To a sweet and happy new year.
A week ago now I saw Gary Yourofsky, radical vegan activist and lecturer, speak at BGU. To sum up, Yourofsky does not believe you should eat animal flesh or products (eggs, dairy, honey) under any circumstances for any reason, ever. Apparently his Youtube video is one of the most popular in the country, but for his first time speaking outside the US, Israel was an interesting choice for a few reasons:
1) one of his biggest talking points is to make the comparison that the mass murder of livestock for food and the treatment of animals as a commodity began well before the Holocaust, has continued well after, and is yet the largest “Holocaust” to ever be;
2) he doesn’t believe there is any reason that animals should not get exactly equal treatment for being sentient just as we are, and insists that humans cannot justify their actions with the argument that they are superior and animals were created for their use, which Jewish teachings definitely infer (Adam’s naming, Kosher law and all that); and
3) Kosher law states and so Jews believe that an animal used for dietary purposes must be killed in the most “humane” way and lays out how this is to be done, yet Yourofsky counters that if you don’t want to perpetuate animal cruelty, there is no reason why you should kill animals at all.
Let’s just say this lecture definitely had an impact on me. He called meat eating an addiction, just as alcohol, etc. is…which I can’t really think of an argument against, as you can see how many people go red in the face defending factory farming, insisting they’re good people despite their culinary inclinations, as soon as it’s threatened. I love this quote by him: “Religion condones speciesism […] Good people don’t pray about kindness, about love. They give it directly, and they know that peace begins at the dinner table.”
Though I am not sure I will/can ever cut out meat and dairy entirely, I’d like to get to the point where I am integrating vegan meals into my diet in a way that I eat less and less of animal-based foods, maybe settling at once per week. Of course, I need to work up a repertoire of vegan cuisine beforehand so that I do this in a healthful and safe way (being anemic and all), and I think for this reason (and all the veggies I’ve been munching on for breakfast) spending time in Israel is a chance to become healthier – yes intellectually and spiritually if it’s not too much to ask, but particularly – physically and dietarily. There’s no reason why eating a ton more veggies, fruits, and legumes is not a great idea, and I pledge to start thinking towards this now so that my roomie and I can cook up a storm when I get back to NYC 😉
For some bangin’ new recipes I’m itching to try: http://mouthwateringvegan.com
It was a great lecture and though I don’t agree with him to the last detail, I have a lot of respect for his obnoxious outspokenness, genuineness, and ability to stand his ground with research he’s done himself. Apparently a question he gets asked a lot, by non-vegans/vegetarians to boot, in apoplectic fits of defensive righteousness is: “What about the fruits and vegetables? They’re reproductive organs of plants! How do you think they feel? That’s not right at all!”
Sir Yourofsky’s response: “I’m not even going to entertain this stupid question. Next.”
Last Wednesday was the official last day of Ulpan, and we had a deliciously catered ceremony/”graduation.” We ate and then each class made little performances/skits about typical days in the classroom. As such, my role was to enter late eating rice cakes, then to look pained and confused every time we start a new verb binyan.
This was also sad because it was our last night with the German group! It’s so quiet around here now…
On Thursday I left for Jerusalem. I went to the allergy doctor and found, not to my surprise, that I am not allergic to any common allergens! Conclusion: a combination of strange soap, heat and stress. I just need to be more observant in the future. Then I journeyed to Mahane Yehuda for some Challah, olives and dried fruit, and most importantly a KUBE stop! I walked down Jaffa Street alongside the light rail towards the ever-famous Ben Yehuda Street and happened upon Tmol Shilshom (“time past”), a fairytale-like bookshop/coffeeshop that’s a treasure for hobbits like myself. (Aaaand what’s coincidental about that is that I just started reading The Hobbit, a long-time goal of mine – and much happier read than Ray Bradbury short story collections – that I’m so excited to actually be fulfilling so I can finally watch the LOTR movies; it is a shock that’s it’s really as amazing as they say?!) I wish I had had more time there but I will certainly be returning for some quiet coffee and reading and hibernation time…
Another awesome thing about this weekend was discovering Darma (דארמה) yoga in Rechovot, a place that felt so familiar. I took a great vinyasa class and my first Iyengar class…though this was cool, I think it would have been a bit more helpful in a language I understand…kinda my fault…
Incidentally, there is a great quote from The Hobbit to sufficiently explain my 5-day reprieve at Michal and Tibi’s (my family away from family) in Rechovot:
“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they found it hard to leave. Bilbo would gladly have stopped there for ever and ever – even supposing a wish would have taken him right back to his hobbit-hole without trouble. Yet there is little to tell about their stay” (Tolkien 58) <–can’t quite stop being an English major even on my blog.
My time in Rechovot was beautiful, refreshing and rehabilitating. I hang out, I read, I did yoga, I ate a lot of Michal’s incredible cooking (including homemade Kube!!!), I was really full, I watched Michal repeatedly make fun of Americans for always saying “I am so fuuuull!”, I played with a 4-year old and 8-month old, I watched “Blue Valentine” and “Eyes Wide Shut” with Steph’s cousin Alex and his wife Esther, I took lots of naps. I drank a lot of this:
Speaking of which, I just “discovered,” if you can call it that, HOW HEALTHY IT IS TO DRINK HOT WATER WITH LEMON EVERY MORNING. I am going to do this as often as I remember, because the Vitamin C can ward off all kinds of crazy germs as well as help with my iron absorption…it’s like a miracle cure to everything was hiding right in my fruit drawer my whole life:
and ate this at River, a sushi/Asian cuisine restaurant:
and for Rosh Hashana I fulfilled one of the best obligatory actions of a Jew:
Apples and honey to symbolize sweetness… Good for the Jewish “head of the year,” good for any time of year.
We watched the sunset go down on Alex and Esther’s balcony on a beautiful Rechovot evening.
Finally, today was our first day of classes. Wednesday’s my “rest” day so to speak because I only have Hebrew from 8:30-10am and then lots of free time! untiiiiiiiil… I need to wake up 6am Thursdays to catch a 7:20am bus to Sde Boker for my Israeli Mosaic class. Because I’m lazy and would never EVER get up this early back at Queens, part of me would have loved to drop it but I know it’s going to be great in a way I won’t regret, and it’s important Anthro credit.
What’s interesting about autumn in Israel is that we just had Rosh Hashana break and after classes this coming Monday, we essentially have a Yom Kippur leading into Sukkot vacation for almost two weeks. My two goals are to visit Petra and see Idan Raichel =) By the time we get back it will be almost mid-October which means the Israelis will be almost coming back to campus and we can get the party started. So excited for it all!