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!

 

 

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! ūüôā 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, Рtheir 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, РI 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!

Spring Cleaning, Jewish Style.

I am in spring cleaning mode these days. Cleaning. De-cluttering. Wiping. Sorting. Cleaning. Tidying. Cleaning. Throwing away. Washing. Giving away. And So On.

Late Spring cleaning

(Photo credit: storebukkebruse)

We have close to finished the bedrooms. And it feels good. To open up a cabinet door and see orderly shelves. To know what is there. I always find some lost treasures as I go along. It actually has been a saying in our family for years, when we have lost something somewhere in the house, we say Рwell, at least we will find it when we clean for Pesach

clean room

Because that is what I am doing. Cleaning for Pesach (Passover). I have felt the itching for a long time already, and had to even start a little before Purim. Then I call it Pre-Pesach-Cleaning, and it is more focused on sorting than on cleaning. The Pesach-cleaning itself is very focused on cleaning, as we want to clean out all leaven from our houses. And as leaven is found in just about everything, and has for sure been in the air ever since Pesach ended last year, Рit is found everywhere, so we clean everywhere.

Our daughter has gotten a new shelf to decorate in her room. It is one of those made for plates, but is works great for books as well. She loves it!

Our daughter has gotten a new shelf to decorate in her room. It is one of those made to display plates, but is works great for books as well. She loves it!

Anyway, I kind of like it. I have to admit that every year I look forward to Pesach Cleaning. I guess I see the need for it. And I enjoy the result of it. And the fact that we do it as a people, together, makes it all the more enjoyable. Cleaning-supplies are on special sales in the supermarkets, reminding me that I am not the only one spending my spare time cleaning these days.

What adds meaning to this rather mundane task, is also to remember the symbolism of it all. Because, of course, as this has to do with Jewish tradition, – it is full of symbolism! Even though leaven is something that we use in abundance, and of course it benefits us during the non-Pesach-days of the year, it has a negative meaning in what it symbolizes. As it is something that helps things rise, it symbolizes unhealthy pride, someone who thinks too highly of himself, who thinks he can make it on his own, that he is better than others and so on. Basically, – it symbolizes all bad things! And that is what we now put so much effort in cleaning out of our homes. Getting rid of it all!

So, our spiritual Pesach Cleaning is then to clean all of this stuff out of our lives, of our thoughts and minds, our words and actions, our hearts. This is something we speak with the children about as well, and they get totally into it. That is what I love about symbolism. It makes it so easily understandable!

May we all make good use of this time, and get rid of all the leaven, all the bad stuff, from our homes and our lives, – so that we can get a good, clean start come Pesach!

Hanukkah HighLIGHTs.

eight night of hanukkahWell, here I sit. It’s the eight night of Hanukkah. And I keep on re-lighting the hanukkiot in some sort of desperate attempt to keep the holiday lights for a little longer. The kids are happily building their lego-models that they received in their Hanukkah-gifts tonight. My husband is entertaining us all with various Hanukkah You Tube Clips. I sip my hot cider with a little bit of red wine in it. The brightness of the candles is absolutely stunning.

I want to just hold on to this moment. This moment is going to become one of those memories that will be dear to me forever. The really wonderful times in life.

Holiday. Family. Home. Love. Traditions. Moments. Memories. 

I have so much to be thankful for!eight night of hanukkah

The seventh night of Hanukkah was Erev Shabbat, so we lit the Hanukkiot before sunset, before Shabbat came in. This is what our Shabbat table looked like this week:seventh night of hanukkah

On the sixth night of Hanukkah, we hosted our big Hanukkah party, where we had about forty guests here in our home, and abba made latkes/levivot of about ten kilos of potatoes! Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of him doing it, as I was kind of busy with other things (read: making home made sufganiot, apple sauce, hanukkah sugar cookies, hot apple cider etc. etc.) But here is a picture of him lighting one of our outside oil-hanukkiot on this last night of Hanukkah:abba lighting hanukkiah outside

After we had lit and watched and enjoyed our very many lit hanukkiot in our home on this last night of Hanukkah, we made another trip down to the old city to also there enjoy the beauty of the full hanukkiot. What a privilege to be able to make such a trip spontaneously! Old City Hanukkah Street

Here is a photo of our children by the hanukkiah at the Western Wall:

Western Wall Hanukkiah

On the way home we picked up the very best sufganiot, with flavors such as creme br√Ľl√©e, tiramisu and black forest.photo-232

Well at home we re-lit a hanukkiah once again, and here I sit full of thankfulness for being able to celebrate Hanukkah in Yerushalayim.Hanukkiah at Jaffa Gate

Favorites.

Shopping for Shabbat Flowers last week was the first time I came across Nuriot this season. (What is this flower called in English???) I happily picked out two bunches in different colors, and felt they spread a good mood just sitting there in a vase on our table.

“I was so happy to find Nuriot today! They are my favorite flowers!” I told my husband later in the day. “I think you have several favorite flowers…” was his reply. And you know what? He is right! Not only do I have several favorite flowers, – I have several favorite songs, times of the year, foods, candy – you name it! And I guess that is nice for me, don’t you think? I have so many reasons to rejoice…

These are my Shabbat flowers this week. Aren’t they beautiful? My favorite… ūüėČ

Favorite flowers

I have truly enjoyed this Friday. (My favorite day of the week…) This has been a relatively busy week for me, with a lot of time out of the house, so today I enjoyed being at home, the smell of granola filling the house. One of my favorite smells. I guess that is the way I should put it.¬†One of my many favorites.¬†

It is a beautiful day outside, and I have been out for a nice walk on the streets of Jerusalem. The children and I even had lunch outside in the garden. And afterwards I did a much needed hair cutting session for Junior out there. NOT my favorite activity, as he hates the itchy feeling of the hairs falling down his neck. But today we succeeded in limiting this by twirling toilet-paper around his neck a couple of times, so that made for a more pleasant experience for the both of us.

Now I just need to put some cookies in the oven, and then the children and I are going to make hanukkiot¬†(Hanukkah-candlestick), something we love to do. (Another favorite??) When Hanukkah comes around, you will see, we have A LOT of hanukkiot, and this might be because we make new ones every year, but still hold on to the old ones…

This Shabbat we are reading about Jacob wrestling with the angel, so we have a few little angels on our Shabbat-table this week. You know, these little items really help bring the weekly torah portion up in our conversations during Shabbat dinner. (Definitely another favorite time of the week!) This angel though is really interesting. Who was he? Bad guy, good guy? Could he have been the Mashiach?? I am looking forward to our dinner conversation tonight!

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

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!

Noah’s Ark Craft.

Those of us who follow the traditional Jewish reading of the Torah, will have started reading it all over from the beginning again just last week. In our family we have always read the parashot, the weekly portions of the Torah, and at times we have printed matching coloring sheets for the children to color during the week. But this year, I thought to try to take it one step further.

It started with the thought of having the Shabbat Table decorated for the¬†parasha (Torah-portion)¬†of the week. You should have seen what a wonderful table we had last week, decorated like¬†Gan Eden! The children had prepared beautiful colorful drawings of the days of Creation and of the Garden of Eden. We also spread fig leaves all over the table (hehe…) and put all kinds of different fruits on the table.¬†I really like that this makes us think creatively about the¬†parasha.¬†In a sense it brings it closer and helps us relate to it on all kinds of different levels!

So, to this week and its¬†parasha.¬†We are reading about Noah’s Ark! What fun! Today we made this salty play dough that you can bake in the oven till it gets really hard.

Here is the simple recipe I used:

1 part salt, 2 parts flour, 1 part water and a little bit of oil. Just knead it all well together till it gets a nice and smooth texture.

This one worked hard on the actual Ark…

… while this one made all kinds of animals, two and two…

Look at this super-cute lion for example!

And now they are baking in the oven on low temperature (80 degrees celsius), and I guess we will let the big ark bake longer than the little animals (they are all babies, according to our princess!)

The plan is to paint it all tomorrow, so that all is ready for the Shabbat table come Friday. (Stay tuned for pictures! :))