It has been nearly a week since my last post and for that I apologize. My living situation has changed considerably in these six elapsed days since I wrote here about my virtual m’zuzah. Another big change here is a new blog layout and a new logo. I prefer my new look to the old one greatly.
As for my living situation, one Saturday night I slept in room 212 of Welch and as of Sunday night, I now live in a new room, Asbury 315. Asbury brings with it many advantages. I have new roommate, Sulia (pronounced Sulay), who I get along with much better than my previous one. The room itself is much larger. The building is farther from campus dining, but closer to my classes, which makes rushing off to class less of an issue. Asbury is also at least 100 years older and brings with it all of the potential quirks and charm and drafts that such an age suggests. But best of all, the third floor of Asbury is known as Spirituality House.
Drew University has six theme houses, La Casa, Earth House, Umoja (African studies theme), Asia Tree House, Womyn’s Concerns House, and Spirituality House. To get in, I had to interview for one of four spots for which there were reportedly ten applicants. I was quizzed on personal belief, motivation for applying to the house, and on the difference between spirituality and religion.
Less than a week later, I received an email notifying me that I was in. We had today and Monday off this week to study for midterms and I was asked if I could move in by the end of the long weekend. Excited as all hell, I moved in Sunday afternoon.
One of the cool aspects of Spirituality House is that the kitchen here has two ovens. One is a regular oven and the other is a kosher meat oven. Not that I keep kosher, but it is cool nonetheless. As I was putting up my m’zuzah as I was moving in, it struck me that despite a kosher oven, the house itself is not kosher because it doesn’t have m’zuzot on either of its two entrances nor does it have one on the kitchen entrance. This to me posed a problem, but the folks here have been generally receptive so far to contributing part of the house budget towards purchasing these if I can find reasonably priced m’zuzot, which shouldn’t prove too much of a problem.
In other news, today (the evening of the 16th of October through the evening of the 17th of October) is the 5 of Cheshvan, the anniversary of the passing of my grandfather, Sol Wilensky. Though Grandpa is now a highly mythologized character in my head, being that he died when I was in the fourth grade, he is an important character in my Jewish life story. See this for more. As such, I needed a yartzeit candle to begin burning this evening. Having none and only realizing this as the sun was already setting, I needed a quick fix. Enter the Muslim.
I was recently in the room of Affan, the only Muslim on the floor. Affan and his roommate, Joe, who is Jewish, were hosting a little get together the other night. I noticed two things there that helped my with yartzeit candle conundrum. This problem has two parts. First, I need a candle. Second, I need to radically circumvent Drew’s policies on forbidden objects. One of the forbidden objects is candles and the smoke detectors in each dorm room are hypersensitive. During my visit to Affan and Joe’s room, I saw people smoking hookah in the room and a number of large candles, which would work perfectly as yartzeit candles. Wondering at how it was that the fire alarm was not going off, I glanced up at their smoke detector, around which was a securely tied plastic bag.
So, sun quickly setting, I paid Affan a visit. I explained why I needed a large candle immediately and he said of course I could borrow one. I would just have to get it from Sarah, a Catholic who lives across the hall from Affan who currently had the candle he had in mind. I got the candle, opened the window and set the candle next to the window. I climbed up precariously on a chair and rubber banded a grocery bag over the smoke detector.
And that is how a Muslim and a Catholic helped this Yid commemorate his Grandpa’s yartzeit.
Zichrono livrachah. May his memory be a blessing. This post is in memory of Sol Wilensky, Shlomoh ben Shmuel.