Pesach is here!

We have been preparing for this holiday for more than a month! Finishing all our leaven. Cleaning our whole houses. Scrubbing our pots and ovens. Burning our last leaven. Cooking food for the holiday. Decorating the house and ourselves. 😉 Calling friends and relatives to wish them a joyous and kosher Pesach.  And the long awaited holiday is finally here!! Baruch ata she hechianu… Thanking God for having brought us to this time!

Pesach is here!

We had a lovely Seder Night with family and friends Monday night. In the diaspora you guys get to have this joy two nights in a row, but here in Israel we do it only once a year. So we have to make the very most out of that night, – and believe me, we do! I wish you could have heard our beautiful princess sing the four questions of what makes this night different than all the other nights, which is traditionally sung by the youngest member of the family. She totally loves this part, it is what makes it fun to be the youngest, in her opinion! 🙂

Spring has come! Pesach is here!

Spring has come! Pesach is here!

Seder literally means Order, – so this holiday meal is full of order! I read somewhere the thought that it is kind of strange that the holiday of freedom is celebrated by a meal with lots of rules and limitations… But then again, this adds so much! It is what makes it special! It is what makes it what it is! The article I read compared it to unstructured play with a ball and playing a real ball-game with rules and regulations. The latter option is so much more interesting!! So also with the Seder Meal!

Home-made Pesach Cookies

Home-made Pesach Cookies

This Jewish holiday can be summed up the same way almost all the Jewish holidays can: “They tried to kill us. The didn’t succeed. Let’s EAT!!” And yes, we celebrate by eating, – lots of symbolic foods, four cups of wine and a very yummy holiday meal. We eat bitter herbs to remember slavery in Egypt, unleavened bread to remember the haste in which we had to leave, we have a lamb bone to remind us of the blood that was put on the doorposts which saved the firstborns from the angel of death, we dip vegetables in salt water to remind us of our tears, we eat a sweet mixture of fruits and nuts to reminds us of mortar we used to put the bricks together in building, etc. etc. Notice the fact that we look upon it as thought WE were the ones who left Egypt. This is the way it is supposed to be. – Every generation should think of himself as having been set free from slavery in Egypt. This is why we are teaching our next generation all this and much more, to help them feel that they are a very real part of this.

Pesach and Spring.

Pesach and Spring.

And now we have a whole week of festivities of various kinds. Tuesday we were invited over to good friends for food and fellowship after the synagogue service in the morning. Today we are going to have a barbecue in a large park here in Jerusalem along with a group of friends, and the rest of the city, basically. And this is the way the days go by, good times, making more memories with family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for!

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Dancing with the Torah

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Just as Sukkot officially ended, we entered Simchat Torah. So again, we went from joy to joy! Simchat Torah literally means “The Joy of the Torah”, so there is no doubt about the joyfulness of it!

On this day we celebrate that we have finished reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. We acturally read both the very last section and the very last section of it. And this is certainly cause for celebration!

We literally dance with the Torah-scrolls. It is one of the highlights of the year for me! The sense of unity! THE JOY! The sight of the Torah-scrolls lifted high in the middle of all the circles of dancers! The songs that come from the depth of our hearts straight to Our GodKi Mi Tzion Titze Torah, U Dvar HaShem Mi Yerushalayim… For from Zion Torah shall go forth, and from Jerusalem the Word of God! 

We dance in separate circles, the women and the men. Where we go, the men actually normally go outside and dance on the street, leaving more room for us women to dance inside. It still gets pretty crowded, and I ended up picking up my little princess, for her not to get crushed down by all the bigger dancers. A smiling woman told me she for a moment thought I was carrying a Torah-scroll, -“Almost!” I laughed with her, before we both danced on in our circles of other celebrating women.

Again, there are no pictures taken, as we don’t make images on a yom tov, which is similar to Shabbat, but our hearts sure are overflowing with wonderful pictures from this amazing celebration! (The photo above is from the web.)

OK, it is getting late here in Yerushalayim, so layla tov, – good night!

Successful Sukkah-craft.

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We are enjoying vacation days from school. Aahhh…wonderful! No rushed mornings! No homework in the afternoon! Instead, we have nice long days that we get to fill however we find fit! What a gift! Today we decided to make miniature sukkot. You know, the little lego-men and princesses also need sukkot!

ImageWe stayed busy with this just about all day! First we made the sukkot themselves from old shoe-boxes that we decorated with colored and patterned paper, cut out drawings and stickers. Then we made furniture from matchboxes, that became beds, chairs, tables etc.

One of the funnest parts was going to get the “zrach”, the branches that make up the roof of the sukkah. We went up the street and picked some wonderful smelling rosemary, that really do look like miniature palm branches!

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We used hot glue to connect the bbq-sticks that support the branches, but I am sure you can do without as well.

And then, when we were done with the crafting-part, they sat in our sukkah and played with their miniature sukkot, literally for hours! It was really nice to just listen from the side to all the happy chit-chat that went on between the lego-men and the princesses who were visiting each other in their sukkot!

ImageI am looking forward to more days like this one! Tomorrow I think we will make some decorations for the real sukkah.

Shalom for now,

-Te´ena.

From joy to joy…

Yom Kippur ended only a few hours ago. I don´t have any photos to show you from this most amazing day (since I keep Shabbat, Yom Tov and obviously Yom Kippur, I among other things don´t use a camera on days like that), but my head is full of fresh mental pictures of quiet car-free streets full of pedestrians and biking children in the middle of the streets. And we all greet each other – Gmar Chatima Tova! – May your name be written in the book of life Tell me, where else does this type of thing happen??

Fresh in my mind is the experience of walking around the neighborhood watching my two dear children on their skateboard and scooter down the street ahead of me, while in my heart praying with the rest of our people Almighty God, please save us! Have mercy on us! Please bring us Life! Please bring us Your Revelation! Then a few hours later, standing in the middle of a huge crowd at the Western Wall, singing with all those around me: Avinu Malkeinu, ase imanu tzdaka ve chesed… ve hoshieinu! – Our Father, Our King, show us mercy and grace… and save us! It all reached it´s top with the great shofar-blows at the end, and you feel yourself overwhelmed with relief, much like if you just finished a marathon… We did it! Baruch Ata Shehechianu…

Considering that Yom Kippur is a strict fast day, it may not be thought of as such a joyful day, but Rabbi Riskin reminded me that it actually is, if you just stop to think about what happens on this day… – Our whole people takes a break and turns towards God and beg Him for forgiveness and salvation! And He forgives us! What greater reason for joy is there?!

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So when I titled this, from joy to joy, Yom Kippur is one of the joys. The next one that we move straight on to, is the building of the sukah! After we have gotten some food and not the least drink in our bodies, we start building our sukahs, – and we can hear the neighbors doing the very same thing! (I´m telling you, there is no place like Yerushalayim!) We just put up the walls and part of the roof tonight, and will add more roof and decorations during the next coming days. So the joy just gets bigger and bigger! And then we move out there Sunday night, for our yearly Sukkot-Camping! These are good times! Life is so good!

Chag sameach to you all! Enter into the JOY!

-Te’ena.