Hashkafic Awareness 101

Your השקפה - hashkafa is your level of observance/philosophy towards your Jewish practice. This has been seriously highlighted (highlit?) in my life lately. Really ever since I came to Jerusalem. Being on a path to increased observance for almost 12 years, there have been subtle changes to my hashkafa and some less subtle ones. Subtle - realizing all the sudden one day that I am not as comfortable as I have been in the past singing or dancing in front of men. Not subtle - dressing … [Read more...]

A journey to matter… a hike to BE

I am on a journey. We know the journey never ends. At least that is what all the stories and moshuls* and cliche's tell us. It's not the destination, it's the journey. Every step along the way provides new cognizance, illumination, and often times erudition of ideas. I have lived 30 long years. Nothing in my life was given or taken in halves. When life was really mamish** good, it was good and when it was bad... it was mamish bad. And דווקא (davka***), I always came out the other end, … [Read more...]

You Shall Live in Booths

Sukkot in Jerusalem is really a sight to be seen. There are sukkahs on top of sukkahs. Every restaurant has one on the street (why? because men especially must eat all their food in a sukkah, if that is your minhag [tradition] and if a restaurant wants to be open during sukkot, they have to have a sukkah for these guys) and walking home at night, you see these beautiful booths lit up on every street. As soon as Yom Kippur is over, it is tradition to start building your sukkah. Some people just … [Read more...]

Yom Kippur in Israel

All of the holidays in Israel are somewhat of a surreal experience. This is especially the case for any of us who come from towns, cities, or places where we aren't surrounded by Jews constantly. If you live in Crown Heights or Boro Park or Williamsburg or even the Pico/Robertson area in LA... you are surrounded by Jews. You don't feel like a minority but in Vero Beach, Florida or Broomfield, Colorado... you would be hard pressed to find someone "like" you. And so has been my existence. Judaism … [Read more...]

Childish Memory

Prior to coming back to Jerusalem this summer, I had a very fuzzy but definitive picture of Jerusalem in my mind. It was built upon memories from the mind of 16 year old me. From the time I came to Jerusalem for the fall semester of my junior year of high school... 13 years ago. There were landmarks in my mind... Ben Yehuda street, Hebrew Union College/Beit Shmuel, King David street, the YMCA, Jabotinsky street, Independence Park... along with less well known locales. The shouk on the corner … [Read more...]

The Laws of Sukkah According to Dr. Seuss

The Laws of Sukkah According to Dr. Seuss You can build it very small 1 You can build it very tall 2 You can build it very large 3 You can build it on a barge You can build it on a ship 4 Or on a roof but please don't slip 5 You can build it in an alley 6 You shouldn't build it in a valley 7 You can build it on a wagon 8 You can build it on a dragon 9 You can make the schach of wood 10 Would you, could you, YES you should Make the schach from leaves of tree but shouldn't bend it at … [Read more...]

We have to walk?! Where?

Here's something you need to know about Jerusalem. Other than people park/drive on the sidewalks so be careful. It's actually a smallish town. And public transportation and the shops close down for the sabbath. For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, here is a crash course. On the sabbath, otherwise known as Shabbat or Shabbis or Shabbos, G-d gave us some prohibitions. Since G-d rested on the 7th day, so are we supposed to. This irons out to 39 types of work that a … [Read more...]

Traveling Talia for Tishrei, pt 2

Once I actually found the sherut (taxi van), I had to tell them where I was going... I (I know, I know silly me) didn't actually write down the address, I just knew it in my head. But when they asked me... I was pronouncing it like an American... and not correctly. And I had forgotten it was a two word name Hizkiyahu HaMelech. Only the document I had had the first word spelled Yehesikayhu... at least I knew my neighborhood, Ketamon. As we drive towards Jerusalem, we are stopped several times to … [Read more...]

Traveling Talia for Tishrei

Okay, I couldn't resist the alliteration but I have already traveled and it is not yet Tishrei. We are still in the holy, soul checking month of Elul. However, I have traveled. I left my safe and lovely home in Denver Colorado (as well as my delightful and fun colleagues at Patheos) to travel all by my lonesome to Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. The travel part was long. It involved a rented minivan and drive from Denver to NYC as my younger brother was starting grad school in the city. Then … [Read more...]

The saddest day on the Jewish calendar

Today marks the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. It is Tisha B'Av. Tisha B'Av means literally, the 9th (tisha) day of the month of Av. There were many tragedies that happened on this day in Jewish history and commemorate them and remember the sadness, today is a fasting day. We began fasting last night around 8:20 (well, that is Denver time) and the fast will end 25 hours later at 9pm (again, Denver time). The fast of Tisha B'Av commemorates 5 tragedies that befell the Jewish people … [Read more...]