On Tuesday night, my daughter flies out to Jerusalem to start a second year studying in a sem. Yep, that's right, two years spent studying religious studies 8:00am to 11pm. I spent half my school life trying to wangle myself out of religious studies, and as for studying it voluntarily...When I told her I was thinking of writing this post, she said, no, people don't think it's boring, they think it's very threatening.
And it's true, I knew the mother of one of her sem friends was terrified that her brilliant and talented daughter would come back some swivelling eyed religious fanatic. Which of course she didn't. And I'd have put money on my art freak and very independently minded darling changing the sem before they changed her. So I wasn't surprised when she and her friends succeeded in talking them into starting an art option.
Last December, I was able to sit in on some of her classes when I visited. The one she really wanted me to see was the class on Tannaitic (Talmudic) personalities led by the decidedly hunky, cool and witty Rav L. His philosophical and analytic take on the often eyebrow raising doings of the Sages was quite something. And I couldn't help noticing the very large number of girls, even the madrichot (counsellors) who packed into the session and didn't take their eyes off him.
Oh, and there was another visiting mother there too, who was from New York. Towards the end of the class, she looked at me wistfully and said, Oh, it's wasted on them, isn't it? I knew what she meant.
So should I have been surprised that the session ended with him playing the guitar and everyone singing? I thought there was a religious ban on women singing in mixed groups, but then he was the rabbi.
And my daughter and Rav L decided that she could develop for her course credited-prohect an idea she had for a graphic novel, based on the Saul and David story, which they studied all year. And I must say I love it. She's managed to incorporate quite a sophisticated visual interpretation which takes account of the commentaries they worked on. But what I like best are the cute visual jokes about Saul's height and the passing references to Freud's own analytic history that she's managed to work in. Here's page one:
You can see the rest of the series here (best seen at maximum image size).
And apart from that, she gets to live in the heart of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, just round the corner from this:
And she was so keen to do a second year, she's working in the sem's kitchens to pay her way.