do it “the Jewish way” every time, who am I helping by converting? But those are just fears, I think. I usually like to push them away. I mean, I don’t mind dressing different and doing different stuff, but what if I actually have to be different?

To clarify: I still don’t think my way of livin’—at its element, anyway—is incompatible with Orthodoxy. I just think that, as a conversion candidate, I’m going to be questioned a whole lot. I don’t exactly have a refined, ladylike personality. In case you couldn’t tell. I’m worse in person. And I say things like “I’m just going to be Catholic instead” or “I’m in love with Carrie Brownstein” and I don’t think that will really go over well with most people I’m going to encounter.

“Avraham Avinu was the original punk rocker”

I should hope by now that it’s no secret that I’m getting a little disillusioned with mainstream Jewish life (I should go through my posts one by one just to see this really interesting progression…) But I haven’t had too many things to reinforce that disenchantment (because seriously I really am just sitting alone in my room, waiting for summer to end), so I started to think that I was the problem. Especially when some people you know are actively telling you that as a woman you’ve got to know your role, and your role is your husband’s helpmate (and also that I think otherwise because “I’m just too young”—oh yeah, people go there). And then like all the Orthodox women you run into are also saying that. (Well, some aren’t, but that’s recent.)

Well anyway, this is why the Punk Jews documentary saved my freaking life. I’m not alone! I’m not getting this out of thin air!

And this is also why Y-Love is my hero:

He says that he decided to convert when he was 21, and he found this Orthodox rabbi and lived a normal Hasidic life and everything and went to yeshiva and had an arranged marriage but then discovered hip hap and saw all the prejudice and saw there was more in life and became who we know today. It doesn’t get any clearer than that. He even mentioned that they expect you to leave your pre-conversion life behind…just like I’ve been told!

It makes me feel better. I’m not insane.

But anyway, I’ve decided I’m going to live off-campus when I transfer so I can be near an Orthodox synagogue, even though the bus ride will be about two hours. Because this is taking too long and I’m not getting any younger.

(I wish everyone could learn to separate observance from sociological sewage—feminism isn’t “un-Jewish”—neither is equality for that matter—and you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing just because everyone else is doing it. I also feel like I’m going to hear a lot of “What do you mean, you don’t want to live the ‘Orthodox lifestyle‘?” What’s THAT, pray tell?)

I’m also trying to curb my increasingly annoyed disappointment in my rabbi for not telling me forthright that he wanted nothing to do with me—he avoided the problem, going “Just be patient! Be patient!” And then disapproving of my alternative options.

I posted the second half of the video segment, but in the first part they interviewed the guy from Moshiach Oi! (Starts with a “Y”…) He said “You are obligated by Jewish law to follow your heart, despite anyone who is against you! That’s a basic Jewish principle!” And I was like “Right on!”


Taste and see…if you want to put it back.

Reader-friendly version crossposted at New Voices

I predicted that about eleven o’clock was the latest I could show up Saturday in time for Kaddish, but of course I got in a little early, right before the Torah reading. I looked at my watch and decided next week I could come in half an hour later.

I don’t know when it happened. I used to like going to services. But suddenly—sometime during Musaf—I just got so depressed. I figured it was because watching Bar Mitzvahs and the-boys-who-have-them always seem to serve to remind me that (despite certain apologetics) the synagogue is an important part of Jewish life, and men still hold the reins in it (despite totally separate apologetics). Worse, nobody seemed to care about that but me. But maybe I was upset on a more personal level. I looked around and saw that everyone was there with their families—or probably otherwise had someone to, at the very least, celebrate some of the holidays with. Basically, everyone but me knew their place there.

Whatever other people see in the synagogue—and what I used to see—isn’t there so much these days. I thought I could fix that by learning the rhyme and reason to the services, but that only brought attention to the fact that no one else knew why they were doing the calisthenics.

The rabbi’s a man’s man; I’m jealous of the kids’ Hebrew School educations; everyone there is, let’s face it, greying (apparently, so is the Conservative movement itself); and I’m starting to feel as if some of the crankier ones don’t like that I don’t chit-chat before and during the service, and that I sometimes complain about their beloved ArtScroll. So I’m just not feeling my synagogue lately.

There has to be another way; someplace where there’s no remnant of the Conservative complex about women’s participation (i.e. Someplace where there is women’s participation and total halachic backup for it), where people are aware and engaged, where participation and education isn’t only encouraged but expected, and where people like me can come in and not feel like Judaism doesn’t want them because I didn’t have a traditional upbringing and a big family.

My Torah partner just told me that she thinks Judaism should be more centralized and institutionalized, but despite any political or pragmatic appeal she sees in that, I have to disagree. If you ask me, keeping it the way it is now (which I see as quite institutionalized already) doesn’t allow for much growth and change when a good new idea does come along. If you ask me, we rely too much on packaged answers when this need not always be so.

For example, in my synagogue, the rabbi always leads every Shabbat service and every minyan and gives every d’var Torah. That’s centralized. And so therefore people have come to think that you need a rabbi for every event. The rabbi tells us about the berachot for thunder and lightning when there’s a storm during services, or he tells us why we don’t speak between al netilyat yadayim and hamotzi, and people laugh. It doesn’t affect them. They only want the bottom line.

At the Reform temple down the street, there are posters up for every cause but the Jewish ones. They have guest speakers present their political diatribes during services. Their mezuza scrolls are photocopies. And similarly, because the temple says so, people think that this is the way it ought to be. There’s no need to think otherwise, not when the temple decides for the sake of everyone.

Lately, I’ve been interested in reading about the trend toward post-denominationalism:

Over the last decade and more, social scientists of American life have been writing about the decline of long-standing attachments to political parties, commercial brands, and religious denominations…[A]longside (and often confused with) these non-denominational [i.e. non-engaged] Jews, we find clusters of highly engaged Jews who may be labeled trans-denominational, post-denominational or, as I have argued, often post-Conservative. These Jews and the several innovative and vibrant institutions they have founded of late speak to new signs of vitality and creativity in Jewish life, albeit often at the expense of the Conservative Movement. [Steven M. Cohen]

The first thing I thought when I read this was, “Wow, good.” Previously, as an almost visceral reaction, I’d probably bemoan this break from affiliation: “Where would they all go?” I’d think, “Obviously everyone’s becoming non-committal! Judaism’s dying!”

Let me ask you something. What’s good about our strict denominational lines, besides having a convenient category for your general observance level, give or take? (And never mind if your theology fits but your observance level doesn’t; there’s no convenient category for that yet!)

The real crisis is one of meaning and engagement…

Part of the problem is that there are very few places that offer Jews an opportunity to experience the power and mystery of Jewish tradition firsthand. Even people who are in-married by and large have little connection to Torah, Jewish practice and values. They are dependent on others to translate Judaism for them, and they trudge to High Holiday services to receive the requisite “Be good!” sermons, only to return to their lives unchallenged and unchanged. [Elie Kaufner]

I see this. There’s no dialogue. We have Judaism classes here, but they’re on the history of the Omer and the wars of Israel. Now, in my synagogue’s case, that’s probably fine for the older people who aren’t really interested in making their own mezuzot or tzadaka boxes or other such projects, or otherwise learning about things that are applicable now, but there are 1,000 Jews in my town (the rabbi said so)—at least some of them must be under forty.

We’ve had enough focus already on the cultural aspects which, not intuitively, seem to focus more on the negative—”Seinfeld and guilt”, as Kaufner writes. We’re ultimately giving the wrong answer to the question: “Why be Jewish?”

The only truths of Judaism that some of us haven’t edited out completely are the ones that mesh with our current, uncontroversial views. We’re starting to recognize that we desperately need to move past a post-Holocaust survivalist mentality—and aren’t really sure how. To some, Judaism’s still a private embarrassment, if only out of habit due to their parents’ rote, detached approach—and especially so for the religious, non-universalist aspects. Bringing serious intellectual engagement to Judaism, in a world so unsure of its place, is a hard task:

Take young Jews returning from Birthright Israel. After a 10-day trip, they have been opened to the possibility that there is real substance in Judaism. But upon returning home, they have no clear educational option. They want to learn Hebrew, but there are not enough high-quality Hebrew classes. They are interested in basic Jewish knowledge, but are unable to connect to synagogues. The Jewish community does not have the teachers and the leaders who can step forward to meet this need. So what do Birthright alumni do? They get funded to have beer nights, ski trips and at best a Shabbat dinner (with no intellectual or traditional content necessary or encouraged). Because their enthusiasm for deeper Jewish engagement has no substantial outlet, it eventually fades away. [Kaufner]

We can’t rely on the current institutions to do it for us. “We do not have the luxury of assuming that Jews will feel engaged in the Jewish tradition just by experiencing a few inspiring programs. Jews must become self-directed translators of the Jewish tradition — for themselves and their peers,” writes Kaufner. We need to gain the tools to recognize whether our own communities need a change. We need to be able to support ourselves with knowledge of halacha and tradition; not a faceless monolith’s attempt to preserve the status quo under the guise of halacha and tradition.

Judaism is yours. It’s mine. My Judaism tends to resemble The Jewish Catalog, and maybe yours has a bigger emphasis on the role of the rabbi and the synagogue. But the minute you give it to someone else to live out for you, you’ve forfeited it.

Extreme Judaism

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out they’ve infused my two favorite things. It only makes me want to move to New York even more. I mean, come on, in the middle of one of the videos, there was a guy named the “Comic Book Rabbi”. I know I’m easily excitable, but this is exciting.

Next, I spotted a Kosher for Passover at KROGER today, and I couldn’t believe it. Passover cereal! Passover cake mix!

Next, I’m writing a speech that’s supposed to summarize my 45-page Honors paper, which I didn’t want to do but I got sucked in after my teacher told me he had to get a substitute in order to be at the ceremony. It doesn’t help that I showed my speech to a Jewish lady and she questioned my statement that the Torah can’t become ritually impure. “Did you ever notice that on Simchat Torah, it’s only women past childbearing age that carry the Torah?” she commented. Well now I’m questioning again. But what’s with that? You can’t carry a covered Torah but you can get pretty darn close to read it? In the Conservative synagogue, women can have aliyyot, but even in Orthodoxy there are women’s tefillah groups and sometimes women can get the Torah passed into the women’s section. But in any case, now I suspect that a point in my speech may be wrong, and now I’m uncomfortable about it.

Speaking of uncomfortable, I’m the object of my first rumor! I’m so proud! Remember that old man who yelled at me about my disdain for transliteration? Well, boy does he hate me, according to the lady who read my Honors speech today. He allegedly said something like, “How come your letting her teach you Hebrew?” and “Her only claim to fame is knowing Hebrew!” and he even said, allegedly, that when I went in to talk to the rabbi in October about converting, I was really pushy and demanded the way it was going to go down. Which is pretty much the opposite of what happened.

He is a crazy old man, gossiping about twenty year old girls like this.

I just don’t know whether to confront him or not. No one’s ever hated me before! I knew something was wrong since he didn’t really talk to me so much since the transliteration ordeal, and minyan has been awkward, but he still talks to me occasionally. This is just nonsense—he’s messing with my sacred space. I’m not used to gossip, especially being the object of it!

It’s a jungle out there.