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.

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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!

 

 

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New year, new beginnings.

We have just celebrated Rosh Hashanah, which many people call the Jewish New Year. But really, we are celebrating the creation of Adam, not of Avraham, so in a sense it is a New Year for all of humanity!

Pomegranats from our own garden.

Pomegranats from our own garden for Rosh Hashanah.

Either way, it is a great time for new beginnings, so I thought maybe I would take the opportunity to start blogging again. I have missed it, and have written many a blog post in my head, that just never made it to the blog… So here is to hoping for a new start! 🙂

Our Rosh Hashanah table.

Our Rosh Hashanah table.

We had a very good Rosh Hashanah celebration. Of course I really enjoyed the preparations too, – there are so many good times involved! Expectation and preparation, cooking and baking, planning and decorating!

Making Challah napkin rings.

Making Challah napkin rings. The round challot symbolize the cycle of the end of one year and the beginning of a new one.

I very much enjoyed doing a several of these things together with my nine year old daughter this year. She really took ownership and wanted to be involved!

Preparing lots and lots of challot together.

Preparing lots and lots of challot together.

And then as we sit around the decorated table, going through all the traditional blessings and prayers, I try to totally LIVE and be present in the moment. To really taste the apple dipped in honey, and to say each blessing for the new year with intent. I take in the smells and the tastes, looking at the sights of the dear ones around me, friends and family, people so dear to my heart. And you know, to keep it real, it is never all perfect, – however much you prepare, you cannot totally plan how people are going to behave and react. Again a reminder of what LIFE is really all about, – a complex mixture of everything, and our goal is to be able to navigate our own ship with wisdom and love along with the ones who we are to travel together with.

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As I look back on this two-day holiday, I have a lot to be thankful for. So many good memories added to the already abundant collection! Good times and conversations with dear friends, along with yummy cups of coffee or glasses of wine. Time to sit back and play with my children. Good food, and plenty of food. As the host I always seem to have a little worry that there is not going to be enough food, especially when there are two-day holidays like this one. My husband reminds me that we always have way too much, but each time anew I have this little thought that maybe this time will be the first time when we will actually run out of food… But again, – we had so much that we had to start giving away leftovers!

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One of the highlights was being at the synagogue and hearing the Shofar-blasts. On the first day we went somewhere where they invite the children to come to the front and blow their shofars. Ours had been practicing a bit during the month of Elul, and it was a joy to see and hear them taking an active part in the holiday in this way. The biblical name of this holiday is really “The Feast of the Trumpets” (shofars), so no wonder they are central! The shofar blast is meant to be a wake-up-call to repentance and a reminder to make things right with God and fellow man at this time, leading up to Yom Kippur.

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Another special moment was doing Tashlich, which we did on the first afternoon of the holiday. We are blessed to live in Jerusalem, and therefore have the opportunity to go the the Shiloah pool, the ancient water source in the City of David. There we pray the traditional prayers and let go of little rocks into the water, symbolizing a new and fresh beginning. Taking part in these kinds of traditions in such special places at such special times are quite unique experiences, which I feel privileged to be able to have together with my family.

So, with this, I wish all of us a really good new year, full of peace and joy, meaningful learning, health and blessing!

New week, new month, new opportunities

It is a new week. And not only that, – today is the first day of a new Jewish month. And we don’t pass on an opportunity to celebrate! 🙂 I really like the fact that we in Jewish tradition make such a point of times like these. It gives us so many opportunities for new beginnings!

My blueberry muffins from the women's group this morning

My blueberry muffins from the women’s group this morning

I want to make use of this new beginning to remind myself to live more in the moment. To take time to stop and just LIVE! Like  right now, I hear my two lively children jabbering away, singing happily, having a jolly good time. And honestly, – their energy-level can be quite tiring on me! But I know that one day I will miss hearing them like this! I will long for these happy  uncomplicated days. So, – I should enjoy them NOW! I want to LIVE them NOW. To be really present right now.

They are some of my favorites!

They are some of my favorites!

We are starting the month of Kislev, – the month of Hanukkah, – can you believe it?! Less than a month to Hanukkah!!! (What happened to fall this year? Did we just skip it??) We are entering the season of Lights and Miracles! I love it! So many moments to enjoy! I am wishing you all a wonderful month of Kislev! Enjoy the moments!

Enjoying small town America.

After our adventures in large US cities; LA, San Francisco and New York, we moved on to quieter days in beautiful picturesque  New England. We stayed for almost two weeks in the small town of Washington, Connecticut.

New England river

It is green and lush, peaceful and quiet. And where we stayed had neither internet nor cellphone connection! Talk about change of pace!! It took a little bit of getting used to, but wow, did we enjoy wonderful days there!!

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We stayed with my husband’s grandmother, and here is us enjoying a nice dinner on her terrace:

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We took nice little strolls with her, and made lots of sweet shared memories.

walk with GG

We went to the fun library in Washington Depot several times, where we took out tons of books, puzzles and movies.

library visit

The sad bit was that we said goodbye to Abba very early on during our stay in New England, as he had to go back to Israel to work and study while we got to continue our vacation…

goodbye abba

…so we just had to enjoy everything for him too…

playing crocket

I totally lost count of how many times we played crocket in the back yard.

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We played lots of games on Gran’s nice card table.

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And our little princess had her tea parties…

little girl tea party

…which of course were funnest when shared with little cousins.

little girls tea party

little girls

We made several fun trips to the lake, which were also great when done with cousins!

lake with cousins

And look at the fun whale we made with our new aunt! We love her!!

sand whale

We were excited to be able to finally be in the States for 4th of July, – which we have always celebrated elsewhere, and it is just not quite the same…

4th of July

Now we enjoyed seeing all the flags and feeling the atmosphere of everyone celebrating together. We had a fun barbecue with family, and watched a beautiful fireworks show in the evening.

4th of July

We had to take the children out of school early for this trip, but boy, did they learn A LOT during these weeks! There is the obvious, – the speaking of the English language, and the learning of American geography and all of that. But just to learn about different cultures, and the way people live in different places, and meeting different kinds of people, traveling, – we have all learnt SO MUCH!!! We have been blessed with so many different kinds of experiences on this trip! I am very thankful for them all!

Savta and Becca

I am very glad that we were together with my mother in law on this part of the trip. She is also the one who grew up here, and was able to show us the place from the inside, so to speak.

One highlight for our baseball boy was when he got to join a baseball game with an American Baseball Camp. He was absolutely speechless with joy!

baseball

We had all kinds of fun little outings. One of them to an Indian Reserve where we learnt all kinds of things about American Indians. The children even got to dress up as Indians! Fun stuff!

Indians

We have had a really good trip. And I am especially thankful for all the good family times we have had. I think the multi generational family ties have been strengthened, and the children have more of a sense of their American family background.

3 generations

Birthday Girl.

my girlThis sweet princess of mine has been counting down days for many long weeks, and finally in the beginning of this week, – her seventh birthday came around!

And as she woke up in the morning, this is what she saw above her bed…

balloons….and I was smiling to myself in my own bed, as I heard her waking up and rejoicing over the balloons and over the fact that it finally was her birthday! (Within fifteen minutes she already told me this is her best birthday ever… ;))

The fun thing with having your birthday during a holiday, is that you get to spend the whole day at home and helping to get everything ready. Oh, what excitement! The gift-bags for her guests she put together the day before already, so on the day itself she focused mostly on the setting of the table and decorating it, while I put the cake together. We prepared games, set up a detailed program and she put on the dress she had chosen and put out already a week earlier!

birthday cake

Her guests arrived, and with them a noise-level that is hard to imagine before you have experienced it… But really, they were just all very happy and excited and full of energy! So, – as long as everyone was having a good time, and no one got hurt in a any way, I tried to just go with the flow, even if we didn’t really stick with the said program… And my princess, – she totally loved the whole thing!

blowing out the candles

One of the activities that we had great success with, and that I am recommending to anyone looking for ideas, is to make edible necklaces. I provided them with candy and snacks with a whole in them, and the children would thread them through and end up with a fun edible necklace! (I got this idea from a blog called MudpiesandSunshine.com, and she has many other good ideas over there as well.)

necklace making

I am thankful it all went well, happy that the birthday girl is happy, and in a way relieved that we have about eleven months till we start the countdown once again… 😉

In light of the Shabbat Candles…

I sat just opposite of our son during our Shabbat Evening Dinner last night. Around the table were the rest of my family and some dear friends. We had a good time, enjoying food and drink, fellowship and conversation. We stayed by the table for quite a long time, and were able to watch the Shabbat-candles at the center of the table burn and become smaller and smaller as hour after hour passed. And as I sat there enjoying every moment, I was looking at my dear son on the other side of the table, his face lit up by the candles between us. He was having such a grand night, telling story after story, beaming from all the attention and taking part in the grown-up’s conversations!

English: Shabbat Candles Deutsch: Schabbatkerzen

(I don’t use a camera on Shabbat, so I borrowed a picture to go with this post from commons.wikipedia. Thanks!)

The traditional picture people may have of Shabbat candles, is of two candles there next to the bread and the wine. But actually, in most families there would be more than two, as one would add one for every child in the family. So for example, on our table there are four Shabbat-candles, since we are blessed with two children, and therefore are four members in the family.

This shows how we view our children, and each life really, as a flame or a light. And together we can light up the world, like we are called to. May we be faithful to that calling! As I looked at my children in light of the Shabbat candles last night, I was again reminded of how unbelievably dear they are to me! May I be faithful to my calling as their mother! May I live my life teaching them to be the lights they are called to be!

candles

(Thanks to flickr.com for this photo!)

Oh, Shabbat…

As the afternoon was nearing an end, I took a moment to just sit and take in the Shabbat-atmosphere. Around me I could see a mild chaos of collected stuff that reflected what we had done today. There were books and newspapers, puzzles and games, cups and glasses, and leftovers from a Noah’s Ark that was built with chairs and blankets… I could hear the children and my husband outside playing catch. And I felt so very thankful!

It is not that the whole Shabbat had been filled with peaceful moments. We sure have our share of sibling fights and so on. But somehow at the end of it all, – it is the good moments that stick and make up my memory of the experience.

Now that Shabbat ends relatively early, and leaves us a pretty long Saturday Night, we like to do movie-nights with the children before they go to bed. Tonight was no exception. Popcorn and all. And as I sat there, with our princess on my lap, I reached out to hold my husband’s hand. Not long after, she put her little hand in between ours, and it became another one of those moments that are so very little, but then again so very big.

I hope you all had your batteries well recharged during this Shabbat, and wish you a great new week! Shavua tov!