Jerusalem, my home! How amazing!

The other day I was on a work-related trip to Tel Aviv. Driving home from there, following the roadsigns to Jerusalem, I almost had to pinch myself to believe that this is really the life I am living. Even now, – having lived in Jerusalem for almost two decades, I am still that excited about it. Just imagine, – I get to call Jerusalem my home! I get to follow the roadsigns to Jerusalem when I am heading home!!

FullSizeRender-15.jpg

Living in Jerusalem has many different aspects to it. Right now the challenging aspects of life in Israel are showing themselves. Daily we get news updates of the horrible terror that is coming against our people, – our women, our mothers, our children. It is hard to describe with words, and it is a reality nobody should have to deal with.

Yet at the same time, somehow, this strengthens us, it strengthens our identity of who we are, as very different from the ones who are coming against us like this, worse than animals. It makes it very clear who we have to turn to, to cling to and to trust in, – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, – the God of Israel!

And somehow, in spite of this difficult reality, the people of Israel manage to have a joy of life that I find admirable! It may be what comes from gaining perspective, building something, sacrificing, – it may be the fruit of living for something bigger than yourself.

FullSizeRender-14.jpg

In the mornings I like to take time to read the Bible, and so often I come across such amazing, beautiful promises to Israel, and not the least to Jerusalem! And then to think, I get to be here, to live here, to have a part in these promises, in this wonderful hope!

Just look at these promises from Zechariah 8:

Thus says the LORD of hosts:

‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; 

With great fervor I am zealous for her.’

‘I will return to Zion,

And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,

The mountain of the LORD of hosts,

The Holy Mountain.’

‘Old men and women shall again sit 

In the streets of Jerusalem,

Each one with his staff in his hand

Because of his great age

The streets of the city

Shall be full of boys and girls,

Playing in the streets.’

‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east

And from the land of the west;

I WILL BRING THEM BACK,

AND THEY SHALL DWELL IN THE MIDST OF JERUSALEM.

THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE

AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD,

IN TRUTH AND RIGHTOUSNESS.’

What promises! What hope! And let me tell you, – it is happening already! Now and in our days! The process has begun, and it is truly an amazing thing to be a part of!

Advertisements

Identity and truth revealed

I am still thinking of last week’s Torah Portion. It is one of the most powerful ones, I think, about Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers. Just imagine being there! Wow! What emotion! What depth! Wow!

Think of the thousands of  questions receiving their answer in those two words: – Ani Yosef! – I’m Joseph!

What mysteries being explained! All the puzzle pieces fell into place as those two words were expressed, heard and understood. All of a sudden they saw the truth that had been right there in front of them for a while already!

Imagine the surprise for the brothers! A mixture of fear and relief. Amazement and excitement coupled with  regret, shame and guilt. But I like to think there was most all, joy and love.

Jewish tradition links this story closely to the expectation of the coming of the Messiah and to Him revealing His identity! This is what excites me so much! Just imagine the moment when He will reveal His identity and say: – Ani HaMashiach! -I’m the Messiah!

Think of the millions of questions receiving their answer in those two words! Oh, my heart!!!

All the mysteries being explained, and all the puzzle pieces falling into place! Oh, – being alive on that day! All of our eyes being opened to the truth!!

I am looking forward to that day! And I want to live my life preparing for that day, and doing what I can to make it come sooner!

 

Hanukkah in Jerusalem

IMG_5213

I love Hanukkah! Currently it is my favorite holiday of all. It is so amazingly beautiful, so cozy and at the same time so deep.

IMG_5171.JPG

 

We celebrate the miracle of Light. For eight whole days, and not the least for eight beautiful nights we focus on Light!

IMG_5278

I can now look back on eight days full of sweet moments. So many amazing sights of shimmering oil lamps and flickering flames.

FullSizeRender-13

Songs of darkness being removed as light comes in and takes over, and songs of how each one of us are all little lights!

IMG_5222

I have loved having my children home from school for the days of Hanukkah. This makes for so much more relaxing evenings, and not the least more relaxed mornings! It was a wonderful and much needed break for all.

FullSizeRender-12.jpg

And I have LOVED walking the streets of Jerusalem during these cool Hanukkah evenings. Seeing the hanukkiot (Hanukkah-menorah) getting fuller and fuller every night, ever more beautiful and bright.

IMG_5176

And there are so many of them! Last night my dear husband and I went for a long run through Jerusalem, and we decided to count how many hanukkiot we saw on our way. The final count was 773 hanukkiot!!!

IMG_5266

 

The focus on the theme of dedication has been special for me this year. The name of the holiday, “Hanukkah”, means “Dedication”. The Temple was re-dedicated to God, to be a holy and suitable dwelling place for Him.

IMG_5174

The challenge that I am taking with me as we go towards the end of this year’s Hanukkah, is to dedicate myself even more to be a good dwelling place for God. I want to make more room for Him, to fill myself even more with Him, spend time in His Word and get closer and closer to Him.

 

IMG_5288.JPG

 

 

Being whole.

We are reading such amazing Torah portions these weeks. The stories of our patriarchs are coming alive in front of us as we study and learn these familiar texts again as part of our yearly cycle.

I know we are well into a new week, but there is a thought from last week’s portion that is still going around in my mind. We were reading about Jacob returning to the Land of Israel after having been gone for such a long time. He had fled from his brother and the mess he had gotten himself into, he had married two wives (or kind of four, really…), and had eleven children. So much had happened in his life. And then it says in Genesis 33,18, – Jacob came to Schem WHOLE… (I never noticed it before!) He came back WHOLE. Meaning, there was more of a lack when he left. He had been on a long journey, he had gone through a process, he had become WHOLE.

Fall in Jerusalem

We are all on journeys through life. May our journeys be processes that make us more and more WHOLE! Sometimes we don’t understand why something was needed, or why it needs to take so long, – but maybe it is part of what it takes to make us WHOLE!

I don’t know if I even manage to explain this well enough. But to me, this struck a cord deep within me. This is what I want! I want this for me and my family, for my children. May we grow into becoming more and more WHOLE!

To me, being WHOLE, means being who God meant for you to be when He created you. Fitting more and more into the mold that is YOU!

With the Bible as our History-book

The wintery weather has made its wonderful arrival to Israel, bringing blessed peace and cosiness and all kinds of good things! (Yes, it is almost funny how rain brings peace, but it really does, – I guess stone throwers don’t want to get wet and cold!)

Candles

Right now I am sitting here in my warm home listening to the rain pouring down outside. In here it is so nice and cozy. Lots and lots of candles lit. I have fresh cream of butternut squash soup and yummy hot cider. Life is good.

hot soup

The last few days have been really nice. The children have majored on puzzles, we have enjoyed knitting and sewing, and I have been reading out loud to them from a book that was read to me (several times) when I was a child.

puzzles

I have to share one little conversation that developed from the reading. We heard about a girl who really liked the subject “history” in school. My children do not at this time have a subject called “history”, so they were trying to figure out what this would be. I suggested a subject they have where they learn about our country and our people, – because in “history” you sort of learn the history of your people, I explained. – Ah, they nodded in understanding, – that is what we call “Bible”! That is the history of our people! How precious, don’t you think? What a privilege to get to grow up with the Bible as your history-book, and that is where you find your ancestors and your identity!

sewing

The reality is that the messages in the Bible are really central in so much of what is going on here! Recently I was at a race with runners from most of the schools in Jerusalem, our son was a participant from his school, and I was a parent coming along to help out. I was really impressed with the music chosen at this event, – it had such depth and content! To give you an example, one of the songs went like this: “Israel! Israel! Trust in the LORD!”  And another one was the whole psalm 121 “I lift my eyes up unto the mountains, where does my help come from?” 

kids

I really am thankful to get to raise my children in a country where faith and the Bible are given such a focus, and are seen as really relevant for our lives! There certainly is no place like Israel! Am Yisrael Chai!

10402718_10204458024922618_5251960699081239876_n

 

Shabbat prayer

This Shabbat’s combination of wintery weather and day-of-rage-promises from our enemies close by, did not make it hard to come up with reasons to just stay home. But, really, in difficult times, it is important to stand together, – that is the way that we are strongest, and that is the way to keep on really living!

Jerusalem

So we went as a family to pray in the synagogue this morning, – and it turned out to be one of the most uplifting mornings in a long time! Each one of the prayers just stood out as such a strong and fitting one at a time like this!

Just think of all the times that we call God “Magen Avraham” or “Magen David” – “The shield of Abraham” or “The shield of David”! He really is our shield! It was just so helpful to regain perspective of this, and be reminded of just who God is! Listen to this;

True is the eternal God, our King, Rock of Jacob, Shield of our Salvation.

He exists and His name exists through all generations.

His throne is established, His kingship and faithfulness endure for ever.

True, You are the LORD, our God and God of our ancestors,

our King and King of our ancestors, our Maker,

Rock of our Salvation,

our Deliverer and Rescuer!

Rock of Israel!

Arise to the help of Israel.

Deliver as You promised, Judah and Israel!

And how about this:

Blessed are You, LORD,

who blesses His people Israel with peace.

Amen! May it be so!

Shabbat in Jerusalem

Hanukkah is over, but we decided to leave the decorations up until after Shabbat. So we get to enjoy them a bit in the peace and quiet that came after the holiday excitement was over.

Hanukkiah

It has been a lovely shabbat in Jerusalem. Just walking the streets of Jerusalem is a spiritual experience on shabbat. Really. I thought of it today as we were out there walking on this beautiful cold and crisp but sunny and dry Jerusalem day. There were lots of other people out there also going to and from synagogue and home. People are wishing each other Shabbat Shalom. You bump into people you know and stop and talk with them for a while. It feels more like a village than the capital it really is.

A view of Jerusalem from one of my runs last week

A view of Jerusalem from one of my runs last week

Whenever we are not in Jerusalem on shabbat, I miss it. There is just nothing quite like it. You can basically feel it in the air you breathe, that it is shabbat. There is no way you for a moment would forget what day it is. There are no buses or public transport, people are off from work and shops are closed. It is a real shabbat. People have time for each other, for the things that really matters (*which as the saying goes, aren’t things…).

Another photo from my run last week

Another photo from my run last week

In the weekly portion that we read this Shabbat, we learn about Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers when they had come down to Egypt for their second time. The most amazing words in this portion, I think, are: “Ani Yosef.”“I am Joseph.” Just start to imagine what is going on in the heads of the brothers as they hear it!! In that very instant all their questions and mysteries get their answers! All of a sudden all the puzzle pieces fall into place!

And this is what it is going to be like when the Messiah comes and reveals His identity. When we will hear the words: “I am the Messiah”, our questions will get their answers, and all the pieces will fall into place. We may very well be surprised, but at the same time it will all make sense! What a day it will be!!

winter movie night

We enjoyed good reads, yummy treats and fun games at home on this shabbat afternoon. And as our family tradition is on winter motze shabbat (saturday nights), when shabbat goes out early, – we had a movie night.

Yup, it’s been a good day. Life is not all that bad after Hanukkah either!