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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.

Happy Shavuot!

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So Shavuot begins tonight. It’s a one day holiday in Israel, two days in the Diaspora, and as all Jewish days it begins at sunset and ends at nightfall a day later. Shavuot literally means weeks, and it’s one of those holidays that are mentioned in the New Testament, in Acts 2. Of course it’s referred to as Pentecost, the name by which the corresponding Christian holiday is known. The names are quite similar in origin: why Shavuot is named for the seven weeks following Pesach (Passover), Pentecost means the fiftieth day after Easter.

Drawing by Tomi Köves

Drawing by Tomi Köves

So what do Jews celebrate on Shavuot? We celebrate receiving the Torah at Sinai. We celebrate the giving and receiving of the Law, the Law that was only a requirement for the Jewish people, and that is an eternally binding law for us.*  We celebrate the guidance and the responsibility given to us on that day. We celebrate the blessing that the Torah is to us. Unlike on Simchat Torah, we don’t dance with the Torah scrolls, but the tradition is to stay up till dawn to study Torah. Why? Because the children of Israel fell asleep while waiting for Moshe to come down from the mountain. Now we want to make sure that we are awake and ready to receive the Law of G-d. So tonight, after our dinner of fish and ice cream and rice pudding, we will consume a lot of coffee, strictly in the form of home made lattes, because eating dairy is another tradition associated with the Feast of Weeks.  Like the staying up all night tradition, this one also goes back to the original day when the Law was given. The Torah describes the laws of Kashrut as well, and Israel didn’t want to unintentionally break the brand new Law by not being able to slaughter and prepare meat right away. Thus they went with dairy.

After staying up till dawn and celebrating with a nice meal and dairy, we will go to synagogue tomorrow morning to listen to the ten Commandments. All members of the family, down to the youngest ones is advised to go, to fulfill our commitment made to G-d at Sinai.  We will also participate in the reading of the book of Ruth.

Shavuot is also known as the Festival of Reaping or a celebration of the first fruits. I made the kids pick our strawberries from our straw bale garden to illustrate this post, but by the time I got my iPod charged all the strawberries were gone. 🙂 Actually Shavuot signified the end of the grain harvest, not the fruit harvests, but early fruits are nice.

Shavuot is also the end of the half mourning period that started with Passover, called the counting of the Omer. After Shavuot, the restrictions on parties, haircuts, etc. no longer apply.

Happy Shavuot, everyone!

*(The Law was given exclusively to Israel, and it doesn’t apply and never did apply to non-Jews, and it cannot be “fulfilled” and done away with it by anyone, not even the Messiah who shall come.)

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Do you see that small area that I can’t even decide what it is colozred because those two dots for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv pretty much cover it up? That small country surrounded by Arabic countries many times its size? That country is Israel. Israel is my home. And today is Yom Haatzmaut, today is Independence Day. Happy birthday, Israel!

7 Quick Takes – 18

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— 1 —

I’m so excited! I finally got my iPod! It had an adventureous journey from California to me, with a detour in Jerusalem for about a week, but it’s finally here! Between my new phone and the new iPod, I’m so mobile and communication enabled. 😀 It has been a great week, talking to people easily (well, typing for them and they read), and not having to drag my iPad along. I just love it. 😀

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— 2 —

Can you see what’s on the screen? It’s our 7 Quick Takes host’s new book! I was going to wait to get it, but Amazon paid me, and I had enough gift certificates to buy Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found Itby Jennifer Fulwiler. She also wrote a little e-book, so I’m busy reading.

Why do I want to read a very Catholic book by a very Catholic writer? Jennifer Fulwiler took the exact opposite route to find her happiness from me: she went from atheism to Catholicism, while I found my escape from Catholicism (and Christianity in general) to my current existence as a non-believing Jew very liberating. So I want to read her story. I hope to make a big pitcher of lemonade tomorrow (Thursday) and just read away. I have read through the acknowledgements, and I already enjoyed picking out the bloggers I follow(ed).

— 3 —

My other Amazon purchase this week was this:

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The first few chapters of SOTG reminded me of needing to find my copy of Carl Sagan’s CosmosOf course I couldn’t find it, so for less than $6 I bought the e-Book, and I now know what we will do for the remainder of the school year.

Cosmos, along with some of Stephen Hawking’s books, was one of those wonderful readings in my life that helped me realize that what I felt and thought to be real was not that peculiar an idea at all, that there were others, who thought like me, and there were those, who had the science to back it up.

— 4 —

I was suddenly struck by inspiration the last couple of days, so I didn’t only post about Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), but I wrote two crafty posts about the successful attempt with cold porcelain and making hard chocolate shells for ice cream. With the last topic the idea of making home made Krembo came up. Now I just need marshmallow cream and I could make some. After all, the upcoming week’s planned projects include making peanutbutter cups, where I make my own peanutbutter as well, and maybe we’ll  make some hazelnut-chocolate spread as well. Yeah, I’ve taken up making my own Nutella substitute. It’s not that I’m some super dad, it simply takes 20 minutes from start to finish to make two large jars, and it’s cheaper, and possibly healthier when made at home.

— 5 —

It’s May! In a couple of days my teens will be home from Europe. Some will sit the Bagrut. Some have recitals. The Eurovision Song Contest is next week. And in less than three weeks Kevin and I will be in Rome. I am getting very excited about it! Summer is absolutely in the air. It will be such a busy month!

— 6 —

Sunday evening brings Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Memorial Day. We won’t have parties or barbecues– those have to wait a day for Yom Haatzmaut, our Independence Day. On Memorial Day, just like on Yom HaShoah avweek before, the national flag will be lowered to half mast…
…and the sirens will sound and everything will stop.

— 7 —

Just to illustrate how far TV has gone…

Me: “I remember when TLC was known as The Learning Channel, and it lived up to its name.”
Itai: “You really are old.”
 

They were surprised tha History showed actual history related programs, and A&E once had arts and entertainment… And that MTV Europe had half an hour dedicated to movies, and the rest was music, before they invented The Real World… I feel mighty old now.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes Summer Fun Edition

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— 1 —

I’m still in Budapest, and my son Yonah and my grandma are here, keeping me company for the last two weeks. My grandmother was born and raised in Budapest, and she still speaks Hungarian without an accent. She is current on local affairs and cultural things. She is really having a blast being back. One of the reasons for her visit is that my uncle Áron is turning 70 on Monday. It is also a very nostalgic trip for Grandma. This is her second visit back since my Grandpa died, and she is telling us a lot about their lives here before the war. My grandma actually went to see the first August 20 fireworks in 1926 (or was it 1928) (see previous post), and she told me that even back then people were always saying that it was better the year before!

— 2 —

One of the News portals pissed me off today. One of their headlines? Israel bombs Lebanon. Only if you click on the article and go towards the end of it, do they mention that it was a response to the two rockets fired at Israeli civilian establishments yesterday. I can’t believe it still makes me angry, after 5 years in experiencing something completely different in Israel than shown in the media.

— 3 —

Once again I had lunch at W35. This is a “fast food” place (not really) that sells TexMex food for an affordable price. I discovered it early on during my visit, and while it is not wheelchair accessible, the staff is super nice and they do everything to accommodate me. The food is also nice. Very nice. Theodore liked my leftovers.

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— 4 —

GAP just opened its first store in Budapest! I’m excited! I hope to stop buy and check it all out, hopefully find some new clothes for the next few months. Since I won’t work, I can wear more casual clothes, and I’m pretty short on those that will be weather appropriate come winter.

— 5 —

After going home, our (almost) whole family  is going to escape to the Dead Sea between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for a few days. We will celebrate all the missed birthdays and events while there, float in the sea and smear Dead Sea mud all over ourselves. We have already checked Itai out of school for those days, and we are all super excited to finally spend some quality time together. We are going to stay at the same place as last time. I hope they’ll still have the grill place outside. That was a hit with the kids last time! One of our soldier boys will be able to come with us, unless the situation mentioned above escalates.

Since as soon as we get back school holidays will start for Yom Kippur and Sukkot, we might not start homeschool till after Sukkot, though I think I’d love to start it during the holiday. It would be fun to do school in the sukkah, right?

— 6 —

I finally wrote cards and bought envelopes. I think I’ll mail them after I get back from Poland. We are going to be there 2 nights/3 days, and driving. We will visit Auschwitz, Kraków and Jasna Gora in Czestochowa. Jasna Gora is the home of the Black Madonna (the two catholics coming with us want to go to Mass and see it as well), while I plan to walk around and once again see Jerzy Duda Gracz’s Golgotha of Jasna Gora paintings. While you can see them clicking in the link, they are more powerful and thought provoking, even for this non-believer, in person.

— 7 —

Shabbat Shalom! When the Shabbat ends, the Jewish Summer Festival will begin! Part of it will be the Israeli Days at the Grand Market Hall of Budapest! I will take some photos if I get to go. Another part will be the Ivri Lider concert I’m going to on the 31st! I will take Yonah as well. We are both excited. We have gone to a few of his shows at home, but we never had very good seats. Now we do! ivri

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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