Books and Leaves


My book—the one I have been writing over the past fifteen months—has been accepted for publication by Rowman & Littlefield! The final manuscript is due March 1; the book should appear in late 2018 or so. I will give updates as they come.

Each of the book’s twelve essays examines an overused or misused word or phrase; it plays with language while commenting on culture. The working title is still Take Away the Takeaway; the final title will be different.


The teaching is going well; I look forward to each day. I am learning students’ names faster than I expected, though not as fast as I would like. I know the names of the students in two of my eleventh-grade and one of my ninth-grade sections; that leaves five sections where I need to learn some names. (I teach eight sections in grades 9-12; two I see just once a week, two twice a week, and the others four or five times.)

The November bike rides have been glorious. The pictures above are from Alcsi sziget, I think. I followed an arrow to Üdülőtelep but ended up in Alcsi sziget (see the update below). In the second picture, if you look carefully through the branches, you can see a fisherman in a boat. Here’s another view of the water:


Back in town, I visited the Szolnok Gallery, which was once Szolnok’s synagogue. I was alone in the museum, except for the office manager, who sold me a ticket and cracked the first joke I have yet understood in Hungarian. It was simple; he told me the price of the ticket, “háromszáz” (300), and then added, with a chuckle, “Nem euro, hanem forint” (Not Euros, but Forints.) I thanked him, climbed the spiral staircase, and walked around slowly. I don’t think I have ever been alone in a museum before. I took time with the art and the building and the silence of it all.



Speaking of synagogues, I have begun leyning at Sim Shalom in Budapest, which has services every other Shabbat (and many other events in between). It seems that I will read Torah at each Saturday service (or as many as possible) and will eventually teach others to do the same. Each Saturday Shabbat service is followed by a shiur (Torah teaching and discussion) over Kiddush lunch; I love the focus and gathering.

I can’t end this without mentioning Aengus and Minnaloushe. They have been wonderful sports. They have started enjoying the porch, though shyly; they like going out late at night, when it’s all quiet except for the birds and leaves. Here they are: Aengus behind the curtain, Minnaloushe on the dresser, and the two of them considering the world.

It is late here (after 11:00 p.m.), and I have much to do tomorrow. So that will be all.

*Update: I originally assumed that Üdülőtelep and Alcsisziget were little towns outside of Szolnok. Later I realized that they were not towns at all; “udülőtelep” means something like “recreation site,” and “alcsi sziget” something like “sub island.”

Leave a comment


  1. Congrats on the book! Looking forward to it! Lovely that you included a bit about the perspectives of your cats. Sounds like a demanding schedule at school—so the bike rides must be all the more glorious!

    • Thank you, Bob! Yes, my schedule at school is demanding but unfrantic; the day is tranquil and well paced, with ten-minute breaks between classes. Teachers are free to plan their time when they aren’t in the classroom–so, for instance, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays I don’t need to be at school until 9:55 (though I do show up earlier), and on Tuesday I also have a long break between classes, which allows me to get a lot done during the day. So far, I find that I can complete my preparation without working late into the evening; I do take some work home, but it isn’t overwhelming. There will be things to get used to, such as the official tests, but the daily routine works well with my overall life (and allows for bike rides and such).

  2. Anne Millman

     /  November 14, 2017

    Loved reading about your impressions and seeing your photos. Mazel tov on your book — very exciting! And how wonderful that you’re playing such an internal role at Sim Shalom. Just heard today that Rabbi Michael Paley will be moving to Budapest in January. Maybe your paths will cross. One question: How are you managing to pronounce all those Hungarian names (of people and places)? Best wishes, Anne

    • Thank you, Anne! It is wonderful to hear from you. As for pronunciation, I get it wrong more often than I get it right–but I keep on trying. It helps to hear it around me.

  1. Az esőtől az esőig – Megfogalmazások

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