Something I have been learning about being here is that I am always waiting. I know that I write that my life sometimes feels like I am in “Waiting for Godot” and always in a state of waiting, but here it is even more. Someone will say to meet at one time, and they won’t show up for another 20 minutes. Time just moves slower. It also might feel that way because my schedule is completely dependent on someone else. I have no idea what is planned for me and when. I can’t get anywhere alone, and even if I do go out alone, I can’t really talk to anyone, as I don’t really know Spanish. People have been very nice and do want to take care of me, but it is weird for me really not to know what is happening next.
The other thing that I have noticed is that no doesn’t always mean no, and really anything can happen. For example, I was supposed to go to a white tie wedding. Then before I left for Colombia I was told that I wasn’t going. Then on Sunday morning, when I thought I was going to be staying the whole day at the rabbis house alone, I got a call telling me that I was going to Cartagena and I was going to the wedding. It was a good thing that I had a semi nice dress with me (even though it was short) and some nice jewelry. So I just never know what is really going to be happening.
I am supposed to go to Medellin over shabbat, but the plans have not been made yet (and it is Tuesday). I found out that this morning that tonight I am going to teach in a community. I just have to accept what is happening to me and what is being said, as I can’t even correct anything.
Some other things that I have noticed:
People like really high air conditioning. Yes it is really hot outside, but the air conditioning is really cold. But really really cold, especially in bedrooms. And most places that I have been don’t have hot water (I got to shower at the Hyatt the other day and it was SO nice- I did not think that was something I would miss). Also, almost all places that I have been don’t have real blankets. They either have a sheet or a very very thin blanket- but then the air conditioning is on very high. I think last night for the first time, I was able to make the air conditioning so I wasn’t freezing and I was able to sleep.
I went to a wedding on Sunday night. Firstly it is very funny to go to a wedding and not know ANYONE, and I mean no one. Almost all of the men were in white suit jackets and all of the women in floor length dresses. The women were all gorgeous. The bride looked like a model- it was amazing. But even though it was a fancy affair, the meal was dairy and it was buffet. And the best part was the Latin music for the dancing. It was a shame that I was in rabbi mode, because it would have been fun to have a change to dance in Latin America.
Something I am going to take to heart is the importance of looking proper and not like a shulb, especially if one is in a position of power. When everyone is dressed in a tuxedo and one is wearing an ill fitted suit, it just looks sad and bad. I think that it brings a bad name to the rabbinate, and calls for lack of respect. Although I don’t think that clothing is very important, I do think that there is some importance to taking care of one’s physical image. One should know what the dress code is and abide by it. One should wear clothing that fits and looks good. The way that one holds themselves is as important (or maybe even more important) that one comes out of one’s mouth.
Having seen at three rabbinic leaders here, it is an interesting model of just taking over space and expecting people to respect you. There is a demand of respect, and it is not surprising that there isn’t so much respect to the rabbi (not that I think that is what should be, I think it is a bad thing). I hope that I am able to have a real relationship with my congregants/constituents.
Today I had a conversation with a woman, who told me why she thinks that the convert community and the non-convert community should be separate. She said “they don’t have a connection to the history. They are not connected to Europe and the Holocaust. They only know what is written in the book, and “we” don’t always follow the book. Some things we don’t do, and some things we do because it is what is being done for generations. The only similar thing is our prayers.” Being respectful to the community functioning (and also just interested in knowing why things are the way they are) I didn’t say anything to her. But I wanted to tell her that not everyone has the same history. And what would happen if you joined together, how much more beautiful it would be. How they would be able to share the history so they actually feel part of the Jewish community. I have been learning that the separation of the converts and the non, is not only about Jewish status, but also about race and class. If only we were able to live in a world together….
Well, I think that is enough rambling for now.