Saturday, July 24, 2021

#BlogElul #ElulGram 2021

 

#BlogElul is a project that I started in 2010, although it wasn't until 2012 that I created the list of topics. Since then, I haven't always completed the whole month of blogging, although I know that many of you have. I also know that the online world has changed so much since 2010, when blogging was one of the only ways to publish your online content easily.

Now we have FacebookTwitterInstagram, SnapChat, and other platforms...so many ways in which to express ourselves and dive deeply into the themes of the High Holy Days. And so here we are….I've added #ElulGram to the #BlogElul family and the borders of this project are so wide that they reallly don't exist at all. This project is really whatever YOU want - however YOU want to spend your time preparing yourself for the holiest season in the Jewish calendar.

Elul -- that wonderful and terrifying month that precedes the High Holy Days. A month of introspection and considering, a month of personal reflection and preparation.

Who can participate? ANYONE. It's yours. I gift it to you. Elul is for anyone and everyone.

How could one do it? You don't have a blog… No worries. Maybe you have Facebook or Twitter? Maybe you're a big fan of Instagram? Be creative and find your own path! Maybe you don't want to do it daily. Maybe you just want to dip your toe into the experience, or just read (and share?) what others write. It's totally up to you. I always love to see the creative things that the #BlogElul community comes up with.

There are no rules. I provide the topics (see graphic or below for text) for each of the days of the month. Use the hashtag to share your post (I like to put it in my titles) and share other people's posts as well. This could be a way to revitalize your blog, kickstart a new project, or even just get yourself ready for the holidays! I know that lots of people use #BlogElul as a spiritual exercise each year, and I'm so proud to be a part of their yearly journey through Elul.

And what about #ElulGram? This one is even more interpretive. Photos, art, illustrations, quotes -- what kinds of images can you put together to explore and interpret these High Holy Day themes? You don't have to limit your picture-sharing to Instagram (even though I totally appropriated the name), you can use any image-sharing site you'd like, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Whatever you do, tag it with #ElulGram so we can call share and follow.

These themes and ideas are broad and open, and again -- remember, there are NO RULES except the ones you make for yourself!

And yes, I know that the dates include Shabbat. I personally don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat, but I will post before and after Shabbat. You can do whatever you like!

Are you going to play along? Let me know! Leave me a comment here, send me a tweet, or send up a signal fire.... Feel free to grab my pretty badge to announce to the whole world that you're Blogging Elul. If you let me know that you're doing it, we can cross-post, or guest-post, or even just do some virtual hand-holding as the days grow closer to Tishrei. I'll try to link to as many posts and pics as I can - won't it be amazing to all share in the Elul journey together?

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Elul begins on Monday, August 9th (it's always on time), so I wanted to give you a head start if you're going to pre-write some of your posts. 

I hope that our shared preparation for 5782 brings meaning and hope, inspiration and enlightenment for all of us.

The list:
Elul 1: Decide
Elul 2: Seek
Elul 3: Prepare
Elul 4: Choose
Elul 5: Commit
Elul 6: Want
Elul 7: Understand
Elul 8: Hear
Elul 9: See
Elul 10: Forgive
Elul 11: Trust
Elul 12: Count
Elul 13: Remember
Elul 14: Learn
Elul 15: Plan
Elul 16: Pray
Elul 17: Awaken
Elul 18: Ask
Elul 19: Speak
Elul 20: Fill
Elul 21: Love
Elul 22: End
Elul 23: Begin
Elul 24: Hope
Elul 25: Change
Elul 26: Create
Elul 27: Bless
Elul 28: Give
Elul 29: Return

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Books I Read June 2021 #MyLifeInBooks


Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Duchess Goldblatt - one reviewer called this book "charming," and it was. It's a little bit sad and a little bit sweet and totally fascinating and fun. To be honest, I hadn't followed her before on Twitter, but I found the whole thing to be funny and lovely. 

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston - if you enjoyed Red White and Royal Blue (by this author), know that this book is different. It is bascially a time-travelling queer romance meets Nancy Drew. Yep. Which makes for an interesting, albeit reality-suspending, read. I think it was a little too long and I am looking forward to seeing where this author goes next. 

And the Bride Closed the Door by Ronit Matalan - I think I need to discuss this book with a group, so if you've read it, let me know. It is short and snappy, and it has gotten good reviews....but I'm not sure I actually understood all of it. 

Raising A+ Human Beings by Bruce Powell and Ron Wolfson - this book made me want to move to LA and put my kids in this high school. A lot of great stuff in here about how to think about kids and values and creating community....I will be unpacking this one for a long time. 

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland - this book read like a movie - I can almost imagine the screenplay is already written. Two families who run a Catskills resort come back together to decide what to do about their aging property. I hate to say it, but the title is a little bit of a giveaway. Oh well, I still enjoyed it! 

The Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff - this is another nice piece of historical fiction from Pam Jenoff. The story revolves around two women in occupied Krakow during the war. One is hiding in a sewer with her family, and the other helps them out. There are endless tales of bravery and resilience from this historical period....

To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss - these are short stories (not usually my jam) and each one was exquisitely put together. I don't usually want to revisit books, but I really hope I get to discuss this one with my book group this year so we can dive into several of these stories. 

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado - I loved this book about a teenager who is working to celebrate her body and live in a world that just doesn't. I appreciated the perspective and haven't been able to shake some of the big ideas inside Charlie's head. 

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris - An interesting look at London's ultra orthodox community, but a little flat or two-dimensional. The characters didn't have a lot of depth so it was a little tough to fully process their motivation. It was a quick and enjoyable read, however. 

Up til now...
January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books

Monday, May 31, 2021

May 2021 #MyLifeInBooks

Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufmann - I liked this historical fiction based on an inscription on a old grave! A young Jewish woman survives the Roman conquest of Jerusalem and the story is fascinating. I was told this is YA, but I think it reads more as a grownup book.

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon - a sweet story about two teens who have been friends forever...and as they try to navigate their relationship along with a kidney donation between them. I'm a fan of this author, and this one was very readable and enjoyable!

Majesty by Katharine McGee - The sequel to American Royals, and I was totally disappointed. I wanted to see what would happen next in the story, but it turns out I didn't really need to know. I just felt like it leaned too far into some boring romance tropes. If you liked American Royals (I did) you might prefer to skip this one!

The Lines Between Us by Rebecca D'Harlingue - Okay, so I read this one thinking it had some Jewish content and it really didn't (until about 75% in, even though I had hunches, it wasn't overt). Aside from that, it was a well-written book with an interesting and compelling story. 

Evening by Nessa Rapoport - Told over the course of a week of shiva for the main character's sister, this was not especially plot-driven but a really good character study. I'm usually "in it for the story" but I couldn't put this one down!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - This book was like a feast! I loved it. I loved the interwoven tales, and I loved the twist, and I loved the whole thing. Read this one.

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams - this was good, interesting, and very compelling. I admit to being a trifle lost in the technical aspects of some parts of the story (genetic research is a little over my head) but I read around that and it was great. I look forward to seeing what else this talented woman can do!

The rest of 2021:
January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books

Friday, April 30, 2021

April 2021 Books #MyLifeInBooks


 Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan - loved this sweet (pun intended) story about Rosie, who finds her way into her great-aunt's candy shop business. I really liked learning all about British candy! And of course, predictably delightful love story. 

Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson - this was a fascinating premise for a book, and I had listened to the Nerdette Book Club podcast so I had a little bit of insight before I read the book. I liked the world-building and character development, but I did think the book was much too long...

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley - I loved this book! I couldn't put it down - it had so many interesting elements about the Native culture in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. At the end, the author's note said that she was trying to write a "Native Nancy Drew" and that is exactly what it felt like! 

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May - a fascinating personal memoir about the power of periods of dislocation. This book has gotten a lot of play in this dislocating times and it felt like the perfect book to read during this period of enforced isolation. 

The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin - I remembered learning about this story and I thought I had a pretty good idea of how this story was going to end, but to be honest, it was so well done that it kept me completely engrossed all the way through. It was well-told and a really beautiful story of human endurance.

Adulting by Liz Talley - This was a quick read, about a movie star who is just getting out of rehab and works with a "life coach" - it's mostly predictable but was still a fun book to enjoy.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March 2021 Books #MyLifeInBooks


Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris - I'm always looking for fun and light things to read in between the tougher books. This was suggested to me and I enjoyed it...but I don't feel any compulsion to read more of these. But if you like vampires...read this! (Also, Yael is into a couple of vampire shows and so I have been half-watching with her and so this was fun. I remember that I liked the Anne Rice vampire books and of course there was the Twilight series....)

Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman - This is billed as a Middle Grade novel, but it reads a little darker and deeper than that. I've never read anything fictionalized about the Chernobyl disaster and this was powerful and memorable. 

Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit - Highly recommended from the 2020 lists, I had big expectations for this book about the Plymouth Colony...but I was somewhat disappointed. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. It was just...okay. 

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman - I fully admit that the start of this book actually MADE me anxious! The writing was so good that I FELT the anxiety of the characters pouring off of the page. Once I got through that, the book was marvelous and the payoff in terms of the story was excellent. 

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu - I loved this one! Such a great story of female empowerment :-) Can't wait to see the new movie. 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo - Do you like books that are written in verse? This one is written in a kind of free verse poetic style that I very much enjoyed. A really compelling story about two girls who both experience grief after the death of their father.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn - I am a fan of Kate Quinn's books and I really like historical fiction! This one is about Bletchley Park, the famous code-breaking facility during World War 2, and it was really intriguing and enjoyable. I did feel like it took a loooong time to get to the end and then the ending felt a little rushed. But I liked this one a lot.

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear - this is the newest book in the Maisie Dobbs series. Maybe you'll recall that I read almost the whole series in 2018, and I was so happy to have a new book about my favorite British detective. It was a little weird reading the book while thinking about The Rose Code, which I had just finished - there was even a mention of the "code breakers" in passing. The books were precisely the same time frame, from two totally different perspectives. Anyway, I loved it as always and I won't spoil the ending but I'll tell you that it made me happy.

The rest of 2021:
January Books
February Books

Sunday, March 14, 2021

#BlogExodus Day 1: Launch


Last year, we launched Pesach in a whole new way.

And we were certain, absolutely sure, that we would never need to launch Pesach this way again.

And yet, here we are. Even less certain about where we are at all!

Do we gather with those who are vaccinated? Do we sit outside? Do we share the escape from Egypt together, apart, on Zoom, or some combination of all of these?

But what I said last year is still true:

And yet, we launch Nisan. Because the calendar doesn't slow down or stop. Because Passover is, at its very core, a celebration that we always need, even in the midst of darkness. Even when we are scared and worried and anxious and afraid, even when our focus is elswhere, the calendar launches us into Nisan.

So just for today, take a breath. Organize a thought. Consider the next step.

Friday, March 5, 2021

#BlogExodus #ExodusGram 5781 - 10th year!


Rosh Chodesh Nisan is on Sunday, March 14, 2021. 

What a year it's been, since we last gathered here for BlogExodus. Last year, we were in a totally disbelieving state of mind. No one could even imagine that we were going to spend our Seders in a "lockdown" and I am pretty sure we all imagined that we would be together again this year.

And yet, for most of us, we are still in Mitzrayim - we are still in the narrow space of this terrible global pandemic that has taken so many lives. But still....Passover beckons. It comes for us, reminding us that the cycle of our calendar continues. It is here to offer a respite, perhaps, from the ordinary, and, just like it did last year, give us something bigger than ourselves on which to focus.

And so, enter: BlogExodus and Exodusgram.

So what is this really about? #BlogExodus is really what you want to make of it. I've provided topics for the first 14 days of the month of Nisan. What you do with it is up to you -- write a blog post, tweet, Facebook, tumblr, or something that I haven't even thought of yet! Use the hashtag to share your post (I put it into the title of each post). It's a great way to kickstart a blog or rejuvenate your languishing blog or just get yourself ready for the holiday of Passover! I will be posting my #blogExodus posts here on this blog and I will tweet them out at @imabima.

Maybe you don't have a blog? I'll post an "open thread #blogExodus" each day on my Facebook page as well, so you could just post your thoughts, photos, comments, or haikus there. Maybe you're a yogi? What about a photo of a different yoga post each day related to the theme of the day?

There aren't any rules, so maybe you don't like the order of the topics? Maybe you want to write on only a few of them? It doesn't matter. It is what you make of it.

 #Exodusgram is a even more interpretive. While I love Instagram (I'm imabima, of course), I know some people don't. So maybe you want to share Exodus-themed photos via Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Pinterest or....whatever! My #Exodusgram posts will go up on Instagram and then be shared to my tumblr, imabima.tumblr.com. Whatever you do, don't forget to tag with #Exodusgram so we can all share. (Note for some of my colleagues: this might make a fun teen project...who's up for #SnapTheExodus?)

The themes are really up for your own interpretation. I was thinking broadly and openly about what makes Passover special and interesting to me. I hope it will translate into creative and inspirational posts from all of us!

Are you going to join in? Leave me a comment here or send me a tweet or just...jump in! I will try to retweet all the #BlogExodus and #Exodusgram posts through Twitter via @imabima. If I miss your posts, let me know so I can go back and be inspired by what YOU have to say!

#BlogExodus #Exodusgram topics for 5781
1 Nisan - Launch
2 Nisan - Exalt
3 Nisan - Rise
4 Nisan - Cleanse
5 Nisan - Seek
6 Nisan - Retell
7 Nisan - Read
8 Nisan - Expand
9 Nisan - Perplex
10 Nisan - Join
11 Nisan - Celebrate
12 Nisan - Reveal
13 Nisan - Welcome
14 Nisan - Thank

 *Yes, I know that I put the Shabbat dates there. I don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat but I will post on Fridays before Shabbat and on Saturdays after Shabbat is over. You can, of course, do it any way you like!