Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year!

I'm celebrating the ringing in of 2023 in two main ways:

(1) We're hosting a group of my college friends at my house (this group has met for new year's every year since graduation).

(2) I'm taking my laptop in for repairs, since it overheats constantly even when doing comparatively minor tasks, has done so since basically the day I bought it, and I want to get it fixed while it's still under warranty.

The latter, I imagine, means I will be without this laptop for at least a few weeks. It's possible I get a cheap netbook to tide me over. But it's possible I'll be computer-free for a little while. I can scarcely think of anything scarier (cornea surgery? Definitely not).

So if I am quieter around these parts through the beginning of the new year, that might be why. Regardless, I hope you have a happy and healthy new year, one full of all the best milestones and celebrations.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Lift Every Jewish Voice and Sing

Apropos my earlier post about the prospect of a Jewish florist asked to make an Easter flower arrangement, I found this article about Jewish singers who regularly sing in churches during the Christmas season to be quite interesting.

It seems quite clear that religious majorities and religious minorities have very different understandings about the degree to which they can be expected to encounter and interact with other faith traditions, including messages that contradict their own beliefs. Church singing was, above all, a good job in a profession where regular paydays aren't always easy to come by. The singers accordingly generally viewed church singing as just a job -- even though the hymns they sung would have (understandably) expressly Christian messages, even though they sometimes encountered direct antisemitism there. They draw a clear distinction between singing a rehearsed song versus praying in their own voice.

For what it's worth, I tend to view singers as towards the far end of a spectrum ranging from "jobs expected to serve anyone who comes in the door" to "jobs where the professional has absolute discretion to pick and choose clients." The further you proceed down that spectrum, the more justifiable it is for a professional to refuse to take a job for whatever reason they want -- so I don't feel it would be unreasonable for a Jewish tenor to turn down a church job, even as in practice they typically seem able to maintain the conceptual separation I argue the florist should have. But the nebulousness of the spectrum (where do florists fall? I think somewhere in the middle, but reasonable minds can disagree on that) is part of why the anti-discrimination/free speech issues here are so difficult.

In any event, though, I wanted to flag the piece less because it illustrates any major theoretical point, and more for it says about how many Jews think about these issues in practice. Simply put, we can't afford to be hypersensitive in the way that many Christians -- perhaps for the first time experiencing the barest hints of conflict between their religious precepts and the public arena -- demand the law provide protection for. To borrow from Kimmy Schmidt: "It's so funny what people who aren't minorities think is oppressive!"

Monday, December 26, 2022

New Year's Resolutions: 2023

It's that most wonderful time of the year: Debate Link New Year's Resolutions! Last year's resolutions are here, and here is the entire series. As always, we begin by reviewing last year's performance.

Met: 1, 4, 5, 6 (damn straight: 1522 -- over 300 points higher than my peak last year!), 8, 9, 12, 13, 14 (this reminded me to do that: I just donated to the Oregon Jewish Museum!).

Missed: 2 (it's been "under review" for almost a year and a half!), 3, 7, 11, 15.

Pick'em: 10 (does Salem count as a "sight"?).

Great job, 2022! Now onto 2023!


1) Host a successful conference on law and antisemitism(Met)

2) Fully recover my vision post-surgery. (Met)

3) Go through the year with no other surgeries. (Met)

4) Get a book contract (it's been "under review" for almost a year and a half!). (Missed -- but we might be getting close?)

5) Improve my teaching. (Met)

6) Do more physical activity. (Met -- and how!)

7) Visit my friend Joel in Eugene (or have him visit me). (Met)

8) Attend my 15 year Carleton reunion. (Missed)

9) Go to a sporting event with friends. (Met)

10) Attend a boxing match. (Missed)

11) Find a reliable bagel place. (Missed)

12) Make Mastodon (or something not-Twitter) my primary social media platform. (Met -- it's BlueSky though)

13) Seriously consider one significant home improvement project or modification (including converting any room into a different purpose). (Met)

14) Get my laptop fixed. (Pick 'em -- it was "fixed", but not really, and then I just got a new one)