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Boring in Israel – Rosh Hashanah

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L’Shana Tova!

As I raise this glass of pommegranate wine to the new year, I am giving thanks for being an impulse shopper, and buying 15 chickens to freeze when they were on sale last month.

You see, one of the leading news a few days ago was the chicken shortage expected over the high holidays due to the alignment of Islam’s and Judaism’s holy days this year. Luckily I had plenty of chicken to feed the 40+ people who had dinner with us to usher in the new year of 5777!

This year, once again, we skipped the pommegranate chicken, this year in favour of a honey glazed chicken that involved a lot less work. When you cook for 40+ people making things simpler is important! A bushel of apples, several jars of honey, a lot of pommegranates (our first harvest!) served as dessert. For today, I made some honey zserbó, because I am glutton for punishment, and baking for three days is just what I wanted to do while preparing for exams.

So what have we done to welcome the new year? First of all, cleaned and cooked. Then went to synagogue to welcome in the new year, while our non-Jewish family members remained home. We had picked up two lone soldiers to spend the holiday with us, while our current soldiers, unfortunately, couldn’t come home this year. We called them after the new year came in, and we could FaceTime with one of them. While there was a dinner at shul, too, this year we hosted some of our extended family, too, so we hurried home. We ate outside, and I can’t wait for Sukkot to do it again with these lovely people.

This year the Islamic New Year coincides with Rosh Hashanah (and this year Ashura will be October 11, and Yom Kippur will begin on October 11 as well), and while the new year usually involves fasting and introspection–not unlike the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur–we were joined by our beloved former neighbours from the time we lived in Yafo to celebrate our new years. It is 1438 for them, and 5777 for us. This is the neighbour who named his daughter Leia, because he is a geek, an his younger son is named Luka, both for Skywalker and Picard. 🙂

My grandmother and great-aunt came to visit from Eilat, and while they chose to stay at a hotel this year, they joined us both last night and today. I am not surprised they chose the hotel, a total of 35 of us spent the night. I’m glad my sister at point wanted to teach yoga and ended up storing all the yoga mats at our place! They double nicely as temporary beds.

Obviously one of the most important parts of Jewish holidays is the prayers we sing. One of those thatw e sing at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services in Avineu Malkeinu.

This version by Barbra Streisand is one of the most beautiful ones and it always gives me chills. Only a few days ago, at Shimon Peres’ funeral we heard another moving rendition of the same prayer by David D’Or.

Shana Tova!

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Today is Tisha B’Av (postponed), and I’m Fasting

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Jerus-n4iToday is the 10th day of the Hebrew month Av, and it’s, like Yom Kippur, a fast day for Jews. (Tisha B’Av is actually the 9th, but since fasting is prohibited on the Shabbat, with the exception of Yom Kippur, the fast is postponed by a day.) Unlike Yom Kippur, however, Tisha B’Av is rarely observed or recognized by secular Jews. Tisha B’Av marks the destruction of bothe the first and second Temple, and it’s, in a way, a national day of mourning for all of Israel–whether in Eretz Israel or in exile.

Yet some progressive branches of Judaism all together discard this day of mourning as something that has lost its meaning with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and especially since the return of the Old City of Jerusalem to Israel in 1967. Other branches of Judaism continue to observe this day till the Temple is once again rebuilt and the Moshiach comes. They keep fasting every year. Some of my Reform Jewish friends chose to fast this year as conflict regarding the Temple Mount is getting more and more violent. Some Orthodox and Conservative leaders remind us that today’s mourning is just as much for the flaw in today’s Israel that prevents the coming of the messiah and the building of the Third Temple as it is for the loss of the first two.

I chose to fast this year (for the first time on this day) because I have been feeling more disconnected from Judaism these days. I find myself ignoring my usual routine in tradition. I even considered getting a larger, visible tattoo–but I am almost sure I’ll never get one, because it would remove me too far from all that I find valuable in Judaism. So in an attempt to reconnect with my heritage and my long lost faith. Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll succeed. In the mean time, I fast today, I pray today, and hope for a messiah, who will help us to peace–extending that peace to our cousins in the Abrahamic religions as well.

70 Years Since Liberation – International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2015

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When talking with my grandma about what happened 70 years ago today, she usually mentions two things: how lucky she was to be left behind and how young some of the Soviet soldiers were. Nothing else. She tells us about life in the ghetto, life in the camp, but never talks about liberation without prompting, and then only says these two things.

70 years ago today the Auschwitz death camp was liberated, and since 2001 January 27 is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Let us remember the millions, whose only crime was being Jewish, Roma, LGBTQ, disabled, or politically disagreeing with the Nazi regime. Let us remember those, who had no one left to remember them. Let us remember those branches broken off of family trees that would have blossomed. Every holiday dinner we gather around the table we feel the absence of those cousins, who were never born.

Never again.

The Saint Generator

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Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary created a Saint’s Name Generator. You click a button, the another, and then it gives you a random saint. People like to use it for picking a patron saint for the new year. She has a lot of saints and beatified people uploaded, with info on their patronage and feast day, and links to bios on various Catholic sites.

Because I love to learn more about religion and that includes saints, I decided to give it a try, and this is what I got:

Gee, even random result generators know I’m Jewish.

 

 

 

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