Tuesday, December 30, 2008

15 Seconds in Sderot

Monday, December 29, 2008

Operation Cast Lead - Gaza Information

My colleague Rabbi Paul Kipnes has posted a great list of media sources for Israel.

These are all "mainstream" type media. Here are some of the on-the-ground blogger/non-mainstream media types who are also posting, including live-blogging. It's very interesting to hear and see what is going on from this perspective.

IsraellyCool - liveblogging
Muqata - also liveblogging
The Sderot Media Center
Jack is rounding up posts here and here. Check him regularly for updates.

And read this interesting post from Dan Illouz.

If you twitter, check out #gaza, and also consider following QassamCount, NewsIsrael and I'm sure there are others that I can't quite think of right now.

There's a lot out there beyond cnn.com and what the newsmedia is saying. Don't forget that during the Lebanon War there was a lot of misinformation and media-handling by Hizbullah. Hamas is certainly no different in trying to beat Israel out in the court of world opinion. But I don't believe that is going to stop Israel from defending herself, nor should it.

We'll all stay tuned.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Super Jews Color War Update

So I'm participating in the Super Jews Color War (Go Green Team!) and I am enjoying the little daily tasks. Each day of Chanukah we're asked to complete a mission which so far has involved "big box" Jewish organizations. For me, it's not so new. These are all organizations I'm quite familiar with -- JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), Federation, and today Foundation for Jewish Culture.

It's all in fun, of course, but the main mission appears to be connecting young (and usually un-connected) Jews with these major players in Jewish life. It all seems well-executed and entertaining (although no one seems to really understand how they're tracking the clicks....but the Green Team is winning, so what do I care!?) and perhaps will have some level of success. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when the debrief is being done next week.

So....go Green Team! I bet it's not too late to join.

Happy Chanukah!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Accept the Mission....Green Team

The Color War has begun!
The Green Team's first mission is here.

Check it out!!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Team Super Jews!!!

Every day I'm giving something away on my other blog as we count down to Chanukah.

But over here, I'm going to celebrate Team SuperJews!

Go here for more information:

or become a fan on Facebook!
(I'm on the Green Team...)

Stay tuned for more SuperJewyness around here at my blog!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Prayer for the Economy?

Can you pray for a bailout?

In today's New York Times article about Detroit churches praying for a bailout:
The S.U.V.’s on the stage, a Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Escape and Chrysler Aspen on loan from local dealerships, were all gas-electric hybrids, and Bishop Ellis urged worshipers to combat the region’s woes by mixing hope with faith in God.

Is this really how prayer works?

Certainly we can pray for the strength to make it through tough times. We can pray for the ability to help ourselves and others. We can even pray for wisdom - for ourselves and our lawmakers.

Prayer, I believe, is within us. God is not a magic candy dispenser, giving us a gumball for a quarter, a bailout for a prayer. Faith must, I believe, be coupled with the inner work of the self and the outer work of culitvating our connection to humankind.

My prayer for today:
May difficult times bring us the power to help each other. May we all be blessed with the prosperity of spirit that will bring us together and uplift us even in dark days. May we find inner peace and outer community.
May we all be blessed.

Some Related and Possibly Useful Posts:
Human Rights
Change the World, One Sandwich at a Time
Growing My Own
Gifts of Tzedakah
The Obama Family Thanksgiving

and please consider donating to this DonorsChoose project which is about to expire.

Friday, December 05, 2008


More Torah cartoons at www.g-dcast.com

(Normally I'm not a fan of the g-d spelling but it's their site!)

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Ritual

Earlier this week, I posted my Thanksgiving Family Ritual, best for tables with young children present.
And over here, I posted an Ecumenical Version.

Today I present a more "grown-up" edition. Offering songs and readings from our nation's founding documents, I think it's a nice simple way to bring religious ritual to the table, so to speak.

Thanksgiving Seder

I'd love to hear your feedback!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Jewish Blogosphere

If you're interested in seeing what's the what in the Jewish Blogosphere (or J-Blogosphere, as it's known), click over to this week's Haveil Havalim, the Jewish Blog Carnival. It's a wrap-up of the "best of" posts (self-submitted, mostly) in the Jewish blogging world this week.

A very interesting look at what Jews are talking about all over the world!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great Holiday Shopping Opportunity!

Always a great place to support local businesses, support JCYS Lutz Center, and get great gifts....

JCYS George W. Lutz Family Center is hosting its annual  Holiday Shopping Bazaar on Monday, November 17th from 9 am - 7 pm at 800 Clavey Road in Highland Park, and admittance is FREE!

Enjoy this great opportunity to get an early start on holiday gift shopping, with a chance to shop a wide variety of vendors under one roof. Unique merchandise includes items for babies, youth and adult such as clothes, toys, books, accessories, Judaic, house wares, and much more!

JCYS is a not-for-profit agency serving area families regardless of religious affiliation, and a portion of the Bazaar proceeds will benefit the JCYS George W. Lutz Family Center. For further details please call (847) 433-6001.

Click to enlarge (I think!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween....Some Thoughts (Re-Post from Last Year)

I am not a big fan of Halloween. Perhaps stemming from my first grade experience when the principal scared me half to death with his costume, I struggle each year with the way Halloween has become so "big" these days. Lights, costumes, candy, decorations, months of build-up...

Many Jews justify Halloween as "just like Purim." In fact, it's just about the opposite.

On Halloween, we send our children out to beg for candy.
On Purim, we send our children out with gifts of candy and other food.

On Halloween, our costumes glorify death and evil.
On Purim, our costumes glorify the struggles and triumphs of our people.

With that said, I know that even my own children will dress in costumes and engage in the practice of trick-or-treating...so....

Filing this under "if you can't beat-em, join-em"....here are some ways to add Jewish values into your Halloween:
- carry a UNICEF box or other tzedakah collection instead of or in addition to collecting candy.
- donate your uneaten candy to Children's Memorial Hospital or other groups.
- collect your Halloween costumes after the holiday to send to children in Israel or the Former Soviet Union for their Purim celebrations.
- talk to your kids about the origins of Halloween, what it means and where it came from.
- discuss with your family the merits of "begging" for candy and how that works in our society. What does it mean to be a "beggar" and how can we help those who are truly in need?

Read more here:
Should Jewish children trick-or-treat? This was a question posed to bloggers on Mixed Multitudes, the blog for MyJewishLearning.com.

Here is an interesting article about Halloween and Jewish law.

Making Peace with Halloween (a cute idea for telling the Midrash of David and the spider!)

Can you give but not get?

What do you think about Halloween?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Visit, Comment, and I'll DONATE!

Go see my other blog to read my post for Blog Action Day.

And comment there or here - for every comment, I'll donate $1 to one of my Donors Choose projects!

Chag sameach!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Imperfect Life

This is my Yom Kippur Morning Sermon, 5769.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Quick and Easy Tips for Surviving the High Holy Days

Let’s face it. The high holy days are not always as exciting for our kids as we wish they were. It’s a lot of sitting in synagogue and the rest of the traditions can seem a bit nebulous for children.
Here are some quick tips for making the holidays exciting and interesting.
  1. Buy something new to wear to synagogue. Do your kids need a new hairbow, socks, shoes, necklace, hat, kippah, etc? Probably not (mine don’t!). But the exciting air of “something new” can make it all feel more special. Plus it’s a chance to say shehecheyanu together.
  2. Start now collecting food for the High Holy Day food drive. Make it an event. Let your kids pick out one or two special items to bring. Make an event out of delivering them to the Temple.
  3. Try a new food. One idea: pick up one or two pomegranates and open them up with your kids. Pick or buy apples and make applesauce or baked apples.
  4. Too old for babysitting, seems too young for the regular services? Give the grownup services a try but know that you will have to help your kids along. Give them tasks during the service: English readers: count the number of A’s or the time the word “king” appears. Hebrew readers: count the number of aleph’s or other words in the prayers. How many people are wearing blue? How many people have blonde hair? Your kids can bring a sticker book or reading book – it’s okay!
  5. Make the Rosh Hashanah meal interesting – decorate the table with honey bears, flowers, apples, and have your kids make “Happy Birthday to the World” banners or placemats.
  6. Check out some library books about the holidays and read them before they start. This will give your kids something to look forward to.
  7. Come to Rabbi Steve’s Shofar Blowing Workshop. A great hands-on activity. Take a picture of your kid with their shofar.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Left Behind...

Today was a hard day.

Not for my oldest. He was pretty excited to start school. First grade, it's "all that." He's really psyched for tomorrow when he gets to eat lunch at school. He's social, he's happy, he's ready for it all to get going.

Not for my middle. He was also excited to go to school. Last year, he didn't love it so much, but I think he wasn't quite old enough. This year, he's a star. And the teachers noticed how much he's grown up, how happy he was.

Not for me. I know how happy my boys are at school! I know how much fun they're having, I know how much they're learning, I know how good it is.

It was hard for Yael. This morning, she woke up a little earlier than usual, because there was all the hustle and bustle. That was the beginning of it all. Then, suddenly (well in her 18-month-old mind), the boys, including Dad, got their shoes on in a hurry and left.


She sat right down in the middle of the front hall and screamed. She followed them out the door. She cried as they drove away.

And all day, it was like that. Just not quite right for her.

Poor baby.

I've read lots of articles about how to ease your child into preschool, how to transition to the first day of school, how to make it all okay for the ones who are doing the going.

But not too much about the ones left behind. I never even thought of it. A whole morning alone with her mom...but she didn't quite see it that way.

A little bit of extra love and kisses for my baby this week.

How did your kids do on their first days of school?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Another Step Back

A few weeks back, I spoke in glowing terms about the step forward that the daughters of Zelophechad represented.

Now here we go backwards, just a little bit.

The rest of the clan
was a bit worried themselves
that land would be lost.

If girls can get land
that was their father's holding,
that is fine with us.

But what if they get
husbands from outside our tribe?
Then we would all lose.

their land would end up in hands
outside of our tribe.

Mo made a ruling:
Daughters that inherit land
must marry tribesmen.

Just one restriction.
Does it really seem so fair?
Land over freedom.

What do you think?

Read more about this week's Torah portion here and here.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sadness in Israel today

I wanted to believe it wasn't true.

But it is.

I think this sums it up for me too.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Man, A Plan, A Donkey?

In this week's Torah portion....

Balak was afraid
He thought the Jews were too strong
he wanted a curse.

He summoned Balaam
a well-known prophet, to curse...
Balaam wasn't sure.

God said "don't curse them"
But after a lot of cash
God told him "go on."

Balaam rode his steed
(it was really a donkey)
an angel stopped him.

Finally Balaam
realized what was going on
and apologized.

But the angel said
"Go on, but say what I tell."
So Balaam went on.

Balaam overlooked
the tents of the Israelites,
he had to bless them.

"How fair are your tents,
O Jacob, your dwelling-spots!"
(It was a great line!)

Moral of the story: Always listen when your donkey speaks to you.

Shabbat Shalom
from OSRUI!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Why the Red Heifer?

This week's Torah portion is Chukat...

Why the red heifer?
We don't know what it's all for
But the Torah says!

It's a sacrifice
and its ashes make a paste
that helps purify.

Touching a dead guy
(or gal for that same matter)
makes you real impure.

Only a red cow
can fix that impurity,
bring back a pure state.


They got to Kadesh.
That's where Miriam fell dead.
They buried her there.


They had no water
and the people moaned and whined.
Mo and Aaron cried.

God told them to ask
the rock for water, nicely.
But Mo hit the rock.

The water came forth
but Mo was in big trouble
and so was Aaron.

"You did not have faith!"
God was angry with them both.
A punishment came.

"You will not enter
into the Land I promised
to all the People."


Aaron died at Hor
and they mourned him 30 days
Things, they were changing...

(Stay tuned for next week, the Talking Donkey!)
Shabbat Shalom from OSRUI!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Why Send Your Kids to Jewish Summer Camp?

After reading this great post on"Jewish Hogwarts" at the Rebbetzin's Husband it got me to thinking...

(To summarize, he compares Jewish summer camp to Hogwarts...Harry Potter discovers, when he attends Hogwarts, that there are others just like him! For many kids, going to Jewish summer camp is that same eye-opening experience.)

While here at OSRUI, I definitely think a lot about the choices that parents make when they decide to send their kids to this camp versus any other summer camp experience. We rabbis spend a lot of time discussing recruitment strategies, how to encourage our parents to send their kids here, and bemoaning the fact that we can't get more kids to join us here at our favorite summer spot.

To me, of course, it's a no-brainer. Summer is the time to connect with Jewish life. With the incredible opportunity to expand our Jewish horizons so accessible, I can't imagine how my kids would NOT go to Jewish summer camp.

It's a chance for them to meet other Jewish kids from all over.
It's a chance for them to see that Judaism is not limited to their home synagogue or even to their home!
It's a chance to learn in a totally informal environment about the joys of living a Jewish life.
It's a chance for them to see amazing Jewish role models in the staff who work so closely with each of our campers.
It's a chance to gain a sense of independence about their Jewish identity, realizing that they can "do Jewish" without the direct impetus of their parents. And that they can control that Jewish activity in some way.

Why NOT send your kids to Jewish camp????

Monday, June 23, 2008

I've Been Waiting for Gilad Shalit for 2 Years

From this website:

Gilad Schalit was born on August 28th, 1986, in Nahariya and raised in Mitzpe Hilla in the Western Galilee by his parents Aviva and Noam with his siblings Yoel and Hadas. At the end of July 2005 Gilad began his military service in a combat unit of the armored corps. For the two months prior to his kidnapping, he has been on duty guarding and ensuring the security of the settlements around Gaza.

On Sunday, June 25th 2006, in a terrorist attack on an IDF post at Kerem Shalom during which his unit friends have been killed, Gilad was taken captive and has been held since in the Gaza Strip by Hamas.

To this day Gilad didn’t receive any visits from an official faction, including the Red Cross, and there is no reliable information about his well being.

Two years have passed since his abduction. Lets remind everyone that he has yet to come home and demand his quick return.

On June 25th, the two year anniversary to his abduction, please replace your personal profile picture with Gilad’s picture on Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, ICQ, Tapuz, bona, Mekusharim, news groups and any other social network or blog you’re a member of, and show the world that you are waiting for Gilad Schalit’s return.

And he's not the only one. We still await the return of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser as well, both abducted at about the same time.

May their return come speedily and safely.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sh'lach L'cha...Sending out the Scouts!

in this week's Torah portion...

12 spies were all sent
to scout the land of Canaan
one from every tribe.

They came back with grapes,
reports of milk and honey,
and fear of giants.

Caleb calmed them down
"we can do it!" he told them
Josh stood by him too.

It was lack of faith
in God's promise of the Land
and they paid the price:

As a punishment
they would not enter the Land
except Josh and Cay (leb)...

And so they wandered
forty years in wilderness

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Helping Flood Victims in Iowa

Here are some ways to help flood victims, from Tamar Fox's post over at Jewcy:
  • Right now, Iowa’s Jewish communities are holding up well, but they anticipate needing help in the near future. Synagogues in Mason City and Dubuque have taken on water, and will likely need money and supplies once the waters have receded and they can clean up. The Jewish Federation in Des Moines is accepting contributions to be distributed for general flood relief, wherever it may do the most good. You may send a check, earmarked "Flood Relief" to the Jewish Federation, 910 Polk Boulevard, Des Moines, IA, 50312.
  • Hillel is talking about organizing a volunteer rebuilding trip in late summer when the waters have receded and damage has been assessed. If you’re interested in such a trip, contact the University of Iowa Hillel.
  • And the Midwest isn’t the only area being hit by record-breaking floods this year. In China, dozens have been killed and more than a million people have been forced from their homes as waters rise in the Guangdong Province. The Red Cross Society of China is on the ground in Guangdong distributing supplies to people whose homes are submerged. Donate to the RCSC here.
Also, the Union for Reform Judaism is, as usual, collecting money to go to those in need. It's the headline on their page currently.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Blessings...Priestly and Otherwise

It's a famous line
"May God bless you and keep you."
the priests all said it.

"May the face of God
shine on you and be gracious
unto you and yours."

"May God's face lift up
to you and may you always
find completeness -- peace."

The Priestly Blessing is the centerpiece of this week's Torah portion, Naso.

The Hebrew root of the word "shalom," which means peace, is "shalem" -- which means wholeness or completeness. Only when we have completeness...in ourselves, in the world...can we truly find peace.

May you find blessings, completeness, and peace on this Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Celebrating Shavuot

The holiday of Shavuot is almost here!

While Shavuot is one of the most important Jewish holidays, it does tend to get overlooked.
So here are some things to help you learn more about this holiday!

1. Shavuot falls on the 6th day of Sivan. Its calendaring is directly related to Passover, as it is the end of the period of the counting of the Omer. (In English, it's usually called Pentecost, but the actual translation is "weeks" -- as in the weeks of the counting of the Omer.)

2. Shavuot is considered to be the anniversary of the acceptance of the Torah at Sinai. (That's why it follows Passover -- first we were freed, then we got the Torah.)

3. This is the day that began the season of bringing the first-fruits to the Temple. The first fruits were the first of each harvest to blossom, and were harvested and brought to the priests in a ceremony.

4. It is a tradition to read Akdamut, a liturgical poem, on Shavuot. This long poem is read at the morning service before the reading of Torah.

5. It is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. I like the explanation that the Torah is like "honey and milk" on our tongues as it says in Song of Songs 4:11. Other people say that we did not eat meat before the giving of the Law at Sinai and thus we remember that. Either way, Shavuot is a vegetarian's paradise of a holiday!

6. We read from the Book of Ruth on Shavuot. It is about a woman who chooses to accept the Torah, just as we commemorate our people's acceptance of the Torah. Plus it talks about the harvest. And it's a good read.

7. Midrash teaches that Mt. Sinai burst into blossoms at the giving of the Torah. Perhaps this is why it is customary to decorate synagogues and homes with flowers and greenery for Shavuot.

8. Most people stay up all night on Erev Shavuot, in a practice known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot. The idea is to study Torah all night in preparation for receiving the Torah at Sinai.

9. The idea of staying up all night really took off when coffee became available in Europe.

10. Conservative and Reform congregations typically choose Shavuot to celebrate Confirmation, the high-school affirmation of Jewish identity.

11. There is a slightly obscure tradition of making and displaying papercut-art. (I definitely need to explore this one more. I think there's something fun in this for Shavuot for next year...)

12. You could honor Shavuot by baking a "Bible Cake". It's a cool scavenger hunt through the Bible that yields a cake! How cool is that.

13. And in keeping with the cake idea, Sephardic Jews have the custom to bake a seven-layer cake called Siete Cielos or Seven Heavens. This symbolizes the seven celestial spheres that God traveled to present the Torah to Moses. Seven graduated circular layers are decorated with a star of David, the staff of Moses, the Tablets of the Law, manna, Jacob's ladder and the Ark of the Covenant. Here are some more foodie customs for Shavuot.

Learn more about Shavuot...check out some of Leora's and Ilana-Davita's great posts about it.

Join us at Am Shalom for our Shavuot Study-In, on Sunday, June 8th at 7:30pm held at our temporary offices, 900 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 109, Northbrook. Call 847-835-4800 for more details.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Musings on Pajama Day

Today is Pajama Day at David's school.

David is in Kindergarten.

He came downstairs really excited about wearing his PJ's to school. I didn't argue or dissuade him. He thought the whole thing was "cool".

After breakfast, he started to have a change of heart. "What about my afterschool program? It's not pajama day there." So I offered for him to take a change of clothes, but told him it wasn't safe to change on the bus, to please change once he got there.

So he stuffed a pair of pants and a shirt into his backpack and we were off.

About a block from school, he started to look worried.

"What if no one else is in their pajamas?" he asked.

I assured him that many people, especially in Kindergarten, would be in their pajamas. After all, weren't people wearing green yesterday and dressed as their "future selves" on Tuesday? (It's Spirit Week.) He agreed that they were.

But as we got closer to the playground, he could see many kids in regular clothes. It's a bit chilly this morning, so I could tell that many of them *were* in PJ's (by the bottoms) but with coats on. He was unconvinced. "No one's wearing pajamas!" he bemoaned.

"Can I change right now?" he asked.

How could I argue with him? I tried. A few moments. I walked him through what to say to the teacher if he felt uncomfortable and how to ask for permission to go change in the bathroom at school. He would have none of it.

So he changed. Right there, in the car, in the dropoff line. (Yes, I was that mom holding up the line today.)

And my heart broke a little. (Especially when his best buddy walked up wearing his pajamas...but that's not the point.)

My heart broke for my little boy who is already concered about what other people think.

My heart broke for a world in which kids are cruel to other kids.

My heart broke when I thought that he was already defining himself by what is "cool" and what is "not."

It's a long way off for him to come into high school. But I just finished reading this novel, which, while fiction, has been haunting me.

This is only the beginning. I feel such a weight of responsibilty, to teach my child that he *is* a blessing, just by being himself. That I love him for who he is. That the world will love him too, if he just guts it out and makes it through whatever minefield elementary, middle, and high school will be for him.

I pray that it will be easy. I pray that he will not be a bullied kid, and that he will not be a bully either. I pray that he will be a mensch...kind and sweet and good and that *that* will take him places...


Monday, May 19, 2008

New Eats in Town....Worth it!!!!

Highland Park has a new kosher Israeli restaurant.

It is awesome.

Mizrahi Grill is the next-best-thing to actually eating felafel in Israel.

People speak Hebrew there.
And put cheeps into your felafel for you.
And charif.
And yum.

(And I hear the meat options are pretty darn yummy too. You'll have to take my husband and father's word for it. I won't try it just for you, my blogging public.)

Run, do not walk. They might run out of that amazing pita. Then again, they seem pretty on top of things. But go now. And then go back again!

(It's at 215 Skokie Valley Road, two doors down from Max's Deli. They now have a big sign. I drive by it regularly and salivate. That's how good it is. Closed on Shabbat, obviously.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights...

Bloggers Unite

Today is a day for bloggers to come together and stand on one issue, this time it's human rights.

What can I possibly say about human rights? It's overwhelming and unbelievable to me that while I sit comfortably on my couch, there are people around the world suffering from unbelievable abuse.

In Darfur.

In Myanmar.

Even in our own backyard.

Around the world, there is violence against women, violence against children, terror in the streets.

What can we do?

We can sign a petition.

We can vote.

We can make phone calls and write letters.

We can put bumper stickers on our cars. (We can drive our cars less!)

We can travel and help and support.

And we must do all these things.

Because we can't stand idly by.

The world can't wait.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May her memory be for a blessing...

Irena Sendler, Polish heroine, died this week at the age of 98.

From the New York Times article:

Mrs. Sendler once told Ms. Stahl [Stanlee Stahl, executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous] that she wanted to write a book about the bravery of Jewish mothers.

“She said,” Ms. Stahl recalled, “ ‘Here I am, a stranger, asking them to place their child in my care. They ask if I can guarantee their safety. I have to answer no. Sometimes they would give me their child. Other times they would say come back. I would come back a few days later and the family had already been deported.’ ”

This comment strikes me as such a powerful statement about those who helped during the war. Most of them didn't consider themselves to be heroes, they were doing what they felt was right. Mrs. Sendler was among them. To think that she, who was putting her life in danger to help Jewish families, thought that the mothers were the brave ones.

They were all so brave.

As each of these survivors dies, the world loses a piece of history.
Each of them is a witness, and we need to remember for them and for our children.

May her memory be for a blessing.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Great Shabbat Opportunity!

Celebrate Shabbat by helping others...leave non-perishable food items by your mailbox tomorrow and your mail carrier will take them for the nation's largest one-day food drive ever!

Read more here: http://www.helpstampouthunger.com/

The Torah is Full of Rules...

In this week's parasha....

There are rules for priests
Don't touch any dead bodies
except your family.

Do not shave your head
or the sidelocks of your beards.
Do not gash your flesh.

Priests have lots of rules
Do not marry a harlot
or a divorcee.

Priests have to be pure
They can't share the sacrifice
with any lay-folks.

Holidays happen:
Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot
Yom Kippur, Sukkot,

Rosh Hashanah too.
These holidays are holy,
each one on its date.

Light the lights a lot
every day in the Mishkan
an "eternal light."

There was once a man
and he was a blasphemer.
He was stoned by all.

Kill a man - you die.
If you kill a beast - you pay.
The laws are so clear.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

13 Things I Love About Israel

13 Things I Love About Israel

1. Felafel with cheeps and charif and pickles. Mmmmmm....

2. Walking on Ben Yehuda on Motzei Shabbat.

3. Watching kids play in parks that are full of ancient artifacts.

4. The whale sculpture in Old Jaffa.

5. Seeing Israeli kids riding the busses, hanging out, running around, just being kids and speaking Hebrew!

6. Spotting the blue paint in Tsfat.

7. Bumper stickers!!!!

8. The grottos of Rosh Hanikra, especially when the water levels are really high....

9. Watching the faces of first-timers when they really do float in the Dead Sea.

10. Reading Rachel's poems at her graveside.

11. Knowing that the young men and women carrying those big guns are Jewish kids ready to defend their homes and families.

12. Feeling Shabbat as it comes into Jerusalem...the frenzy of activity followed by the lovely calm. (And the shuk - rugelach and tomatoes and hummus and pita and spices and oranges and.....)

13. Feeling like I'm coming home.

Happy 60th Birthday, Israel!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How many is 6 million?

There are a lot of different ways to try and illustrate how many 6 million is.

Putting the whole thing into perspective is very difficult. Even I, as an adult, can't truly fathom how many people died in the Shoah, the Holocaust. How, then, do I teach young people to comprehend it?

One teacher tried with paperclips.

Others have used pop-top lids, math tools, pennies, written words, and others.

In Glencoe, we use yellow flags. A field full of them, about 5000 in all, to honor the memory of the victims of the Shoah. Yellow flags that draw the eye, set in the middle of town, in Kalk Park.

Tonight, our 7th and 8th graders planted the field of flags.

(my husband, planting flags with his students)

And they heard the story of a woman, Kate Lipner, who saved many Jews in France during the war. Her story...so incredible. And yet, she said "I am not a hero. I just did what I had to do." Our young people are rarely quiet. You could have heard a pin drop in the room as she spoke.

If you are in the area, drive through Glencoe before Friday afternoon. The flags are near the train station. Their beauty is stunning. So were all the lives lost.

Zecher tzadik livracha...may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing.
May we always remember. May we learn not to forget.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Haveil Havalim #163

Haveil Havalim #163, the Best of The Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere is now live at Tzipiyah.

Go check it out!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Looking up at the Moon....

It was living in Israel that I really became aware of the cycle of the moon. Was it the clearer skies? Was it the life lived by the Hebrew months? Or was it the metaphorical closeness of the heavens? I believe it was all of the above. Only in Israel did the moon seem to guide my life, give me a sense of the date, greet my nights.


Keren haYesod Street, Jerusalem, midnight, Yom Kippur
Walking on a quiet, car-empty street
the moon is half-there, growing in potential as we grow ourselves…


Mitzpe Ramon Crater, the Negev, 11:00pm
Laying on the rocks, looking up, the moon so close
we can reach out and touch it.


Moses Montefiore’s windmill, Jerusalem, 3:00am, Shabbat morning.
Watching the moon rise and set over the Old City of Jerusalem…
talking, holding hands, waiting for him to kiss me for the first time.

Wherever I am, wherever I go, when I see the moon, I am in Eretz Yisrael.

The waxing and waning of the moon has been compared to the Jewish people, always returning, always present, always renewing ourselves. The moon may be hard to see but it always returns, even more vibrant, more beautiful each time we see it. Israel is like this to me – no matter how many weeks, months, years pass between my visits, it is more vibrant, more beautiful.

“You are a crown of glory for those who are borne in the womb, for they, like you, are destined to be renewed.” (from Kiddush Levanah)

Eretz Yisrael…our crown of glory…may its shimmering light shine for us always.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Last Minute Pesach Stuff

Ack! Passover is almost here. A whole bunch of last-minute Pesach tips, tricks, and interesting things...perhaps for Seder conversation....

1. Are you worried about feeding your goldfish this year? In case you are, here is some information on how to make sure that even your fish's diet is appropriately chametz-free.

2. Passover can be, um, binding. One good way to ensure that you stay, um, regular, is to eat dried fruit, or even better -- fruit compote. A yummy recipe: 4 lbs mixed dried fruits, 1 1/2 cups orange juice, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, one piece of cinnamon stick or cinnamon powder to taste, peel of one lemon, left in one or more large pieces. Remove the sulfates in the dried fruit first: pour boiling water over the fruit and let stand for at least 1 hour. Drain thoroughly. Put the fruit in a large pot, with all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 30-45 minutes until tender. Cool in the saucepan, remove the lemon peel, and store it in the fridge, covered tightly. It will keep for a long long time. Unless you eat it all.

3. Don't screw up and buy the wrong kind of matzah. FrumeSarah, I'm embarrassed to say that this is what I fell for. Here's how the story goes. This year, Manishewitz isn't making Tam Tams. For those of you who don't know, Tam Tams are wonderful, yummy, not-low-cal crackers made Kosher for Passover each year. They are my family's favorite Pesach food. What I didn't realize was that they were also not making any cracker-shaped matzah stuff this year. I had no idea. I'm a little slow. I thought to myself, maybe I'm just late to the party and it's all been bought at my local stores (did anyone get any???). So I went online to Amazon. I got really excited to find this. I bought it. Late at night, I suddenly realized that this was NOT the Kosher for Passover stuff. Why do they make chametz-dik matzah? Please explain this to me, Manishewitz! I knew this -- I always check my matzah in the store. But online...I got so excited by the matzah cracker shape that I bought ...get this... 12 boxes. Yep, that's how it's sold on Amazon. By the case. My husband got a good laugh that I had just spent hours cleaning my pantry of all the chametz and I went and bought 12 boxes of the stuff. Lovely. Food pantry?

4. If you aren't done yet with the cleaning thing, check out A Mother in Israel's great checklist. I always forget the cars.

5. Check out this beautiful handout from Storahtelling. Try their Leap for Freedom game. It's great!

6. Looking for a new Haggadah? Want some games or stories or ideas for the Seder? They're all over, people.

7. Passover isn't always the most "Green" of holidays - we throw out stuff, we clean frantically, we might use a lot of disposables or papergoods. So here is Hazon's take on sustainable Passover resources.

8. Why put an orange or other innovation on your seder plate? There are a couple of explanations for this - although it's typically thought of as a feminist statement - I like to think of it as inclusive and adding something new to the seder to keep it lively, interesting, and modern. Here are two different opinions and ideas about this, both of which are thought-provoking and interesting. What do you do to make your seder new each year?

9. A video for you:

Plus this very cool ASL version of the Four Questions.

10. Even though the Passover seder talks about our redemption from Egypt, the need for freedom in our world is still ongoing. Here is a wonderful Seder addition from American Jewish World Service, imploring us to remember those in Darfur who are not free from fear and terror.

11. My favorite Passover joke: As Moses was leading the Children of Israel through the parted walls of the Red Sea, some complained of thirst after walking so far, so fast. Unfortunately, they weren't able to drink from the walls of salt water on each side of them. Then a fish from the wall of water stuck his head out and spoke to Moses. He told him his family had heard the complaint, and that they could, thru their own gills, remove the salt from the water, and then force it out of their mouths like a fresh water fountain for the Israelites to drink from! But, said the fish, before his family began to help, they had one demand. They wanted to be a part of history, and wanted to always be a part of the Seder meal to commemorate the Exodus. Moses readily agreed to this, and gave them their name which remains to this very day. He said to them ... "Go, Filter Fish." (you have to say it out loud to get it. trust me. you'll laugh.)

12. My second favorite Passover joke: (these are great for the Seder, I promise!) The queen was going to knight a prominent Jew in England. He was welcomed to the palace along with all the other knights-to-be. They were instructed to go before the Queen, kneel down, and recite a phrase in Latin. All the other candidates nodded. The Jewish almost-knight said it over and over to himself, trying to remember it. When it was his turn to stand before the Queen, the phrase simply flew out of his head and he said the first non-English phrase that came to mind: "Mah nishtanah halaila hazeh mikol ha-laylot?" And the Queen turned to her advisors nearby and said, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?" (it gets 'em every year!)

13. Make sure you look up on Seder night. Hopefully the sky will be clear and you can see the beautiful full moon. The beautiful fullness represents, I believe, the beautiful fullness of Jewish life, especially on this night, the night that so many Jews and friends around the world are sharing in the Feast of Freedom. What an amazing moment for us all to know that we are all telling the same story, we are all re-living the dramatic moment in which we celebrated the understanding of the true meaning of freedom.

May this holiday bring joy and peace. Chag sameach!

Crossposted with Ima on and Off the Bima

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Discover Something Great

(I know I promised to post this a while back...sorry for the delay!)

Time is definitely running out for you to discover something great at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute. They are playing host to what will, I'm quite sure, be an incredible Shabbat experience.

Why would you want to go to the Jewish Discovery Shabbat at OSRUI?
May 2-3, 2008

If you're thinking of converting to Judaism...
If you are part of an interfaith relationship and want to talk about making it work well...
If you're trying to make Shabbat a part of your life and don't quite know how...
If you're single and looking for someone...
If you're just curious about Judaism....

Those are all good reasons. Click here to learn more and to download the registration form.

Every Shabbat at OSRUI is wonderful but I'm sure that this one will be one of the best because of the topics at hand, the leadership of the weekend, Rabbi Leora Kaye and Rabbi John Linder (my wonderful classmate and friend), and because of the spirit behind the concept...

Go check it out!!!!! You won't be disappointed.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Kosher Cooking Carnival is up...

Mother-in-Israel has posted the Kosher Cooking Carnival #29 today -- it's fantastic! All about preparing for Pesach...go over and see!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008



Coming back from Israel is always bittersweet.

I love returning to my family. I can't wait to see and hold each of them. I am glad to return, to be here where (most....) of my family is. 

But it is always jarring to me to hear English all around. To see signs in English and not Hebrew. To look around and feel reasonably sure that I'm back in the minority. To see children in baseball caps instead of kippot. To not feel a compulsion to give any young soldier a motherly kiss on the forehead (not that I saw so many soldiers in O'Hare, though). Coming back from Israel...even though this is definitely my home, I always have a hard time saying that I'm going home when I leave Israel. A piece of me is always there, my home away from home, my heart-land.

 "Wherever I go, I am going to the land of Israel." (Rebbe Nachman)

I love introducing people to this land I love so much. To see through their eyes the sights and sounds and smells, to taste anew each visit the felafel, halva, even bamba (which I'm not such a fan of, sorry Israeli friends)...as I pointed out to our group, even Coke tastes different here. The very air is different.

And I can't wait to go back.

(More Israel posts coming up with pictures and stories....stay tuned! Same blogtime, same blogchannel!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hot in Here!

Hot in Here!

It sure was a hot one today....

We started with an excellent discussion/lecture with Professor Reuven Hazan. He was interesting and engaging, he talked about Israel's pollitical situation today and the group was really riveted.

Then we headed for the bus...as I said beofre, we were a little delayed by Cheney's motorcade and then we were off...heading down south to the Dead Sea and Masada.

Remember, as I said yesterday, we're having a serious heatwave here. And so we went to the desert to REALLY feel the heat!:)

We got to the Dead Sea and stopped at the Hod Hotel to use their beach and changing space. We went down to the water and had a great time floating around and experiencing this marvel. Some of the kids also swam in the pool and enjoyed the sunbathing on the beach too. We had a nice lunch and then headed off to Masada, refreshed from the healing waters of the Dead Sea....

We didn't have the time to tour Masada (as I keep saying to the group - there's always more to see, always something that will keep for the next visit!) but we did what we came for - celebrated TEN Bnai Mitzvah! It was hot and sticky and crowded but it was pretty amazing to watch 9 kids and 1 adult read Torah together in Israel. It took 18 aliyot! That's a lot of Torah. It was really fantastic.

My brother was there too - he played guitar for the service and it was great to see him. (And yes mom, I gave him the stuff I was supposed to give him!)

We headed back down just before the last cable car and that was my goodbye to the group. They are heading to my favorite part of the country, the North (well, I like Jerusalem too. Perhaps, like the Torah portions, they're ALL my favorites!) and will be in Tiberias, the Golan (jeep riding and ziplining!), Tsfat and more...then Tel Aviv and then back to Chicago. I'm sure they'll have a great time (and I hear its going to cool off!!!).

I went back to Jerusalem, had dinner at my favorite restaurant - the Village Green - and then headed to the airport where I now sit, waiting for my flight. (No more motorcades, Dick left before I did.)

I could get used to this...being a regular visitor to Israel. It certainly does feel like home away from home. I'm looking forward to seeing my family, though, and catching up on life....oh wait, I'm off to quilting retreat next week....ack! Still, it's all good.

See you on the far side!

Forgot to add...

Forgot to add... <!-- Converted from text/plain format
Vice President Cheney is here in Jerusalem too! On our way back into Jerusalem, as we were driving by the Knesset building, we had to stop for his motorcade. He stayed at the King David Hotel which is down the street from ours. When we got back to King David Street we ran into the motorcade AGAIN!

And in the morning today (Monday) we had trouble once more as one of our busses got stuck behind the motorrcade and ended up 45 minutes late! Ah...the joys of trevelling in Israel when it's the center of the world....


Last Day in Jerusalem

Last Day in Jerusalem

Our morning on Sunday was spent at Yad Vashem. First we went to the Childrens Memorial and the Janus Korszchak statue and memorial. The multitude of lights representing all the children murdered glow with such intensity...the names and ages and countries are read with such sadness....the photographs that welcome us into the memorial, of the children with such searching eyes....

Our children left with the youth counselors while the rest of us went into the museum. (Children under 10 not allowed in the museum.)

I was just here six weeks ago and I went to Yad Vashem. I think that no trip, even seasoned travellers, should skip this place. I learned and saw different things and different stories than I have before. One story, about a Bosnian Muslim family who saved Jews...and then later, when things were bad in Bosnia, came to Israel. One of their children converted to Judaism and now a grandchild serves in the Israeli army. Incredible. So many stories to tell, so many we don't know at all...

After a quick lunch, we conclided our visit to Yad Vashem with a walk through the Valley of the Communities. Each family took a spool of ribbon and went to find withinthe valley the name or area from which their family comes. Then they unspooled the ribbon from their town back out into the main section. All those ribbons came together and were held by the children. Such a beautiful site - all those colorful ribbons, all those sweet children...our past and our future coming together to remind us WHY we come to Yad Vashem - so that we remember the past and build our future.

Then we headed down to Moshav Shafir, about an hour south and west to visit our Federation Partnership 2000 region, a region with which we have a pretty direct connection - exchanges of people and volunteers, gifts and assistance...it's a really amazing and real partnership.

Israel is experiencing a heat wave! It was in the nineties and the heat is intense - way more than usual in March. This made our outdoor project a little uncomfortable but still pretty great - we helped to create a bike path using hoes and picks. We also heard a wonderful story from a woman who had been a teenager during the War of Independence - an experience in that very spot in Shafir. (More on this another day - it deserves a whole post!) And we met the Gerge Washington Carver of pomegranates - a man who has invented many uses for this famous fruit.

We did our work with some of the kids frpm Shafir and we also shared a pizza dinner with them. (Typical Israeli pizza toppings - corn, tuna, olive, anchovy!)

We headed back to Jerusalem where some of us headed out to enjoy the last hurrah of Shushan Purim....still great and crazy and fun!

And tomorrow....off to the south!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shabbat in Jerusalem

Shabbat in Jerusalem

Even though Shabbat is a day of rest, we had some optional activites for our group. In the morning about 40 of us went to Rehovot to the bullet factory in Har haKibbutzim. This was a secret underground factory that made bullets for the Haganah for three years before 1948. It was a really amazing story and a great museum. It always boggles my mind how young these people were who created the State. The workers in this bullet factory were as young as 16. We have in our group a 16-year-old young man and I couldn't help but look at him and imagine him there, making bullets and working in furtive secrecy to create bullets for the resistance.

We returned to Jerusalem and had a lovely lunch and then met in the afternoon for the Tourgame (also optional!)....an educational scavenger hunt through the Old City - it was awesome. I have been in the Old City many times but even I loved it! We were all over the Jewish Quarter and learned a lot about all the places and history. We had to search for sights, answer questions and follow a map through the route. It was really great - I would definitely do it again!

Then Shabbat was about to draw to a close.... I headed up to the Tayelet to join three Am Shalom families who were celebrating their Bnot Mitzvah with Rabbi Steve. The view was breathtaking and the closeness of the Temple Mount was amazing. I slipped in at the end and shared a really magical and spiritual experience with these families.

We went back into Jerusalem and our whole group (including the Bnai Mitzvah families) joined together on the patio of the David Citadel hotel, overlooking the almost full moon over the Old City. The view was amazing and the atmosphere incredible. To share Havdalah in such a space...words cannot describe.

We were on our own for dinner and the group split up. Ben Yehuda Street was a zoo! Purim is still in full-swing and we were overwhelmed by the number of people out and about, the noise, the music, the costumes... and it just keeps going and going....

Tomorrow, Yad Vashem.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday in Jerusalem

Friday in Jerusalem

This day was spent in wonderful celebration of Jerusalem. We went through the amazing Southern Wall excavation site. This is the really incredible archaeological exporation of the southwest corner and southern wall of the Temple Mount.

I'm not sure I can even express in words how I feel (especially not while typing on my bberry - I think this may have to be a more thorough exposition when I get home, but...) about this site. It is truly breathtaking to me that we have dug up and learned so much about the Temple Mount. What boggles my mind though (here's where expression gets tricky) is how we treat this part of the Kotel (wall) as a historical site whereas the "Western Wall" usually called The Kotel is viewed as a religious site. It's the same wall! Yes I know there is historical significnce to the only piece of the temple mount that we have had access to for hundreds of years but why is that "the real Wall" and the other merely a museum piece? More on this later.

After the Southern Wall site we visited the Kotel Plaza and had a chance to say our own prayers and place written prayers in the cracks of the wall.

Then we explored the Jewish quarter, spent a little time shopping in the Cardo, and had a great felafel lunch in the Old City.

For the afternoon most of our group rested and relaxed by the pool....a few of us headed to Mahane Yehuda market for a little pre-Shabbat experience and shopping. It's still Purim so things were even more festive than usual. We bought fruit and nuts and hamantaschen and of course, my favorite, rugelach from Marzipan Bakery. On the way home we walked through the Ben Yehuda midrachov (pedestian mall) and had smushy yogurt. A little rest and then onto Shabbat....

(I'm tired so more tomorrow on Shabbat!)

Friday, March 21, 2008

We dig Israel!

We arrived in Israel in a beautiful sunny morning. After a brief stop at the tank museum in Latrun, we had a beautiful brunch at Pinat Shorashim, on the grounds of Kibbutz Gezer. Pinat Shorashim is an educational garden - simply beautiful - and the site of Israel's first baseball field.

Then we headed to Beit Guvrin for "dig for a day." Archaeological Seminars was founded by Bernie and Fran Alpert, of Highland Park, IL, as a chance for regular people to really experience archaeology in Israel. Everyone in our group really enjoyed digging in the caves and finding shards of pottery.

Then we went "spelunking" through some unexcavated caves. The hardy souls who squeezed themselves through these honeycomb caves had a great time exploring. (And getting very dirty in the process!)

Then we headed to Jerusalem and sopped at Montefiore's Windmill to overlook the Old City and say Shehecheyanu - the blessing for special moments.

Personally - this spot is very significant because it is the site where my husband proposed to me!!! Overlooking our favorite city....it is probably my favorite spot in the world. I can't wait to stand there someday with my children and God willing my grandchildren, as so many in our group did.

We checked into our hotel and cleaned up a bit before dinner and a little Purim celebrating, followed by a trip to the Western Wall Tunnels, the excavation of the Temple Mount along the Western Wall (Kotel). Everyone was exhausted and most headed to bed.

I went over (with Rabbi Steve) to the Ben Yehuda area to check out some of the Puriim festivities (more on Sunday, since we are in Jerusalem) and have frozen yogurt. We ran into my brother in his goofy costume. In true Israeli fashion, he is celebrating Purim all over - tonight here in Yerushalayim, tomorrow in Tel Aviv and then back to his kibbutz.

It is so awesome to see all the costumes and festivities on the street and know that it is for OUR holiday OUR celebration! It is Purim, a holiday celebrating Jewish preservation and resilience, that is being observed with such glee and gaiety! - direct you to an interesting comment on this topic from Frume Sarah on Tuesday
...and then finally to bed! Whew! What a day!

A long and wonderful introduction to our trip!!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008



After a very long and somewhat bumpy flight we have arrived in Eretz Yisrael! Stay tuned....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's time for some sacrificing around here...

And thus we begin
another book of Torah,
now Leviticus.

God tells what to do.
Sacrifices 101
is Mo's courseload now.

First, burnt offerings:
animals completely burned
by the holy priests.

Next, meal offerings:
Cakes of flour and oil,
part to burn by priests.

Sh'lamim offerings,
to demonstrate gratitude
are detailed next.

Then, sin offerings
if you omitted info,
if you touched unclean,

or if you swore oath
and then forgot about it.
Also guilt offerings:

Unwitting sinning,
lying or robbing also
make you do this one.

God is forgiving
when expiation is made
and it's all okay!


It's Shabbat Zachor
Zachor means "to remember"
It precedes Purim.

The reading is hard,
we remember Amalek
how he attacked us.

It fits with Purim
we remember times of pain
Amalek, Haman...

We celebrate now
but we know the world isn't
perfect just quite yet.

Chag Purim Sameach!
and Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Our thoughts are with the students and families of Mercaz haRav Yeshiva.

May the memory of these students be for a blessing...

Read more here (note graphic photos, though)

My heart bleeds...

The Cloud Descends...the Tabernacle Building Ends!

Time to keep the books.

Itamar, son of Aaron,

got himself the job.

Where did the gold go?

Mo gives a detailed account

of how much was used.

The garments for priests

were made next by the artists.

Pretty, yet useful!

Inscribed on the front

were the words "Holy to God"

Just as God had said.

So the work was done,

the Tabernacle complete.

They brought it to Mo.

Moses inspected

and saw they had done it all.

So he blessed their work.

God told Mo, "it's time

to set it all up and use!"

Mo did what God said.

When Mo was all done

the Presence of God filled it,

the cloud settled down.

When the cloud rose up

they continued to journey.

But if the cloud stayed

then they did not go.

The Presence of God was there

with them day and night.

Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

File under: Probably NOT good for the Jews

Um...why do I think this is going to end badly?

What do you think?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

eat this torah...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

13 Highlights of the Trip to Israel

Here are 13 highlights of my trip to Israel...
scroll back through my posts to read more about the trip.

1. Seeing and hanging out with my brother.

2. Praying together at the Kotel, the Western Wall.

3. Shabbat in Jerusalem. We spent Friday night at Kehillat Har El, a Reform congregation in Jerusalem. They honored us with home hospitality, which was awesome, and then we went back for a seudah shlishit and study session, followed by Havdalah.

4. Visiting the new Yad Vashem Memorial and Museum. I hadn't been to the newly renovated version of the museum and it was awesome. For me, the highlight was seeing 8th and 9th grade students from Chicago in the same place as we were. I felt as though I was experiencing it through their eyes as well.

5. Watching people make phone calls on top of Masada!

6. The snow in Jerusalem

7. Going to the mall with a small group on a rainy night.

8. Visiting the grave of Naomi Shemer and singing Jerusalem of Gold.

9. Jeep-riding in the Golan Heights!

10. Meeting young Arab girls in Nazareth in a felafel restaurant.

11. Meeting Robin of Around the Island for lunch!

12. Being silly on the bus.

13. Traveling with this incredible group of women!

More people thought about 13 this week...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Looking for Pictures?

Interested in seeing pictures of our trip to Israel?

Come visit my other blog for pictures in today's post!

Also, see this great shot on the website of Ein Hod's Artist Colony.

Also...if you joined me for my Israel trip updates, please continue to visit me, I post regularly both here and there.

Every Friday I put up a Haiku version of the Torah portion and I write various missives on Jewish stuff!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Our Final Day...

We spent our last day of our trip in Tel Aviv...

In the morning we heard from Rabbi Galia Sadon, one of the rabbis at Beit Daniel, the largest Reform congregation in Israel. Her conversation with our group was interesting and fun...I think it's such a great chance for our group to hear from these amazing Israeli women.

Then we headed over to Independence Hall, which our group really found to be an incredible highlight. To sit in the same room that David Ben-Gurion stood in when he announced Israel's Declaration of Independence..."surrender is not an option..." and it never will be, our guide added.

Then we headed to Rabin Square, where, in 1995, Yitzchak Rabin was assasinated. I was particularly touched by the personal reflections of our guide, Renee, who was in attendance at the rally that terrible night.

We went to the Carmel Market for lunch and some last minute shopping (my mom picked up a cool Golda Meir sweatshirt for me!) while I was so excited to have lunch with Robin from Around the Island!!!! (More on this in a later post...with pictures!)

Then we headed over to Old Jaffa, and went through the Ilana Goor gallery, which was pretty darn cool. She is a famous artist who turned her personal house into an eclectic and interesting gallery that is open to the public. It was pretty breath-taking to see her collection and imagine actually living in this amazing house. Then we browsed through some of the galleries in Jaffa and headed back to our hotel...to rest (although four of us went up to the north part of Tel Aviv, to the boardwalk, and browsed around a bit) before our closing dinner...

We all joined together at Kimmel, a great Moroccan/Turkish restaurant for our closing dinner. We shared wine and good food and a *lot* of laughter as we recalled and celebrated our journey together. "Journey" does seem like a good word to describe the trip -- we travelled together, yes, but I think it was so much more, so much more than just a "trip."

Each time I come to Israel I learn something new. And this time was no exception.

May we all return safely home and may we all return again and again to this amazing land...

Stay tuned for more posts, with pictures....now that I'm home and reunited with my laptop!

Friday, February 22, 2008



We are safely home...a last post to come about our last day in Tel Aviv...

But until then, I'm in the cab and shaking my head in disbelief that British Airways had the audacity to leave some of our bags back in London! Only some, but let me tell you, I am quite sure we're all done with that airline...twice in 10 days....

Okay, more after Shabbat!!!!
It is nice to be home but I miss Israel already:)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Driving the Dream

Driving the Dream

Up early, of course, and with fresh-baked cinnamon rolls at breakfast!

Even though we could have spent all day at beautiful Kfar Blum, all of Israel awaited us! Okay, just part of it...but you know!

We started our day in Tzfat - one of my favorite cities in Israel. We visited the awesome candle factory and the two synagogues of Isaac Luria, the great kabbalist. We saw a clsss of three-year-old boys whose Hebrew far outstripped mine and who captured the heart of our group!

We walked briefly through some of the galleries (is there ever enough time?) and then hopped back on the bus to Nazareth.

Nazareth is a large Arab city and the traffic getting in was terrible, which I understand is typical and regular! We found a felafel stand where the proprietor was amenable to most of our group and the ladies were patient as we ordered our sandwiches and drinks.

The restaurant was filled with youngsters after school eating lunch. A group of 13-year-old girls was sitting near us and they captivated the imaginations of our women. We spoke to them and took their picutured and the they whipped out their cell phones and took OUR pictures! They were adorable and seemed excited to practice their English on us!

Most of the group then went to the Church of the Annunciation, a short walk away. The church was gorgeous, full of mosaics donated by many different countries.

Then of course it was back on the bus!

We went to Ein Hod, an artists' colony outside Haifa. Because we were very late, many of the artists were not open but the man who gives "tours" asked some to stay open as he guided us over to their studio/shops. While it felt like a hefty sales job, the art and surroundings were beautiful and many of us bought in one or two of the studios. A spot to return to with a long afternoon, for sure.

And now...we are on the way to Tel Aviv. It's hard to believe we've been gone just about one week! It does feel like much longer...

I think everyone's having a good time and we keep reminding them that there is good reason to come back - there's always more to see and do! I do love Israel.

Driving through the Dream

Up early, of course, and with fresh-baked cinnamon rolls at breakfast!

Ein Hod

Tel Aviv

So much to do so little time to blog!

So much to do so little time to blog!

As we drove north, the group marvelled at the complexity of Israel's politics and landscape. Even to know that just an hour or so behind us was snow in Jerusalem and here was sun?

We went to one of my favorite sites in Israel, Beit Shean. (Like the Torah portions, each one is my favorite...) Although the weather was cold and blustery, we had a great time looking at all the Roman ruins. We especially enjoyed the ancient "bathrooms" and we took lots of pictures :)

After this, we stopped at the Kinneret Cemetery on the shores of the Kinneret - the Sea of Galilee. In this beautiful cemetery are buried some of Israel's pioneers and famous folks. We went to the grave of Rachel, Israel's national poet...and we placed stones on her grave and read some of her poems. Then we visited nearby the grave of Naomi Shemer and sang a little bit of Jerusalem of Gold, her most famous song. We also read a bit of the last poem she wrote, in honor of Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who died in the Columbia disaster. Although it was set to music after her death, she wsnt able to do that herself. The Kinneret Cemetery is sucha peaceful and beautiful spot and the overlook is gorgeous.

We stopped in Capernaum, where St Peter was said to have lived. Today a modern church stands next to an ancient synagoge and Christian prayers mingled with Jewish davenners...how do we know where is St Peter's house? It was the house that had 11 layers of the floor - meaning that the home had been occupied through hundreds if not thousands of years.

Very interesting - and someplace I'd never been before! As Rabbi Ben Bag Bag says about the Torah, turn it and turn it for everything is within it. The same is with visiting Israel. There is always something new to find and see.

Continuing up north into the Golan, we watched the view as we climbed in our bus...we came to the city of Katzrin and had a yummy lunch and what Renee termed the best ice cream in the Golan. You know it's good when even your guide who recommends the ice cream goes and eats it! It really was fabulous! (My mom wants me to note that it was really gelato...I had tiramisu flavor - yum!)

After lunch we embarked on a Jeep tour (they were actually Land Rovers) to see the Golan Heights. As Warren Christopher once said "ah....Geography IS important!" - we saw the very important significance of the Heights...from them you can just see the whole of Israel arrayed before you. The beauty is breathtaking but the knowledge of the danger to the towns and kibbutzim and fields and PEOPLE below if these high parts are not in our hands....

We saw wild boar and jackals in the fields and talked about the ruins of the Syrian army bases. The recent rain and snow had left the off-roads very muddy and full of deep puddles. At least we didn't have to get out and push!!!

Our jeeps dropped us off at the Golan Winery where we toured and tasted...yum!

We arrived in the evening after the wine tour at our hotel in Kibbutz Kfar Blum. The hotel was lovely and the dinner delicious.

After dinner most of us met together in the somewhat noisy lobby and shared stories, some details about the trip, and it was just a nice chance to be all together.

Everyone thought the hotel was wonderful and I know we all slept so well after such a busy day:)!