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15 minutes of fame!

Make that fifteen seconds.

Check out figure 11 on page 50 of this recent AviChai report [PDF], "The Reality of the Virtual: Looking for Jewish Leadership Online."

In other news, much has happened in my life to make me very, very busy. Happily, dating, but also, a truckload of exciting freelance projects that are making full utilization of my writing, editing, organization, and project management skills. I've mostly dispensed with serious learning for the time-being, despite a desire to continue learning. After all, "אין קמח, אין תורה." ("Where there is no flour [sustenance], there is no Torah." Ethics of the Fathers, 3:17) Truer words were never said!

However, to ensure that the reverse doesn't come to pass ("אם אין תורה, אין קמח." "Where there is no Torah, there is no flour [sustenance]." Ethics of the Fathers, 3:17), I am teaching a weekly Talmud class. My work is also very steeped in Torah.

I would like to blog at some point about teaching Talmud, which I just started doing last week with a healthy dose of trepidation. My goal, in teaching a beginning Talmud class, has been to not make the mistakes that teachers of mine have made. That is my guiding philosophy. I hope to reiterate that and expand upon it at some future point, and to make it a positive statement, rather than a negative statement.

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Has it really been four months?

Apparently it has.

Things have been busy.

Yes, that's what they all say.

I think I've been using Facebook to share things of interest instead of this blog, but Facebook is clearly short-form, while this blog is clearly long-form. I miss long-form!

With what have I been busy, you ask?

(Thanks for asking.)

I've been attempting to study Torah full-time and do freelance writing/editing/development work part-time, but that's basically a recipe for disaster. In the end, I no longer write for pleasure; I no longer feel like a writer at all; I rarely write in my journal; and I feel like five billion other things are ripping at my concentration as I attempt to sit and study Torah. I am failing to enjoy learning Torah while I learn Torah and to enjoy my freelance work while I do my freelance work. The latter is somehow easier than the former, but not by a lot.

* * *

The following is a statement that I wrote about my life as a writer. It was true at one time. I am no longer sure that it is. But it's nice to read something that I felt so confident about at the time!
My life as a Jew and my life as a writer are intimately bound up in one another. My voice and the leadership roles that I have taken in the Jewish community have all been through my writing. As someone who was often relegated to the backs and sides of communal spaces as a child growing up in the Orthodox community, and who still feels strongly a part of that world through my allegiance to advanced Torah study, my voice is most easily, and least threateningly, shared through the written word.

My broad, overall goals as a writer are: to engage creatively with all aspects of Jewish life and learning; to share a passionate, caring voice that is eager to engage with both the enormously fulfilling and more heart-breakingly difficult aspects of being a modern, committed Jewish woman; to share my love for both asking questions and seeking answers; and to use my strong grounding in classical Jewish texts to struggle with contemporary issues.

One important sub-goal of my writing is to close the chasm between the emotional and intellectual selves in the world of Jewish learning. In my experience, too much of classical Jewish learning shuns the emotion in favor of the intellect. I seek to bridge that divide by using classical Jewish sources to shed light on our emotional inner lives, and through that, on the emotional truths that permeate so many classical Jewish texts, from Tanakh and its commentaries, to Talmud, halakhah, and its commentaries, to the siddur and its myriad commentaries.

Another one of my goals as I move forward in my continued involvement in the organized Jewish community, especially the community of yoshvei beit midrash—those who sit in the study hall—is use the medium of the written word to tease out the interplay between Jewish text study, Jewish prayer, and mental health issues. These complex relationships exist for many, but are rarely, if ever, spoken of in public.

That's it, really. Just sharing!

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JOFA conference (and associated blog)...hopefully not missing the point entirely

Welcome to 2010, everyone!

JOFA just announced their upcoming conference.

And associated blog.

The first (and thus far, only) post seems to miss the point of, well, blogging, which is to link to stuff. The text itself is rife with phrases for fun and exciting linkage. Should I offer myself for hire?

The conference itself, in as much as you can know anything before any of the actual sessions are online, looks like it's going to be great (yay, film festival! I hope they show good stuff). The idea of a middle school track is interesting to me. Do they not have a high school track because they assume that interested high school students go to the regular sessions? (Oh, right! That's what I did at the first conference. And it was totally fine. And I thought I was a grown-up. I mean, come on, I was 17!)

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