Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Isn't Google grand? I really needed to talk to a human at Amazon today; said company does not list a phone number on its webpage. And so to Google, and so...voila! My problem wasn't really solved (no fault of Amazon's), but I've got other options, I think. (Update: I learned a while ago that when all else fails, turn to the publisher. Bingo. Well, I hope.)

"Here she is, your komodo draaaaagon...."

Have you ever seen The Freshman? It's a very funny movie. Maximilian Schell in particular is quite good, particularly in his first scene. ("Carmine said one boy, here are two!") It's he who sings the song above (I think). Anyway, someone mentioned the movie at the dinner Sunday night, and they weren't half wrong. A bit of background:

The Orthodox Union had a whole-day conference Sunday (in my neighborhood) on various issues of kashrut, expeciallyof exotic animals. This was spearheaded by a couple of people from Israel who investigate things like this (they're also the people behind the tekhelet revival). One issue is that to continue a tradition of an animal being kosher, you must receive word about it personally from someone who knows. As the Jewish community grows more centralized, we've stopped eating many of the animals once commonly consumed, and if the situation continued, we'd be stuck with chicken and turkey, for example, for birds.

So they went around to lots of old shochtim in Israel with various birds to ascertain that they are, in fact, kosher. They aranged a meal in Jerusalem where people could come and actually taste the birds and animals- thus having a hand in the transmission themselves. They even served kosher grasshoppers.

Well, that led to the conference here, and it was pretty good. Lots of interesting speakers, live birds (and grasshoppers!) to show, videos, books, even a good lunch. Rabbi Leiman spoke, essentially the same shiur as he gave on Shabbos, but with enough tweaks to still be fascinating. And after eight hours of this- yup, eight- it was off to the dinner.

There must've been a few hundred people easy at the conference; there were well over a hundred at the dinner. It cost- but it was worth it. Levana's prepared not just elaborate dishes made from exotic animals- bison, venison, quail, sparrow, dove, pigeon, wild turkey (and the bourbon, too), goat, sheep, and others- but they also had interesting food, kashrus-wise. There was an undeveloped (fleishig) egg, soft Sefardic/Yemenite matza, and others. (They couldn't get the pork-like fish, but had a good substitute.) Again, there were speeches, slides, videos- good times. No grasshoppers, alas- the OU wouldn't allow it- but they had chocolate ones as part of dessert. All that and good company, and Torah, and being part of a Mesorah- good times, good times.

It's a busy week, actually. Last night I went to a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and met a few people I wanted to (finally). I just might make it to the convention after all. And surprise, surprise, Sivan Rabinowitz was there! I haven't seen her in a while. She used to work for the RJC, it turns out.

Tonight is the YU Alumni Awards ceremony. I think the rest of the week will be spent decompressing (I better change my response to an Evite).

And in closing, a directed comment- sometimes life can be good, y'know? It's perked up a bit more in the last day.

Peace out, people. Maybe I'll have a bit more later.

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