It was nearly mussaf on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. I sat in the back of the shul, anxiously shaking my leg, tapping my siddur and trying hard to prevent my then toddler from pulling down my entire shirt. With every passing minute my frustration was building; as there was no sign of my husband. My husband had agreed to daven that morning at the hashkama minyan in order to allow me to be inside shul to hear to the haftorah. The only part of Tefilla I cared to be at that Rosh Hashanah was the haftorah from Sefer Shmuel which told the story of Chana and her infertility journey. Despite the shul being full of people, the only “personality” I felt like I could relate to was Chana. [Read more…]
Eikha, read on Tisha beAv, is Jeremiah’s painful cry over the enormous tragedies associated with the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash: the loss of Jewish sovereignty, the massive death toll, the wholesale and forcible dislocation of the Jewish people from its land, and the terrifying sense of abandonment by God. It is hard to know which of these is worst, and all feature at some point in the Eikha text. Using powerful imagery, the prophet personalizes the city of Jerusalem mourning painfully and all alone – without a friend in the world – for her children, her former inhabitants, for her eerily silent empty streets, her unemployed kohanim, her traffic-less roads, and her street-performers longing for someone for whom to perform. [Read more…]
The two items that we expect to see on a Shabbat or Chag table, that make it distinct from a regular dinner table, are Wine and Bread. The wine for Kiddush and the two loaves of bread that we bless are two items that symbolize our Shabbat meal.
Wine improves with age. It is considered to be better and of higher quality the older it is.
Bread is considered to be best and at its peak when fresh, when new.
I believe this Shabbat table model speaks to our relationship with Judaism.
The traditions go back thousands of years. When we connect to a Jewish custom, law, or concept, we are tapping into something long standing. We are connecting to something much more rooted and ancient than ourselves. The generations of precedent and practice are significant and strong. That is the wine. [Read more…]
Originally published by Lani Lederer Berman Apr 6, 2015
Throughout history, the mikvah has stood at the very core of religious Jewish life and practice, and said to protect the Jewish people both physically and spiritually. It is therefore fitting on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, to explore some of the discourse surrounding mikvah during the Holocaust, when Jewish existence was threatened in both these realms. Though this piece is not an exhaustive examination of the topic, it is meant to join the conversation in an attempt to pay respect to those who endured the suffering and thereby fought for the physical and spiritual survival of our nation. [Read more…]
This Pesach, we have been invited out for dinner on the seventh night of pesach to a family who has the minhag to wear beach clothes to dinner in celebration of the anniversary of Kriyat Yam Suf.
I am loving this idea– not only because I can not wait to wear my flippers and snorkel gear to dinner on Thursday night, but I realize it has really made me really think about the significance of the experience of kriyat Yam Suf.
Imagine the scene. The Jews have fled Egypt, leaving confusion and pandemonium behind them. And then are faced with the sea– Did they know there was a sea there? Had they realized they were running into an insurmountable obstacle? The fear must have been astounding. [Read more…]