Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Cup of Joe With Tikun O(lam)

A Guest Post By E. Fink

What better way to follow up Lunch with the Bray of Fundie than a coffee with Tikun Olam?

It almost didn't happen. Between second thoughts, some (unnecessary paranoia), spammed emails and a complex schedule we managed to pull it all together for a 90 minute meeting.

Meeting strangers for coffee was my job for two years when I worked as a campus Rabbi at USC so I have some experience in that regard. I think it was TO's first time trying it out.

This time I made the invitation so I paid for our drinks at a Metro NY Area Coffee Shop. We ordered a simple iced coffee for the each of us and Tikun Olam was not too feminist to permit the drinks be ceremoniously sponsored by the male. My iced cafe mocha was excellent and I was wired for the rest of day. It was a good thing as sadly, I was up late, attending a neighbors funeral.

In real life Tikun Olam is a ball of fire. She has lots to say and is a great conversationalist. Blogging is an inferior way of communicating when compared to formal conversation. We talked about a wide range of subjects. What follows is a non-exhaustive overview of our meeting.

First of all, we discussed DovBear's anonymity. DovBear is very careful about worlds colliding (kind of like George Costanza) and Tikun Olam is very sensitive to this. We respected DovBear's wishes and I did not even fish for any information. If you were hoping for a big reveal, stop reading.

We played an abridged version of the obligatory Jewish Geography Game and wound up with nothing. Ouch. It hurts when that happens.

We talked a lot about our professional lives; TO as a psychologist, me as a Rabbi and aspiring lawyer. This made for great conversation as TO has some lawyers and Rabbis in the family and I have a few head docs in the family as well. This led into a mini-conversation about professional opportunities for women in the Frum community. My family has a bunch, so I get annoyed when I hear that women are handicapped in that regard.

We talked a bit about Zionism and TO's love for Israel. I am always impressed by the love that fellow Jews have for the land of Israel. I mentioned that my favorite part of visiting Israel is the feeling that almost everywhere one goes, at least the places I frequent when I go, you are surrounded by your brothers and sisters. To me, that is a feeling like none other.

Sitting with a psychologist for a little while I managed to get some micro-therapy from TO gratis. Thanks for that!

Otherwise, we just shmoozed.

One thing that struck me about TO was her love and devotion for her family. Her boys are obviously her pride and joy and it was nice to see that sensitive, family side to a person I only knew from intellectual debate. That is really what is most striking a meeting like this. It really detaches the discussions and arguments from the person and shows you the rest of the person.

Like DovBear said in the Bray of Fundie Lunch comment thread, you only see a percentage of the person on the blog. A meeting introduces us to another part of that person.

In meeting Tikun Olam and The Bray of Fundie, I have acquired a new appreciation for them as people and as bloggers. We who disagree and argue on the blog share more than we realize. For TO and BOF it is not just reading DovBear that they share and I suspect all of DovBear's readers and commenters have more in common than meets the eye as well.

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