Saturday, October 04, 2008

An Academic Update

I just checked the Rothberg website and got my mark from the Ulpan. An A! I can quote you exactly the comment my mother will make about this: "I'm so proud of you, my smart, intelligent, beautiful daughter - just like her mom!" I'm not kidding. And I'm also not kidding that as she reads this she'll start laughing so hard she'll cry.

I also have my schedule set up for the upcoming semester. Modern Hebrew is two hours per day, four days per week. I don't yet know what level I'm in for Biblical Hebrew - the placement exam is finally being written this Tuesday - but, it's three hours of class per week, divided between two days. I just met another Texan, Debbie, who told me that the Biblical Hebrew classes are fantastic with a focus on using the lexicon and the concordance. I love lexicons and concordances. My big day will be Wednesdays: three classes between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Luckily, I'm off on Tuesdays (although, I don't know when the Creative Workshop will be held...) so have decided that this will be shuk-day. (And, I do have plans to tell you all about the shuk, with the express purpose of taunting you not with figs but with mangoes, persimmons, and coffee.)

So, I will be taking:

1: Modern Hebrew
2: Biblical Hebrew
3: Creative Writing (and the reason for this, Julie, is that having a constant source of feedback close by is never a bad thing.)
4: God, Man and History in the Ancient Near East
5: Shekhinah: The Image of the Divine Female in the Early Kabbalah

Let me tell ya about course #5:
Dr. Iris Felix
The Kabbalah is famous for enhancing traditional Judaism with myths and rituals surrounding the Shekhinah, a quasi-biblical term used by the sages of the Talmud to describe God's indwelling or presence on earth. This divine presence, grammatically feminine in both Hebrew and Aramaic, was typically depicted using feminine imagery. Theosophical-theurgical kabbalists developed the image of the Shekhinah as a full-fledged divine female potency functioning on two levels, the divine and the human. They viewed her as a mediator between the divine and the material worlds, hence her central position for these kabbalists in the performance of Jewish ritual. This course will examine some kabbalistic attitudes towards the Shekhinah, exploring her various names and roles in light of other Jewish modes of thought and traditional ritual behavior.

Although the Kabbalah is much, much later than the time period I'm interested in for my thesis, this course will be fantastic for a few reasons: exploring descriptions of the divine feminine; how the divine feminine is portrayed in later writings, at a time that could be viewed as a bridge between Judges 4 and 5 having occurred and/or when it was written and my time now for its re-vision; the potential for furthering my theory that the characters of Deborah and Ja'el functioned on two levels, divine and human, and to add to that, Deborah herself was a mediator between the divine and the human. And, the bottom line is that I'm here to to take courses that will enhance all aspects, all disciplines, that I'm concentrating on for my degree in my thesis. So, Creative Writing and Religious Studies are now covered, and this is the Women's Studies component that also crosses over into Religious Studies territory, and if I can be so bold (and I am!) also into Creative Writing territory.

On a non-academic note, I have decided to go to Paris for 10 days and postpone Cairo for later. After Jason leaves on the 18th, I'll be moving to an apartment in Montmartre for 5 days. I had contacted my friend Alain, one of Joseph's room-mates, to ask his advice on hotels/hostels - it seemed that every hotel and hostel review I read on-line described a place that is exactly what you pay for and what I can afford was described as either dirty or unsafe. Unfortunately, the apartment he rents out to guests is booked at this time. He did, however, graciously ask a friend if her rental apartment would be available during the time I need it, and it is. Yay! I will be buying a museum pass, since I anticipate spending at least three days at the Louvre, especially to see the Mesha Stele. Plus, I'm starting research now to see if there are, and I'm sure there are, artistic representations of Deborah and Ja'el and Judith in one of the museums.

And now, darlings, I must return to studying Biblical Hebrew. Wednesday sees me off to Tel Aviv for the night to check out Yom Kippur city-shutdown. We plan on walking the freeway after we walk the beach.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Just read the synopsis of course #5. Holy shit. No pun intended!!