Just got back from my gig at CAJE. The panel went well–there were like 85 people in the room, and it turned out I did have something to say on the subject of edumuficating teenagers, and I had fun saying it. I not only got to describe my intro lesson for the Jewish sexual ethics class I got to teach (which mostly involved forcing the kids to define sex and articulate their understanding of sexual ethics by being really specific about the acts they were arguing fit in such-and-such category) and to give my patented rant about teacher-student boundaries (yes, you should have some.) It was great to see my friends from the Bay Area who had invited me to be on the panel, and of course, as happens at these professionally Jewy events, I ran into a lot more people that I knew (including a friend who is, it turns out, 7 months pregnant, yay).

It should also be noted that I ran into J.T. Waldman, a friend of a friend with whom I had emailed about something a while back, who was debuting his INCREDIBLE and GORGEOUS comic book rendition of Megillat Esther, now available for sale here. No, really, it’s astoundingly beautiful and cool with a few surprises in there (like the book suddenly has to be read upside-down halfway through).

And then there was the schwag bag. This was a Jewish educator’s conference, not the Emmys–it’s not like the schwag was so life-changing, but man was there a lot of it. My shoulders still hurt from schlepping the thing around all day. Some of it was interesting and/or useful, some was just plain weird. I’m going to list a bunch of it and let you decide for yourself what was which thing. It came in a big bag, a reusable thing with the logo printed on, and included the local Jewish paper, maps of Seattle, random ads for random stuff, a two-part video on VHS (!) called Great Achievements of the Jewish People from an organization “helping to keep our children Jewish”, pens, magnets, a hot pink and bright blue t-shirt that seems to be left over from the Seattle Jewish Festival, one Hershey’s kiss, two informational leaflets about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, a few more ads, a thing of post-it notes, a bookmark, a book of coupons, a 15-minute DVD “presentation” on how to teach Hebrew with such-and-such company’s products, some more ads, a CAJE magazine on the subject of “Jewish Values for Growing Exceptional Jewish Children,” a gigantic book with all the conference session information, a thick book of sources and study guides for traditional chevruta text learning, a copy of Moment magazine with a CD of Jewish music in it*, a copy of Jewish Education News magazine, a map of the universtiy, lots more ads, a copy of Lilith magazine, a calendar for the year 2004-2005, a sticker from Jewish Partisans of a woman from the Polish resistence done Obey Giant-style (I couldn’t find something just online, but you can download the image here.)

I am so tired. Why am I so tired? I think the shmoozing is part of it. I have kind of a love-hate relationship with these events–it is my universe, and sometimes they energize and thrill me, and sometimes they make me want to hide under a couch, where nobody can find me to talk about work. I’m not sure that I’ll go to any of the sessions tomorrow–will take a look at the book and decide, probably not now. I have plenty of work to do over here, and precious few days left of my summer in which to do it. Sigh.

And on that note, I think it’s time to call it a night.

*Note that I did not say “good” music. Why, oh why do people insist on propegating the myth that just because a shred of pop culture has “Jew’ “Israel” or Hebrew in it that it’s worthwhile in some way? The organized Jewish community could do to raise its aesthetic standards a smidge. I will admit to being pleased by the band name “The Baal Shem Tones”. But the song wasn’t any good, so you know, clever only gets you so far.

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