Monday, June 30, 2008

It's camp time!

As I said yesterday, we are off to Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, an incredible camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. It truly is an amazing place filled with kids celebrating summer and embracing Jewish life.

Here's what we brought last year to camp...

This year we managed to do it in ONE minivan...with just a teensy help from a friend in her car along the way.

We brought....
- 1 minivan
- 1 pack-n-play
- 1 computer (mine is...ack! the shop
- 1 printer
- 1 camera
- clothes for 5 people
- 5 shower towels
- 5 beach towels
- toothbrushes
- 6 new BPA-free water bottles
- 1 box full of books for me to use with campers
- 1 box full of books for my kids to read
- 3 boxes of toys (1 per kid)
- 3 blankets
- 5 pillows
- swimsuits for all of us (I hope)
- something like 10 pairs of shoes

I'm sure there are many more things stuffed into these two rooms with us, but by and large, we went light this year! I think that each year it will get easier as we have to pack less and less extraneous things and can just bring the kids, the clothes, and the bedding. Right? I'll keep you posted on that progress....>>>laughing<<<

So check back often for some dispatches from camp, and hopefully some nice pictures if the weather holds up!

See ya on the camp side...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Haveil Havalim #171: The Packing for Camp Edition

Whew, it's been a crazy week here at Beit Ima...we are packing up for 2 weeks at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, the Reform movement's camp in our region. I was a camper at OSRUI (as it's fondly known) as a kid and now I love going back as a rabbi...of course, I bring the whole family, which requires quite a lot of packing and prepping. So, of course, why not host Haveil Havalim at the same time, right?!

Without further ado....Haveil Havalim #171, the Packing For Camp Edition!

haveil havalim

Read more about it:
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
Please please please publicize HH on your own blog and share the news about it!

Bring Your Flashlights...Illuminating Jewish Life

Lion of Zion shares this story of A Pasul Sefer Torah...sad but preventable.

Daf Yomi presents Angels, Aramaic and Language of Tefillah.

A Simple Jew presents a guest post from A Bas Noach Learning Tehillim.

Ben-Yehudah shares his Shabbath In Tapu'ah With Dov Shurin! posted at Esser Agaroth.

Dan Illouz presents Question of the Week - Parashat Korach posted at The answer had to be in before Shabbat, but do you know? I would guess we could all stay tuned for more questions and prizes! Also at this week, 10 Questions with Dov Lerner of CAMERA, ZOA and Kedma, and also Parshat Korach: Korach's Mistake, and The All-Spiritual Afterlife, the Torah, and Me. Part One.

If you haven't heard, the Reform Movement just founded its own blog. A few interesting posts from this week's blog...Does Judaism Go on Vacation in the Summer? and a discussion on Reform wearing Tallitot.

Bar Kochba explains what Moshiach will really look like at The Truth About Moshiach, and he reminds us of our responsibility as a generation that will live without Holocaust Survivors at For Zion's Sake.

Cosmic X presents Rabbi Druckman, Rabbi Sherman and the Conversion Crisis (Part 11), George Carlin, Seven Dirty Words and Our Living Soul, and Windows of Opportunity.

Here's a sweet view from a mom of a binding mitzvah posted at In the Pink.

Ilana-Davita, Leora, and Frumhouse are studying Pirke Avot together this summer. Cool use of blogland for an international chevruta study! Check out Leora's list of books, Frumhouse's explanation of Chapter 1, and Ilana-Davita's explanation of some of Pirke Avot's peculiarities.

Pack the Sheets and Towels...Wrapping up Israel & The World This Week

Yisrael Medad makes us giggle and cringe with Ehud Olmert: Between Gaza and Iran.... And he also takes on some erroneous reporting with Can You Believe This? And he made the Society Page!

Soccer Dad takes on Nicholas Kristof of the NYTimes in Anthony lewis ii.

Batya reports on Olmert's doings...The Higher He Goes, The Harder He'll Fall at Shiloh Musings. She also wants us to come visit for Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. Batya also shares this guest post...Expellees and Illness by Hadassa DeYoung.

With more about Olmert, Esser Agaroth encourages his resignation...and he also shares this post about doings in Yitzhar: Curiouser And Curiouser....

Shira0607 thinks about the need for safe rooms and building walls.

A Conversation I Once Had recounts Eric's conversation with an African Muslim.

Aliza from shares these thoughts ...To Define and to Defend...on Jewish life in Israel. Also from comes

Read this interesting post: The BBC's Take on Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: posted at The Volokh Conspiracy. Judeopundit talks about the same topic in MPAC-UK reacts to the suggestion that we should remember Jews expelled from Arab countries.

BritishYosef reminds us that Gilad, we miss you. (how many of you changed your profile pics this week? It was pretty amazing to see them all change on Facebook.) Gila isn't so sure about the trend: Am I Waiting for Gilad Shalit?.

Gila also presents Alyn Wheels of Love is Hitting the Road, and Collect the Whole Set.

Back on the subject of Gilad Shalit (maybe this should have been the Waiting for Gilad Shalit Edition?), Daled Amos shares that Gilad Shalit’s Book is now on YouTube.

Golan Heights 6: The White Falls from Planet Israel has gorgeous shots of waterfalls and reminds me how nice it would be to hike there again soon! And hey, Leora is in Israel!

Unfortunately, Seraphic Secret reports on recent violence against Jews in France: The Jew-Hating Savages of Paris.

On the upside, Ilana-Davita shares good news about the French-Jewish community. Are there any other French-Jewish bloggers out there?

Harry presents a Jerusalem pizza smackdown at the Jerusalemite blog. My 2 shekels: I like Pizza Sababa myself. Maybe it's just the name. But I remember it as being pretty yummy.

And don't forget the Toys and Games....Culture, Politics, Interesting Posts, and Other Fun Stuff

JackB shares his adventure with the Sprinklers.

Writes Like She Talks has seen this around town: Jews not confused on Obama. She wonders if this were in Arabic, what would the message be? Hmmm....interesting question.

Yid with Lid presents The Official Secret Political CODE to Make People Afraid of OBAMA, and also Joe Klein. Your Grandma Would Be Ashamed of You.

Here's a conversation with Raz Hartman, musician and spiritual leader - from the Jerusalemite Blog.

The Rebbetzin's Husband rants a little in The Condescending Tzedakah Collector, and he also shares this lesson on how To Coach a Committee.

Batya muses about politics with Sung To The Tune Of... and she wants us all to know her Big News.

The Babysitter expounds on Communication and Fear.

Here's a short story from Mottel: The Sky's Tears, and also these pictures of Brooklyn -By Night and Day.

Happy Birthday, Treppenwitz! A great list of things to do before....

Heshy makes us laugh with his take on the Shidduch Resume at Jewish Comedy. For more funny stuff, check out this post from Child Ish Behavior: Bai’Iss Kosher©.

Raizy presents Info for Special Children posted at SuperRaizy.

What *does* a rabbi do at camp? My colleague Paul Kipnes shares what he does. (Stay tuned for what I do!)

Leah Koenig of the Jew and the Carrot wants to know why the food world is obsessed with lobster and bacon. And, as though she intuited my camp theme here, she posted this piece on the ethics of camp food.

The Parve Baker talks about eggs and Torah.

Mother in Israel is still thinking about Modeling for our Children. (It's a continuation of an infrequent series that started with Trusting our Children.)

Robin reviewed a great book called I Will Not Be Broken. Check it out. (my review is coming soon too of this great book)

Check out this nice roundup of food blogs in J-blog-land from Chaviva.

Miriam muses about finding a community and neighborhood for her family.

Please send your posts for the next edition of the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival via the Blog Carnival Submission Form. If you're interested in hosting or receiving more information about the carnival, please contact Jack at talktojacknow-at-sbcglobal-dot-net (and please, for the sake of our hosts, try not to submit more than 3 posts a week!)
Please please please publicize HH on your own blog and share the news about it!

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Alright to Cry

I was riding in the car with my kids and looking for something that everyone could agree on. Sam is insistent on listening to The Lion King soundtrack, but that gets a little old. We had listened to all of the Barenaked Ladies' new CD, Snacktime, and I started perusing my IPod for something else to listen to. David suggested our favorite Chanukah CD which has spoken stories along with singing but that seemed a little out of place to June. So I hit on Free to Be...You and Me.

Perfect. I know the whole thing by heart, it's new to my kids, and hopefully no one would complain. It's like visiting an old friend!

I put it on, and a hush fell over the car.

The only sound was my sniffling.

Yep, that's right...almost every track brought me to tears! I haven't listened to it in a while, and I had forgotten how powerful the equality messages are, and how deep an impact these songs and stories had on my own self-image. These songs and stories have definitely held up over the years - I'd only add a few new ideas to an updated version to make it perfect.

Let's break it down...the 13 tracks (out of 18) that made me cry.

1. Free to Be...You and Me -- "There's a land that I see where the children are free and they say it ain't far to this land from where we are." Yes! This is what I want my kids to learn about and BE! Free to be themselves. "Every boy in this land grows to be his own man, in this land every girl grows to be her own woman..." Tears.

2. When we grow up -- "When we grow up, will I be a lady, will you be big and strong? I don't care if I'm pretty at all, and I don't care if you never get tall. I like what I look like and you're nice small. We don't have to change at all." We can grow up and not change, and we can change immensely. Tears.

3. Parents are People -- "When parents were little, they used to be kids, like all of you...and then they grew. And now parents are grownups. Grownups with children...Mommies are people, Daddies are people..." We live in a house that tries so hard not to differentiate things because "mommy is a girl" or "daddy is a boy" and I definitely work in a job that regularly gets the "women can do that!?" question. Perhaps I was just emotional that day...Tears.

4. Helping -- "Some kind of help is the kind of help...we all can do without." Learning how to pick your friends is hard. Knowing that they're going to be the kind of friends that will help you out and be good to you is super-hard. Tears.

5. Ladies First -- "Ladies first! Ladies first! And she was...and might tasty too." Oy that poor little sweet young thing who thinks that she should have it all because of her pretty dress and shiny shoes. How many people do we know like this and how often have we women worked to change this image in the world...yet there's still the idea that if we put on enough lipstick and show off enough cleavage we can get what we want. Tears of anger.

6. Dudley Pippin and the Principal -- "and he took out his little blue flute and began to play..." Oh how I love Dudley's Principal. A wise and warm and wonderful man who knows that boys need to cry too. I hope that my sons (and daughter) have such a wise mentor in their lives. Tears tears tears!

7. It's Alright to Cry -- "crying gets the sad out of you...raindrops from your might make you feel better!" I catch even the most feminist of men saying things that indicate that boys need to "tough it out" and girls don't. We still have a long way to go, baby. Tears of frustration.

8. Sisters and Brothers -- "every mother's daughter every father's son..." We are all in this together, all related in the great family of life. Tears...

9. William's Doll -- "William wants a doll, so when he has a baby someday, he'll know how to dress it, put diapers on double and gently caress it to bring up a bubble..." That Grandma ROCKS. I love that she overrides the dad, who is so insistent that his son not have a doll. I definitely thought about this one when we bought our older son a doll. And I love to think about my children growing up to be parents. Tears. Lots of tears.

10. Atalanta -- "smiling with the pleasure of the race, they ran together, side by side, until together they reached the finish line!" What a fantastic story about a princess who refuses to be pigeonholed by her king-father, and her friend who "gets" her. Love it. Tears of joy.

11. Girl-Land -- "you go in a girl and you never get out!" This one always struck me as a little eerie and scary...what are they trying to say? I do think we've come so far in what girls can do that this song almost doesn't mean anything any more. But I still cried because of what so many girls lived through (and girls still live through in so many parts of the world)...

12. Dudley Pippin and His No-Friend -- "he doesn't have a friend either. We can have a club. We can call it the No Friends Club..." Poor sweet, sad Dudley Pippin who cries with the principal and now has to move to a new town and he doesn't seem to understand how to make a friend. After all the other tracks, I was just a mess. You gotta cry for this poor kiddo.

13. Glad to Have a Friend Like You -- "fair and fun and skipping free...glad to have a friend like you and glad to just be me." I have lots of friends. But there are those few friends who are the ones that help me to skip free, help me to just be me. I hope for my children that they have at least one friend like this in their lives. Thinking about their futures, their friends, their growing up....tears.

If you haven't listened to FTBYAM in a while...definitely go check it out. It's now on CD and DVD and I think the whole thing has weathered the test of time well. Let me know what you think.

And see more Thursday Thirteen here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I've Been Waiting for Gilad Shalit for 2 Years - Tuesday Torah

From this website:

Gilad Schalit was born on August 28th, 1986, in Nahariya and raised in Mitzpe Hilla in the Western Galilee by his parents Aviva and Noam with his siblings Yoel and Hadas. At the end of July 2005 Gilad began his military service in a combat unit of the armored corps. For the two months prior to his kidnapping, he has been on duty guarding and ensuring the security of the settlements around Gaza.

On Sunday, June 25th 2006, in a terrorist attack on an IDF post at Kerem Shalom during which his unit friends have been killed, Gilad was taken captive and has been held since in the Gaza Strip by Hamas.

To this day Gilad didn’t receive any visits from an official faction, including the Red Cross, and there is no reliable information about his well being.

Two years have passed since his abduction. Lets remind everyone that he has yet to come home and demand his quick return.

On June 25th, the two year anniversary to his abduction, please replace your personal profile picture with Gilad’s picture on Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, ICQ, Tapuz, bona, Mekusharim, news groups and any other social network or blog you’re a member of, and show the world that you are waiting for Gilad Schalit’s return.

And he's not the only one. We still await the return of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser as well, both abducted at about the same time.

Their abduction, unfortunately, was part of what launched my interest in blogging. I started reading Israeli blogs as they "live-blogged" the war in Lebanon. I definitely felt like the blogging community was telling the news in a far more reliable and "on-the-scene" method (than the mainstream media). I was fascinated by articles that explained the media bias in ways that I thought were blatant and shocking.

It does seem hard to believe that it's been 2 years. And that we haven't heard anything from them at all. And that the world media is largely ignoring them.

May their return come speedily and safely.

What's your torah this week?

Monday, June 23, 2008


Sam and David were absolutely fascinated by the man who installed our patio door on Sunday morning. They just wanted to sit and watch everything that he did. My six-year-old had a lot of questions.

Yael, however, couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. She kept trying to engage them in something else, but they wanted to stay by the door.

Either way, the new door was the highlight of our weekend. It was properly restful, a nice Shabbat followed by the Rabbi's secret summer treat: no Sunday School.


See what other exciting things caught people's eyes this weekend.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Haveil Havalim #170 is up

Go see Haveil Havalim over at Soccer Dad.

Tell him I sent you cuz I'm the host next week!

Things That Make Me Giggle and Clap

Can you see that really cute little graphic above?

Now, go and look at the top of your screen, or the tab in Firefox or IE, and you will see that same little cute graphic (can you tell that it's my shoes from my blog header?) next to the name of my blog!!!!

It's called a favicon and I have wanted one for a while. But it was too hard to get Blogger to do it.

Then I came across this great blog called Blogger Buster and let me tell you, it rocks.

In this post about favicons, Blogger Buster Queen (Goddess?) Amanda tells you how to make it work in Blogger. And so I did it! (Then I shared with my husband, who agreed that it's cool. Big praise! For the big test: What do you think, Dad?) Personally, I giggled and clapped.

While we're on the subject of Blogger (which I'm quite content using, by the way), Blogger Buster is also running a cool contest.

Blogger Buster Competition Announcement

Since I've never been shy about making my say, here's the feature I want from Blogger:
A simple, easy-to-use method for backing up my blog, for exporting all my posts and comments into an off-line site so that my paranoia about losing all my work on my blog can end. Please?

(Because this is the current method that Blogger recommends for backing up your blog. And it sounds scary and awful. No thank you. I'll stick with paranoia about losing it rather than actually doing the losing on my own!)

Oh, and numbered comments would be nice too. But I'll go with my first wish.

There. I've put it out there. And you can too -- go to the Blogger Wish List or visit Blogger Buster for your own chance to enter this competition and have your say!

What would you change about Blogger?


Five Places I've Been This Week:

Cottage Cheese Roast (sounds weirdly yummy)

Honey-Baked French Toast
(I'm on a cooking kick, obviously. This was made for Shabbat morning in honor of "land of milk and honey" in this week's Torah portion. It was so good.)

Wordle - I think this looks so cool but I can't get it to work, keeps crashing in both Ffox and IE. What's up!?

Official Jewish Tartan - kippah tip to Susan

Ephraim's Crossword Puzzle Pointers - kippah tip to my mom

from my - where have you been?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sh'lach L'cha...Sending out the Scouts!

in this week's Torah portion...

12 spies were all sent
to scout the land of Canaan
one from every tribe.

They came back with grapes,
reports of milk and honey,
and fear of giants.

Caleb calmed them down
"we can do it!" he told them
Josh stood by him too.

It was lack of faith
in God's promise of the Land
and they paid the price:

As a punishment
they would not enter the Land
except Josh and Cay (leb)...

And so they wandered
forty years in wilderness

Shabbat Shalom!

See more haikus here....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting

Wow. I am totally in love with this lecture, The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting by Brené Brown that I've been listening to. I was lucky enough to win a book from her blog (it was so good, by the way) and when she mailed it, she threw in a copy of her recorded lecture. I had no idea what a gift she was giving to me.

{{{{Deep breath}}}}

I am so excited about it, I keep sharing bits with my husband, my friends, my colleagues, basically anyone who will listen to me. And I'm not even done with it yet.

So far, this is the basic idea that permeates all that I've heard:

“What if our children are imperfect when they get here and it’s our job to teach them loving-kindness?”

A while ago, I wrote this in an interview for Bella...

I want to be patient and quiet and unruffled. My children teach me daily that I'm not any of those things quite yet. I want to be loving and joyful and strong. My children teach me daily that these are what I have to be.

What I love about the connection between these two ideas is that not only are my kids imperfect (and that imperfect is OKAY), but I'm imperfect too...and that's part of life.

I feel like I have so much more to process and consider and think about thanks to Brené. My mind is racing, I have so many ideas and thoughts on how to integrate and accept and use her beautiful words.

A few more thoughts: First of all, Brené is running a track-by-track commentary on her blog for the whole CD. It's great. And since she writes like she talks, I can now hear her voice. Which cracks me up. Secondly, run, do not walk, to buy this CD. Trust me on this one.

This is definitely working for me right now. Go see what's working for other people.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Torah: Jews are Not All Alike


There are many of you out there, readers of my blog, for whom I am the only Jew you know.

You might think that all Jews are like me!

You might be...I'm sorry to say...wrong.

We are a very diverse bunch, we Jewish people.

Much like any other group, we are not all the same.

I love to know that there are Jews of all stripes out in the world.

Like this young man and his family.

The expression we use in Hebrew is "klal Yisrael," the community of Israel.

We are a community under a very large tent, encompassing so many different people around the world.

It happens, very often, that we discount each other's contributions. But trust me, it's best if we all stick together. We might not always see eye to eye. But I believe, in the long run, we do best when we support and care and love each other. Please?

That's my torah for this week. What's yours? Leave a comment below.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Beautiful Wedding

As I wrote last Thursday, I was off to my cousin's wedding in Cleveland. It was a beautiful simcha (celebration). My favorite part (aside from the getting-married-thing) was all of my cousins' children...they are gorgeous and were dressed so adorably! I couldn't stop taking pictures. Full disclosure: My dad and I were sharing his new cool camera, so about half the pictures were taken by me and half by him. I'm quite sure that one or two of these below are from his batch!

Getting ready before the wedding, my dad helping David tie his tie. (Only my parents and I went, and I brought my oldest. It was too much for my little ones!)
Some of the little girls (nieces of the bride, my cousins' kids) in their beautiful dresses, taking pictures before the wedding. You could see how much they love their aunt, and the glow in their eyes as they envisioned themselves as a bride someday. They also loved their beautiful twirly dresses! (There are even more gorgeous shots, but I left out all the faces of the kids for obvious reasons.)

The bride with our grandmother.

Before the wedding ceremony, there is a period called "Kabbalat Panim" -- literally "welcoming faces," when the bride sits on a throne-like chair surrounded by her mother, mother-in-law, grandmothers, and sisters, and she is greeted and kissed by all the women present. (During this time, the men are involved in what's known as the Groom's Tisch, or Table, where the groom is teased by his friends as he tries to give a scholarly lecture. At the Tisch, the Ketubah, the Marriage Contract, is also signed.) There's more about how a Jewish wedding works in this post by me and at These are some of the little girls sitting at their aunt's feet during this time.

My son, David, with my grandmother, during Kabbalat Panim. Doesn't he look handsome in his suit!?

During the ceremony, the bride and groom under the chuppah.

It is a mitzvah, a commandment, to dance with bride and groom. In Orthodox custom, men and women dance separately, and each woman there vies for her chance to dance with the celebrating bride. The dancing goes on and on, and the bride is often exhausted! When she can't dance any more, they seat her on a chair in the midst of all the dancers and her friends and relatives entertain her and dance for her. This is the bride dancing with her newest sister-in-law, my cousin's wife, who was married just in April before Passover.

A funny tradition as part of the mitzvah of "entertaining the bride and groom", within my cousins' circle at least, there is always this hilarious moment of the jump-rope! I don't know of any particular significance, but I always laugh to see these elaborately dressed brides and sisters jumping rope! This is the bride and one of her older sisters. They did a great job, I think they jumped 2 or three times before hitting the rope!

My favorite shot of the trip, though, is this one that my dad took in Corky and Lenny's Deli before the wedding, of David and me. Those of you who know me IRL or have seen my pictures know that I have curly hair...but my friend Andi straightened it for me just for the wedding! (I'm now hooked, btw, I am on a hunt to buy myself a hair straightener.)

See many other great shots (and probably shorter posts!) at Best Shot Monday...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Haveil Havalim is up!....and 5 places I've Been This Week

It's in 2 parts, Haveil Havalim Part 1 here and Haveil Havalim Part 2 here....and as usual, it's chock-full of the best of the Jewish blogosphere. Go check it out and learn something new!

Five Places I've Been This Week


Crock-Pot Felafel

Winter-Share CSA, count me in!

How to back up a blogger blog
(I asked my twitter friends but had to google for the answer!)

Can Jews go Lox-Free?

from my
Where have you been?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Off to a Wedding....

In honor of my parents' anniversary in January, I posted 13 Things About Jewish Weddings.

In honor of my cousin's wedding, which I'm attending tonight, I thought I'd post a little about the Sheva Brachot, the Seven Blessings that are a major feature of the Jewish wedding.

1. The Sheva Brachot, or Seven Blessings, are really considered the heart of the wedding ceremony. Asking for abundant blessings for the bride and groom, the blessings are usually sung beautifully and can provide an opportunity for involving friends and loved ones as readers in the ceremony. They are also repeated during the Grace after Meals at the wedding meal and traditionally at seven dinners for seven nights after the wedding. (The couple is usually hosted by friends and relatives each night, the dinners are known as sheva brachot.)

2. The first blessing is: Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. It is said over a cup of wine, which is not drunk until all 7 blessings have been said.

3. "Wine gladdens the heart," the Psalms tell us. So many Jewish occasion are sanctified by a cup of wine.

4. The second blessing is: Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has created everything for your glory.

5. Marriage is considered to have a higher goal, a higher purpose, for the glory of God. While some people would say that this higher purpose is the creation of children (and that is certainly a high purpose), I would say it is not the only higher purpose of marriage. I do believe that two people coming together to create a holy union of love is in itself for the glory of God.

6. The third blessing: Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of Human Beings. The traditional translation (oh, and the Hebrew itself) says "Creator of man." I tend to believe that God created man AND woman.

7. God's creation of humankind enabled God to fully embrace and experience human love, which is truly a unique thing. As I said before, that love is indeed enough.

8. The fourth blessing: Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has fashioned human beings in your image, according to your likeness and has fashioned from it a lasting mold. Blessed are You Adonai, Creator of Human Beings. Humans again? Yep. Marriage (and its subsequent physical consummation) are perhaps one of our most powerful reminders of our humanity. Where there is love, there is hope.

9. The fifth blessing: Bring intense joy and exultation to the barren one (Jerusalem) through the ingathering of her children amidst her in gladness. Blessed are You, our God, Who gladdens Zion through her children. Jerusalem is always at the forefront of our times of celebration.

10. The psalms tell us to bring Jerusalem to our mind at our times of greatest joy. By ritualizing it, we make certain not to forget.

11. The sixth blessing: Gladden the beloved companions as You gladdened Your creatures in the garden of Eden. Blessed are You, our God, Who gladdens groom and bride. Does it get any better than this? As we come to the joyous culmination of the seven blessings, we are reminded of Paradise, of the Garden of Eden. Every marriage evokes a reminder of the first love on earth.

12. My favorite, and the seventh blessing: Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace, and companionship. Dear God, let there soon be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the grooms' jubilance from their canopies and of the youths from their song-filled feasts. Blessed are You Who causes the groom to rejoice with his bride.

As if seven (see #13) wasn't a powerful enough number, this blessing also brings in the number 10. There are 10 adjectives used to describe the happiness that will (hopefully) exist in the household of this couple: joy, gladness, mirth, gladsong, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace, and companionship. (Were you counting?) Ten reminds us of the 10 commandments, the building blocks of the Torah, and a number considered to be "complete," just like a married couple. (There's actually even more symbolism in this blessing but too much to go into today!)

13. Seven is considered to be a very special number. It is the number of the day of Shabbat, and thus considered to be the number of peace. (And someone once told me that it was Mickey Mantle's number, so that explains it all too...right?) Seven is considered to be a lucky number in other cultures too, so it's very fitting and lucky for the bride and groom to be blessed seven times.

Translations from Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer at
See more Thursday Thirteen here.

And a hearty Mazel Tov to the bride and groom, Deena Malka and Yaakov!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Books and Tzedakah - What Could Be Better?

I am so excited to have found this project that Skip to My Lou is doing. Sign me up!

From Skip To My Lou's post:
While we are encouraging our children to read this summer we can be helping poor families all over the world! Read to Feed is a reading motivation/service learning program from Heifer International. Children are inspired to read more books for pleasure, while raising money, through sponsored reading, to help end world hunger and improve the environment.

I am so in love with this idea for so many reasons.

1. I am always looking for cool ideas to encourage my son to love to read.
2. I am always looking for ways to help my kids learn about tikkun olam, our responsibility to repair the world.
3. I love Heifer International and all that they do. I think their concept is so simple and yet so amazing. I use their animals-as-gifts idea for so many things (including Father's Day....) and I'm always recommending them to Bar and Bat Mitzvah students.
4. How amazing to put these things all together into a summer project!

The Read to Feed site is not working quite yet, but you can go check out Heifer's site as well as Skip to My Lou's site and join in the reading-and-helping-others party!

(I'm actually drawing a link-blank on how I got to this project, so to the great blogger who sent me her way -- thank you! I'd also like to point out how things work out...I have been catching up on blog reading, trying desperately to think about what Wednesday's post would be...and then I found this! The blog-world works for me!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Memes & Five Places....

Meme #1: From Auntie Liz...(she sent it on email)
You can only use one word and it's not as easy as you might think. Now copy or forward, change the answers to suit you and pass it on. It's really hard to only use one word answers.
1. Where is your cell phone? Counter
2. Where is your significant other? Here
3. Your hair? Curly
4. Your mother? Wise
5. Your father? Pal
6. Your favorite thing? Blog
7. Your dream last night? good
8. Your dream/goal? joy
9. The room you're in? playroom
10. Your fear? loss
11. Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
12. Where were you last night? Ravinia
13. What you're not? Patient
14. Muffins? Yep.
15. One of your wish list items? DSLR (is that really one word?)
16. Where you grew up? Wisconsin
17. The last thing you did? Cook
18. What are you wearing? Comfy
19. Your TV? Nice.
20. Your pet? Children
21. Your computer? Laptop
22 Your life? Rockin'
23. Your mood? Calm
24. Missing someone? Harry
25. Your car? Hedwig
26. Something you're not wearing? Makeup
27. Your summer? Great.
28. Your favorite color? Purple
29. When is the last time you laughed? Lunch
30. Last time you cried? Movies
31. Who will resend this? Anyone!

(Feel free to play along....Consider yourself tagged!)

Meme #2: From Jendeis

This meme originated over an idea that was prompted by the book written by Larry Smith & Rachel Fershleiser, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure. It's a compilation based on the story that Hemingway once bet ten dollars that he could sum up his life in six words. His words were, "For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn."

The Rules
1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it to your blog including a visual illustration if you would like.
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.

My six word memoir: "Blessings abound, it's not over yet!"

(Feel free to play along....Consider yourself tagged!)


Five Places I've Been This Week

Sarah Silverman's Sister is a Rabbi!?

The Resume of the Future

Sustainable Shavuot Menu

ALA Recommended Reading List

Salmon and Feta Pasta...yum!

from my -- where have you been?

AND! Haveil Havalim is up over by Jack. It's wonderful, as usual...a great roundup of the week's Jewish blogosphere.

Chag Sameach!!!!!
(That means, Happy Shavuot!)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blessings...Priestly and Otherwise

It's a famous line
"May God bless you and keep you."
the priests all said it.

"May the face of God
shine on you and be gracious
unto you and yours."

"May God's face lift up
to you and may you always
find completeness -- peace."

The Priestly Blessing is the centerpiece of this week's Torah portion, Naso.

The Hebrew root of the word "shalom," which means peace, is "shalem" -- which means wholeness or completeness. Only when we have ourselves, in the world...can we truly find peace.

May you find blessings, completeness, and peace on this Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!

See more haikus here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Celebrating Shavuot

The holiday of Shavuot is almost here!

While Shavuot is one of the most important Jewish holidays, it does tend to get overlooked.
So here are some things to help you learn more about this holiday!

1. Shavuot falls on the 6th day of Sivan. Its calendaring is directly related to Passover, as it is the end of the period of the counting of the Omer. (In English, it's usually called Pentecost, but the actual translation is "weeks" -- as in the weeks of the counting of the Omer.)

2. Shavuot is considered to be the anniversary of the acceptance of the Torah at Sinai. (That's why it follows Passover -- first we were freed, then we got the Torah.)

3. This is the day that began the season of bringing the first-fruits to the Temple. The first fruits were the first of each harvest to blossom, and were harvested and brought to the priests in a ceremony.

4. It is a tradition to read Akdamut, a liturgical poem, on Shavuot. This long poem is read at the morning service before the reading of Torah.

5. It is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. I like the explanation that the Torah is like "honey and milk" on our tongues as it says in Song of Songs 4:11. Other people say that we did not eat meat before the giving of the Law at Sinai and thus we remember that. Either way, Shavuot is a vegetarian's paradise of a holiday!

6. We read from the Book of Ruth on Shavuot. It is about a woman who chooses to accept the Torah, just as we commemorate our people's acceptance of the Torah. Plus it talks about the harvest. And it's a good read.

7. Midrash teaches that Mt. Sinai burst into blossoms at the giving of the Torah. Perhaps this is why it is customary to decorate synagogues and homes with flowers and greenery for Shavuot.

8. Most people stay up all night on Erev Shavuot, in a practice known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot. The idea is to study Torah all night in preparation for receiving the Torah at Sinai.

9. The idea of staying up all night really took off when coffee became available in Europe.

10. Conservative and Reform congregations typically choose Shavuot to celebrate Confirmation, the high-school affirmation of Jewish identity.

11. There is a slightly obscure tradition of making and displaying papercut-art. (I definitely need to explore this one more. I think there's something fun in this for Shavuot for next year...)

12. You could honor Shavuot by baking a "Bible Cake". It's a cool scavenger hunt through the Bible that yields a cake! How cool is that.

13. And in keeping with the cake idea, Sephardic Jews have the custom to bake a seven-layer cake called Siete Cielos or Seven Heavens. This symbolizes the seven celestial spheres that God traveled to present the Torah to Moses. Seven graduated circular layers are decorated with a star of David, the staff of Moses, the Tablets of the Law, manna, Jacob's ladder and the Ark of the Covenant. Here are some more foodie customs for Shavuot.

Learn more about Shavuot...check out some of Leora's and Ilana-Davita's great posts about it.

more Thursday Thirteen here.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Husband is Wonderful

Sunday evening he joined me to see Sex and the City.

(Which, by the way, rocked.)

Here is proof:

If you haven't seen it yet...GO!

I must admit, I ♥ Charlotte. Yes, I know, she's perky and maybe "too perfect" -- but I loved her optimism, her love of her life, her sweet care of her friend...I loved her mama-bear reaction to Big...I cried tears of rage with her.

And, of course, I ♥ my husband for going with me...he was definitely a minority at the movie but he enjoyed it just as much as I did. (He watched the show with me too, so it wasn't such a stretch...and then again, I went to Iron Man with him and enjoyed that! I guess we're just a movie-match-made-in-heaven...)

Go see what other people did and took pictures of this week.