Friday, October 31, 2008

Overheard in Hello, Shabbat class today

4-year-old: "Rabbi Phyllis, are you Christian?"

"No, honey, I'm Jewish."

4-y.o. responds: "I'm Jewish too!"

Another pipes up: "We're ALL Jewish!"

Glad we settled that one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Take Your Daughters and Sons to VOTE!

I do love this video.

But truthfully -- I want to take ALL my children to vote, not just my daughter. I need to show all my children how important I believe this act of voting is.

Now...don't forget to vote!

P.S. I'll be back blogging regularly, I promise. Stay a big giveaway to come to thank you all for sticking with me for the holidays!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Overheard in the Sukkah

(We invite ushpizin - guests - into our sukkah)

Teacher: how about the first Jew in the Torah - who was that?

Student, proudly: Abraham Lincoln!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The King and the Shack - Blog Action Day - Help me DONATE!

I love to tell the following story on Sukkot:

Once upon a time there was a very generous king. He decided to replace any decrepit or unlivable housing with bright new homes for all of his subjects. Everyone was to have a lovely place to live. The people were very grateful and the kingdom prospered. The king took a tour of his kingdom; he went all over and was greeted with great joy. In his capitol city, however, he found, in an out-of-the-way area, a rundown shack. He found a family inside, living there. Shocked, he asked them, "How is it that your house was not replaced as all the others were? Why do you still live in this shack?" The family replied to the king, "The townspeople have forgotten us."

The king was distraught. He realized, if the townspeople can forget this family that lives in their midst, how much more could they forget the King himself, who lives far from them in the palace and only appears occasionally! He ordered the family's home replaced with a new one, and he had their old shack moved to the center of town. Over it was placed a sign: "This is the kind of shack we ALL used to live in."

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which began on Monday night, is that reminder for us. Once a year, for a week, we are commanded to "dwell" in the Sukkah. A sukkah is meant to be flimsy, and its roof is required to be open to the stars. It's not meant as a comfortable, warm dwelling. Instead, it serves to remind us of the fragility of our lives and our world. There are so many other reasons and explanations for the holiday of Sukkot but this one, I believe, is so important. When we consider that almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day, it's wise to remind ourselves regularly that our cozy lives do not exist in a vacuum. When we consider that 1 billion children live in poverty, it makes us appreciate the ability to feed and clothe our own children. When we consider that 640 million children live without adequate shelter, eating a few meals in the Sukkah seems like small potatoes. (Stats according to UNICEF, via

What can we do? There are so many ways to help others, through giving and doing. The Blog Action Day blog has a list of 88 ways to do something about poverty. Some of them are pretty simple - yet doing them is possibly a first step towards changing the world. Our sages taught: "Ours is not to complete the work of the world. But that does not allow us the freedom to do nothing." (That is a paraphrase.)

This year at Am Shalom, we tried to give our congregational sukkah a "mitzvah theme." We collected mittens and gloves and hung them as our decorations. It looks great! And when people wonder why there are all those mittens hanging in our sukkah, we have a wonderful opportunity to share with them how many people are in need in our own city. (Photo below)

I'm also participating in the Donors Choose Blogger Challenge. See the left-hand sidebar to check out some of the amazing school projects that are in need of our help. It seems like such a small amount of money, and we can have so much impact. Education is one of the keys to overcoming poverty. Let's help make sure that students have the resources they need.

UPDATED: Thanks to a great idea from this blogger, I will donate $1.00 to a Donors Choose educational project for every comment on this post.

Are you joining in Blog Action Day? Leave your link in a comment or email me (phyl613 at and I'll add a link to you here in this post.

We cannot afford to be silent any longer.

Other Blog Action Day Posts:
Fighting Poverty with the Crunchy Domestic Goddess

Monday, October 13, 2008

All Dressed Up....

Here's my youngest, all dressed up on Erev Yom Kippur (the evening of Yom Kippur)...with really no place to go since she didn't go to synagogue!

There were some marvelous moments while she was in this long dress when she put on my hiking shoes. None of those pictures quite came out, though. So this one is the best I've got. (I like it!)

Go see what more people have for their Best Shot Monday.

And while you're tooling around the internets, check out these things as well:

Haveil Havalim
(Jewish blog carnival) over here
Step up to my Blogger Challenge at Donors Choose
Last chance to join in for Blog Action Day on Wednesday! Come back for my posts....

P.S. Anyone interested, here's my Yom Kippur morning sermon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yom Kippur

Last year I offered some thoughts on fasting.

A beautiful presentation of Kol Nidre, a Moroccan version....

May you be sealed for a life of goodness, joy and peace.
G'mar Chatima Tova.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Haveil Havalim is up...

Haveil Havalim #185 is now live at Writes Like She Talks. Go see it and while you're there, check out her great blog!

P.S. I really do promise to post regularly again soon. Gotta finish that Yom Kippur sermon. I have many posts ruminating in my we get the fun of Sukkot soon!