Crucial Minutia
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Kimberlee Auerbach
Therapy Thursdays: The Power Of Ritual
7 Comments | posted April 05th, 2007 at 09:41 pm by Kimberlee Auerbach

“Ritual gives structure to chaos,” says Judy Davis, author of Who’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah Is This Anyway. “It’s a form of communal holding. All who light candles in this way are connected, part of a family, part of something larger.”

It’s the morning after the second night of Passover, and we’re sitting in her kitchen, eating Matzo Brei covered with real maple syrup. Delicious.

She goes on to explain, “All rituals have open and closed parts. Everyone usually agrees about the closed parts. A Christmas tree on Christmas. A turkey on Thanksgiving. Open parts are the ways in which we can contribute our signature stamp, personalize the structure.”

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Cristina Pippa
All the World: Then Jesus was like…
4 Comments | posted March 29th, 2007 at 09:24 am by Cristina Pippa

PRIEST: So the Pharisees brought this adultress before Jesus, and they were like, “Adultery is punishable by stoning. Are you gonna break that law?” And Jesus was like, “Yo, whoever is without sin can be the one to cast the first stone.” Then Jesus was totally alone with this woman and he was all, “Who are your accusers?” And she was like, “No man, Lord.” So Jesus was like, “I won’t accuse you either. Go, get outta here, and try not to sin.”

Most of my experiences with the Catholic Church have been in Sardinia– where my cousins still celebrate saints’ days because the solemn parading of the saint and his/her relics is usually accompanied by a carnival with giant blocks of torrone and fun houses pumping techno music. So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised last Sunday when I visited a very liberal Catholic Church (yes, it seems that those actually do exist in America) where amid full regalia of cloaks and candles, the priest spoke like he was reporting on a tailgate party the night before.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Egyptian Bluetooth Prostitutes
4 Comments | posted March 22nd, 2007 at 11:02 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

How do you find a prostitute in a Muslim country? Why, stroll into the local Marriott and turn on your cellphone’s Bluetooth, of course.

I was in Cairo this past January, stopping at the hotel to use the ATM. My sister’s friend pointed to the courtyard as we passed and casually mentioned that it was probably “full of prostitutes.” I craned my neck, but didn’t see any scantily clad or over-makeup’ed women. It turns out that in Egypt, at least, since Bluetooth technology was introduced a couple of years ago, the age-old dance of Jane and John has a new step. Islamic culture frowns on brazenly approaching the opposite sex, male or female, so sex workers and sex seekers merely go to the same location—an upscale hotel lobby, or certain local coffeeshops—and make their arrangements over the radio waves.

My companion said that her boyfriend, who is Egyptian, will look at his phone every now and then in a coffeeshop and go, “Oh, no. Here they go again,” with little kittenish messages popping up on his phone.

The really weird thing? Islamic sex workers often wear the head-to-toe black burkha, far more covering than the average Egyptian woman’s veil. So, next time you see one of those photos of black-veiled women that our media loves to show us of Islamic countries, just remember: she could be a prostitute.

Cristina Pippa
All the World: Persian New Year
2 Comments | posted March 22nd, 2007 at 07:20 pm by Cristina Pippa

All the World is a weekly column on the drama of life appearing Thursdays.

“Happy Vernal Equinox!”

“I was just thinking– Wait, what?”

“Vernal Equinox. First day of spring? Makes me giddy.”

“You just want an excuse to get naked.”

“I was going to say, we’re having a party tonight.”

That was a conversation at my gym. And it’s true. The sun has crossed the celestial equator. It only happens twice a year and it does something to us, doesn’t it? Perhaps we’ve gotten a little frisky or started shoving sweaters to the back of our closets. Some of us can’t help staying up later, even though we’ve set our clocks forward. And even if we don’t exactly identify with the Onion’s article about the “Area Pagan Dreading Big Family Vernal Equinox Celebration,” this is a significant time of the year around the world.

In Iran, the new year begins with the first day of spring.

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