Thursday, November 29, 2007

Joseph's Tale

This week's Torah portion, Vayeshev...

Joseph was Jake's fave
so his brothers hated him -
they were pretty mean.

He was a dreamer
and he told his bros his dreams
He'd rule over them.

Jake made him a coat,
a multi-colored beauty,
the bros were jealous.

Joe came to the fields
where his brothers tended sheep -
they wanted to kill.

Reuben held them off
"Throw him in a pit instead."
Then they sold him off.

Sold the story, too,
that he had died by wild beasts,
to their dad Jacob.

Joe was sold - a slave -
to Potiphar in Egypt.
Things did not look good.

Pot put him in charge
'cuz he saw that he was blessed
Joe made things prosper.

Pot's wife liked Joseph
he was young and cute and hot -
she tried to seduce him.

Another tale sold
"he tried to force me," she said.
Pot bought; Joe to jail.

In jail he heard dreams
a baker and butler shared -
one would die, one live.

The butler lived and
he returned to Pharaoh's court
but didn't help Joe...

Stay tuned for the rest of the story next week!
P.S. I left out the interlude on Judah and Tamar...a fabulous story...I'll get it in next year!;-)

See my Chanukah Story Haiku over at my other blog and make sure to visit my Chanukah Countdown Party over there too, so you can enter into the Giveaway!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chanukah Countdown Party!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Please come visit my other blog for my Chanukah Countdown Party!

I'm offering a great giveaway also!

Previous Chanukah Countdown Posts:

How Do You Spell Chanukah?
Chanukah Tips
Stay tuned for more...

Come and visit!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

If Martha Stewart were Jewish...

...she'd publish this magazine.

Which, by the way, I thought was a joke when I first saw it. A spoof. But it's real! And I hear it's good. I'm waiting for my first issue to arrive, although I hear that it's on the newsstands so check it out and let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wrestling with the Haiku, of course

Vayishlach, this week's Torah portion...briefly...

Jacob stays alone
sends the family on ahead
scared of Esau's wrath

By himself at night
he wrestles with an angel
or was it a man?

The man could not win
so he pulled the leg muscle
and he cried "uncle"

but Jacob was wise
"I can't let you go until
a blessing you give."

and so he was blessed
his name changed to Israel
means "wrestler with God."

Jake renames the spot
Peni-el, face-to-God's-face
His life changed a lot!

(okay so this is just one part of the Torah portion...but I'm tired and it's late. And this is a good part!)

Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jacob's Haiku, of course

Jake left Be'ersheva
On his way to find a wife
He stopped for the night.

He lay on a rock
He slept well - and had a dream
It was a good one.

A ladder he saw
Reaching up to the heavens
Angels on its rungs -

Going up and down.
And God gave Jake a blessing:
Things are good for you -

This land is your land
You will have a lot of kids
You'll spread all over.

Jake woke up and said:
"Surely God is in this place!
How could I not know!?"

"This place is awesome!"
He made an altar of rock
And named it Bethel.

Then Jake kept going.
He ran into his cousin
Pretty girl Rachel.

It's love at first sight!
"I'll work seven years for you"
he told his uncle...

"If I can have her."
And so they agreed - a deal!
But trickery loomed.

(Remember Jake's trick?
He duped his dad for blessing...
Now it is his turn.)

Instead of Rachel
Laban did a switcheroo
Leah was the girl!

After the wedding
Jacob complained he was tricked
Demanded Rachel.

Laban said, "No prob."
"Just work another seven!"
Jacob said okay.

Leah had children;
Rachel did not have any.
Lots of sons were born.

Reuben and Simeon,
Levi and Judah and Dan...
Naftali and Gad.

Asher, Issachar
Zebulon and then Dinah
Finally - Joseph!

Only one was Ray's
The rest were all born by Sis
Or by the "maid" wives.

Jake fin'lly moves on
Decides it's time to get out
But Laban's not pleased.

They leave in the night
Jake and clan sneak out of camp
But Rach messes up.

She steals Laban's "gods"
He finds his idols missing.
So he chases them.

Laban catches up
And searches for his idols
But Rach hides them well

Laban plays "sad dad"
They agree to disagree
The two make a pact.

Laban goes away
Back to his land...Jake to his
They parted their way.

Ah...the joys of Genesis!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Creative Gifts of Tzedakah

There are so many times during the holidays and during the year when we have to buy some kind of gift for someone who "has it all"...or it's a "gift of obligation" like a hostess gift or business-associate gift...and often the gifts that we come up with are not very useful, not very exciting, or just not what the person wants.

So this year, why not give the gift of tzedakah -- the gift of charity? I know what you're thinking, who do I give to, how do I choose, and how do I make sure that the recipient isn't offended by my choice of charitable organization? Be creative about it! Just think a little bit about the person, and figure out a charitable organization that "fits" with them.

Here are some of my favorite ideas, which I'm sure will get you thinking about more...

For the guys....if he likes...
…fishing...donate in his honor to Seashare, Fish for America’s Hungry People, an organization that donates fish to the hungry

…cars…donate in his honor to The Dare to Dream Camp, a racecar-theme camp that provides enrichment, recreation, and mentoring for underprivileged, at-risk, neglected and abused children.

…ties, donate in his honor to Shop Well With You, an organization that provides people undergoing cancer treatments with resources and advice on how they can dress and feel both comfortable and attractive.

…animals, donate in his honor to Computers for Communities, which refurbishes old computers and makes them available to needy families and communities.

…music, donate in his honor to Mitzvah Clowns, who bring healing through laughter to hospitals and nursing homes.

For the ladies...if she likes...
...candy donate in her honor to A Package From Home which provides candies and treats to Israeli soldiers away from home.

...fruit donate in her honor to Table to Table, an organization that delivers 4000-5000 meals weekly in Israel. The organization gleans fruit from trees to give to those in need.
OR donate in her honor to The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, which aims to plant 18 billion fruit trees across the world to benefit our environment and humankind.

...dogs donate in her honor to Save a Pet, an organization that encourages pet adoptions.
OR donate in her honor to the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind. donate in her honor to Songs of Love, an organization that writes and records original songs for children who are facing life-threatening or chronic illness. donate in her honor to Shoes That Fit, an organization that provides shoes to children in need. donate in her honor to Shop Well With You, an organization that provides people undergoing cancer treatments with resources and advice on how they can dress and feel both comfortable and attractive.

...reading donate in her honor to Dream Reading, an organization that provides books for libraries.

For a new parent or a new grandparent, donate in her honor to St. Joseph's Baby Corner in Seattle, which provides basic care for new moms and babies in that city, or find a similar organization in your own city.

For kids...
Kids love birthday parties. Here are two organizations that bring birthday parties to underprivileged children: Project Birthday in Sacramento and Birthday Angels in Israel. Perhaps there is one in your city? Or maybe this is something for you to start!

Help out sick kids. Many children's hospitals have wishlists on Amazon. Pick something out and send it off to some sick kids. Perhaps the hospital in your area has a wish list. Here is the list for Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

For kids who love skateboarding, check out Land of Plenty, which strives to spread physical activity and artistic expression through skateboarding.

Do you have a young leader on your gift list? Look at Dreams for Kids, an organization that empowers young people of all abilities through leadership acitivies.

Kids are very concerned about environmentalism. Check out Kids For A Clean Environment and make a donation in honor of the kids on your list.

There are so many different organizations out there. I love thinking about matching honorees with various different organizations. It opens my eyes to the possibilities out there for helping others, as well as makes a creative and interesting gift.

Some of these organizations will send notifications directly to your recipient. Some are smaller organizations and may not. What I often do is take a picture of my kids doing an activity that is similar to the charity donated to (example: a kid holding stuffed animals for a gift to Heifer International) and make a card on Shutterfly. I'll put information about the charity on one side of the card (usually cut and paste from their website into Shutterfly) and say: "A Donation has Been Made In Your Honor to..." Then on the other side of the card I'll put the greeting "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Birthday." This is very well-received! You could also use blank cards and do this by hand.

P.S. I also like to use these ideas for Mother's and Father's Day. I'm sick of sending flowers and candy, when they really don't need them and these are just "made-up" holidays anyway. I know that my mom appreciates the card that I make with the picture of the kids much more than any gift I could give her, and I do like choosing a charity for both my mom and dad.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's Here! It's Here!

Each year the New York Times has a special section entitled "Giving" -- a whole section of the newspaper devoted to tzedakah. Does it get any better than this?

Here are some of the highlights (or things that I thought were interesting) in this year's Giving Section. (See the whole section at or go buy one today!)

  • My Network, My Cause - my current favorite obsession, Facebook, has got a giving component. Is it working?
  • Making a Difference From an Early Age - teaching children to be givers
  • Giving Away Money, Getting an Education - teaching young people to be philanthropists
  • Attention Shoppers: Philanthropy in Aisle 5 - what's up with all the charitable purchasing? Good? Bad?
  • Beyond the Gift of Cold, Hard Cash - giving of your time or assets
  • In the Fund-raising Game, Blogs Cut Both Ways - the power of blogging in terms of charitable giving
  • A Big Salary with a Big Stipulation: Share it - One company's requirement that their executives give 4% of their salary to charity

    Here are some Gifts of Giving ideas, from my other blog.
  • Live with the Times...

    Yesterday marked Rosh Chodesh Kislev, the new moon of the month of Kislev. Kislev is the month in which we begin the celebration of Chanukah, on the 25th.

    There is a teaching that we should "live with the times," specifically with whatever is going on in this week's Torah portion. The month of Kislev is a month of dreams, as most of the dreams in the Torah appear in this month's portions!

    The first dream of Avimelech, King of Gerar, appears in the Torah portion of Vayera, read in the month of Cheshvan. The other nine dreams appear in the Torah portions of Vayetze, Vayeshev, and Miketz, all read during the month of Kislev.

    A month of dreams...what are your dreams?

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Jacob & Haiku

    In this week's Torah portion....Toldot...

    Rivka is barren.
    Ike prays to God - please, kids, please!
    God answers his prayer.

    Two babies inside
    Two nations within her womb
    They won't get along

    Esau is born first
    Big and hairy, with Jacob
    hanging on his heel.

    The two are real diff
    E likes to hunt, fish, and fight
    Jake likes to stay home.

    One day E wants food.
    Jake has been cooking all day.
    "Gimme some of that."

    Jake's no fool, he deals.
    "I'll trade soup for the birthright.
    You don't care for it."

    Esau is hungry.
    The birthright goes to Jacob.
    The soup to E's mouth.

    Digressive story
    Ike and Ree go to Gerar
    "She is my sister."

    The tale's familiar
    We have heard it once before.
    Whew, now that's over.

    Back to Jake's blessing...
    Logistics of getting it
    are a bit tricky.

    Ike's sight is real bad,
    He knows not about the deal
    So he calls Esau.

    "Make me food to eat,
    Kill it, I'd like meat to eat."
    So Esau goes out.

    Meanwhile, Ree hears all.
    She sends Jake to catch some lambs.
    She insists it's time.

    Esau is hairy
    Jake is not - lambskins cover
    Deception - complete!

    Into Dad he goes
    Sound like one, smell like other
    Isaac is unsure.

    Jake deceives his dad,
    The blessing is his for good.
    Esau is upset.

    Jake flees to Haran
    To escape his brother's wrath
    And to find a girl.

    Coming up next week
    Turnabout is unfair play
    Deception for Jake!

    1. is meanwhile 2 syllables or 3? I think it depends on your accent!
    2. The last stanza, I couldn't decide between "turnabout is unfair play" and "what goes around comes around..." -- what do you think??
    3. this is probably too much analysis, huh?

    What's YOUR favorite Torah portion/story? Share in comments...

    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    Are you going? I am!

    The Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial Convention is coming up in just about 6 weeks. It's an amazing convention of about 5000 Jews from all over North America. This year, it's in San Diego. (I'm a Biennial blogger....more on this later!)

    Here's a video to show you a little taste of what the Biennial is all about. There's still time to register!