Yes, it was Mother's Day, and I duly called my mother and chatted for a few minutes, but that wasn't the major thing.
It was also Lag B'omer, the 33rd day of Sefira, the counting of days from Pesach to Shavuot. For many of us - customs differ, of course - this the day the semi-mourning lifts permanently. This, for me, means I can listen to live music and, if I so desire, cut my hair. For others, it means weddings and first haircuts for their three-year-old sons, and it also means parades and parties and bonfires.
But what we did was attend a dinner for <a href="http://www.drisha.org>Drisha Institute's</a> 25th Anniversary. Drisha is amazing - an independent yeshiva for women (as opposed to places like Bruria in Israel,which is attached to a men's yeshiva.) Not a seminary, the one or two year institutions that teach Orthodox girls Bible and how to teach, but a true yeshiva, with stipends for full time scholars and a certificate at the end of the course of study. It has several levels of programs, from the full-time scholar's circle to individual classes on very basic level. It even offers classes for men and women. Until three years ago, I went there. In the summer, I went to the full-time summer programs, where I learned Talmud, Law, Bible and Philosophy, and from some of the brightest men and women around. I got to see high school girls in the high school program be introduced to these texts for the first time - lovely thing. During the rest of year, I took Hebrew or Bible or Talmud classes as I felt the need or desire. My mother-in-law always paid for one class a year as my birthday present. Any skills I have in regards to learning, I learned there. But then I took this job and it doesn't make sense to travel an hour each way for an hour class. But if I felt I could take the year off, I would take their Beis Medrash program, which is on any level and the idea is just amazing. If my brain hasn't calcified. They <i>are</i> doing things I feel less comfortable about - my feminism in terms of Orthodox Judaism goes solely to things such as learning - such as minyanim where women lead and lein from the women's side. I'm not saying there's a halachic problem with these, just that I'm uncomfortable with it. So, last night they celebrated 25 years, and because it was on Lag B'omer and Mother's Day, they were short a few warm bodies. Therefore, they offered last minute discounts for the dinner, and Jonathan and I went. Usually, it's $300 and we don't go. I wore one of my new suits - the more casual one. I'd worn it on Shabbos first, because it's a good thing to wear new things on Shabbos. And I'd gotten nothing but compliments. Instead of wearing the big brimmed Shabbos hat, though, I wore my purple leather cap. That took it down a notch or two, and when I walked into the dinner I had the very comfortable feeling of being dressed exactly right - some were more dressed than I was, some were less. I know it sounds superficial, but sometimes one *is*. We went to the opening cocktail party, where I noticed one man sitting off to the side reading a book. My own thoughts at that point were a mixture of surprise - who reads a book at a formal party like this? - and jealousy because he was reading. Then I saw he was reading a John Varley book. This changed things, because it meant he was an sf fan. It's not just that he was reading a science fiction book or that he was reading it at a party. It was the author - he's popular but only among sf fans and readers. In the outside world, reading at parties is rude and the message is, "please don't disturb me." Which means that talking to the person is rude back. In SF fannish circles, it's not considered rude or antisocial to take out a book. In fact,it's a conversational gambit - people will come over and ask what you're reading and you can discuss the book and the author and then other authors and their books and go on to other things. And if no one does, well, you're reading, right? So you're set. Turns out he goes to Dragoncon every year and wishes that Varley wrote more often and we've probably run into each other at Philcons and the like. And he's a filker. :) Since they're celebrating an educational institute, the program includes a choice of several classes before the dinner itself. Since it was Mother's Day,the classes all revolved around motherhood in way or another. Three of the five were about being mothers or parents and that, coupled with Mother's Day, would have been difficult. However, there was one honoring one's parents, and there was another on Serach bas Asher, a prophetess and matriarch most of us know very little about. That's the one I went to, and it was fascinating as only the story of a woman who entered Egypt with Jacob and the brothers and left with Moses and affected the war between David and Saul and is currently *living* (that is, like only a few others, she never died) in the Garden of Eden (all midrashic, but all wonderful) can be. And then we had the dinner and the woman being honored (in the best way - a program named for her recently deceased mother) spoke very well. I suspect she does this sort of thing a lot - instead of a stilted "I am reading" cadence, she had a warm, natural delivery, with appropriate and funny jokes. Nice to hear that. And we got home in time to see QAF (and who won Survivor this time around.)