Oops! Forgive me?

Dear Family, Friends and Ranting Readers (people I haven’t met but who read my rantings),

It’s that time again. I’ve been assessing the situation and have determined that I’ve lived another year of being pathetically merely human. I got lazy and allowed myself to fall into that negative, sarcastic and judgmental trap again this year. Between Facebook, blogs and media sites (providing an abundance of juicy content I couldn’t resist drawing from and spewing out),  my reach has become farther than ever before and I should have taken that responsibility a bit more seriously. I’m sorry, can you forgive me for any harsh words and thoughts I may have inflicted on you?  I admit that I’m not sorry for everything I’ve written, Continue reading Oops! Forgive me?


Shavuot 5772

Have I mentioned lately just how much I love this land?!    I walked up to the mall, weaving my way through the gardens before Kikar Yahalom in search of fresh rosemary for my stew (which I actually found at our parking lot entrance on my way home) what a beautiful morning!  All along the way, people I’ve never met wished me a Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach. The same was true for the rest of my outing:

  • at the bakery, where the manager and I shared a broken English-broken Hebrew conversation about sour dough bread;
  • at the supermarket check out where the cashier and a man behind me showered each other with blessings to the point that I expected to see head-to-toe black and white with a long beard when I turned around… only to find a bare-headed Israeli praising Hashem and joyfully wishing the cashier Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!   Continue reading Shavuot 5772

Le Shana Haba b’Yerushalayim!

Earlier this week I watched a brief AISH video by Lori Palatnik about the song we sing at the end of the seder – Le Shana Haba b’Yerushalayim (Next Year in Jerusalem). In this message, Lori asks how many people really mean those words. I found this surprising since she doesn’t live in Israel and this is a question most often used when challenging Jews to come home.

Many of the comments on the AISH page under the video are sad and surprising.  I wonder how some people can be so blind to the dangers and negativity in their own surroundings; they look at their galut through rose colored glasses while viewing Israel (the unknown!) through the lens of the worst media propaganda available to them. Some have even visited Israel and had negative experiences during a vacation that has solidified their resolve to never live here!  Imagine making a life-changing decision based on a few unpleasant experiences because you weren’t open to exploring and appreciating a different culture (or traveling to the communities in Israel that are densely populated by Americans)  while on vacation!  I wonder how many of their ancestors ran away from the US because their early experiences left a bad taste in their mouths (very few, I’m sure).

And then at the other extreme, there’s the convert who said “I am a convert. A year after I said these words the first time, I was in Jerusalem (without all the helps and money a jew can get for his aliya). It’s true: Whoever really means it can make it.”  Why is it that a convert “gets it”, but someone who has spent their entire life immersed in Torah life and culture doesn’t? Continue reading Le Shana Haba b’Yerushalayim!


Yay – We Got Rained Out!

I never thought I’d be as happy to see rain as I was this morning!  We were scheduled to go on a Nefesh B’Nefesh tiyul (trip) to Neot Kedumim and the event was rained out – but the announcement came after we were already en route to Jerusalem to catch the bus. 

Rained out of Chanukah trip

Our friend Judy suggested that she drop us off at the Israel Museum so that the trip wouldn’t be a complete wash out, but when we arrived we learned that they don’t open until 10:00 and it was 8:30. Around the corner the Bible Lands Museum sign indicated that they open at 9:30.  We had an hour to invest somewhere so Judy dropped us off to enjoy a morning stroll around the Rose Gardens.  Within minutes of arrival, before we topped the first set of stairs, the drizzle turned into rain and – despite the fact that we saw a rainbow over Jerusalem and it was drizzling in Ma’ale Adumim when we were getting ready to leave, and I strongly suggested that Michael bring a jacket and at least wear a hat to keep the sun out of his eyes – not all of us had come prepared for rain!  I, of course, was already wearing my raincoat and quickly pulled Yisrael’s out of my pocket and slipped it on him while his friend Eliad donned a jacket without a hood or hat. Continue reading Yay – We Got Rained Out!


Kol HaKavod to Leibel Cohen!

For the past 7 years Leibel Cohen (Writer, Director, Producer at Reel Jewish Entertainment) has been enhancing our lives with wholesome Jewish entertainment that I think is meant for the kids but we sure do get a kick out of it as well!

Last night we enjoyed watching “Agent Emes and the Happy Chanukah” for the 2nd or 3rd – or maybe 4th – time since we bought it a few years ago. Here’s a link to my favorite clip – I had Yisrael advance the DVD to this scene right after we lit the first Chanukiah because I love the way they sing “Al Hanisim”. Continue reading Kol HaKavod to Leibel Cohen!


Chanukah – Not the Jewish Xmas

In his November 29th post declaring that Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas, Dr. David Yeagley (an American Indian Christian supporter of Israel and Judaism) has some interesting insights into our holiday’s history and purpose.

Here are a few quotes I found inspiring:

There is always something, some line, which, when crossed, will activate the Collective Conscious of the patriots. While the Jewish international difficulties generally were focused on preserving Sabbath keeping, at this point, the point of the Maccabean Defense, it was the defilement of the very Temple that provoked the Jewish military action.

…It was associated with the victory of religious forces, the triumph of the soul of the nation.

Continue reading Chanukah – Not the Jewish Xmas


Inspirational Chanukah Gifts for the Whole Family

It’s tempting to buy another pretty dreidel and chocolate coins (that later lead to more dental fillings), or give in to the kids’ pleading for secular toys screaming out at them from the shelves of every type of store this time of year, or dollar/shekel store toys that break before the holiday is over (either because they weren’t made well or because you later questioned your sanity over buying yet another annoying spinning musical top – or Maccabee swords that lead to endless fighting that makes you want to tear your hair out – and “oops” you crush it by mistake, of course!)

In the interest of Shalom Bayit (or Bayis, if you prefer) and future generations, I highly recommend (and own) the following as great inspirational and educational Chanukah gifts the whole family will enjoy throughout the year. Continue reading Inspirational Chanukah Gifts for the Whole Family