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 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!