The gods of scheduling have been particularly unkind with me. I ran an hour long improvisation workshop at 22.35 last night and I am presenting again at 0830 this morning! I am also sharing a room with a poor Â woman who thinks I am mostly demented. I had to drag my stuff into the bathroom in the pitch dark to get dressed and out of there!
I am trying to acclimatise to 475 Jewish people all in the same place at the same time. Last night there was a communal Shabbat supper. I must confess that being there without a partner was quite hard, especially since my partner was at home, in his non-Jewishness. I don’t feel so much like these are my people. I ended up having a very passionate discussion with a gorgeous, totally proud and passionate Zionist, a woman who is deeply in love with Israel. Truly surprising, and hard for me to bite my tongue.
Then I went to an interesting chat called Women in South African Jewish History: Conformists and Rebels. It was a slice of life view of Bertha Marks, a typical Victorian Jewess in South Africa, the conformist, and then a same sex couple, Roza Van Gelderen and Hilda Purwitsky, who passionately and energetically pioneered education in Cape Town, amongst other things. Very interesting. Then it was my turn. I did an improvisation workshop. It was so late that I was worried nobody would come, but there were about thirty participants and it was amazing.
Update: It’s now 1520 and I have not only done (and loved) my other presentation, I have also been to two more, and AWOLed into Stellenbosch for real coffee! My head is full. Even the casual encounters with people are so intense and diverse. I have just been talking to Julian Gordon about death, and I’ll go and listen to his presentation Where Angels Fear to Tread, about the body and soul split, I think. After that it’s The Jewish Atheist – A Contradiction?
I heard Gerald Potash tell stories of Boerejoode this morning, and an amazing lecture by Gilad Stern called “”Why is a Gattis called a Gattis?” Words that make us laugh, wink or cringe.” I am too naive to spot the real left from the sort-of left, and right with politics so from now on I am just going to avoid those. There is so much on offer. And it is still weird for me. But interesting weird. And controversial weird. And uncomfortable weird. But, slowly slowly I see that I do in fact have a tiny voice here, and I can be heard if I want to. Now that is the next step I need to take. I don’t need these people’s approval; but do I want it? And if I do, do I want it enough? The jury is still totally out on this one.