Sanctified time

Have you thought of the fact that God may have intended for there to be different kinds of time? The longer I am blessed to live, the more I believe this is the case. I believe God in His deep wisdom knew that we would need different kinds of times, so He blessed us with “Set apart times” – “Appointed times”. These are the Holy Days that He gave us through Moshe on Har Sinai, and each week there is Shabbat.

IMG_7220

Just like God sanctified certain people and certain places in special ways, I believe He sanctified certain times.

And I think it is a blessing for us to take advantage of these blessed, set apart and sanctified times! On the last two Shabbats I have noticed that the conversations in our home have gone to a depth that almost surprised me. But then again, – it is only natural for these deep conversations to take place during such special hours of the week. The connection between us human beings and with God above comes more easily during this set apart time, I think.

Then again, – you cannot really plan for this type of connection to happen, you just have to be ready and open for it.

We have quite traditional Shabbats. Everything is prepared ahead of time, the house is clean, the clothes are ready, the food is cooked, the guests are invited. And then we just enjoy the blessing that Shabbat is, for all the 25 hours that it lasts. The deep prayers at the synagogue, the beautiful songs, the meals, the blessings, the time together, the wonderful restfulness of it all.

More and more I love being at the synagogue on Shabbat morning and joining in the singing of these familiar prayers in these beautiful familiar melodies. It really feels like you get a bit of a taste of the heavenly Jerusalem. I feel a strong connection with God above, and it is a reminder of who we are and what we are here for.

For the Shabbat a week ago, both of our children had sleep-over-guests who of course stayed for the entire Shabbat. There were lively meals and lots of games. And then on Shabbat afternoon, when we just sat around on the couches, all of a sudden our son and his friend came with all these deep questions and thoughts that they were dealing with at this early teenage stage of their lives. Nobody planned for it, it was just there, – this depth, this connection. A similar thing happened on the afternoon of this last Shabbat. It must be that we are all calmed down and peaceful enough to deal with the real issues in life at that time!

Oh, I cannot express in words how thankful I am for Shabbat! This foretaste of Gan Eden! No wonder it is the highlight of my week, – and then again of my life, I guess! Because as we know, – The way we live our days, is the way we live our lives!

 

 

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!

Fun Fridays

Here in Israel we only have one-day-weekends. (So be very thankful for your two-day-weekends those of you who have those! ;-)) When you add to the picture, that we do not drive on Shabbat, which is the only day off, – you have to be creative and very intentional about your trips and outings that are not done solely by foot!

Look how beautiful the almond trees are right now!

Look how beautiful the almond trees are right now!

I want us to utilize Friday afternoons as much as we can, to go straight into weekend-mode and enjoy it to the fullest. I stop working when the kids come home from school, and we have about four and a half hours till Shabbat starts. (Don´t forget that there are lots of preparations for this which also have to get done at some point…)

I should write a separate post about our princess and her dolls. She does not "play" with them, - she "practices" for becoming a mom...!

I should write a separate post about our princess and her dolls. She does not “play” with them, – she “practices” for becoming a mom…!

So the last two Friday afternoons we’ve been making the most of it. For the first one, we went jeeping and hiking in the hills surrounding Jerusalem.

hiking

It turned out such a lovely and wonderful outing! Just to smell the air, to rest your eyes on nature. I loved the feeling of being surrounded by nature only, – I am a nature girl at heart, I guess that is what it comes down to.

enjoying the hills of Jerusalem

I enjoyed watching the children skip along and get creative about coming up with games and fun stuff to do out there, – there was a positive energy going around.

flowers in Israel

The almond trees were blossoming. The poppies were popping up everywhere, as were the cyclamens. They were so beautiful! We only wished we could have picked some… If we were the ones making the rules, we would have said everyone can take only one, instead of making it none… 😉 But don’t worry, – we left them all there! We just picked some of the yellow ones, – now, don’t you tell him they are weeds!!

picking flowers

We came back home with renewed energy, and really felt like we had gone somewhere.

Jerusalem

On Shabbat I read something about finding the connecting points between heaven and earth. And really, when we have our eyes open to find them, – they are everywhere! Be it in the synagogue when singing the prayers together with our people, be it at home around the shabbat table with the family and at the same time with our whole people everywhere, – or be it out in nature enjoying His wonderful creation!

hiking

Then on this past Friday, it was actually the shared birthday of our prince and me. Yes, he was born on my birthday! The best birthday gift ever!!!

Ok, now for a special birthday moment. I was born 14 minutes after 2 o’clock on February 14th. That is twice 2.14, right? And then, this year, being 2014, – it was three times 2.14! So, – this is us making that very moment a special one, with really yummy chocolates for desert after having gone out for lunch to celebrate!

A sweet moment. I am so rich, - surrounded by my beloved family! #blessed

A sweet moment. I am so rich, – surrounded by my beloved family! #blessed

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!

Shabbat with uniquely shaped challot

It’s Saturday night. Motze Shabbat. After Shabbat has gone out. The Shabbat-flowers are still beautifully decorating our home. And the atmosphere of Shabbat has not quite left yet. Oh, how I LOVE Shabbat! What is not to love, really?? You get a very real break from the pressures of regular life. You get to sit back and just enjoy what you prepared before Shabbat. You get the gift of TIME.

Shabbat

This morning we went to the Western Wall. How I love to sit there, and just BE. I am reminded of the verse from Psalm 84,10 about that it is better to have one day in His courts than thousands elsewhere. It is good to pray and read the Torah at the Kotel, but I also love to just be there and be quiet and rest in the Presence of the Almighty. He, of course, is present everywhere, but really, when He had to choose One place to make His special dwelling place, – this is the place He chose. What a privilege to live within walking distance to this place!!

Shabbat

Then, in the afternoon it was nice to just sit and read and rest in the couch at home, and to be with family. My parents are here, so are a three generations family right now. Good times.

Shabbat

Last night we had a long table with 12 of us around it. We love having guests, and also believe in hospitality. Always be ready to receive guests, – because you never know, all of a sudden you could entertain angels without even knowing it! We read about this happening to Abraham some weeks ago. This Shabbat we read about Ya’acov and his encounter with angels, and his dream about the ladder with angels going up and down on it.

Challah dough

When the children came home from school yesterday, my challah-dough was more than ready to be shaped into challot and I asked if they wanted to help, which sometimes they want to and sometimes they would rather do something else. This time both really wanted to, and they had specific ideas as to what they wanted to make.

shaping challot

He wanted to make Ya’acov’s ladder, with an angel on the side that could climb up and down it. And she made Ya’acov sleeping with a rock under his head. She also made an angel who would bless Ya’acov. (I can’t believe I didn’t get any pictures of their finished products! Next time…)

shaping challot

I loved how they came up with these ideas by themselves and had such a sweet time shaping their challot. These challot also make sure your conversations around the dinner table include the text from the parasha.

children shaping challotNow we have started a new week, so I want to wish you all Shavua tov, – A good week! See you around! 🙂

Chocolate mousse for a wonderful shabbat!

Shabbat is getting closer! Oh, what a wonderful feeling! This has been a full and busy week (*which kind of gives me second thoughts about if it is a good idea to add a tour guide course to my life right now…), and Shabbat is going to be sooooo good! Just to have the time to sit there with my loved ones. To talk, to read, to play, to have a break, to have a different day. To go to the synagogue and get that foretaste of heaven. To just be. Wow, that is the life!

I am blessed to also enjoy what fills my everyday life during the weeks, but honestly, I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t get a Shabbat at the end of every week! Really! It is just so perfect how it gives you time to recharge your batteries, to regain perspective in life, to have time to the things that really matters. Oh, what a blessing Shabbat is! God really knew what He did when He gave us that blessing!!

shabbat flowers

During the last couple of months I have made chocolate mousse for dessert for Shabbat several times. It is easy, it is quick, it is yummy! What is not to love? So, I thought I would share the recipe with you guys.

Here is what you need:

       CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

You melt the chocolate, and let it cool slightly.  You whip the cream and put it aside. Then you whip up the eggs and the sugar until it doubles in bulk. And then you just need to combine it all. Add the cocoa and the melted chocolate to the egg mixture until combined. Then carefully fold in the whipped cream until it becomes a mousse. (I use parve cream so that it becomes a parve dessert, as we normally have meat for Shabbat dinner.) If you want to, decorate it with a bit of cream and grated chocolate on top. See, – sooo easy!

chocolate mousse

I have often made it in individual bowls, but as we are invited over to my in-laws tonight, and bringing it there, it was easier in one big bowl. (I found the recipe on taste.com.au)

Enjoy!

Enjoying the last bits of snow.

Considering the fact that we are far from spoilt when it comes to snow here in Jerusalem, we don’t let it go unnoticed that there still are some white patches out there. My husband just came in from taking out a bag of garbage, and with a big smile on his face he said how nice it is to still see bits of snow! And I really enjoyed my walk to get some milk at the local grocery store, for the exact same reason, – these white patches of snow really add a lot of joy to our lives! A white patch of snow still left on some rosemary bushes.

A white patch of snow still left on some rosemary bushes.

Friday was another snow day where all Jerusalem children got an extra day off from school. We didn’t really get a new snowfall, but there was enough left on the sidewalks to make it slippery, and in order to prevent people from falling and getting hurt, we got to stay home and have another snowball fight instead… 😉 We were all happy with that!Getting Abba pretty good! Getting Abba pretty good!

My pink princess and I did a nice walk together and bought shabbat-flowers. On the way she several times stopped and exclaimed: “Oh, it’s sooo beautiful! I just have to take a break and enjoy the view!” And really, this was the day to enjoy the views, because now that it was not snowing any more, it was easier to look across to the hills around us, like here to the fields of our neighboring kibbutz.

snowy view

And what kinds of flowers did my princess help me choose for this Shabbat? Of course, – pink ones!!!

shabbat flowers

Today, on Shabbat, we walked to the Western Wall, and there was still a little bit of snow left in the Old City and by the Kotel itself. But it was noticeable that our neighborhood is higher in altitude and therefore had more snow.

Snow at the Western Wall

Snow at the Western Wall (Photo credit: ForestForTrees)

Next time we have a real snowfall I would really love to get all the way down to the Old City. We walk these distances regularly, but in deep snow it takes longer and is colder, something you notice especially with children. (And taking the car is just not an option as neither the streets nor the cars are prepared for it.) But think of such unique views! And the pictures one could get! Definitely, next time I’m there. May it be soon…

I Love Fridays.

My current favorite music is filling the house, the chicken soup is cooking, the challah dough is rising, the washing machine is working and I am sitting down with a second cup of coffee. Yup, life is good. 

It has been a good week, but a busy one, meaning my to-do-list for today is pretty long (hence the second cup of coffee…). We have several bi-weekly activities, and somehow they happen to fall on the same week, so it gives us sort of one week on and one week off, – and this past week was the week on. So that gives us the children’s class (which we host and lead) and the women’s group two days in a row. Add to that a joyous wedding the day after, and your spare time is pretty much filled up. Because of course, work and homework and laundry and cooking and all of that is still there too. So, yes, it has been a good and busy week. I am thankful for it. And I am thankful for today, for Friday.

I still have a lot left to do on my to-do-list, so naturally there is not much to take pictures of here yet. So here comes a picture I took just before last Shabbat:

cake for shabbat

Last week we had some friends stay with us for the whole Shabbat, and they really added a lot of joy to our Shabbat-experience (so if those friends happen to read this: Thank you so much! Come back soon!). One of them is a vegetarian, so we made that Shabbat a dairy one, and I loved it! Not only can you have butter on your challah, but think of all the fun options that gives you for desserts! Take this cake for example. My favorite.

oreo cheese cake

It’s an Oreo Cheese Cake with several layers. Here is a quick run through if you feel your mouth watering already. You make a crust of 300 grams of crushed Oreo cookies and 100 grams soft butter. This you push into a spring-pan. On top of that you put a mixture of whipped cream and cream cheese (one pack of each), with about 100 grams of powdery sugar mixed into it. Oh, and leave some of this white mixture for the top of the cake too. So, first there is the crust, then there is about 2/3 of the white mixture, and then you put a layer of chocolate mousse. I made my own, I just googled a recipe, but you could also make an instant version. And then on top you put the rest of the cream cheese and whipped cream mixture. Decorate with broken Oreo cookies. You can also add some of those in between the layers. (Based on a recipe found on trinesmatblogg.no) Trust me, it is worth the effort!! Yum and double yum!

Ok, I’ll end with showing you my Shabbat Flowers this week. I saw them there on the side of the street as I was on my way home after having taken the children to school, and it was the first time I had seen them this season, – tulips. One of my many favorites. They practically had my name written all over them. So here they are. Shabbat Shalom to you all from Yerushalayim!

Shabbat flowers

Another blessed Shabbat.

Here in Israel we are rejoicing over a very good start to our rain-season this year! This is the best beginning of the winter that we have had in over twenty years, as far as rain goes! This past Friday was one of those days when it just felt like the skies were open, and it just POURED big time! Thinking it was going to stay that way, I prepared hot chicken soup and hot apple cider for Shabbat, and we brought out all our puzzles to enjoy during this rainy Shabbat. And yes, Friday night was perfect in a warm home with comfort food and family fun with puzzles.

English: Wailing Wall from the Tankizyya

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But come Shabbat morning, and the weather had cleared up quite a bit. It was still very cold, but the wind and the rain had moved on. So, as we say in this family, – there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, – we put on good, warm clothes and walked to the Western Wall, the Kotel. In the Women’s section, one could notice that a lot of the regulars had decided to stay home on this cold morning, so those of us who did make it out, were blessed to get the best seats, – all the way up close to the Wall!

Papers with prayers and wishes that have been ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I felt so privileged sitting there praying, looking up at the huge stones above me, and at the cracks next to me stuffed full of prayers written on notes. Those notes were soaked wet from all the rain that God has blessed us so richly with lately. I felt so deeply rich who got to sit right there and pray in anticipation:

ותחזינה עינינו בשובך לציון ברחמים. ברוך אתה ה” המחזיר שכינתי לציון

May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in compassion. Blessed are You, HASHEM, Who restores His Presence to Zion.

Then later, we got to hear the whole Torah Portion read right there, including the very exciting words: I am Josef! Those words carry within them the anticipation of the coming of our Mashiach, and He will say: I am the Mashiach!

Today, Sunday, is the tenth of Tevet, a fast day in the Jewish year, and I just listened to a very inspiring lecture about this day by Shira Smiles. She said that we have to live every day in the anticipation of the coming of the Mashiach, of the awaiting redemption, which she called ציפיית ישועה – TZIPIAT YESHUAH! The expectation of Salvation, of Yeshuah! 

Wow! Isn’t it just so exciting to be alive??! To get to live and work towards such a wonderful hope! To get to be a part of something so much greater than ourselves!

Wrapped Hanukkah Gifts.

Hanukkah pocket-wallhanging

It is the last day of school before Hanukkah vacation. And I am at home working on high gear, having fun getting everything ready. The wrapping of the Hanukkah Gifts for the kids is something I always greatly enjoy. We don’t get them big gifts, it is mostly craft things, like paints and beads and stuff like that. And just the fact that they are wrapped, makes the whole thing more exciting and like a present. And in the end we have something fun to do during their vacation from school!

A few years ago I made a convenient sort of wallhanging with pockets to hold the gifts for the eight nights of Hanukkah. The excitement is great every year when we bring it out for Hanukkah, and hang it on it’s place. I just love all these family traditions that repeat themselves, and make up a big part of what makes our home what it is.

Hanukkah gifts

Now, this may be surprising to some of you, but even though we live in Israel, the stores do not provide you with Hanukkah-themed wrapping paper when you purchase your gifts. So, what do you do, when those things actually matter a bit to you?! Several years ago we were given some nice Hanukkah wrapping paper from friends in the States, and that has been used and used again. I was still able to wrap a few of the gifts with that paper, but since we are talking eight nights of gifts here, it just wasn’t enough. So, – here is what I did; I just turned the wrapping paper from the store around to the other side, and decorated it to my liking! And it was fun too! (I plan on doing this again with the kids when they will wrap their gifts for the grandparents, for example.)Hanukkah wrapping paperAs we came home from school, it took them about half a second to notice that the gifts had been placed in their pockets, and let’s just say the Hanukkah-joy and excitement is definitely here!

Joy and excitementBy the way, I have been to the store and gotten even more chocolate, and this house is slowly turning into a chocolate factory majoring on chocolate spoons. Along with this I am mass producing Hanukkah Cards, and have had the joy to give out a few of these little sweet bags already.

photo-174Shabbat is coming, and I have challot and chicken soup going here along with the Hanukkah preparations. Good times! This week’s Torah Portion starts with telling us that Jacob settled in the Land, and reading that sentence, I again feel so joyful and extremely THANKFUL that we get to also LIVE here and SETTLE here in the Land of our inheritance! We are so privileged! I am looking forward to celebrating Hanukkah here in Israel were what we are celebrating really happened!