Doycats of Doykeit

Doycat – Wherever we live, that is our homeland (Aharon Varady 2021, CC BY-SA)


I’m here for Doykeit (also, Doykayt, Here-ness) and I’m here for cats, not only the living creatures but also the idea of cats who will make any place they rest their haunches appear to be their own, until they leave, as is there want. Who else lives in the here and now? I present the doycats, which were always here if made invisible by their veritable ubiquity. Asked to announce their presence, they prefer to curl up and rest, or to stare into corners regressing infinitely, or to peer defiantly at even more obscure sheydim.

Was the doycat invented or have they merely been rediscovered? The doycat could not be such a brilliant discovery that it hasn’t been independently located, again and again, as I’m sure it will be sooner or later by another cat-loving Yiddish appreciatist.

“In the land beyond the River Sambatyon, the doycats meditate in the shade of ruins built by previous generations of hyraxes.” I’ve written before how I believe the Land Beyond the River Sambatyon represents the true sanctuary of the collective Jewish imagination, and how through roleplaying I seek to, on one level, improve the fluency by which participants recognize and navigate its many characters, settings, and values — and on another level, help participants find their place to visit there and their persona to reside there, and to connect our world to that one through an umbilical cord of imagination strengthened by familiarity and the freedom to explore there. This is not so dissimilar to the way that Daniel Boyarin imagines what the Talmud truly represented for a diasporic Judaism, but I just feel the Talmud with all of its grandness still represents too narrow a slice of an imagination which must include all the aggadah not (and not yet) found there, not to mention pre-rabbinic and non-canonical Jewish literature from Antiquity.

The image is a mix of the famous Bundist poster from 1918 Kiev which I adapted previously, and an illustrated Yiddish proverb posted by (ער האָת א קאץ אין קאָפּ “He’s got a cat in his head”).

If you’d like to buy this on a poster, I’m selling them via Dimus Parrhesia Press. All purchases help to subsidize my creative work.


About Aharon N. Varady

Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes. He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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