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Yeesh

My goodness, it's been a long time. Stuff just kept happening, and I ended up doing too much to just sit down and write about it.

The end of my first academic year at Cambridge is approaching, and it's been an amazing ride so far. I've met lots of wonderful, interesting people, joined a choir, found dance classes, and even found a shape-note group to sing with! (One Monday a month in Norwich. They actually meet every Monday, but it's kind of a schlep, and there are other things that want my attention on Mondays. Once a month, though, I tell them to go hang, and I go sing in Norwich. It does wonders for my outlook on life.)

I gave a talk at the Cambridge Forum for Jewish Studies that went really well, and I'm working that up into a journal article. On Monday, I'm going to a conference on Jewish liturgical music in Leeds, where I'll do the formal debut of my new project, and then spend some time visiting the Reform synagogue in Leeds. I'm actually really looking forward to this trip, since I've never been to Leeds before. It's even further north than Cambridge, so the days will be just a tad bit longer.

Which, I might add, has been a trip in and of itself. The sun rises at 4:30 in the morning these days -- can you believe it? And it doesn't really set until after 9 PM. After the dark of winter, this is a fine reward indeed.

Today, we had some big news for the Cambridge Jewish community. The Reform synagogue in Cambridge, Beth Shalom, has been working for many years on acquiring a building of its very own -- they'd been holding services around Cambridge for over thirty years, in people's houses, at local schools, and most recently, at a Baptist church hall. Well, they finally finished the new building!

On Thursday, I went down to help with the move, but I was assigned to the church end, loading stuff into the vans, so I didn't see the new synagogue until today. We had our very first Shabbat ever in the new building! It's utterly amazing. All new and fresh, with a big sanctuary that has good acoustics and a lovely ceiling and picture window, a big community room, a library, and a bunch of other smaller spaces that we'll figure out what to do with later. It was so new and fresh that you could still smell the building materials. They talk about new-car smell, but no one ever talks about new-synagogue smell. Funny, that. . . Anyway, everyone was thrilled and amazed. I don't think very many of us had ever actually been in a brand-spanking-new synagogue on its first day. Not something that happens very often. I certainly hadn't! We even got to start the service with a couple of special blessings for a new synagogue, and the service leader looked pretty pleased to be saying them.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
dawtheminstrel
Jun. 13th, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
What a great year! I'm jealous.
frenchpony
Jun. 14th, 2015 07:28 am (UTC)
My plan is, of course, to wring absolutely as much out of this fellowship as possible. So I'm having an extremely English Afternoon today. I'm going to a Garden Party, and then I'm Dining In College. Veddy posh!

The garden party is a fundraiser thrown by the Cambridge Jewish community for the Israeli version of the Red Cross. After that, I decided to let Corpus cook dinner for me, since I'm heading out to Leeds tomorrow and didn't want to leave any food in the house for a week.
dawtheminstrel
Jun. 14th, 2015 11:00 am (UTC)
How much longer are you there?

How does dining in college work? Is it like a meal plan where you're entitled to a certain of number of meals or like a restaurant or what?
frenchpony
Jun. 14th, 2015 11:25 am (UTC)
I have two more academic years left. Three-year research fellowships are a tremendously sweet deal.

Dining in college is more like a meal plan than a restaurant, although the fellows' meals are certainly restaurant quality. As a fellow, I'm entitled to seven free meals a week in college, and they can be either lunches or dinners. The lunches are informal, buffet style, and you don't have to dress up. You just show up to the dining hall, which looks a lot like Hogwarts, sign in, and there's lunch laid out for you. Usually a couple of salads and cold plates, a warm main course, a warm pudding, and a selection of fruit salad, cheese and crackers, and yummy little pastries on another table. Dinner in college is a whole nother beast. And I think it might deserve a whole nother post.
frenchpony
Jun. 14th, 2015 12:13 pm (UTC)
And I've done a new post on dining in college, so you can read all about this weird thing that I'm going to do tonight.
satismagic
Jun. 14th, 2015 10:15 am (UTC)
That sounds like an amazing year. I'm so glad that you're enjoying Cambridge! (And it's so lovely to hear from you.)
frenchpony
Jun. 14th, 2015 11:21 am (UTC)
It has been a wild ride! The best part is that now I'm really starting to feel like I know the place, and I've seen the way a typical year works . . . and I don't have to leave just as it's all getting familiar. I can experience it again and really be at home.
elliska
Jun. 16th, 2015 11:14 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you are making the most of it there, which is awesome. It all sounds so cool! Do you stay all summer too?
frenchpony
Jun. 17th, 2015 06:10 am (UTC)
I do stay all summer! I have Moved To England for the duration. This is excellent, because not only do I get to enjoy a nicer summer than parts further south, I also get to keep doing my work over the summer, including going to a big enormous Jewish music fair in London in July, which is going to be SO COOL.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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