Tag Archives: Judaism

Exisistential

I’m not sure what the right word is, but we’ll go with that for now.  Maybe an Identity Crisis is more descriptive?  But no, that sounds far too personal and narrow for this.  These thoughts are a bit jumbled and they might ome out a total mess, so please bare with me a moment, but these are thoughts I’ve been thinking for a while, and I feel that they need to be said.

 

I have an Israel Problem.

 

ok, got the confused look on your face? Good. Because this is only going to get weirder for you, I’m sure.  Most of you by now know that I’m Jewish.  And if you don’t know that, well then, now you do.  I was raised by my loving parents as a conservative Jew.  I went to Hebrew school and to services when we could make the drive. I had my Bat Mitzvah at thirteen and helped to teach at the Hebrew School until my brother had his Bar Mitzvah.   I went away to college, and then to live in Maine and while I was sort of involved with the Jewish communities up there (including taking some Hebrew classes), I was never quite ‘in the community’ so to speak.

 

I have grown apart from my Judaism and I have grown closer to it.  Now if that contradiction seems strange to you, bare with me, because being Jewish is always about the contradictions.  I feel a connection to my history, to my family, and to the traditions of my people.  I feel at home listening to Hebrew prayers and folk songs.  I know the history of the Jews, at least an overview, because of excellent teachers, my parents, and books.  I value education as much as I do mostly because of the Jewish influence on my upbringing.  I know the hardships, the toils, the life in slavery in Egypt, the pogroms in Eastern Europe and Russia, Life in New York after immigration, The Shoah, and the birth of Israel.  I know it, I feel it in my skin and my heart.  I say my prayers every morning, and every night.  I try to eat no pork, or allow any in my home if possible to avoid it.  I look at life through both the glasses of a thirty-something American woman, and as a Jewish Woman.  And this where my struggle begins.

 

Growing up, Israel was everything.  It was our homeland, it was our Holy Land, and it was the place that all Jews should go to at least once in their lives.  We should perform Aliyah, to go to Jerusalem, to pray at the Wailing Wall, to see Caesarea, and the Galilee.  To spend some time on a kibbutz, and learn about Israel as a Jew.  The Arabs tried to kill us, all the time.  Buses exploded, Pizza places were bombed, hundreds and hundreds killed.  And it was always the Arabs.  They were angry, they were jealous, they hated the Jews.  They were the next threat to us, as Hitler was the last.  There were no good Arabs, they all wanted Israel, and by extension us, dead.

 

This stays with you, as a child.  I remember that when Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated, The first thoughts were that it was an Arab, not another Jew.  Funny sidenote, first thoughts when 9/11 happened, was that it was homegrown terror, not Arabs.

 

I have grown up, a lot, since those days.  Since the assassination and the bombs in the marketplace.  I have grown up and I know that I probably missed my chance to go to Israel before the new millenium.  I should have gone right after high school, when the world was at a gentle, if not tense peace.  But now, I know that if I do make it to visit Israel, it will not be the country that I grew up revering.  I have learned too much for that to be true.

 

Israel is a young Jew’s dream.  A nation, a country, where you are not the minority.  Where you are not mocked for not celebrating Christmas or Easter.  Where are are not proselytized to every day because you do not believe in Jesus.  A country where everybody shares the same background, and the same guilt complexes, as you.  A country of our own, where year after year as you learn the history of your people, and how unwanted you are everywhere else, Israel wants you.  Israel is home.  It’s a beautiful thought, it’s comforting thought, that there is a place out there where you will belong.  And that feeling rings true today, for many and many people.  So long as you look at surface. But go beneath the surface, look into the politics, and human rights, and Israel loses her golden glow.

 

Not all Arabs want to kill the Jews.  Not all Muslims are insane jihadists.  Not all Palestinians rise up and throw rocks and sticks.  It is hard to come face to face with these thoughts.  The thoughts that Israel is not a shining beacon of all that is right and just in the world.  Israel is not a perfect place for us.  A safe place, a happy place.  Israel is not paradise.  I cannot, in my own mind, fight with myself over this any further.  I call myself a Liberal and a progressive. I feel that human rights are human rights, no matter where you are in the world.  World Peace is possible, but difficult.  I am a Jewish woman, and I believe that Israel has the right to exist.

 

But, I believe that Palestine has a right exist as well.

 

A two-state solution, I believe that they are calling it.  Israel and Palestine, possibly sharing Jerusalem, and other parts of the land.  Is it ideal?  No.  But then, neither is an entire people without a voice in any official politics.  And entire people with nobody official to stand up for them. With no official means to redress their problems, their issues, or their troubles.  An entire people who are essentially in exile.  Children who grow up not knowing the difference between having a home, and being a refugee.  How can we, as the Children of Exile ourselves, how can we legitimately look at this plight, and not see our past?  Nobody wants the Palestinians, and nobody wanted the Jews.

 

Apartheid ended in South Africa many years ago.  But the same actions are happening now in Israel.  How can we, who have been so oppressed for all of our existence, how can we continue to be oppressors?  Now, some will answer me that it’s because we have to, or they’ll kill us all.  To that, I answer with an old saying “More flies with honey, thank vinegar”.  Or, as my parents would say, “Kill them with kindness”.  Which granted, didn’t work for all of the bullies in my life, but it did for a good portion.

 

So why now?  Why do I say something now?  Well, it’s politically motivated.  And I have no need to hide that fact.  The Republican candidates for the nomination to run for President are making Israel an issue.  They are banging on the pulpit that Israel is our one true friend in the Middle East.  That Israel should be protected at all costs, and with no questions.  These are the same politicians, the same ones, who will attack a person for not being Christian.  They will declare that the world is made for Christians, and nobody else.  That the wealth, happiness, and safety of the USA is because of Christians.  And that the nation of the United States of America is a Christian Nation.  But they will defend Israel, the homeland of the Jews.  Even if they won’t stick up for the Jews at home.

 

The Christian Right will belittle my faith, will mock my beliefs, and will disparage the good that my people have done for my country.  And then they will turn around and expect my support for them, because they stand by Israel.  The Christian Right will hold that this Country, The USA, was built on Christian beliefs, and Christian morality, and they will belittle anybody and everybody that does not go along with the Christian way of life.  Even fellow Christians are mocked.  And yet, in a country where religious freedom is key, and a religious holiday is a national holiday, I still had to fight every year for the right to have my Holy Days recognized.  And a party, a group of people, who see nothing wrong with forcing other people to pray to their God, and in their manner with no regard to my personal beliefs or freedoms, to then have those people come at me and say ‘You have to vote for me! I support Israel’, it’s insulting.

 

Positively insulting.

 

To sum up my first point:

 

I believe in the ideal of Israel.  A place for people to go and be free.  People who have not known freedom, people who have been repressed, beaten, abused, and attacked.  A place of Freedom and Life.  That is the Israel that I see, and the Israel that I believe in, and the Israel that I support and dream of.  That also happens to be the Israel that doesn’t exist, unless you’re a Jew.  And it should not be that way.  It should not be that way.  We are alright now.  We are free.  We are safe.  We have more say in our lives than any of our ancestors did.  It is time for us to pass along that blessing of safety, of homecoming, and of love to another group that needs and deserves it.  Israel, as she stands today is a Bully.  And as anybody who has seen anything in the last year or so, Bullying needs to stop.  I don’t have a solution, I wish that I did.  But I do know that while I love Israel, I love the idea and the ideal, I do know that I cannot fully support Israel, until something changes for the better, and for equality.

 

And to sum up my second point:

 

I am a modern Jewish woman.  I am educated, I am informed, and I am connected.  And I am insulted.  The Christian Right, to be frank I’ll just say the Republicans.  The Republican party in my home country thinks that by grabbing onto the old prejudices of the previous generation, and by stating that they will stand by Israel no matter what, they believe that they can shake up a portion of the Democratic base.  And this would not bother me so much, if I did not think that they could do it. But old Prejudices die hard, and the memories of the 6 day war, of the Yom Kippur War, they are still fresh in the minds of many jewish voters.  The Holocaust is strong, and the memory of Israel becoming a state is deep and lasting.  Old Prejudices die hard.  And the Republicans are good at finding prejudices, and abusing them to get their way.

 

I want to say that I feel the jewish electorate is smart enough to realize what is being done.  That they are smart enough to see that the Republicans don’t want Israel for the Jews, they don’t want Israel protected because they value the jews.  I want to say, and to believe, that my fellow Jews can see through this as a means of manipulation, but sadly I can’t.  Old prejudices die hard.  And it takes a lot of strength to look at what you were taught as a child, and realize that it’s not completely right.

 

The Republicans who want to force my potential children to say the “Our, Father” first thing in the morning.  The Republicans who want to punish anybody that does not accept jesus as their savior.  These are the men and women who are standing up for Israel.  These are the men and women who are defending another countries rights to oppress a people who are different than them.  I want to think, I am begging the world to prove me wrong, that my fellow Jews, my fellow American jews, will see through this manipulation, but I know in my heart and my gut, that they won’t.

 

And for me, it is a sad sad thought.

 

I await your comments, good and bad.

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Maccabee

So, I was thinking the other day that I haven’t done a blog post about Judaism in a while.  And this seemed a bit of a shame to me.  I should have at least tried to cover Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.  And Simchas Torah.  But I just didn’t get around to writing those articles up.  But now, it’s December!  And that means Hannukah!  And everybody at least knows about the existence of Hannukah, and a vague idea of the story.  But it’s always nice to share with those that don’t, nu?

 

So I started thinking about how to tell the Hannukah story on my blog.  How to write it up so that the idea and feeling of hannukah comes through the words and into my reader’s heart.  Which is a difficult thing to achieve, I know.  But in thinking about Hannukah and the Maccabees, A strange correlation came over me. Please, indulge me and hear me out, because I am sure that you will not believe me if I tell you what I think right out, and I’m sure that I will get dismissed almost completely by the end.  And so I give you a Hannukah Story: Occupy Jerusalem.

 

 

The Greeks were in power.  They ruled everything that the eye could see and far beyond.  They had come to Jerusalem years ago, but in peace.  Alexander himself had entered the city, so fascinated was he with the Jews.  We were allowed to worship our G-d and keep our Traditions and Law, so long as we also obeyed the Laws of Greece on top of it.  We were not forced under Alexander to pay heed to the Pantheon, we were not completely ostracized, although we were also not necessarily welcome.  But it was, for the most part, a peaceful life of coexistence.  But then, Alexander died.  Things remained roughly the same for us for a few years, but restrictions became tighter and our freedoms grew less.

 

Finally, one day, it seemed to all have happened at once, we were no longer allowed to teach our children the language of our Fathers and Mothers.  We were told that they needed to be taught Greek and only Greek.  We were no longer allowed free worship of our G-d, but had to hide our devotions to him.  These were not the same enlightened Greeks that had been in charge of our land before, these were brutish Greeks, and the world was their toy and all would bow to them.  They controlled everything that they saw, and they did so with an Iron Fist, and with money.  Local lawmakers bowed to them, did their bidding, obeyed their will for fear of what retribution was possible if they did not.  We were kept from our Temple, and eventually we were kept from our Homes.   We were evicted from the homes that we had lived in for centuries and moved into new areas, smaller, poorer, and unable to sustain us and our families. 

 

We looked around and saw that this was bad.  It was a bad place and a bad situation, but we were not warriors.  We were scholars, students, families, farmers.  We worked for our living and struggled daily to ensure that there was food on the tables.  We cared for our own, our children and our old, Our brothers and cousins.  Yes, life was harder now, but it was always hard for us, The Chosen People.  But we had made it through tougher times before, we can make it through this again.  We had made it out of Egypt, after all.  We just needed to bide our time and G-d would make things right. 

 

This did not sit well with the younger men.  They were anxious, angry, and caught.  The Temple was being defiled, used for unholy worship of Idols of Gold.  They were watching their parents waste away, and their younger siblings and for some their children as well forced into poverty.  They were watching everything that they had been told to work for in life, being taken away.  And they felt powerless.  They had done what the Greeks had wanted, they had obeyed the Laws, they had been good subjects, and now this is how they were repaid?  With their lives being wasted, and their families put into peril?  And while we tried to tell them to settle down, that this is obviously how the world was meant to be for us, the young men could not let this pass.

 

They began to slip away from our new smaller settlement, from the protections of home and family.  They were going to make a point, they said.  They were going to make their voices heard.  They were citizens of Greece, as well as Jews, and they had rights.  Sadly, we watched them go.  They were our children, our nephews, and we could not stop them.  We were trying to keep the rest of our family together, to feed and teach our children, we could not stop those who wanted to make a difference, we needed to focus on the youngest and the eldest.

 

And so the young men went out among the hills around Jerusalem.  They hid in caves and pitched their tents.  They were small in number but then grew, and grew, and grew as more found out about their ideas.  And they stopped being just young men.  Older men joined, and women too.  They were all of us together, the same as always.  They fought back against the Greeks.  Sadly, it was physical fighting, and not just words of war and protest.  But the Greeks had given us no choice.  We had tried to voice our grievances before, but to no avail.  We were told that this is just the way it was, and to be happy.  But who can be happy when you have no food to eat and no roof over your head, and you cannot be that which you have always been? 

 

So the young men and women of Israel fought.  And while we knew in our hearts that the war, the battles, the attacks were going to be for nothing, we watched on as our youth defended us, protected us.  They battles went on, here and there throughout the hills, throughout the land.  One clash here and another there, our youth recalling the days of old when we first came to this land, Jewish Warriors strong and bold.  But that was a time when G-d was on our side, and this is a time, this time, we are not quite so blessed.  Or so we thought. 

 

But slowly, slowly the times changed, the tides shifted, and the Youth, the Maccabees as they had called themselves, they began to win. They gained ground, little by little by little.  They moved forward, they pressed their rights, their agenda, their beliefs, and they fought for what they knew to be right.  And they won.  They won.  Through their determination, their drive, their loyalty to one another and to their ideals, they won us back our homes.  They won us back our cities, and our Temple.   By working together, towards one common goal, the Maccabees proved that even the smallest people can make a big change in the world.

 

Yes, yes, I know.  It’s not perfect.  And it’s not the complete story of Hannukah either.  The story of Hannukah, and why it is 8 days and nights comes later, after the Jews have returned to Jerusalem.  They clean out the Temple of the idols of the Greeks, they clean and purify the temple, and they go to light the Menorah, to welcome G-d back into His home.  But they did not have enough oil.  They only had enough oil for one night, and that was not enough.  They sent a runner to the nearest town, but that was days away, and they needed to rededicate the Temple.  So, with a heavy heart that this could not be done completely properly, the Priests of the Temple rededicated the Holy Ground and relit the Menorah on the 25th day of Kislev.  They knew that they would not have enough oil, and that they would need to redo the ceremony again, but it was Shabbat, and the Temple was theirs.  And then, the Miracle happened.  The oil, which should not have burned for even one full day, burned for eight days and nights, until the runner returned with a new supply of oil.

 

It’s a fanciful story, and one mostly told to children, to explain why Hannukah is eight days, and to show the Blessings of our G-d, and the miracles that He can perform.  But there is a deeper message, that I’ve only just started to work out for myself.  Once again, the Jewish people were in trouble, and being persecuted.  And once again, it is the Jewish People who got themselves out of the mess.  G-d brought down the plagues on Egypt, but only after Moses started the process of freedom.  Esther saved her entire people from the wicked man Haman in Babylon, and the name of G-d is not even mentioned in her story.  So while we are Children and the Chosen of G-d, most of our greatest stories, come from ourselves.

 

So what is another over-reaching moral?  A group of determined people, no matter how small and no matter the daunting size of the task before them, a group of determined people can do anything.  Now, some of you might be reading this and asking if I’m talking about Occupy Wall Street.  Yes, yes I am.  I am not advocating that they take up arms like the Maccabee, I do not feel that they need to.  They have already made a difference.  A change.  The physical Occupations might be coming to an end, but the movement, the sentiment is not over.

 

A small but determined group of people can do anything.  And even the smallest thing, the smallest changes in life, are Miracles.

 

Happy Hannukah.

Seder

To continue with my educational portion of my blog, I will now expound upon that which was mentioned yesterday and explain what Passover means to me in this modern time.  There are many sides and aspects and thoughts about this, so I promise I will do my best to not confuse or lose you in the thought processes, but I  cannot be certain that I will be successful.

To begin, lets start with the Seder itself.  Seder is the Hebrew word for “Order”, so when you hear somebody invite you to a Seder meal, they are inviting you to not only a Passover dinner, but to an Ordered Meal.  Everything within the Seder has a place, a meaning, and a purpose.  Sadly I do not know these steps and meanings off the top of my head and I did not pack a Hagaddah to bring with me when I moved.  However, if you are curious about the ins and outs of every nuanced step of the Seder, you can find the information on the internet, or purchase a Hagaddah from any bookstore of any reputation.

Most of the Seder is the retelling of the story of the Exodus, please see yesterday’s post.  There are other stories that are told depending upon your family’s traditions.  On every table there is the Seder plate, the matzah plate, and a goblet of wine for Elijah.  More recently, some families have started to add a goblet of Water to honor Miriam, Moses’s sister and a prophetess of her own right.  Some say, but I won’t wade into that argument here.

This is my new Seder plate that my father bought for me and sent me here.  It’s rather lovely, isn’t it.  The squiggly looking letters are Hebrew, and the english translation is just under them.  Starting at the top of the star and moving counter clockwise you have the Bitter Herbs, Egg, Parsley, Horseradish, Haroseth, and the Shank Bone.

This is an unusual plate, I actually believe it’s Sephardic* in origin because it places the Bitter Herbs and the Horseradish separately, whereas the Ashkenazic** Seder Plates usually combine those two together as Bitter herbs and the 6th place belongs to salt water. Each item has a symbolic reason for being on the plate, and each connects back to the story of the Exodus, and of the Jewish people.

  • Bitter Herbs- Usually Horseradish, freshly ground, this recalls to us the bitterness of life in bondage.  It is eaten twice during the Traditional seder, once by itself on Matzah, and then in a sandwich on Matzah with the Haroseth
  • Egg- this is often hard boiled and then roasted in the oven, but that is purely for health safety sake, and also so that if it gets dropped, you don’t have egg yolk oozing everywhere.  In Israel, and most of the world, Passover is a spring holiday, and Eggs symbolize new life, a new year, and a new beginning.
  • Parsley- Or really any greens are acceptable. I have seen some people use lettuce leaves when they could not afford parsley.  This also symbolizes spring, new life and growth.  Parsley and other leafy greens also used to be used in the Temples of Israel to help spread blessings via smoke and water. During the Seder, the Parsley is dipped into the salt water and eaten.
  • Salt Water- This is a vessel that is filled with a mixture of salt and water, enough salt to the point that it tastes of tears and the salt will not dissolve anymore.  It is kept room temperature, or slightly warmer.  The symbolism is clear enough that it is for the tears that the Jewish people have cried over the years.  Not just in bondage and suffering, but also in Joy and Reverence.  A reminder that one Emotion can be different from the other, but the reaction can be the same.  Even in our sorrow, we can find Joy.
  • Haroseth- Now, this is the fun one.  Ashkenazic Jews usually make this mixture with apples, raisins, walnuts, and wine.  Sephardic jews often use the raisins, walnuts, and wine, but instead of apples, they use dates.  The different recipes for Haroseth numbers in the thousands, with every family having at least one of their own.  From chunky to almost paste like.  The symbolism is the mortar with which the Hebrews built the temples and pyramids for the Pharaohs while in bondage.  It is mixed in a sandwich with the horseradish and matzah, once again to remind us of our time in slavery being both bitter, but also a bit sweet, as we who were a scattered people before Joseph led us into Egypt, we left with Moses a nation of people, bound together by suffering and belief.
  • Shank bone- Usually the shank bone of a lamb, roasted in the oven.  Sometimes, in lean times, it is permissible to use any bone you can find. I have admittedly used a chicken bone in the past.  This is to symbolize both the new life that spring has given us in the fluffy little lambs, but also the sacrificial lamb that was killed to provide the blood for marking the lintel and posts of doors so that the Angel of Death may Pass over the houses of the Hebrews while enacting the 10th plague.

Also on the table is the plate of matzah, which is covered and consists of 3 slices or crackers of matzah.  Why 3?  Because according to Jewish Tradition there are currently only 3 Tribes of Israel left, Cohen, Levite, and Israelite.  The Cohen (I know, you have friends with that last name) are the Priests, descendants of Aaron and the other Priests of the temples.  Levites are the shepherds, Descendants of Moses and the other teachers and Rabbis.  The Israelites are everybody else that’s leftover.  After the Diaspora (the Babylonians invading Canaan and doing their typical uprooting the population and scattering them to the winds) it became difficult for most Jews to remember their Familial and Tribal ties, or to even hold to them.  These people are the Israelites, the lost, the Tribeless. They’re not truly treated any differently save for a few ceremonial differences.  Truth holds, the Israelites outnumber the Cohens and the Levites.  By the way, it’s pronounced Coe-Hain, not the way you’re thinking it out in your head.

Goodness I’ve rambled on some more.  Alright, lets see if I can’t wrap this up a bit quickly.

During the course of the night, as the story is being told, 4 glasses of wine (or juice if you’re too young and your parents are sticks in the mud) are drunk.  Except, almost.  During the reading of the 10 plagues, we dip our pinkies into our wine and remove 10 drops of wine from the glass.  Why? Symbolism.  While we hold that the plagues were necessary for our freedom, a lot of innocent Egyptians suffered, those that did not have the power to set us free still suffered because of Pharaoh’s hardened heart.  So, in a show of almost solidarity and sympathy, we remove ten drops of wine from our glasses, signifying that while we are happy to be free, our happiness is not complete, because of the suffering of others.

Deep, huh?

I don’t know if you noticed what I did there, but I moved the story into the present time.  That’s something else about the Passover Seder and the telling of the story, it’s subtle and not a lot of people notice it.  It’s almost second nature, but the story is to be told in the present tense.  As though the Exodus was just the last week and we are retelling it to our new neighbors.  This is just another way of connecting us here in the present to our ancestors in the past.  Another Tradition.  One thing you’ll notice is that the Jewish religion and people are filled and built upon Tradition after Tradition after Tradition.

I digress.

After drinking our wine and feeling sorry for those that suffered in order for us to be free, the youngest child possible at the table asks 4 Questions.  Why is this night different from all other nights? Why do we spend this night reclining, when on other nights we can either recline or sit up straight?  Why do we dip our greens into the salt water? Why do we eat the bitter herbs?

All of this is answered during the story, other than the reclining.  Reclining while eating was a privilege of the rich, of the Masters, not of the slaves.  Slaves ate quickly and sitting up straight, always afraid of punishment.  Now that we are free from our bonds, we have the freedom to eat however we please, but on this night, we recline to show that we do not take this freedom for granted.

Almost done, I promise.

There are a few things left to happen, including dinner.  There is the breaking and hiding of the Afikomen, and the inviting Elijah in.  Now, I do not know and have never really heard any symbolic meaning behind the Afikomen, so I will simply tell it as I know it.  The Afikomen is the center matzah from the stack of 3 that is on the table.  During the meal it is taken out to show the bread of Haste that we eat to remember our flight from egypt, and then it is broken into two pieces.  One piece is placed back into the stack to be broken up and eaten from later, the other piece is, at some point during the meal, hidden.   Why? I have no idea.  But it is a big game for the young children to go and find the afikomen.  There is usually a present for the child who finds it and brings it back to the table.  The Afikomen is then divided up again and is used as the Dessert for the Meal.

Elijah is another deal.  Throughout the night the goblet of wine is filled and waiting for Elijah to visit.  Before dinner the children go to the door and invite in Elijah, and any others who may be outside and be hungry for dinner.  By the time the kids get back to the table, the goblet of wine has been emptied by the Prophet while he stopped in briefly to enjoy the meal.

There are larger implications of Elijah’s visit, namely that if he actually does visit and stay, it will be to announce the coming of the Messiah within the next year.  But that’s a completely different story for a completely different time.

Whew.

You think it was long to read?  A traditional Seder will last about 4 hours, not necessarily including dinner.  Most modern families skip the longer parts by putting The Ten Commandments into the DVD player during the day, asking the 4 questions, singing a few songs, and then inviting in Elijah.  My father and Uncle Brent could do the entire Seder in under 20 minutes.  And then you eat.

Food is traditionally lamb or chicken, with matzah ball soup and other jewish side dishes that I have yet to learn how to make (although tzimmes is fantastic and I really need to perfect it..).

By the end of the night you are full, you are happy, and you are surrounded by family and friends. I am strengthened every year by the thoughts that everywhere in the world, everywhere from Israel, to new Zealand, to The US, to Iran, to Kenya there are Jews everywhere celebrating the holiday with me, singing the same songs, saying the same prayers, and waiting for Elijah.

And that connection to the greater world, the knowledge that no matter where I am, the traditions have been held onto and passed down and are being repeated everywhere makes me feel even more spiritual than insignificant.  But explanations on my religion and my faith are not why you’re here.  I promise, I’ll get back to more fun things like food and travel soon.

I hope you have enjoyed this two part explanation of yet another segment of the complex person that I am.  I am considering making a whole section of this blog about Judaism, or at least My Judaism.  I wonder if anybody would be interested in reading that?  Let me know!

Although I’ll probably do it anyway.

Next Year In Jerusalem!

*Sephardic refers to the Jewish peoples from the Western European countries and the middle east (Iran, Iraq, Spain, morocco, etc)

** Ashkenazic refers to the Jewish peoples from Eastern Europe (poland, Ukraine) and Russia