Friday, December 30, 2005

Some Chanukah Thoughts

I really love Chanukah! There are lots of reasons, many very personal, but right now I am thinking about the whole concept of new beginnings and rededication. The ideas of teshuvah (repentance) and returning home. The story of Chanukah, the threat of assimilation and the fight for religious freedom. The small army of Maccabees defeating the great Antiochus' army. The disaster that the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple)was in, being desecrated with idolatry. The cleaning up afterwards, and of course the miracle of oil, talk about something from nothing! I have been reading some of Rebbe Nachman's writings and I think this has really fueled these ideas. Basically it is never too late to begin again! No matter what a mess our own lives may be in, no matter where we have slacked off, even given in, we can rededicate ourselves to the Most High! Often when we have made such a mess of things we feel like we have nothing to give Hashem. We may feel like we are empty and do not even have the strength to begin again. Barukh Hashem, the miracle of the oil of the menorah teaches us that Hashem can take the tiniest bit of oil, the tiniest bit of what we have, and make it blaze for eight days. There is much more significance to all of this, deeper and loftier, but this is just the simple lesson that I am learning this year. It is amazing to me that we learn what is most needful to us in our specific situation! The depths of torah and the lessons of the chaggim (holidays) are endless! I pray all of you have a very bright and joyous chanukah and that you too learn the lesson that is needful to your neshama (soul)!
Chanukah Sameach!

Sixth Night of Chanukah and Shabbat

Tonight is the sixth night of Chanukah, Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh Tevet and parsha Miketz. In other words, it's a big 'un! During the week when we light the chanukiah, we light at twilight about 13 minutes after sunset. But since tonight is shabbat we must light the chanukiah BEFORE we kindle the shabbat lights. Since we light the shabbat candles 18 minutes BEFORE sunset we must be careful to light the chanukiah before this time. Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat) is another story. We light the chanukiah after havdalah at home or before havdalah when we are at the synagogue.

"The debate whether lighting Chanukah candles or reciting Havdalah comes first has been partially resolved. The accepted practice for Shul is to light Chanukah candles first. The question regarding what to do at home has not been resolved (accept for Sefardim who recite Havdalah first). One should consult with his Rav for guidance. One should also consult with parents or family elders to see if there is a specific tradition regarding this issue in his family."

Chanukah Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Rainy days and Mondays...

Do you remember that song? Well, I can tell you Karen and I totally understand each other and I am not ashamed to tell you that today is one of those days. I am not having a good time of it and this rain is not helping me at all. You know in less ten days my beloved eldest daughter Racheli will be joining her brother in Israel for a six month program. She won't actually be in Jerusalem, she will be in the northern part of Israel in Tzfat. Very holy place, but I suppose all of Israel is. She will studying at a girl's seminary and it is a very good thing. I know this. If it was me I would want to go too! I know this is an INCREDIBLE opportunity for her. I know that this is G-d's will for her as He has provided all the finances, etc., for her. We could never afford to send her or Ya'akov for that matter but their Father can! I know that this is the best for her and that she will grow in her love of Hashem and Torah. I know, I know, I know! What I do not know is how in the world I am going to breathe when she leaves. This just seems so much harder than Ya'akov. And that to me was the WORST! She is my best friend and my right hand. What am I going to do without her here?

Listen, I know I will survive. I know I will breathe. But I tell you, I just don't know how. I know Hashem will give me strength...I am just scared of this change. She is much braver than I. But brave I must be too, for her, for my youngest still at home, and for myself. I know somehow I will get through this, but I need to talk about this. I think some of you must understand how I feel. Support dear ones, support is what I need and I am not ashamed to tell you. It is not like me to reach out. I am a very private person, but this is very painful, and I am trying to keep it together for her sake. I do not want her to see her Imma upset. So here I am. A very blessed mother indeed, but awful sad right now.

Fourth Night of Chanukah

I cannot believe it is already the fourth night! The chanukiah is already half way lit and is beginning to shine ever so brightly! It has so far been such a lovely time. Mostly we are spending it with family sharing our hearts. Of course there is plenty of eating to be done, so I thought I would share a recipe for potato latkes with a Spanish twist that I have made this week with you. Now since I do not actually follow a recipe I am approximating it. But I am sure many of you also cook this way too so you will forgive me. Most Chanukah foods are fried with lots of oil to commemorate the miracle. I know, I know, not at all good for you, but look at this way, it is only once a year.


Potato Latkes

Shred as many potatoes as you think your family will eat. With five adults and three children in our family that night we shred about 20 small ones and they were all GONE!

Add three eggs

1/2 cup matzah meal give or take

Adobo, sprinkled generously! This is a wonderful blend of spices that adds just the perfect zest! There are brands without MSG so look for those. I really like LaFlor (O-U)

I also add some garlic and onions but not too much.

Mix it all together and let it set a few minutes.

I use about half an inch of oil in my iron skillet and let it get good and hot. Please be very careful and make sure the children are out of the kitchen. I use the end of a wooden spoon to test if it is hot enough. I place the end in and if bubbles come up it is time to fry!

I make patties a little smaller than my palm and place them in the fry pan until the edges are golden. Then I flip them and let them cook checking to make sure they do not burn on the other side. They are wonderful just golden brown. My family gobbled them up! I bet yours will too!

The catalogs are coming, the catalogs are coming!

Yippee! They are starting to trickle in! The seed catalogs are coming and that just tickles me so. Just when the winter is starting to kick in and the cold seems so lonely the seed catalogs come in to remind me that winter is just a season that does not last forever and spring and the sunshine will return. I love to just look at them over and over again, quietly sipping my of tea.

I am dreaming already of what I shall plant and how I shall plant it, given my very small part of earth. Today's was from R.H. Shumway and it has several small greenhouses in it. It seems affordable and doable on my patio. I've never ordered from them before so I cannot recommend them, but I will say the catalog is a lovely one and nostalgic looking.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Second Night of Chanukah

The second night of Chanukah was even more wonderful than the first! (Of course that is the whole the light increases so does our joy and many other spiritual aspects but I shall save that for another time) Last night was our Hebrew School's big Chanukah Party and it was such a blast! I could not believe that a large crowd had turned out. I was a bit concerned because Uncle Moishy was in town too, and he is a hard one to compete with. Even so, we were FILLED to capacity and on top of that Fox 29 News was there too! They interviewed one of our beloved Rabbis and our hard working and most beloved Principal. I could not get over the crowd!

After our Rabbi shared a little on the miracles and holiness of the holiday, he made the brachot (blessings) and lit our very large chanukiah. We all sang songs, rejoicing and clapping to the music! It is amazing that something that happened so very long ago still fills us with such joy and gratitude!

The children from our three classes each did a presentation. Kita Aleph sang songs, as did Kita Bet. My class, Kita Gimel, put on a short play about Chanukah and they did wonderfully! :::proud smile::: We had crafts there for the children to do, sand art and a project to make their own chanukiah. There were games and prizes and even a One Man Band! A Rabbi from our community had a Chanukah store set up with all kinds of gifts and educational toys to sell just in case you had extra gelt (Yiddish for money) to spend! And of course there was sufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts) to over flowing with other snacks and drinks. What a wonderful time we had!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Knitting, knitting everywhere and not a stitch to drop

I enjoy knitting...I really do, but it seems it is all I am doing these days! Feverishly trying to finish gifts for my family. Mind you I am making nothing more complicated than scarves for everyone, and to all of you who are 'real' knitters you may be giggling at my pained efforts right now, but I tell you this is all a labor of love for me. I am really working quite hard. I have finished two scarves for my daughters and still have two more to finish. :::sigh::: I really do enjoy it as I can get quite zen with the whole thing. I watch the needles and listen to them gently click together. It takes real silence to hear them and to hear the rhythm I have created as they move. They move slowly near each other, gently caressing one another, and I try to think loving thoughts as I am creating these scarves. I think of the recipient and how they will enjoy my gift. I think of the blessings I want G-d to give them and of how much I care for them. I also think about how I wish I was a faster knitter and how come I can't knit like the little old ladies on cartoons.

I had to take a break one night and make myself a flannel blouse just to comfort myself in my perceived failure (lack of cartoonish speed) as a knitter. Sewing comes very easy to me and I can whip out a blouse in a couple of hours. In fact I become quite obsessed when I sew. There is no world outside of my patterns, fabrics, and my sewing machine. Total tunnel vision in my happy place behind the sewing machine. I love feeling the flannel and trying to figure out how to shrink the blouse pattern I have to fit me. I loved putting the pieces together and hearing the whir of the machine. I am so one with my machine I can have no physical hindrances between me and it so I have to remove my right clog so I can really feel the peddle. Ah...such bliss! My new flannel blouse comforts me so greatly, I would like to wear it everyday. I don't see why I can't, but I opt not to nonetheless.

So, now I can return to my knitting, knowing that although I am not the fastest knitter I am pretty quick on the draw when it comes to sewing. I think I would prefer to knit with bamboo needles, the aluminum needles I have seem impersonal and are literally cold. But alas aluminum is all I have in the requisite size 10 1/2 needed for the scarves. It's okay though, I can do this and I need the serenity. Besides I am the one creating and giving life to the needles, and I am always up for a challenge.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Knitting Therapy

Well, it seems this late autumn has begun to get the better of me. The past several years seem to be getting worse, I wonder if it has to do with my move to the city. I was talking to my SIL about it and although I am pretty sure I got the 'winter blues' in Lancaster I do not think it was quite like this. I think it was because it Lancaster I was still outside hanging out my laundry, cutting wood, stacking wood, raking leaves etc. Here in Philly I am in my cocoon. Since I am in my cocoon I decided to start knitting... and crocheting for that matter. I am making a decorative scarf with 'fun fur' that was on sale at Michael's and I am working on a Mile-a-Minute afghan for my son. Although the sun has not actually burst through the clouds as of yet (figuratively or literally) at least I feel productive and it seems to be helping. Knitting therapy, try may find it quite helpful.

Here is a site to get you started called 'Learn to Knit'.

Happy knitting!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Home remedy, served with love

Can I tell you? I NEVER get sick. I am telling you, I have such an immune system (Bli ayin hara, poo poo poo), so for me to be sick the past week is unheard of. My little charge and her brother were kind enough to share their colds with me and apparently my body decided it liked it enough to hold onto it a while. I had it, then it left, then it made a return visit with a vengeance, then it morphed into stomach pains and nausea. Thank G-d that was short lived and now it just kinda comes and goes in waves. OK, so now that you know the gory details, that is not why I am blogging this. I wanted to tell you about my beloved Tzivya who is such a nurturing little Mama to her Mama. She made me such a soup yesterday. I can tell you it had LOTS of garlic and lots of love. So delish and so comforting. She took so much care to make it for me, serve me and take care of me. What a little doll she is. I am a firm believer in cooking with love. It may sound hokey to some but I tell you all that love and good thoughts for my refuah were so healing for me yesterday. It really came through in her home remedy and I felt so much better after my daughter's soup.

Two very nice thoughts

I am not sure if you take the time to click on the 'Daily Dose'on the left there, but try to sometime. These thoughts from the Lubavitcher Rebbe are tidbits of life that have really inspired me in my day to day life. Here are two from this week that especially meant alot to me.

Change by Doing

People are not changed by arguments, nor by philosophy. People change by doing.

Introduce a new habit into your life, and your entire perspective of the world changes.

First do, then learn about what you are already doing.

Owning Wisdom

You can live in a palace filled with treasures and still be poor. To be wealthy you must own the things you have.

So too with poverty of the mind: You may have all the knowledge and brilliant ideas in the world, but you are still poor until they have become part of you.

A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
-words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Do you want to want?

Rebbe Nachman taught that the magnitude of the obstacles to any spiritual goal is in direct ratio to the importance of the goal, but the obstacles are sent for one purpose only: to increase one's desire. With sufficient desire it is possible to overcome all obstacles.
This is a beautiful and very important quote. Too often it is very easy to desire something and yet not have the tenacity to follow through with it. It seems especially in matters of spiritual importance Hashem will allow obstacles in our way. I do not know so much if it is a test or a way of proving to ourselves how devoted and serious we are? Maybe it is both? Will we go to any and all lengths to achieve the goal set before us? I read once where one of the Rebbe's talmidim said to him that he wanted to be a good Jew. The Rebbe responded with "but do you want to want?" I often think of that. Do I really want to want? How deep is my desire and devotion. They say anything worth having is worth fighting for. Indeed this is true. Although some things in life do come easy, these things do not sharpen us and refine us like the fire of adversity or trial. Like the athlete or musician who may have a natural talent, they will never truly become great or even appreciate their gift unless they challenge themselves time and again. The refinement is what make us who we are, for better or for worse.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Where are all the rest of the Bumble Bee people?

I remember back when MTV used to have really good videos,(haven't actually watched MTV since the early 90's) There was this one Blind Melon song I think called 'No Rain.' It was a decent song and it had this really cute video of a sweet little girl in a bumble bee you remember it? She doesn't fit in and so she wanders off until she finds the Bumble Bee people just like her. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They love her and she loves them and she is home. what? Well, I feel like a Bumble Bee. I seem to be feeling 'terminally unique' again. I feel like that Bumble Bee Girl. It is not a really comfortable feeling today. I thought I had found others like me, but they weren't and nor do they want to be. Mind you, I really do not blame them, and I am certainly not out to create clones of myself, (G-d Forbid). It is a little scary, I know, and uncomfortable to live the way we live. I dress differently then most, if not all the women in my community. (I have been told though I would fit in well in Tsfat, I look like a country girl or even a gypsy/hippie, lol). I homeschool my children. Financially we are definitely on the low end of the totem. Baruch HaShem though, He really does provide all our needs. We live simply. We have one car, although right now I am using my son's while he is Israel. I only use medicine when needed, relying on herbs, oils, homeopathy and other alternative healing methods. I believe in 'crazy' things like natural birth, homebirth, long term nursing, homemade baby food, cloth diapers,midwives and the list goes on... What does it all mean? I believe I have a message to give and live. I suppose it can get discouraging for any messenger when others do not actually embrace the message. There is a lot of fear involved. Heck, I understand fear intimately. Of course it is scary. I guess we all in our own way feel this 'uniqueness' sometimes. I suppose I am not so unique in that. Maybe I am supposed to just give the message and let people walk their own path. Novel thought, huh? (°Ü°) I am not ungrateful either. I am part of a whole tribe of people, I am so proud to be a Jew. I just think it would be nice to find a nuclear group of like minded people within the fold. I know they are out there, I've just not found them yet...or maybe they've not found me. :-)

Blind Melon
No Rain Lyrics

All I can say is that my life is pretty plain I like watchin' the puddles gather rain
And all I can do is just pour some tea for two
And speak my point of view
But it's not sane, It's not sane

I just want some one to say to me
I'll always be there when you wake
Ya know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I'll have it made

Prayer and a broken heart

In the palace of a king there are many rooms, and a different key unlocks each door. But wielding an axe is better than all the keys, because it can break any lock and open any door. Intention in prayer is like the various keys, each prayer has a different intention, but a broken heart is the axe that opens all the Gates of Heaven. ~~The Baal Shem Tov

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Old Habits

Don’t make the mistake of those who think they can’t change their old habits. If you really want to change, truly and wholeheartedly, and you’re willing to invest the necessary effort, you can overcome and change any habit. ~~Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Chodesh Tov!

Chodesh Tov! We are officially in the two day Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. For some reason I am very excited about this. Couldn't explain why but I am. :-)
Rosh Chodesh is a special day(s), especially for us ladies. I am hoping to do something special with my girls today, maybe make a special meal or desert to mark the day. I am also planning on doing some special learning with my girls to mark the days. Ah...the beauty of homeschooling! I get to learn along with them! Anyway, here is a nice article from on Rosh Chodesh and here on some laws pertaining to it's observance. May this new month bring with it good health and all blessings for good, and the complete redemption with the coming of our righteous Moshiach!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Priorities in Order

This past erev Shabbat I was visiting with a dear lady in my community who is a Russian Jew. She has been through her fair share of suffering both in and out of communist rule. She was showing me some pictures of her mother when she was young and of her aunt with whom she came to America with. Then she showed me her Chanukah menorah. It was nice, nothing fancy, just a plain, nicely sized, servicable brass menorah. She held it up and said, "When my aunt and I come to America, we buy three things. We buy a washer and dryer and a menorah. Now we in America and we can have those things. We buy this menorah because nobody can point at us and say 'You Jew!' We were free." I looked at this once plain menorah and now I saw the most beautiful of menorahs...perhaps as lovely as the one from the Beit Ha'Mikdash. A symbol of priorities in order and first things first. A symbol of miracles and freedom in so many ways. To the Maccabees, to the Jewish people, and to a dear Russian Lady who is finding her way closer to Hashem and has proven that no matter what, the 'pintele Yid' shines bright within each and every one of the Jewish People.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Art of Keeping Warm

Fall has arrived with all it's riotous fiery colors, but unfortunately for me no actual heat emmanates from them. I am always cold and this can be a bit problematic for me as I do not wear pants. So I am constantly on the lookout for ideas to keep me warm. Here are a few tips I have come up with:

Always layer. If you wear full skirts or dresses it makes it easier. I wear a petticoat, tights and sometimes leggings or yoga stlyle pants under my skirts.

Make sure to use natural fibers, I have found them to retain heat better. Flannel and wool are the best, cotton works well too. I have never used silk but I am told silk long underwear is wonderful!

Invest in long underwear or make some flannel pantalettes.

Use wool socks...My beloved bought me a pair last year and I cannot tell you how much I love them!

Use sweaters or shawls. Sweaters are more practical but shawls...well, I just love them, they feel so cozy and snuggly. My favorites are my big black Amish shawl and the one I purchased at a Civil war re-enactment.

For those who cover their heads, I use cotton berets or heavier scarves to retain the heat. And I always cover my ears...I feel warmer.

Here are a few links to help you get started with some items of use: long underwear, wool slip, and wool blend stockings.

If you have any other tips please let me know! I am always of the look out to stay warm!

:::missing my wood stove right about now:::

Friday, October 28, 2005

What is a Chasid?

Parshat Bereishis
Let there be light (Genesis 1:3)

What Is A Chassid?

In 1907, when Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch was staying at the health spa in Wirtzburg, Germany, a group of chassidim came to spend a Shabbos with the Rebbe. Among them was Reb Yosef Yuzik Horowitz, his son-in-law Reb Feivel Zalmanov, and Reb Elimelech Stoptzer.The Rebbe prayed for many hours that Shabbos morning, as was his manner. Meanwhile, the chassidim made kiddush and consumed a respectable quantity of 'l'chayim's. Later, when the Rebbe had finished and they sat with him to the Shabbos meal, Reb Yosef Yuzik asked:"Rebbe, what is a chassid?"
Replied the Rebbe: " A chassid is a lamplighter. The lamplighter walks the streets carrying a flame at the end of a stick. He knows that the flame is not his. And he goes from lamp to lamp to set them alight."
Asked Reb Yosef Yuzik: "What if the lamp is in a desert?"
"Then one must go and light it," said the Rebbe. "And when one lights a lamp in a desert, the desolation of the desert becomes visible. The barren wilderness will then be ashamed before the burning lamp."
Continued the chassid: "What if the lamp is at sea?"
"Then one must undress, dive into the sea, and go light the lamp."
"And this is a chassid?" Reb Yosef Yuzik asked.
For a long while the Rebbe thought. Then he said: "Yes, this is a chassid."
"But Rebbe, I do not see the lamps!"
Answered the Rebbe: "Because you are not a lamplighter."
"How does one become a lamplighter?"
"First, you must reject the evil within yourself. Start with yourself, cleanse yourself, refine yourself, and you will see the lamp within your fellow. When a person is himself coarse, G-d forbid, he sees coarseness; when a person is himself refined, he sees the refinement in others."
Reb Yosef Yuzik then asked: "Is one to grab the other by the throat?"
Replied the Rebbe: "By the throat, no; by the lapels, yes."

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Blog Gone Haywire

Not sure what happened but my blog seems to have moved my posts down below...any insight??

Things you find when you search blogger :-)

The three-minute plan for overcoming depression and anxiety:

Try this, it works!! LOL!

Found: Uman Rosh HaShana Video

For those who want a small "taste" of what Uman is like on Rosh Hashana, visit:
There should be three smaller boxes on the right side, one of which says in Hebrew, "Uman Rosh Hashana."
If you click on it you'll be able to see an 11-minute video of some of the highlights of a trip to Uman.

Back to Reality

So the chaggim (holidays) are completed and we enter back into reality. Back to the mundane. For me that means setting my home back to order, laundry, getting a curriculum set up for my 14 year old, (particularly focusing on Hebrew studies), taking care of the little neshama I care for again (her Mama must sadly return to work too), and getting some projects going. Oh yes...and planning my shabbat menu. Don't know that I shall get all of that done. I am going to TRY to not make myself coo-coo and just set one goal up at a time. I don't think it is nice to run screaming back into the world, too much like plunging into a freezing pool of water. I shall endeavor to ease myself and my family back into routine taking with us as much as we can of the simcha, learning and strength that we have gained from our most holy month of Tishrei.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Shemini Etzeret and love of time with the family

I recently learned this and I think this is so precious. Shemini Atzeret literally means "the assembly of the eighth (day)." I was just taught that this day is much like when a King has a huge feast who has invited all His subjects to share in. The subjects all leave when all is said and done but the King has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us his family to stay another day. He just wants this extra day to be alone with us. Sukkot is a holiday intended for all of mankind, but when Sukkot is over, the Creator invites the Jewish people to stay for an extra day, for a more intimate celebration. I think this is so beautiful, so tender. Shemini Etzeret/Simchat Torah, such a time of rejoicing in the love of our King, our Creator, our Father!

Such a day:::sigh:::

There are days and then there are DAYS. Yesterday was one of those DAYS! It started out just fine, our Hebrew School where I teach kita Gimel, had a small party. They came to our sukkah first where my daughters set up a lovely snack time for them. Afterwards we walked back to the shul where there was a surprise pizza party waiting for them. The children really seemed to enjoy themselves and it was a great morning. But oy vey, as the day progressed I began a slow, slippery slide out of control in a downward spiral. I didn't see it coming at all. It was a such a slow chain of minor irritating events that began and ended up culminating with me locking my keys in the car at the Target parking lot. That was it! I had it and I snapped out on my girls. I was so upset and I could not believe it. Where had my serenity gone? Where was my simcha from the night before? Where was my spirituality? Where was my mind? Finally I called my beloved (who was in NJ working) as I truly had no idea of what to do next and he told me to call the police. After only twenty minutes a very nice officer showed up and unlocked my car. When I finally sat down in my unlocked car and calmed down, I cried, I apologized and asked for forgiveness of my girls (and Hashem). I could not believe I had gotten to this point. How could I have gotten so upset and angry? What happened and how could I prevent this from happening again?
It has occurred to me today that what may have happened was much like what seems to happen to many expecting and nursing Mommies I come across who do not use doulas or other support systems. They go into labor with an attitude something like, "I can do this on my own, I know what I am doing. I read a book, had a class, I feel great and I will be fine." Then when they are in the throes of labor (or even sooner) and the nursing has glitches they end up with an epidural, c-section and running to the nearest store to purchase formula. I am in no way saying that if a doula is present that these things will never occur but there is enough research to support that the use of a doula certainly lessens these occurrences.
Spiritually it can happen much the same way. There I was riding on my high from the Chaggim, thinking I had it under control and that I could do it. I was fine. As little by little things began to deteriorate before me, I never once called out for help. It never occurred to me that I needed it. I just continued in my 'labor' spiraling downward and found myself losing more and more control until blammo, I am hit upside the head! Had I just reached out my hands to Hashem, had I just taken a second to cry out for help, I believe I could have avoided this fall. What a lesson this is for me. I must always try to keep in mind that number one, Hashem and not me, is in control and all things happen for a reason and for ultimate good. Second that I need to be keenly aware that I need help and support to get through each day, even for the seemingly 'minor' happenings. And third that I cannot just ride high on energy from yesterday. If Hashem is constantly recreating the universe, that means that I constantly need to be in connection with Him, moment by moment in the present, and not think that the fuel I received yesterday is enough to go on and take me through. I need to pause and pray. I need to pause and think. I simply need...

"Just wanting to speak to God is in itself a very great thing. Even if all you can say to God is 'Help!' it is still good. Repeat this over and over again, until God opens your lips and words begin to flow from your heart." ~Rebbe Nachman

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Simchas Beis HaSho'evah

"Whoever did not see the rejoicing of the Beis Hasho'evah, never saw rejoicing in his lifetime." So intense were the festivities associated with the water drawing that this is what our Sages are quoted as saying in the Mishnah.
This is in accordance to the verse that says,"And you shall rejoice before Hashem, your G-d, seven days." Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:40. Our shul had a wonderful simchas beis hasho'evea last moztie shabbat and that was in spite of the rain that was coming down quite whole heartedly! The juggler was there and he was wonderful, the children of all ages enjoyed him. He even managed to go outside and juggle fire when the rain cleared up. There was music and room enough for everyone to dance! Our beloved Rebbetzin made sure to encourage all of us ladies to dance and dance we did, with all our hearts! It was just wonderful and so much fun! I kept thinking to myself, "This is just practice, imagine what the rejoicing will be when our righteous Moshiach rebuilds our Holy Temple and we can truly see the water drawing! To see the tzaddikim rejoicing, to be in our Holy Temple and worship Hashem...such joy cannot even be imagined!" B"H! May it be come speedily and in our time!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Welcome to our Sukkah!

The chaggim (holidays) have been just wonderful! Busy with much to do and so spiritual with much to learn. We have had the pleasure to have dined in three sukkot, including our own. The meals have all been delicious flavored with sweet friendship and beautiful words of Torah. We are all looking for the big Simchat beit haShueva motzei shabbat. They close off the whole block and there will be music, things for the children and even a fire juggler! If you are in Philly come on over and join us! It has just been wonderful and we still have Shemini Etzeret and Simchat Torah to look forward too! I just love this time of the year! Here are some pics of our family Succah, since you all cannot come and sit in it we can have a virtual visit °Ü°.
Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:39-43
But on the fifteenth day of this seventh month, when you gather in the crop of the land, you shall celebrate Hashem's festival for a seven-day period; the first day is a rest day and the eighth day is a rest day. You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of a citron tree, the branches of date palms, twigs of a plaited tree and brook willows; and you shall rejoice before Hashem. your G-d, for a seven day period. You shall celebrate it as a festival for Hashem, a seven-day period in the year, an eternal decree for your generations; in the seventh month you shall celebrate it. You shall dwell in sukkot (booths) for a seven day period; every native in Israel shall dwell in sukkot. So that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in sukkot when I took them from the land of Egypt; I am Hashem your G-d.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


My baby sister has just had her first baby! A fine and very handsome (poo poo poo) boy! He weighed a very nice 6lbs 12oz, 19 inches long and was born the second day of Sukkot at 1:10 PM...which is why I was unable to get there to be her doula. She also lives about an hour from me. :-( Mom and her best friend were there so thank G-d she did have support. Mommy said she was awesome and from what I can tell she really did a great job! I am sorry I was unable to be there I so wanted to help with her birth, but I was able to pray. A friend of mine who was able to, got messages for me and told me when the baby came, which was so very nice. B"H, the new Mommy and baby are well and healthy and we are so happy for our new little addition to the family!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Feeling so emotional

I am not sure what is up with me. Could be because it is erev Yom Kippur or because I haven't gotten to speak with my son yet and he will soon be bringing the fast. I don't know, I just feel so weepy...and no, nothing hormonal is happening this moment. How can it be that this morning I was feeling so well and now I just want to cry and cry. This is such a holy time and time of judgment and forgiveness. A time of teshuva and beginning anew. I believe Hashem will forgive all of us His children but I still have this nervous twinge in my stomach. I know His love for me, for all of us is immense but I still feel this way. I suppose it would be the same way if I were meeting an earthly monarch. Standing before a king is no casual occurrence. One does ready oneself and there is that intense feeling of awe and fear. I am not afraid in as much as I think I am going to be ZAPPED ( well, at least I hope not) but I do have a fear. The King of Kings, the King of the Universe, Master of all will be/ has been convening court. While I do not presume to understand any of this, it sends jolts all through me. Forgiveness is such a gift, but not to be taken lightly. We must not take it lightly, I must not take it lightly. I want to truly start anew. I look forward to Kol Neidre, with trepidation to be sure but I look forward to it nonetheless. Such a holy time, such an emotional time. I suppose my feelings are just that, my feelings. I wish you all gmar chatimah tovah and an easy and very meaningful fast. May we all be sealed with good health, good life, parnasa and growth in torah and mitzvot!

Happy Birthday Ya'akov!

Today is my son Ya'akov's English Birthday. His Hebrew birthday is the 27th of Tishrei. He is 20 years old. My G-d when did this happen? Wasn't he just born? Wasn't I just nursing him? Didn't he just take his first steps, become bar mitvah, turn 18? Time is so fleeting and moments so precious. Here I am with my tzaddik of a son who is constantly a strength, encouragement and blessing to my life. May he blessed for a happy and healthy new year, may he be blessed with parnasa, good health, deveykut with Hashem, and continue to grow in Torah and mizvot. Amen v'amen.
Happy Birthday Ya'akov! I love you and I am proud of you!

Yesterday's special moments

Yesterday was a day of special moments. I suppose all days are like this, but I happened to pay a little more attention and practice gratitude when they occurred. First of all my mother called me at about 6:15 in the morning. This is a perfect time to get a hold of me and I was so thrilled she called. Her timing is getting so much better as she used to have this habit of calling me erev shabbat either when I was in the throes of cooking or MINUTES before candle lighting. But she and I are both early birds so I told her ,"Y'know Mommy, I am up too when you are, I would love to talk to you when we both have time." We had a great conversation yesterday, what a nice way to start the day.
Another moment occurred as I was walking out the door yesterday morning. When I opened the door I noticed an envelope in the doorway. On it was Racheli's name and on the other side was a note that said "Rachel use this to go to Israel." I handed it to her and was amazed. She almost cried and I did cry. HaShem is so good to us. As I was walking down the street I thanked Him for showing us such kindness. It has been a topic of much tefila (prayer) the financial part of Racheli's trip. Our Father hears us.
Later in the day I was caring for two little ones, the neshama I usually nanny and her tzaddik of a big brother. After lunch I had hoped he would take a nap for me as I knew this was also what his Imma would want. I suggested watching Uncle Moshe. "Uncle MOISHY!" I was corrected. I laughed and told him that my Sephardi accent was getting in the way, sorry. :-) We all snuggled up and watched this very sweet video and in fifteen minutes he was asleep. The baby went to sleep soon after and I had about an hour of silence I used to write a letter to my son. When they woke up we snuggled some more and he napped a few minutes more I thanked HaShem for the gift of a child falling asleep on my lap. What a beautiful feeling of love I was gifted with. When he woke up we read some books and watched the Kotel Cam.
Why the Kotel cam? My son had just called to tell me he was going to be there and although we couldn't actually see him, we should see the tremendous crowd at the Kotel.
About an hour or so later, after I arrived back home, the phone rang. My youngest picked it up, smiled and then handed it to me. I said hello and heard, not noise, once I focused I realized it was Ya'akov and I was listening to selichot at the Kotel. I couldn't believe it. I listened and I cried and cried. How beautiful it was! To hear the prayers there in Yerushalayim! It was AMAZING and felt like I was there. We lost connection a couple of times and I would call back and listen more. Then I hung up and waited to hear from him until it was all over. I thanked him for such a gift, he said he hoped I would enjoy it. How did I merit such a son? Baruch HaShem!!!
Kisses from my daughters' and my beloved coming early from work topped the day of special moments.
I am a grateful lady, very grateful indeed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

L'shana tovah and an update

Greetings all,
First I want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year! I know it has been sometime since I have blogged here, I have missed you all. Indeed, "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans." The holidays, although later this year than last, came upon me so quickly. The month of Elul (September) seemed to fly by me. I think with Ya'akov leaving and school starting up here again it took me a bit to find my feet again. But little by little we are getting back into the swing of things, even with the hectic schedule of the Chaggim (holidays) upon us.
I know so many of you have been eagerly waiting for an update on my son Ya'akov and I do apologize for the delay. First, I want to thank all who have kept him and my family in their prayers, they are much appreciated. He is doing so well, Baruch HaShem! His studies are going well and he enjoys them so much. It is amazing to me how much he is learning and how he gives it over to me. He even has a few "candy classes" as he calls them, things like "Jewish Philosophy in Contemporary Issues," that he really enjoys. I had to laugh when he called them "candy classes," they sound pretty intense to me, but then again, since he also studying Chumash, Rashi, gemara etc. I am sure that the English classes are rather relaxing for him.
He has gone on several trips since he has been there. Of course as I said in an earlier post they go to the Kotel every week. They have also been to the Dead Sea and he floated in it. He said you actually cannot sink in it, you just kind of bob around! He has also been to the Kineret, Tiberius and the Holocaust Museum. There he heard a survivor speak. Of course one can only imagine the intensity of that experience. We have several survivors here in the neighborhood and when I saw their tattoos it sent shivers down my spine, I was in the presence of miracles. Motzei Yom Kippur, he is travelling to the holy city of Tzfat (G-d willing)! He will be there for shabbat and I am so excited for him!
We speak several times a week, thank G-d for a good friend providing us with a very inexpensive calling card to Israel. He is eager to receive our letters too. A young lady in the neighborhood told us it is a very big deal to receive mail in school so I am really trying to be diligent about sending him letters.
Racheli is busy finishing up her final credits for high school and getting her things in order so she can also go to Israel for school. She is hoping to leave for the spring semester. She was just hired as a mother's helper for several hours a day. It is just two doors down from where I nanny so that is kind of neat! She will be caring for two little fellas and helping Mama make supper, straighten up, etc. She is excited as that money will all go for her trip to Israel. I am excited for her as she will have opportunity to see how another household is run.
Tzivya is bearing up with school well but we will be dropping out after the Chaggim. I simply do not like the program for our family (I am sure other families are enjoying success so this is no reflection on the actual K12 High School program). My daughter, although trying very hard to stay and do her work b'simcha (with joy), is very unhappy and as I have said before we did not homeschool to be unhappy. So I am presently looking into the PAHomeschoolers High School diploma program and the Susquehanna High School Diploma Program and decide between the two. I still have curriculum so I do not think there will be much if any of a financial issue. Besides, with all the work she is doing in school I am not able to squeeze any lifeskills, homemaking and Torah studies in there and that is not acceptable.
The holidays started off very nicely. We ate home both nights and were invited out for both lunches. With the services being what they are we did not eat until almost 3PM but it suited well. The first day just flew by! By the time we were done with the davening (praying) it was 2:30, then we went to lunch at a friend's home. After that was finished it was almost 4:30. We went home for a short bit and left for shul (synagogue) to be there to daven mincha (afternoon prayers) and then to go to tashlich. We go to a lovely park about a mile from our home that has a nice stream in it. In spite of the cloudy day and the stream being very low it was an uplifting experience. I just love seeing everyone out and about. Almost everyone goes there for tashlich from all the different synagogues. When we lived in Lancaster it was a less dramatic experience as we used to just walk across the pasture to the cow creek. °Ü° Convenient yes, but not communal.
When this was all said and done is was almost time for ma'ariv (evening prayers) and time to eat again! Our meal was simple the second night since we had ample left overs and no one was really hungry after our delicious lunch out.
The second day was a bit longer but not much. The services ended a bit sooner as did lunch. I visited with another friend later in the day as did my girls. My beloved went home and rested a bit before he walked over to retrieve me and we in turn went to retrieve my youngest. We were home for a while and then another friend come over until Rosh Hashanah ended. Although a bit longer it was a very beautiful day.
Well, I suppose this post is long enough. I am going to try to post more often and not as long. This will be a real trick for me °Ü°
G'mar chatima tovah!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Elul and things are shifting

I have been noticing a very real change in the air if you will, something most definitely is shifting around us. I cannot attribute it to the most welcome fall weather that seems to be meandering in, nor do I think it is just the normal change of the seasons. If it where, one would feel the retreating of the earth as she prepares herself for her winter sleep. No, indeed it feels much deeper, much higher and more intense. It is the month of Elul, the month of Teshuvah (repentance). It is Our King in the fields waiting for us to approach Him.

"Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains...with the following metaphor: The king's usual place is in the capital city, in the royal palace. Anyone wishing to approach the king must go through the appropriate channels in the palace bureaucracy and gain the approval of a succession of secretaries and ministers. He must journey to the capital and pass through the many gates, corridors and antechambers that lead to the throne room. His presentation must be meticulously prepared, and he must adhere to an exacting code of dress, speech and mannerism upon entering into the royal presence.

However, there are times when the king comes out to the fields outside the city. At such times, anyone can approach him; the king receives them all with a smiling face and a radiant countenance. The peasant behind his plow has access to the king in a manner unavailable to the highest ranking minister in the royal court when the king is in the palace.

The month of Elul, says Rabbi Schneur Zalman, is when the king is in the field.

This gives me chills to even think about. Our Holy King, Mighty King, Ribono Shel Olam, (Master of the Universe) is in the fields there where we toil, there where we live, amidst the dirt and mundane waiting for us. You see, He is there waiting for us. He is not in His Palace demanding the formality that is certainly due Him. He has come to His children to await our company. Our Beloved Father is patiently waiting for us with His arms open wide that we may run to him, repent of our wrongs and serve Him all the more. This is not the time for paralyzing fear! No, be valiant and approach the King with confidence. He will receive you.
This is the time for action!
Learn Torah. If you do not learn Torah, begin. Even the smallest morsel will feed your starving soul. If you do learn, learn more and apply it!
Give tzedakah. A penny from the poorest is as a fortune from the very rich.
Pray! Spend time in prayer, communing with HaKadosh, Barukh Hu. In Ivrit (Hebrew) or in your own tongue, talk to your Creator.
Do not fear! Our King awaits us! Fear not but run to Him now and pour your heart out to Him. He awaits us all, His children, our loving Father, Avienu Malkienu, in the field. Stop what you are doing! Stop the busyness! Hear the cry of the shofar! Hear as it beckons to your soul and run to Him there in the fields.
ELUL= Ani l'dodi v dodi li= I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me.

Laundry Day Musings

Greetings all! You see here quite the little gadget. It is called the 'Rapid Washer' and you can purchase it at Lehmans.But before you do that, why don't you go visit Sapphire Moon and check out her post on Laundry Day. I was so impressed with her inventiveness that I am seriously contemplating doing this.

Now I am a washboard lady myself, just love it. Really helps with stress and no kidding, you really cannot get clothes near as clean in a washing machine as you can with a washboard. Mind you, I am the only one who washes thier clothes like that at home. My oldest daughter uses it sometimes so I am pleased with that. I wash my clothes with it, but not my sheets or blankets. I do not even have room to dry my sheets outside. For those I have to use my dryer. ::blech:: I use my wonderful wooden clothes drying rack I purchased in Lancaster County for the rest of my stuff.

I just started to use my washboard again this summer and I so enjoy it. I really hope to have a ringer washer again someday also. Even though I grew up in a city, we didn't have a modern washer, we had a ringer washer. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world! And we were able to get SO much wash done. Those of you who have use used them know their great capacity!

There was a time too I remember we did not even have a washer and we washed ALL of our clothing with a washboard. I was about ten years old, and I remember really enjoying it. I also remember getting in the bathtub with my Mother and her taking one end of a pair of jeans and I the other, and ringing them out together. We did the same thing with our towels. Lots of work but I enjoyed it. Maybe that is why I love my washboard? Maybe I enjoy it becuase it is an option I have decided upon and not really necessity. To be sure, I am trying and need to save money and I hope I am doing so by hand washing my clothes, but really I think my personal satisfaction is greater than the monetary value. Really, you could not pay us near enough to do what we do, who could put a price tag on it anyway. They say "necessity is the mother of invention" but I think "mother's are the inventors of what is necessary".

I think Sapphire Moon proves this.

Shalom and happy laundry!

Philly Farmgirl

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Kotel

This is a picture of the Kotel, the Western Wall. My son Ya'akov called this morning so excited! He had been at the Kotel with his Yeshivah and this was his first visit there, he was so thrilled! In fact so was I, it felt as if I had been there too. We sent him with notes to put in the Wall and he accomplished that mission today. I asked him what it was like and he said there were no words to describe it. He did say you really feel like you are right in Hashem's presence, very humbling. He told me when I get there, b'ezrat HaShem, I will spend the first hour crying. I told him I am sure I would. He met some of his friends from home on Ben Yehuda street and he said it was such an incredible time. He just called to wish me a Shabbat Shalom as they were getting ready to leave to the Kotel to bring in Shabbat. When I got off the phone with him I cried, but this time I cried from absolute joy! My son is in Yerushalayim at the Kotel welcoming the Shabbat! Incredible! Im'Yirtzeh HaShem, I too will have this privledge...we all will. My beloved told me to imagine this feeling and then to imagine when the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt! My mind was blown trying to think of such a thing! When our righteous Moschiach comes and rebuilds our Holy Temple and we are all together in Eretz Israel worshipping our G-d...Oh it truly makes me tremble! May it be soon and speedily in our time!!
"And it is said: The L-rd will be King over the entire earth; on that day the L-rd will be One and His Name one."
"B'yom ha'hu yiyeh Hashem echad u'shemo echad."
Zechariah 14:9

Shabbat Shalom,
Philly Farmgirl

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Moving In

Shalom everyone!
I am going to be moving some things in over the next couple of days, except Shabbat of course, from another blogsite I am on. So bear with me as moving isn't always the neatest thing to do. I am trying to figure out how to add links too. I have some really nice Jewish homeschool links and modesty links I want to put up to share with you. Anyway, thanks for stopping in! Looking forward to seeing more of you!
Shalom u' brachot,
Philly Farmgirl


Greetings all,
I suppose it is due to the life changes that are happening of late, I have just been slacking the past few days. My poor flower beds are so thirsty, my house is in disarray, and I cannot seem to get my room in order. Thank G-d, it is not at a total loss but still, it is not the way I like it. I certainly have never had my home as neat as a pin (don't recall that posek in eishet chayil ) but I do keep it tidy. I just can't seem to find my motivation. This is so unlike me because of all things I love my home, my garden and my handwork. I really love being a homemaker. I am sure I will soon get over this, at least the brunt of it.
You know most women my age still have little ones to keep them busy, not saying that it really makes it easier but I imagine it keeps one distracted. I have my two daughters home with me yet (well, until the older one leaves for seminary) but they are 18 and 14. In fact they are both out right now. (Hope they bring me home some Rita's water ice, kosher!) All my children are growing up and I am still pretty darn young... a little too young to be beginning empty nest. :::sigh::: I am not sad really. I was talking to a friend of mine and telling her although I miss my son so much I surely do not want him to come home until he is done. Strange isn't it? The feelings are all jumbled up there. I really want him to learn Torah and I am thrilled he is in Yerushalayim. She assures me I am normal.
I was thinking yesterday about it and to me it feels like another birthing process. I felt it so keenly when we dropped him off at JFK. On the way home I wanted to groan it felt so primal. It felt like birth. Think about it, for nine months a woman carries a baby. The child grows within her and she is content to nourish and carry him. Then the time comes when the child outgrows the mother's womb. The mother grows weary of carrying the child and both agree it is time to leave. When the actual time arrives mother is so happy! She has dreamt of this day, dreamt of holding her new baby, of seeing him grow, of watching him take his first steps, and she is prepared... or is she? As the contractions grow stronger and closer together she may being to panic. She reminds herself she can do this, but with each surge growing she may begin to doubt herself. Maybe she can't...maybe she doesn't want to. Why can't we just leave things the way they are? Why doesn't the baby just stay there safe within the womb? Why don't we just do this tomorrow? But time and nature have deemed that this moment is the proper moment and indeed there is no turning back. The mother gathers her strength and knows that this is the way it must be, the way she wants it to be. The baby must be born, or else, chas v'shalom, (G-d forbid), he will die.
It is the same when they grow up and leave for the first time. It is time, we all know that, for them to fly from the nest. But that separationion is painful. It leaves an emptiness that wasn't there before. I know it is what is right and I know, b'ezrat Hashem, it is for the good. It is as much a growing experience for me as it is for him, the letting go. I must grow now with my life changes. I must also grow in Torah and miztvot, just like him. I must keep my vision ahead of me and my eye to the future.
My son is laying a Torah foundation that he will build upon for the rest of his life. A Torah foundation I started but he must complete. A foundation that, b'ezrat Hashem, he will have for his own family and children, im yirtzeh Hashem.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Growing Pains

This is my Ya'akov, my firstborn son. He has grown so quickly. This past Sunday, his father and I took him to JFK airport so that he could catch his El Al flight to Eretz Israel. My son will be studying for the year in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) in yeshiva. This is an incredible opportunity and experience for him and we are all so proud of him. I know that he will grown immensely during this school year and that this is the best thing for him. Even how this whole thing came about, it was obvious that the hand of G-d was in all of this. (As it is in all things) So, Baruch HaShem, B'ezrat HaShem (with G-d's help), Ya'akov will learn much Torah, visit many holy places and have lots fun while he is there. He will be going to the Kotel (Western Wall) every Sunday, im yirtzeh HaShem (G-d Willing.) I really look forward to the man who will come home to me in ten months.
Now although I know all of this, I am still a mama. Today I feel a little better than yesterday and, B'ezrat HaShem, each day will get easier. I try not to think of shabbat as I am not sure how I will get through, and I am definitely not thinking of the Yomim Tovim (holidays). I know Ya'akov will have the absolute best time there though! I miss him so much. I really tried so hard to hold it together and I think I did it for the most part, Baruch HaShem. I did have some moments but I kept them private as I did not want my son seeing his Imma (mother) with a broken heart all over the house. At shul (synagogue) this past shabbat was a little difficult especially when he was called up for an aliyah (torah honor).
Motzei Shabbat (after shabbat) he and I went to Target and picked up a few last minute items. I being a typical Jewish mother, drove him koo koo by insisting on this, that and the other. Aloe Vera gel, witch hazel, Band-Aids, mouthwash etc.,
"Mama do I really need TWO bottles of aloe vera gel?!"
"Of course you do, they are small, see?"
After we returned home I packed his suitcases. It was very therapeutic and I am a pretty good packer. Besides he did not pack near enough clothing, so I snuck in more. (When I spoke to him yesterday I asked about the clothing and he said you packed so much extra! I laughed and told him he will be grateful later.) We had to weigh and measure them as El Al only allows 70 pounds per bag. Now this is for the entire school year and he had to bring blankets, winter coat, boots etc. Let me tell you it ain't easy, but we did it Baruch HaShem! I am sure nobody slept that night but what can you do. When I kissed him goodnight all I could think was that was the last time for ten months I would do that. G-d I miss him so much.
We arrived at the airport in ample time to check in so thank G-d all went well. All we saw there were tons of yeshiva bochurim (yeshiva boys) and it was so neat! I was so excited for my Ya'akov! We hung out at the airport for about three hours but believe me when I tell you the time flew. We went to the airport synagogue to daven (pray) mincha (afternoon prayers) and then rushed to the gate. I cannot express how difficult this part was. He asked if he should get on the plane now and I said no, just five more minutes. I held him and kissed him. I blessed him and prayed for him. Finally I knew I had to let go. I walked him to the gate and waved good-bye...and I cried.
I came home and tried to pull myself together for the sake of my girls. My Racheli is taking it the hardest. They are very close, best friends. It has not hit Tzivya yet, but when it does I think it will be hard. I wandered about the house aimlessly when I came home. I could not find my legs. A dear friend stopped by and let me literally cry on her shoulder and she cried with me. Finally I sat with my girls and tried to relax. We talked and went to bed.
Yesterday was better and I know B'ezrat HaShem, today will be too. He is the first to leave the nest and we are such a close family we all feel it intensely. But we know it was time and we trust HaShem to care for him, obviously far better than I imagined myself ever doing. He is studying in a yeshiva in the holiest place on the planet, I mean what more could I want. This is what we always wanted and dreamed of and Baruch HaShem, it happened! It is just hard and thankfully my friends tell me I am normal. They said they would worry if I reacted otherwise. Those who REALLY know me have told me I am doing fantastic, so I will take those words and be grateful.
Ya'akov has called twice, thank G-d, and he arrived safely and is doing well! This should be only good and bring nachas to us all, B'ezrat HaShem!! May his study help to hasten the coming geulah!!

Torn Together

This is a truly beautiful flash by Tzvi Freeman on You should really check it out. Only in Israel.

Something I received, thought I would share:Prayer for Katrina's victims

Chief Rabbinate issues prayer for Katrina's victims 6-Sep-2005

The following prayer was composed by Israel's Chief Rabbinate on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Katrina (See below). Rabbi Simchah Roth of Congregation Eitz Hayyim in Herziliya read Psalm 69 on Shabbat.

Our Heavenly Father, Founder of the world and Creator of the universe, compassionate and merciful God,Please spare and show compassion to Your creatures and the world You have created,And especially the inhabitants of the states along the Gulf of Mexico in the United States.Save them from every calamity, from the winds of storm and hurricane, from the waters of the sea, and from every sorrow and evil,And send deliverance and redemption to all those who call upon Thy Name.Save them from the floodwaters and rescue them from the abyss,Lead them to a place of safety, and do not abandon them,And in Your abundant mercy send them redemption in the measure of their loss,And complete healing to the sick and those in pain, and comfort to their souls and spirit.May all the inhabitants of the Earth know and recognize that You are the Supreme King,Who rules the powers of the universe and shows mercy to His creatures, who praise Your great Name, amen.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Patchwork Musings...

I have been thinking about patchwork quilts of late. I have been thinking how art reflects life, or perhaps it is vice-versa. Each patch, each stitch, represents some aspect of a life. One could run quite poetic with this kind of thinking.
Nature also is a good example of this. For example,when we lived in Lancaster County, there was a road not too far from us and a hill that we would drive up. The view from there was truly breathtaking. I would often just stop my car, a very safe and ordinary thing to do in Lancaster County, and just look out over the country side. There you could see all the farmhouses, barns and silos dotting the fields. The different crops colored the landscape with varied hues of green. It was so lovely, with not an electric or telephone line to clutter up your sight.
I recently saw a quote that read, "when life hands you scraps, make a quilt". Isn't that wonderful thinking? If one believes that all that is given is us, good , bad, or indifferent, passes through and comes from the hand of Ha'Kadosh, Barukh Hu, (the Holy One, blessed be He), it stands to reason that all must be for our good. I do not pretend for one moment to understand this concept, but I do believe it must be true. "Gamzu l'tova" we say, "This too is for the good". A high and lofty thought you might think, but indeed it is very simple and very childlike. Those of us who homeschool or have small children know they take delight in the most mundane and even not so lovely things. Memories of my children making mudpies and playing with old cardboard boxes come to mind. How they delighted in the mess they made!From them we learn not to throw out the scraps, the supposed useless, or the not so lovely. We take them and embrace them. We stitch them together and quilt them, binding together our past, our present and our future. Somehow trusting in the end we will take comfort, solace and peace in the beauty of our own patchwork life

Thursday, September 01, 2005

First day of school blues

Greetings all!
Well, yesterday was the first day of school for us here and I can tell you, we have had better. This is our third year with the k12 program virtual charter school. We started it a year after our move to Philly because I was working outside of the home and trying to truly homeschool like we had been was not working out. I was introduced to the k12 program and thought we would try it out. The first two years we felt very good about it. Although it is a cyber school we are in and they provide the curriculum, etc., we still felt like a homeschool. I still felt like a teacher, I was able to help with income and we felt very good about the educational process. Unfortunately this year is quite a bit different. Tzivya is starting the ninth grade and PAVCS is revamped in the high school to be an actual online school complete with virtual classrooms, teachers, assemblies etc. There are almost no textbooks and parents are to view themselves more as 'academic coaches'. Most of the work is online with e-books. We use a fax or e-mail to submit work to the teachers. There are deadlines, quizzes, tests, classroom participation etc. We attended the assembly yesterday and my Tzivya was a wreck. She HATES it! I realize this is strong language, but she really feels strongly about this. She hates the set up of the school and she hates not having books. You must understand when they call us the people of the book, Tzivya takes it quite literally. She loves books! She always has. When she was just a babe before she read a word, I always knew where to find her, in the schoolroom or living room with a dozen (I kid you not) books spread in front of her gazing at them all. She absorbs books! I wish I could read like she does! (A nod to Dr. Raymond Moore who taught me children do not have to be reading my 5 years old and will read and catch up when they are ready. Tzivya started reading officially at eight and was above grade level by the end of that year) She does not like tests, nor is she really terrific at them at all. I suppose that is my fault as I do not believe in tests and never gave them. Why should I? I figured if I am teaching my children I know if they comprehended what I taught or not. I did administer spelling tests, but that was it. Tests are for teachers of thirty students to gauge whether or not their lectures, etc., are working.
It was so difficult for us to make sense of it all. She spent the morning in front of the computer, holding my hand as if I was sending her off to a brick and mortar school and crying. She really dislikes doing school online.
By the afternoon we had the set up figured out and she calmed down a bit, but was no less enthused by the school. Now you must understand how very unusual this is. Tzivya LOVES school! She has always been homeschooled and has thrived and really enjoys it. This is the first year she has cried through a first day. Racheli was concerned about her and was very comforting with her yesterday. I told Tzivya that we would just commit to a semester with the PAVCS. If at the end of the semester she feels doesn't any better about it, we would simply pull out and do something else. I have had two graduate so I think we can handle it.
Yesterday was just so sad and discouraging. Who knows though? After a semester and getting used to it, she may end up loving it. I woke up this morning and prayed today would be better. Im yirtzeh HaShem (G-d willing), B'ezrat HaShem (with G-d's help) it will be a much better day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'm still here

As I was caring for the Little Miss I nanny for yesterday, I learned a very pertinent and timely lesson. She is only four months old and when no one is in her presence she thinks she is alone. I sat her in a play saucer that she loves and set her to amuse herself while I did a few dishes. She was right there in the kitchen with me and managed to get herself turned around in her seat and was no longer facing me. After a few minutes she began to fuss a bit. I turned around from the sink and said "Here I am baby! Here I am !" She quieted a bit but then began to fuss once more. I called to her again and turned her to face me."Just because you cannot see me Little Miss does not mean I am not here!"

Hmmmmm......indeed you say.

Isn't it the same way with our Creator, our Father?

Just because we cannot see Him doesn't mean He isn't there,

right there.

Just turn around and look behind you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In Honor of my Racheli

This is my Racheli. She loves dragonflies and the color green, she loves music and to dance. She is a wonderful cook and can run a house. She is a poet and a tender heart. She is my right hand and personal assistant. She loves
G-d and His Holy Torah. She is my hero, the 'wind beneath my wings'.


Today is the 12th of Av and my oldest daughter Racheli turns 18 on the Hebrew calendar. On the regular calendar she has been 18 for over a week and a half. She is "chai" now, the numerical equivalent to the number 18 in Hebrew. 18=Chai=life.

Here is something interesting I found:

"The main thing that we can learn from 18, Chai, is the fulfillment of Torah and commandments (mitzvot), as in the verse, "V'chai bahem," "and you should live by them (mitzvot)." ... 18 (also) corresponds to the power of ratzon, ("will"), in the soul... The commandments of the Torah are the will of G-d. When a person performs a commandment, he gives G-d, as it were, nachat ruach, "pleasure," in that he performed G-d's will. Ratzon ("will") corresponds to Arich, which is also Arichut Yamim, ("long life"). This of course, corresponds to chai, 18. The long life alluded to here is in the merit of the commandments that the person performs."

It is amazing to think about this. When you become 18 you have life, a life to follow G-d, to walk in Torah. Not that you didn't prior to that but it is another level, deeper. You can do more and draw closer to Him. Eighteen is an age where you begin to really think about the future. College, family, spouses, travel, children, all seem to loom in the horizon. It is both an exciting and frightening point in life. It really is the beginning of adulthood. We do not hold by the "you are 18 now, go live your life" mentality, regardless of what the law or society says. Eighteen does not give you the magical right to run amuck or do whatever you feel like. I mean at my 30 something age I do not even have that right, do you? What is all this touted 'independence' anyway? But 18 does mean more responsibility, more expected, just like at any age. I remember when my Yaqov turned 18. I asked him what it meant to him. He told me he gets to vote now so there is responsibility in that. He can do more things without needing me to sign for it (ie. bank accounts). That made him more accountable, without the luxury of leaning on or waiting for Mama to get to it. I really enjoyed his answers. It didn't mean to him that he had to run and get his own place. It did not mean he had carte blanche to do as he pleased. It just meant he was growing up and with that came more responsibility.

As I look at my Racheli, I see such a beautiful woman in front on me. I see someone who always tries her best and always wants to please me. I see a woman who loves her G-d and wants to learn Torah. Last evening we were talking and she shared with me how so much makes sense to her now. Things I told her about friends and friendships, about clothing and modesty, about loving G-d and living a life of holiness. I felt humbled by what she shared with me and again wonder how I merited to have such a child. I am truly blessed.

"...our daughters are like cornerstones, crafted in palatial form...Praiseworthy is the people for whom this is so, praiseworthy is the people whose G-d is HaShem."

Psalm 144:12b, 15

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A silly song for baby

Greetings all!

Yesterday, as I was taking care of my little Miss, I made up this song for her. It is just a silly ditty that was birthed out of my saying to her "You are so yummy, so delicious! Just like a potato knish!" So here it is my songwriting debut I share with all of you, my homeschool comrades!

To the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy:

I like you better than a blintz,

Better than periogies,

I even like you better than a cheese and veggie hoagie!

You're so yummy, so delish, you're better than a potato knish!

You're so yummy, so delish, even better than gefilte fish!

I like you better than the cholent,

Better than a kugel,

I even like you better than a homemade cherry strudel!

You're so yummy, so delish, you're better than a potato knish!

You're so yummy, so delish, even better than gefilte fish!

So there you have it! My youngest asked "Why are you comparing her to food? You make it sound as if she is something to eat!" quoting Mrs. Harris of "Anne of Windy Poplars". I responded with a litany of food words we use as terms of affection in the English Language such as honey, pumpkin, dumpling, sweet pea, sweet potato, sugar plum, cookie, lamb chop etc. And this little neshameleh really is so yummy!

Oops, she is calling me!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sha'asani kirtzono

I want to share this thought from a taped shiuir that touched and blessed me so much yesterday. I pray it does the same for you. It was a talk to encourage women in our roles as women. She spoke on the some of the feminist self hatred and dissatisfaction with ourselves as women.

"We have to take ourselves to a point where we like ourselves well enough to be ourselves. The way that we can do this is through looking more seriously into G-d's Torah as a vehicle of channel. The way we can do this is by exploring what the Torah actually moves us towards because the purpose of this law was to be expressive of who we are. Until we learn to be self expressive, we'll never get past our dislike of ourselves."

We need not make apologies for being a woman.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Of laundry, mending and why I love lists

Greetings all,

Every day I make a to-do list. A list of those things that I would like to see or need to see accomplished. When I started writing lists, I wrote everything that I thought was important and needed to get done that day. The lists looked like insurmountable mountains to me, and they were. I just kept adding and adding to them until I had a full page of things to do and one day to do them in. In a strange way I thought the more I had to do the more productive I would be. As you can imagine, this list never got accomplished and I was not very productive. In fact the only thing that did get accomplished was an increasing sense of discouragement. I was an 'all or nothing' kind of gal. If it did not all get done in one day, or if I could not do it all in one shot, it just did not get done. I would look at my tasks and become paralyzed and overwhelmed by what I thought needed to be done. Now I say thought because much of this was in my own mind and of my own doing. Things I thought were important were not really that necessary and things that were important I would work around, crossing very trivial and miscellaneous items off my list instead of tackling this particular unsavory task.

As I have matured as a homemaker I have learned the list is not my enemy or my source of defeat. I have learned to use my list as a helper and not as a slave driver. Now in the morning I set small goals for myself and no more than six of them a day. This is very important so that I do not become discouraged and do not fall into 'build Rome in a day' mentality. I write down only realistic goals and things that really need to be accomplished on that given day. This took a bit of discipline on my part because for several days when I started to do this, I still did not get it all done, so I kept pushing it to the next day until the task was finally completed. I then learned to tackle big tasks in small bites.

For example, if I wanted to clean my room I would write:

day 1 bathroom

day 2 closet

day 3 dust and vacuum

day 4 dressers etc.

You get the picture. Each task takes 10-15 minutes to do and little by little it gets done. This has been an efficient and time saving way of getting my work done.

Which leads me to finally to the title of this blog. Today on my list was laundry and mending. Under mending I listed each item to be mended. I was so pleased I was able to get my laundry finished and all the machine mending done! What a thrill it was for me to be able to cross each of those items off. I set those goals and did them! They were small realistic goal that gave me a great deal of satisfaction!

I am sure. as I grow, I will become more efficient in my list and scheduling expertise but I wanted to share this part of my journey with you. I know this is something that all of us homemakers struggle with and I want to encourage you along your way. Be gentle with yourself and take it a little at a time, one day at a time. Let me know some of your list making and scheduling tips, I love to learn more!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What in the world are you doing working without your apron on?!

Philly Farmgirl Posted by Picasa

As I explore the lost art of homemaking and endeavor to become a skilled homemaker, I think of the beauty of our 'uniform', the apron. Who does not feel like an excellent homemaker when they don their apron? There is something almost magical about tyeing apron strings! I immediately have the desire to conquer the world! Well, at least my dishes.

Think of all thier uses. They help keep our clothing tidy and dry. I for one admit I am guilty of wiping my wet hands on my skirt when I cannot find a tea towel. What about wiping milk covered mouths? Again I have not been above using my skirt. ::::blushes:::

How about carrying toys or eggs from the hen house? (I miss my chickens). Here is a quote from Tasha Tudor's site:

"Aprons were indispensable to women at one time. They can be used to carry fruit, eggs, flowers or anything too cumbersome for your two hands. Often used to dust or quickly wipe a counter as the guests arrive. Tasha Tudor doesn't understand how 'modern women' get along without them."

Aprons reflect our individual personalities. Are you a smock wearer? Pratical and to the point. Are you a half apron wearer, full of ruffles but sensible at the same time. Or are you a pinafore girl, making sure all your bases are covered. Maybe you use all of these styles.

Do you have everyday aprons and fancy lacy ones for company? Remember the lovely but very impractical aprons of yesteryear. They hardly had any material to them, made mostly of guaze, lace, and frill, but oh they were the height of feminine hostessing. Someone mentioned maybe we could bring them back into 'fashion'. Think of it ladies, a homemaking revolution! All of us proudly donning our aprons, children by our sides, proudly wearing the uniform of our creative feminity. So before you get back to your busy day after our visit, grab your apron and pause before you tie it, knowing that like you, I will be happily working , wanting nothing more than to be just who I am, a homemaker.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What punctuation mark are you?

Greetings to all,

The other night at our shabbat dinner table my youngest daughter , Tzivya, asked such an interesting question and I thought I would share it with you. She asked us what was our favorite punctuation mark and why? So after we all thought for several moment this is what we came up with:

Imma chose a comma because the having to, pause, fascinates me.

Ya'akov chose a question mark. He wasn't sure why?

Racheli chose an exclamation mark. They excite her!

Tzivya chose a semi colon because she likes them; they are interesting and not many people use them.

Papa chose parentheses (really?) because there is always something behind them.

So fellow homeschoolers, which would you choose?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Of Birds and Rain

Shalom Aliechem,

I am so pleased you stopped by this morning. Aren't early mornings lovely? It really is my favorite part of the day. I think it always has been. I remember when I was a child feeling so wonderful as I lay in my bed with my mother clanging about in the kitchen. The sounds of the pots and dishes, the smell of the coffee and toast she was usually making, were some of my nicest childhood memories. I remember lying there snuggled up pleased that yesterday was gone and the night was over, looking foward to a new day.

A new day, with new beginings and new possibilities. To paraphrase our beloved Anne of Green Gables,"... isn't it nice to think that today is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

This morning is particularly intersting for me because it is raining quite hard outside. Now, in spite of this, the birds are singing joyfully! How can this be? What is there to sing about? Aren't they getting there tiny feathered bodies soaked, and yet they are singing? What an object lesson! The birds teach me in spite of the rain falling on them they rejoice and they sing. Do I have not more reason to do so? In spite of the rain I percieve falling in my life should I not sing? Especially since I know that all that G-d sends me and gives me is ultimately for my good. Should I then not sing in the morning?

Perhaps the birds knew that the earth needed the rain so they are expressing their gratitude. Maybe they knew the gardens were drying up so they rejoice. Should I then not see the rain as a sorrow but as a blessing? "Gamzu l'tova," This too is for the good!

Yesterday is gone, gone with it sadness, gone with it's sorrow, gone with the troubles and is only a dream. Today is a new day! Today is reality! Today I must look for the good my Father is sending me in all things and sing!

"In the evening one lies down weeping, but with the dawn-a cry of joy!" Psalm 30

Welcome to the morning!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Village Mentality

Women need each other! Think of simpler times, long ago times when we were a village or a tribal people. We did everything as a community. We cooked, washed our clothes, raised our children with our 'sisters' by our side. We were there for all the passages of time and life cycles. When a girl began her 'moon time' we were all there, when she married, we were all there, when she birthed , we were all there, and when she left this life, we were all there. I am not trying to romanticize this time because I know that is was not always so 'beautiful' . I know this was a very difficult time that warranted the need for others but I do know that we were a community then and we were not alone. I do not think our deep needs have really changed. We have been force fed independence to the degree there is no longer interdependence between people. Even families are slowly disinigrating. If a husband or wife no longer please each other they can be rid of the other relatively easy. Now this planet is filled with so many individuals. Many of us feel or have felt alone in our lives. We do not even have our own blood family near us let alone a tribe or village. You are right Molly Mae, this is why we all flock to these sites. We come here to find each other, to comfort and draw strength from each other. We in our souls are searching for this common bond. Society has tried to strip us of our true feminine power, saying feminist mentality is where it is at. The feminist movement had accomplished quite a bit, not all of it bad, but the one thing they did accomplish, which is a tremendous dis service to us all is taking away our feminine power as women. We no longer take pride in our homes and homemaking skills. We do not take part in our births, we want medication to feel no pain, we want ease and comfort through it all. When the child does arrive society tells us we must go back to work because we need "things". They tell us to give OUR children to daycares, to schools, to the world. They tell us to long for the day when they turn the magical age of 18 and we can be RID of them! What kind of madness is that?! I know this has become long winded, I apologize, but I feel this so deeply. I am so blessed to read once again I am not alone and to encourage all of us to perservere together in our high calling of motherhood. We are the heart of our homes, may we all of us beat loud and strong with love. May we all help each other in this journey and encourage each other on the way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Homeschool thoughts...Are you a teacher?

Greetings to all,

This past weekend while I was at an event, I was introduced to someone in my neighborhood. When they heard my name they said, "Oh, you are that homeschool lady". I was very pleased to hear this is one of the things I am known by. This gentleman then proceeded to ask me, "Are you a teacher?".


Now, I shall preface this by saying in years past, meaning my early homeschool years, I would have answered him by saying no. I may have then gone into all kinds of apologetics as to why I can homeschool my children. Then I might have gone into how the state of Pennslyvania only requires a parent to have a highschool diploma or the equivalent etc. This time I smiled and simply said,"YES!". Of course I am a teacher! We all of us parents are. Some of us do have initials after our names saying we are recognized by the state as teachers, some have dimplomas saying we are, but the rest of us simply have the G-d given right. I am a teacher of this latter sort. When I first thought about homeschooling, I thought to myself that there was no way I could undertake such a venture. Surely I was not capable of teaching my own children. Things would fall through the cracks and what about highschool? But I could not imagine them left to someone else's, particularly societies, ideas and morals. It became a matter of constant prayer. Was this even something the Almighty would bless? One day the answer came to me during a time of prayer. In my mind I saw the many children I had taught to one degree or another throughout my years. Classes I had given, babysitting I had done, etc. and I thought to myself 'well, I did manage to do that'. Then the thought occurred to me that the Holy One, blessed be He, had given ME these children. He gave them to me, and apparently He, who knows all, must have thought I was capable to raise them, with His help of course. So it stands to reason I should be able to teach them. What about things falling through the cracks and what about highschool? We homeschoolers tend to surround ourselves with education and educators. Through the years I have had the privledge of sharing friendships with people who have a deep love or even degrees in Math, Linguistics, Art, and they have been so glad to help us. I in turn have been able to help them in some fashion. We are great barterers! By the time highschool has come, my older ones had already learned to learn, so they needed me only as guidance or to help them find resources. How is it really that much different than brick and mortar schools and what other teachers do? I leave you with these quotes. After you have read them, answer the question, are you a teacher?

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."
-- Albert Einstein

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. ~Author Unknown

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. ~Carl Jung

"The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist.""
Maria Montessori

You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room."
Dr. Seuss quotes

The secret of teaching is to appear to have known all your life what you learned this afternoon"

Sunday, July 17, 2005


One of my dreams is to one day have some land where I can have sheep. Oh, yes and a border collie to herd them. Meanwhile, as we wait, my Beloved and I attend sheep and wool festivals. Yes, ladies, he actually enjoys them with me. Aren't I blessed? This picture is from one we attended last year in NJ. Isn't he a handsome fellow? My Beloved so wanted to purchase another sweet lamb that he saw there. I had to remind him that although I would have jumped at the opportunity when we lived in Lancaster County, I did not think our neighbors here would be pleased with us . Ah well, someday...