Saturday, August 6, 2011

Yurt Alert

I’m going to sleep in a yurt in a state forest for a few nights. What is a yurt? you ask. A dome shaped structure, just this side of a tent. No electricity. No computer. No Dish TV. No indoor plumbing. Trek to the toilets and showers.

Way cheaper than a hotel on the Boardwalk.

Earlier this week I saw on TV an interview with Gayle King, Oprah’s long time best friend. Ms. King told her interviewer, somebody Smalley, that African Americans don’t take road trips and they don’t camp. Smalley laughed and agreed; they call that being homeless.

I wanted to tell Ms. King that Jews don’t camp either

Years ago I kvetched to my Jewish friend Mitch that my central Pennsylvanian friends kept trying to convince me how much I would love camping. I couldn’t envision taking all the children who fought with each other in their spacious, two story, three bedroom home and transporting them and their stressed out mother to a tiny tent with no cartoons. Change diapers without running water? Prepare meals without a fridge and stove?

Mitch’s wise words have stuck with me for decades. “Camping? No, thanks. My people did that for forty years.” 

I discovered that I am genetically predisposed to avoid tents because, like Mitch, my DNA goes back to those unhappy campers who cooked manna over a campfire and eventually died in the wilderness.

Some of my newer friends and blog followers may be surprised at my Jewish ancestry (on my mother’s side). My students have grown used to the idea. As long as I give them challah to dip in honey at Rosh Hashanah, and matzoh to shovel charoseth at Passover, and bonus points for putting the Hebrew date on their quizzes and tests, they’re okay with my DNA. 

Still it makes a person wonder:  How can a born again Baptist teaching Bible at a Christian academy located at a Christian and Missionary Alliance church be Jewish? I chalk it up to God’s sense of humor. And maybe a small demonstration of 1 Corinthians 1:26 – 31, which includes the phrase, “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things…” (You can read the whole passage at, one of my favorite resources.)

If you don’t understand why I embrace the designation “despised,” visit my Cults and World Religions class when I teach the Judaism chapter and the section A Crash Course in Jewish History. My people have found the world less than welcoming. But I must stop digressing before I start ranting, because that can only be stopped by Nathanel raising his hand and saying, “Mrs. Brosius, you’re ranting again.” And Nathanel graduated in 2003.

So why is this girl daring to defy 4000 years of genetic memory and more than 50 years of common sense to sleep in a structure apparently named by Dr. Seuss? I blame it on my good friend Ruth, who will be sleeping in the yurt next door. (I think they have doors.) I vacationed with Ruth numerous times, and she never steered me wrong. She always made sure I had a great time, even when it meant defying the husbands and ankle-biters traveling with us.

And no matter how my adventure plays out, I will be able to advert to the yurt in upcoming blogs.

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