Sunday, December 21, 2008

Beautiful Music

One of the things I am constantly on the search for is beautiful Jewish music. Now I understand beautiful music is in the ear of the beholder, but perhaps you will enjoy this as much as I did. I found this on posted by Rabbi Lazer Brody.

Ani Ma'amin...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Darkness over powers me, shrouding me in confusion,
so thick I struggle to catch my breath.
There is no light.

I lift my hand, straining to see it's outline,
It seems I have been swallowed,
Swallowed whole into a pit.

I try to walk forward
but the dark dream has shackled my legs...
and my heart.

The silence screams at me,
and the voices mock me.
I look and look and find not even a shadow.

I sink to the ground and I weep.
My tears sting my eyes,
and the darkness places a blanket of despair upon me.

Opening my swollen and bitter eyes,
I see a pin prick of light.
A single tiny spark, perhaps a flame...

Burning, burning in the distance.
I reach out, but cannot stand.
My legs will not hold me.

I begin to crawl,
to crawl to the light.
How ever faint it or I may be.

by: Philly Farmgirl

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Forty things: Just for Fun

OK, saw this on a friends blog, thought to myself "my turn!"

1. Do you like blue cheese? Um, I don't think so.

2. Have you ever done something you regretted? Yes, but I try to remember that decisions made in my youth need not be repeated. I try to learn from them, although it seems at times I am an awful slow learner.

3. Do you own a gun? Actually no, but I am a pretty good shot.

4. What flavor of Kool Aid was your favorite? Ha! Cherry, the really poisonous stuff!

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Oh yeah! Don't know why, but I do.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? BLECH!

7. Favorite Christmas movie? ROTFLOL!! Well, the truth is, I am a sucker for Bing, and "Elf" was really funny.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee all the way and at least two mugs please.

9. Can you do push ups? Well, kinda but they usually end up as flop downs.

10. Favorite hobby? Knitting and spinning fiber.

11. Do you have A.D.D.? Only in stores, just ask anyone who knows me, especially my children.

12. What's one trait you hate about yourself? How nervous I get waiting and how personally I can take things.

13. Middle name? Nechama

14. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? a) parent teacher conferences b) this stress headache c) I really need to get peaceful

15. Name 3 drinks you regularly have? Coffee, water and herbal teas

16. Current hate right now? Feeling overwhelmed

17. Favorite place to be? With my family, and I am dead serious! I love being with them. There is alos this certain field in Lancaster COuntry that I will still frequent occasionally. I just love it there. There is a dairy farm to the left, tress to the right and usually corn growing in the back. It's a hill top view and it is so pretty. Any time I can I go there by myself and just sit and talk.

18. How did you bring in the New Year? Religious: "Two days of synagogue, punctuated by lots of good food, and challah or apples with honey." Secular: friends come over and we watch old movies and eat junk food. Safe and oh so fun!

19. A place would you like to go? Wow, this is a toughy. There is a ton if the US I haven't seen, I would like to go out west, Oregon, Washinton, California. I would like to go back to Israel. I would also like to go to Ireland and Spain.

20. Name three people who will complete this. No idea -but have fun with it ;-)

21. Do you have slippers? Yes, warm fleece lined UGGS. (Hanukah gift last year)

22. What shirt are you wearing? Burgundy long sleeved tee under a denim jumper. (LOL, I've got the homeschool uniform on!)

23. Do you like sleeping on satin? Ew!

24. Can you whistle? Oh yeah! In fact I perfected it when we lived in Lancaster and I would want to call my children in. The would be off in the fields playing somewhere so I would let loose three loud piercing whistles from my front porch and they would come a running. I have actually used it a couple times here in Philly, still works. :)

25. Would you be a pirate? Hmm, nope not me but my daughter would.

26. What songs do you sing in the shower? Country music (Love the new Sugarland CD) or preschool songs that are stuck in my head. 'Tzaddi-dalet-koof and hey, give tzedakah every day...'

27. Favorite girl's name(s)? Rachel and Tzivya (duh!)

28. What's in your pocket right now? cell phone, a piece of jet, Burt's Bees honey lip balm and one of my students mitzvah notes °Ü°

29. Last thing that made you laugh? The fact that I have a child's mitzvah note in my pocket.

30. Favorite bed sheets as a child? Who do you think raised me? I had plain, clean sheets that fit my bed.

31. Worst injury ever? Burns

32. Do you like where you live? Now listen, if you have been on my blog before you know I am pretty constant in my desire to go back to the country and the main reason I am here in Philadelphia is because there is a nice community here. Now, if I find ten families to go start a rural frum community or if I found out one existed, I am outta here! (b'ezrat Hashem)

33. How many TVs do you have in your house? One :-/

34. Who is your loudest friend? Chaviva

35. How many dogs do you have? One wonderful black lab

36. Does someone have a crush on you? Do four year old boys count?

37. What is your favorite book? Rebbe Nachman's "Outpouring of the Soul" This book has helped me on more than one occasion. Any of Jane Austen's would also be up there.

38. What is your favorite candy? Dark chocolate..oh wait I forgot chocolate is food.

39. Favorite Sports Team? EAGLES and the Philadelphia Phillies WS2008 champs!! WooHoo!

40. What song do you want played at your funeral? We don't do songs at funerals but if we did, "Adios con el corazon".

Oy Vey, Rudy!!

Down in North Carolina they will be singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in the Christmas pageant much to the dismay of a local jewish mother. This mother had asked the school board to not use the song because it had the words 'Christmas' and 'Santa Claus' saying they were religious overtones that she did not want her child exposed to and the school was a secular environment. At first the principal pulled it from the program, but unhappy parents flooded the school board with phone calls and the song was put back in. According to Fox News, she got lawyers involved. She lost. Apparently she asked for a Hanuka song to be included but since 'Rudolph' was ruled secular they declined to do so.

The main thing that frustrated me about the video interview, is the reporter begins by painting a picture of a over reactive grinchy mother who would steal the joy of christmas from the other children. After effectively convincing you she is nuts there is the mention of 'oh and by the way, she's Jewish'. Nice, eh?

This is a decent example of why I chose to homeschool. This child could certainly opt out of the school pageant but she could not opt out of weekly music class. It's true that the characters of Rudolph and Santa are secular. (actually Santa may have pagan roots so he is certainly not christian.) The song itself does mention the word Christmas and isn't like the song 'Frosty the snowman' which is purely secular. And although the holiday of Christmas is mostly secular in celebration now, the actual word 'Christmas' is obviously christian. So what was the mother to do? Obviously the school board thought they were being sensitive to their populace by not including songs like 'Silent night' but it still poses a bit of a problem. On top of that they could have easily included "Dreidal, dreidal, dreidal" to the program as a Jewish secular alternative, I mean nothing religious there...or is there?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Victorian Homemaker's Schedule

As many of you know, I love lists and making schedules. They make me feel more focused and oh so organized. Now successfully implementing and following them is quite another story. It has been an ongoing challenge for me. At times I have had temporary but great successes with them. Of late I have managed to, more often than not, accomplish a daily 'top six' list and that has been very encouraging! During a recent search for homemaking helps I came across this Victorian schedule on the Vintage Homemaking Site. My oh my, looking at this schedule I wonder how the mothers of the past did all this and manage to prepare for shabbat! It's such a challenge in today's day and age, and we have all the conveniences. The website did have a caveat so that was a wee-bit of a sigh. Organization skills though do seem to be the key to this happy homemaker.

from The New Housekeeping Efficiency Studies in Home Management

Rise 6:30 o’clock.

Breakfast 7 o’clock.

Dress little boy; scrape and carry dishes to kitchen; air beds. Baby’s bath,

7:30 A. M.; the baby naps from 9 to 10 A. M
Wash dishes, plan meals, cook and prepare for dinner, 9 to 10 A.M. (Little boy plays on porch or in room.
Make beds, sweep, dust, 10 to 11 A. m., while the baby is awake.

Prepare for luncheon, sew half an hour while playing with the children, 11 to 12.
Lunch with both children at noon.

Leave luncheon dishes unwashed, so as to nap an hour at once with children, uninterrupted.

Dress self and children at 2 P.m.; go for walk, market, or make a call.

Home again, 5 P.m.; give children supper, start own supper.

Give children bath, put them to bed at six O’clock.

Have own supper alone with father, 6:30 P. m.

Wash dishes, and while doing so prepare cereal, fruit, and the baby’s gruel for the “fireless cooker.”

Finish about 7: 30 P.m.

Jews in Puerto Rico

This video is an interview with Rabbi Avraham Goldstein. His organization "Toras Chesed" has done amazing work with gerim in Puerto Rico and Latin American countries. In fact, he has established an entire community in Puerto Rico of gerim! His organization has also done anti-missionary work in these Latin American countries.
The interview is a full interview so it is a bit lengthy but truly worth your time. Also there is a very special treat for you at the end from this special rabbi!

And you thought the only Puerto Rican Jew was Juan Epstien from "Welcome Back Kotter", whose character by the way was halachically Jewish according to this.

A True Herione

Please take a minute and behold a true heroine, Sandra Samuels. In spite of her protests she is couragous, she is brave and she is a hero. She has given up her life to care for one of our own, Moshe Holtzberg who she saved from a nightmare. She has left her two adult sons behind in India and has moved to Israel to care for this little one. I was touched when I watched this video. Moshele laughs and plays like every normal two year old and then goes bounding into his Sandra's arms. B"H, he has her! This little neshama was rescued and brought to safety by the ones his parents chose to care for him. Little did they know that their very wise decision would end up being Moshe's salvation. Hashem tells Avraham Avinu that He will "bless those that bless him" and this is my prayer for Sandra. I pray the G-d of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov would bless this righteous woman with all good things, with good health, long life and wisdom. May she continue to be a blessing and comfort to Moshele and his family, and may she be rewarded 100 fold for her strength and bravery.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I'm Marianne Dashwood?!

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Oh my word, I can hardly believe it. I know it is just a quiz, certainly not a psychological evaluation, but still and all. I always fancied myself an Elizabeth Bennet or Elinor Dashwood. You know the intelligent, together, self sacrificing type. Also I did not regard myself as being terribly romantic, but perhaps there is still some remnant there unawares to me.

Please do not misunderstand, I am by no means ashamed of this Austenian heroine. In fact she proves herself quite worthy of admiration because of her own growth of character. Hmmm....admirable qualities indeed.

*Kisses to my youngest who started this Austen quiz taking mania in my home. Good fun!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Man, you gotta remember to read, reread, and then reread yet a third time your assignments in college! I have officially screwed up my first assignment. Without boring you with all the details suffice it to say, I thought my syllabus said to choose one of the six quizzes listed and it meant to do each one of six quizzes listed! Crud!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Darkest Before Dawn

You know, as I am writing this I just thought to myself, how appropriate the title is, my mother's name was Dawn. I hadn't intended to write about my mother but since I am here I think I shall.

I wasn't born from my mother, my birth mother died in a fatal car accident when I was 5 months old. She was on her way to pick me up from my grandmother's home. I always seem to feel this echo of pain when I think of her. I mean I never really knew her, and don't even know much about her. I have heard all the family myths* about her and I choose to believe everyone of them. My first real memory is of my mother, Dawn. I was only two years old and I was taking a bath. Not so many years ago I shared this memory with my mother and she told me then, that was the very first time we had actually met. She was surprised I remembered this moment so clearly. I told her I remembered looking up from the tub where I was playing and I remembered calling her 'Mommy'. The adults who were there, my grandmother and aunts, were quite shocked at my declaration. But I knew her, I knew who she was. Before her, I knew my heart must have been waiting for her to come. Someone once told me that Carmen, my first mother, had picked her out for me from the other side. She knew she would care for her daughter. I choose to believe this too.

I cannot imagine what my life would have been without her. I know I would not be the woman I am now. I know not how dark my life was prior to her entering it, but I know how it is without her here. She brought light and love to my life. She raised me as her own, I did not even know she did not birth me until I was almost 10 years old. She is the only mother I have ever known.

I have been thinking alot about dear Moshe Holtzberg, who's parents were murdered last week in Mumbai, India. I think about how he clings desperately to his beloved Nanny. My heart breaks for him. My prayer is that someone will rise up and love him as a mother. This is no easy task, to give of yourself in this way, but I know it is possible. I know that all of Chabad will care for him, and that he has his grandparents and extended family to help nurture him, but beyond that this precious one needs a mother. I pray she finds him.

Even in the light of day, the world can seem like a very dark place. "It is always darkest before the dawn." These are supposed to be words of encouragement to get us through the troubling and frightening times. The days are growing shorter and colder, and the nights longer and darker. We are soon coming to the time when there will very little daylight and very long nights. In the midst of that darkness we will light a lone candle on a lamp stand. As each day gets darker we anticipate the menorah and it's lit branches. We anticipate the light. We wait for the joy that comes with dawn.

In one of my mother's craft containers I found several boxes of Chanukah's candles, candles that she bought for the menorah I gave her as a gift many years ago. This year I will be the one lighting the menorah and I will probably cry each time I do. I miss my beloved mother, both of them. I will think of the light of life and love they both gave me. I will feel the darkness of the empty place that has been left in my life. As each candle is added, and the light of the menorah and each day grows brighter I will look to the dawn and I will hope. I will have hope for my life and the lives of my beloved children. I will have hope for the life of dear Moshele.

I will also have hope that all people and the world we live in will someday live in peace. I will hope for the day when we 'beat our swords into ploughshares' and love will truly be all we need. I will have the hope that a single candle will indeed banish the darkness and all of us, every man, woman and child will walk in the joy and freedom of the Light.

* I use the term myth with no disrespect intended at all to my mother who gave me life. The way I am using this word is in the context of 'sacred story telling and memories'. Whether they are absolute truth or idealized interpretations of my mother matters not to me. She enabled me to come to earth. She nursed me and dearly loved me. Of this I am sure. She lost her life, perhaps, even because of her love for me. I choose to believe every sacred story I have ever heard about her, for I have no real memory, only the echoes of her love and my echo of loss.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My heart is broken

Terrorist have done it agian. Murdering innocent people because of hatred. I am so heartbroken. I do not understand and never will. I don't understand how this can occur and why? DEAR G-D IN HEAVEN, WHY?!?!?

5 Dead in Mumbai Chabad House Terror Attack

Psalms Chapter 44

1. To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Maskil.
2. We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the times of old;
3. How you drove out the nations with your hand, but planted them; how you afflicted the people, and cast them out.
4. For they did not get the land in possession by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but your right hand, and your arm, and the light of your countenance, because you did favorably accept them.
5. You are my King, O God; command deliverance for Jacob.
6. Through you we will push down our enemies; through your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.
7. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me.
8. But you have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hate us.
9. In God we have gloried all the day long, and we praise your name for ever. Selah.
10. But you have cast off, and put us to shame; and you do not go forth with our armies.
11. You make us turn back from the enemy; and those who hate us take plunder for themselves.
12. You have given us like sheep to be eaten; and have scattered us among the nations.
13. You sell your people for nothing, and you do not ask for a high price.
14. You make us a taunt to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to those who are around us.
15. You make us a byword among the nations, a shaking of the head among the people.
16. My confusion is before me all day, and the shame of my face has covered me,
17. Because of the voice of him who taunts and blasphemes; because of the enemy and avenger.
18. All this has come upon us; yet we have not forgotten you, nor have we been false to your covenant.
19. Our heart is not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way;
20. Though you have crushed us in the place of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death.
21. If we had forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
22. Would not God search this out? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
23. But for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
24. Awake, why do you sleep, O Lord? Arise, do not cast us off for ever.
25. Why do you hide your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression?
26. For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaves to the earth.
27. Arise for our help, and redeem us for the sake of your loving kindness

An Article and Request I found for Chabad Family in Mumbai

Happy Birthday Moishe, in Mumbai

by Hana Levi Julian

Two of Mumbai's most luxurious hotels are darkened and the streets outside are filled with soldiers, but around a small Jewish boy this weekend the air will be filled with the light of the Hebrew month of Kislev.

Little Moshe Holtzberg will be two years old on Saturday, according to his grandfather, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, who arrived from Israel with his wife Yehudit early Friday to care for the boy while his parents continued to be held hostage in the Chabad House they run near Mumbai's Oberoi-Trident Hotel.

Moshe's father and mother, Rabbi Gavriel and Rebetzin Rivka Holtzberg, were reportedly unconscious when the family's babysitter fled the besieged building with their toddler in her arms early Thursday morning.

"We met with our grandchild, and it was a very emotional thing," Rabbi Rosenberg said in an interview on Voice of Israel government radio. He noted that the last time he and his wife had seen his grandchild was during the Hebrew month of Elul, which falls in Septembert.

"He is alive and healthy... The doctor checked Moishe and everything is okay, Baruch Hashem ('Thank G-d')," he said, adding that he knew nothing more about the condition of his daughter Rivka and her husband. "I am not getting any information from officials, only from the media," he said.

Rabbi Rosenberg expressed his continued hope and optimism that all would turn out for the best. "Tomorrow, Shabbat, the second of Kislev, is his second birthday. We would be happier if it were with the parents, but we believe that by Shabbat, we will see the light and celebrate with his parents," he said firmly.

"Kislev is the month of light and redemption," he continued. "The help we need now is prayers, and happiness. Act out of happiness, all together," he urged listeners.

The hopeful father added "a personal request," asking that "every woman and girl light a Shabbat candle for Rivka bat Yehudit and her husband, Gavriel Noach ben Frieda Bluma. Fill the world with light for the Heavens," he said, "and we will be rewarded with redemption."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Please Pray

Please say tehillim! Tehillim Hotline

"People are urged to pray for the well-being of the couple (whose Jewish names are Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma and Rivka bas Yehudis) and all others affected by the tragedy."

UPDATE: Residents at Mumbai's Nariman House Still Unaccounted For

UPDATE: Jewish Child Safe in Hostage Crisis at Mumbai Chabad House

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Any room on that plate??

We have all heard the expression, "My plate is full!", indicating that not another thing could be taken on, but if you are anything like me you know that there is likely someway to fit even MORE on there, for example by heaping it on top. Well, this is where you presently find me dear friends. I have filled my plate and decided to heap just a bit more on top of it. Along with family, home, work and a few other extracurricular activities I have just added school! Yes, Philly is going to school to get her degree in elementary education. I am attending an online school which should make this addition pretty manageable, at least that is what I am hoping. My family is, as always, very supportive of me and my biggest fans. I decided to make this decision mostly out of necessity. Work and earning money is a fact of life, as much as I would like fantasize about the bartering days, the reality is what it is. I need a job that will pay me, although I will not become rich being a teacher, fortunately that has never been my goal. Apparently I seem to be pretty good at teaching and the truth is I do love working with children. They are a delight to me and I especially enjoy watching them as the light bulbs go off. Of course I could not do anything that would not make a difference in the world. What better way to impact the world and society than by being a teacher. I will of course still do my other jobs, being a doula for example.

Hmmm....I see a pattern here. I am a pro at beginnings. I love to help women give birth, help them raise and train their children, start people out on their journeys. Yes, I am the one at the beginning of the race coaching you to get moving and convincing you that you can do it. Guess that makes me a teacher. Now all I need is the paper to prove it to the rest of the world. Wish me success!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Knit, knit, knit your yarn...

These days my mental health is being maintained by knitting. Yep, I bet you didn't realize how powerful knitting was. It can literally keep you sane. It is also contagious, at least that is what I am finding in my home. So here I am knitting and finding my daughters are knitting along with me! Yippee!! I decided to post some brag pics and show off our work.

This is a scarf I am currently working on for my son. When I asked him what colors he wanted he simply told me 'masculine ones'. OK, fine easy request, I went with this variegated brown, navy and light blue. It is almost done and I am so far pretty pleased. As you can see it is a simple ribbed pattern.

This is my youngest daughter's work. She has just started and I am quite impressed with how even and lovely her stitches are. They are a bit tight, but that is very normal.

This is my oldest daughter's work. She has added some purl stitches to her work and is just knitting for the fun of it! (Is there any other reason?)

The next two photos are some yarn I recently purchased. This yarn here in wonderful Philadelphia Eagles colors is going to become a scarf for my brother who is a true blue fan (or green is you will) of the home team. Lest you think I am totally unselfish, I bought ample yarn to make sure I had a scarf of my own to wear on game days! It'll go great with my jersey! Fly Eagles fly!! (OK, so they are not having a great season, just means we gotta show them more fair weathered fans here!)

This lovely yarn was one of those love at first sights! The picture doesn't do it justice. It is such a pretty yarn that reminds me of seashells. I am hoping to make something out of the book "Ocean Breezes: Knitted Scarves Inspired by the Sea" with it, that is if my oldest doesn't sneak off with it. When I first brought it home she immediately announced "DIBS!" Talk about chutzpah! °Ü° Isn't is wonderful!

Last night we all sat in the living room knitting away. What a happy feeling for this Mama!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time to relax...

So, I had a hard day...actually several hard days. The one nice thing that going on is I am teaching my youngest to knit. She is catching on very nicely and I am thrilled. We were talking today and she mentioned how she thought you knit like they did in the cartoons when she was younger, you know with the needles up and clicking loudly. I laughed and told her I thought the same thing when I was a child. In fact I remembered once I came upon a blanket my mother was knitting and I thought to myself, 'I can do this!'. I proceeded to lift the needles up and down flapping my elbows like wings thinking that any minute I would be adding on to my mother's current project. Well, as you well know, it didn't work, but fortunately for me it didn't damage her work either!.
Here is a little cartoon I came across and thought it would amuse you all as it did me.
Happy day and happy knitting!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

L'Oreal Women of Worth

A friend of mine sent this to me (thanks S!) and I thought I pass along the favor to you all. Please take a minute and check out this website and vote for Jenine Shwekey. Read her bio and see why she is such a worthy candidate!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Early Morning Ramble and Country Memories

It's early morning, my favorite time of the day. I have not been able to avail myself of this quiet time for what feels like too long. Most mornings these days, my family and I are getting up at the same time. Late nights mean late mornings and waking up at 7 am for me is plenty late. I really like to have an hour or so before they rise to just be quiet and think. 5:30AM would be ideal, maybe even 5, but most mornings I cannot open my eyes before 6:30-7AM. To me it feels like the day is well underway at that point and I need to play catch up.

I cannot believe how much my lifestyle has changed since moving to Philly. It's been seven years now since I have left Lancaster County and the country. I became Philly Farmgirl so as not lose my connection to my former country life. For nine years I had a real country life and now...well now there are sirens and helicopters flying over me disturbing our Shabbat dinner. I tried in vain to distract my family and guests by speaking of the parsha, but we all heard it. My next door neighbor's house got broken into last week and someone got shot around the corner from my home erev Sukkot. When I lived in the country I never even locked my doors. In fact it is was not unusual at all to come home to friends sitting in my kitchen having tea waiting for me to finally arrive. How lovely that was! I never took the key out of my car's ignition, never closed windows, never locked up, we knew we were safe. Now times are very different. We moved here to be part of a community, to grow as Jews and to give our children more opportunities at a frum Jewish life. I guess you got to take the good with the bad. I don't hate it here anymore, although I do not believe I will ever love it. I do enjoy the chaggim and seeing other Jews around me. When Chanukah comes I like that I am not the only home with a hanukiah in the window. I am just not a city girl, not anymore. I don't mind standing out or being different. I guess I am old enough not to care much about what too many people think.

I miss the friends I had then. The ladies who would just drop by and sit and talk with me about raising children, sewing clothes and their gardens. Man, I miss that so much. I seem to have yet to develop friends like that here, every once in a while I think it is going to happen and then...I am not sure. Thank G-d I have maintained a couple of those old country friends, perhaps though I should say they maintained me. Yes, I suppose that would be a more accurate assessment of things. My gypsy nature makes me such that I am a 'I'll see ya when I see ya-not good at returning phone calls or email' type of person and these dear friends won't let me get away with such discourtesy. Thank G-d. Actually, come to think of it I do have a lovely friend here who is the same way and won't give up on me. Hmmmm, see, it is good to write about these things, you become more aware of your blessings.

I am sure it is my fault that I don't have the type of friends I did then. I seem to have less in common with the folks here, and I am too stubborn to give up my ways. I think country folks may also understand your busy-ness better and so there is less of a problem with not calling, heck they will just show up on your doorstep. Country folks will also just do their work along side of you so that was an easy way of socializing. I mean in Lancaster getting together with the girls often involved canning, cooking, sewing, quilting, or something. Children were also younger then and my life was for sure way simpler. I can't seem to get used to the speed at which it is passing now and how rapidly things are changing.

It feels sad for me, I miss the country so much. I really do want to go back. I suppose though that being a religious Jew may not allow me to have as rural of a life as I once did, but who knows, maybe I will hit the lottery and be able to have two homes... Or I will find the rest of the bumble bee people and we will all move to the country and start a real rural frum community... Or I will just learn to be completely satisfied here and live life. I guess I will start there, I will just get off of here now and make a phone call.

But if you happen to see me, say hi and chat a bit! You will be able to easily find me. I will be the one in all the layered skirts walking down the street daydreaming about a farm and talking to the crows.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Changing my focus, again

The rainy days of late have been a bit of a drag to me, along with the loud attitudes I was focusing on. But who's fault is that? Mine of course. I do try to accept responsibility for my own actions and who told me to keep looking at negativity. So I have decided to shift my focus, yet once again, and focus on that which brings me joy. This week the joy has come from...

~watching the light bulbs go off when the children get it

~the excitement in my kindergartners eyes upon actually reading their first line of chumash

~the timely phone call of a beloved friend

~one of my expecting mother posting her belly shots. She looked lovely and truly was glowing. Motherhood brings me so much joy.

~the anticipation of a day spent with friends surrounded by yarn and such

Like my Rebbe and one of my heroines have taught me, I am choosing JOY!!!

So there! °Ü°

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Note from R. Ariel Bar Tzadok of

I wish to extend my personal congratulations and blessings to Senator Barak Obama on his historical ascent to the office of the President of the United States.
I pray that he and his family will be safe and well.
I pray that G-d may be with him and guide his heart as he takes on the mantle of this awesome responsibility.
I pray that all Americans, regardless of our differences, past or future, will rally around and pledge support to our new President. For as long as we live on American soil we have the moral and religious obligation to offer our support and our prayers.
May G-d continue to bless the United States.
May G-d graciously fulfill His Will upon us and bring in peace our blessed Mashiah quickly and soon, Amen.

Shalom, HaRav Ariel Bar Tzadok

What is wrong with my People?!?!?

You are breaking my heart!! What is wrong with you all?? Somebody wrote 'the Jews worst enemy is the Jews' and he is right, our worst enemy is us and it is being proven all around me. Instead of all this shtiot that people are writing about President Elect Obama, how about an "OK, so the Amercian people have decided, but we still have a KING. What happened to 'some trust in horses, some in chariots, but we trust in Hashem?' So Barak Obama is our new president, have you forgotten who is still King? Be a good citizen, quit yer kvetchin' and spewing hatred and get busy. We are supposed to be a light to the nations. We can't even seem to be a light among ourselves. We are supposed to be an intelligent people, all I see is hatred. We are supposed to be a light, all I see is darkness. Hashem is in control, he allowed this, didn't He? Or don't we believe he runs the Universe anymore? Israel is under His keeps, not anyone else's. How about upping tefilot instead of upping the sarcasm and hatred? I just do not get this at all.

I refuse to believe that this very vocal part of my mispocha represents the whole. I will not believe it. I will believe the best in my famiy and believe that all these voices are simply coming from a loud minority.

I will believe that Hashem will have mercy on us all and use this somehow to bind us together as a people and a nation, both Jew and non-Jew alike.

One last thing though...what happened to 'one must never despair, must always persevere, and should always be happy.' R. Nachman of Breslov??

Oh and to my Chabadnik friends, what happened to 'Tracht gut v'zien gut'??

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

You need to vote for...

the candidate of your choice. Yes, that's right. It's not too late to do your homework and get to your nearest polling place and cast your vote. It is a right, a privilege and I think it is also a duty. I am not going to tell you who to vote for, I won't even make suggestions. It just isn't my style. I will ask you though to be smart, research, pray for wisdom and then go out and vote. Polls are open pretty late in most places so there is still time. Get off your computer now and get thee to a polling place!

This is Philly Farmgirl and I approve this message.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2008 World Series Champions!!!!


Hey, I am PHILLY farmgirl after all!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Autumn Poems/Songs

So if you know me in 'real time' or have been following this blog for any length of time you know I enjoy writing my own little ditties. Well, I would like to share with you two I have written for the children at school. Hope you enjoy them! If you do decide to use this at a school of your own please remember what you teach your children and treat others the way you wish to be treated, in other words please just mention I wrote these. I dunno, just seems right. Besides someone suggested I put my ditties in a booklet and I am thinking about doing that. Who knows I could be the next Raffi or Uncle Moshe? °Ü°

Autumn Leaves

With this one I give each child a cut out or silk leaf and tell them to imagine they are a tall tree and this is their very last leaf of autumn. They stretch their arms up and hold their leaf high. During the first verse I ask them to wave their hands gently. During the second verse the sway their arms side to side. Third verse they release their leave and watch them float to the floor. During the last verse they pretend to splash colors about. We have a lot of fun doing this!

Autumn leaves are changing,
bright colors do I see.
Autumn winds are blowing,
the leaves from every tree.
Autumn leaves are falling
and floating to the ground.
Splashing brightly colored leaves
on every lawn in town.


I haven't figured out anything yet to do with this one, mostly we just sing it!

Hashem gave us seasons
I love them one and all!
Winter, spring and summer
and brightly colored fall!
I love the cold of winter
and the warmth of spring.
But the cool and autumn colors
just make me sing!

Autumn colors
are bursting all around!
Leaves are changing
yellow, orange, brown.
Pumpkins and squash
are growing in the field!
And mommy cooks them up
for our favorite meals!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rambling and Gratitude

It is about 8:30pm and I am taking a break from my day to write here. My daughter is playing 'Victor's Piano solo from the Corpse Bride' in the background and the house is peaceful. I lit my candle chandelier and several other of the many candles scattered about my home and it smells of autumn spices and cinnamon. I am grateful to be able to breathe in the gentle fragrances and sit at peace here. I have been busy all day doing all sorts of things. I placed an order for school and made up some lists of things to do. I need to still make a rough draft of what I want to teach for the month of Chesvan. I really love Chesvan. I know it is also called marcheshvan, because of the lack of holidays, but I myself and quite happy for the non events in my life. Status quo and trying to get back to 'normal' are enough happenings for me, thank you.

There was a time when I loved and lived for the drama. Oh yes, drama was the soup du jour of my lfie and I enjoyed many helpings of it each day. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to truly revel in the quiet and the moments that come to me. I try very much to turn my heart in gratitude for each moment and blessing that comes my way. It does take a certain amount of discipline to develop this awareness. I am also sad to say that in my case it took a certain amount of loss also to develop this. As I saw dreams and perceived realities slipping through my fingers I realized I better get grateful for my life and fast. I know I do not need to tell you this is not so easy a task and I confess, there are times that I am far better at it than others, but like many of you, I am a work in progress.

Being grateful for me means acknowledging as much of the good and as many of the blessings that comes to me as I can. It means to say it out loud, speaking to the Universe and thanking my Creator for them all. Not trying to take anything for granted.

Today I am grateful for these among other things:

A day spent at home.
Laundry done.
A beloved friend bringing coffee and uproarious laughter over embarrassing girl talk.
My youngest daughter sharing her day with a friend and then telling me all about it.
My son's devotion to his family and deep consideration for each one of us.
My husband listening to me even though it can be very hard at times.
My sister's phone call.
My friend's love for her father.
My oldest daughter's phone call home as soon as she got up. (she is away with her beloved cousin)
My burnt finger tip. (which means I was working with my glue gun today and made a magazine holder out of the empty diaper box left here after my youngest neice and nephews visit. Blessed creativity!)
Peace in my home.
The peace I feel in my heart right now in this moment.

The quietness of this upcoming month will, b'ezrat Hashem, enable me to focus even more on this gratitude and peace. Spending more time tending to my home and nurturing my creativity. Spin some wool, knit some, read and learn some and grow some. Refocus my intention and connect. As the earth pulls deeper into her rest I can join in with the season and rest my mind and heart too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Outside our sukkah 5769

Barukh haba! Notice I still have some cheerful zinnias and lovely lavender blooming!

Help yourself to the lemon balm, I have more than enough!

Sidewalk view of the sukkah.
Open either door, I am somewhere lurking about.

Inside the sukkah 5769

I really delight in decorating my sukkah. As you see it is very simple but we call it home. I put pictures of tzaddikim, particularly sephardic, (hey, I'm proud, what can I say?) one of the future beit hamikdash (soon and in our time!) and others. I have some leaf garland hanging with tiny orange lights that give the sukkah a very warm glow.
This is where we place our candles and anything we may need food, extra paper products etc..
This is where we eat. You'd be surprised how many people we can fit here!
The sukkah is on our front porch off of my living room. The windows ensure us of not having to worry too much if the eruv goes down on shabbat.
Thanks for visiting! Please be sure to have a snack and make a bracha! Chag sameach!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So there I am on Ravelry...

and what did I do, (upon a certain friend's prompting of course)? I queued about 21 projects for myself. Mostly simple things like dishcloths, scarves and shawls. I am really not so into making dishcloths, but they are a great small project and I thought a really good opportunity to practice new stitches. The shawls are lovely, one I especially picked out for my oldest daughter, a cute funky chunky one. I enjoy making scarves and a few of the scarves I am really excited about. I chose one hat to try out too. See, all of a sudden my family is on my case about making them stuff. I am working on a scarf for my son and have made for my daughters already. Last night my sister informed me that the knitting torch has been passed to me now that mommy is not with us anymore, so I better get knitting. Well, there are a bizillion patterns on to choose from so I have plenty to choose from to keep the torch burning brightly!

Check out Ravelry, apply for an invite, and join me in the fun!

It's a House

First thing I did today was put on my apron. I know, it's not so 'yontif-dik' but I assure you it is my fanciest apron, it makes me feel warm and good which to me seems pretty 'yontif-dik'. I am happy to be at home and have my little neice and nephew here visiting. My youngest made a breakfast of pancakes for us and I took the little ones out to the sukkah to eat. They really enjoyed their breakfast and looking at the posters decorating my sukkah. My nephew pointed at my poster of the future beit hamikdash and said 'It's a house'. I told him actually it is the Holy Temple, but then I remembered the verse that says, "...for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 57:7) and thought better of my answer.

"Yes, your're right, it is a house."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Suspicious looking etrog???

While making his way through airport security, my son was questioned, not about liquids over 3 oz. but about the suspicious looking, funny shaped item in his carry-on suitcase. What, you ask could he possibly be carrying?? Why it was his ominous looking etrog! Obviously there was no problem and my son made sure to give the airport security the heads up that they may be seeing several more of these things coming through. One thing you have got to admit, they are on the ball here in Philly!

And I was worried about the lulav going through.

Some good and healthy pre sukkot advice

Supersize amounts of food have infiltrated my home for some time now and as we all know superzing food only adds up to a Supersized me and you. It is especially hard during shabbat and the chaggim to have control, and especially sukkot when it seems all you do is eat. On top of that there are so many wonderful fall recipes to try out and that I want to make plenty of.

If you are anything like me, you make enough food to feed your family and another ta boot. For some reason I am always afraid there is not going to be enough to go around. I know it makes no sense at all but I am pretty sure it's genetic. °Ü° Lately I have been trying to make more reasonable amounts of food.

After reading Rabbi Brody's post here on eating well during the chag and keeping the weight off I am re-inspired to mend my ways for mine and my family's sake and the sake of my guests. I always try to make healthy foods but even those foods in excess are not necessarily good. Besides I am not above putting excess brown sugar on my yams. I am going to endeavor not to do it this year. If you happen come by my sukkah this year I am planning to have healthy yummy food to eat and healthy snacks to enjoy. Even more than that though, we will have the sweet fellowship to enjoy and the joy, peace and simply beauty that flows from the holiness of the sukkah.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Post Yom Kippur ramble

Yom Kippur is over and I pray that you all had a very meaningful fast. I am grateful to be able to tell you that I did, although I worked very hard for it. Kol nidre always sets my mind and heart reeling and I honestly could not tell you why. I have no absolute thought pattern going on, I just get this awesome anxiety that comes over me. I really tried very hard to be into very moment and read the prayers in English regardless of if I knew them in Hebrew. Let's be honest, rattling through a bunch of 'al chets' just doesn't mean as much or hit home as hard as 'For the sin of tale bearing' etc, does. I mean that just gets me every time. 'Yeah, did that, crud did that too, ouch...' I feel so awful and truly want to do better. I think it is a pretty good moral inventory, so no matter where you are holding there is always room for marked improvement.

Where my working hard came in was not allowing negativity and worry to take over. There are some things happening in my life that could have me very nervous if not downright frightened if I let them. But I keep fighting that, knowing that worry is praying in the negative. All during the services if I allowed my focus to drop, worry would come scampering in like a pesky rodent trying to get me to focus on it. I fought and fought and made it through each of the services. During the break it came back again and again I fought. Actually, I don't know if fighting is the right word, more like I refocused my attention. Yes, this is a better description.

I don't know if it was me but it sure seemed to me that there were alot more folks really into the davening this year. The energy felt higher, felt more intense. I don't know what was different about this year but it surely seemed that way and it was good. I pray that all of that kavana, all of the earnestness of prayer reached the portals of Heaven and we will see a real shift in the cosmos.

It's so amazing to me the ease of the fast itself too. Again I don't know if it's the kedusha of the day or what but I was not even hungry the whole day. The worse I felt was a heavy head and mostly I was tired. I did take a break during shacharit and sat outside in the lobby just reading prayers and having some one on one with the One. This too was very good.

I am grateful to have my whole family together with me during the chaggim. It is the first time in three years. I have come to a point to mark these moments and not take them for granted. I focus on the good and am grateful for each moment.

Well, I guess I am done rambling for now. Thanks for letting me share. Again, I hope you also had a meaningful day and that you and yours and me and mine are all sealed for blessing in all ways this year. That we are blessed with excellent health, parnasa, hatzlacha, simcha and much shalom. May our tefillot rise to shamayim and bring about the change in the universe and in this world that we all truly need. Blessings and peace to us all.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


was a good day. I started my day by making a 'To Do' list. Here is what it looked like:

-Keep thoughts happy
-Speak words of life to yourself and others
-Assume the best
-Organize closet
-Clean Bathroom
-Dust bedroom

I managed to get most things accomplished and am quite proud of myself. The best part was keeping an eye on my thoughts. I had a peacful and productive day. This may just have to become a habit I pursue. I also did a short study on thoughts which you can see in the post below. I even printed it out in order to look at it daily.

I am grateful for today!

The Secret...of Rebbe Nachman

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us :

You are wherever your thoughts are. Make sure your thoughts are where you want to be.

Make sure you don't allow your thoughts to become chometz--leavened. Don't dwell on bad thoughts or desires at all.

When a person purifies his heart and expels all unholy thoughts from his mind, thinking only good thoughts, he can bring about real miracles.

A person's entire destiny-for good or ill-depends on the thoughts in his heart.

If you allow yourself to be depressed about these kinds of thoughts (negative) it simply feeds them with more fuel. It is no good being upset or afraid of them. Just don't pay attention to them. Try and be cheerful.

The simple fact is that it is impossible for two thoughts to be in the mind at one and the same time. It is therefore an easy matter to rid yourself of bad thoughts by being quite passive. Simply don't think them. Think something else instead-think about Torah of devotion to G-d, or even about your work, and so on.

A person's thoughts are in his power completely. He can turn them in whatever direction he wants.

You must be very careful about what you think: a thought can literally take on a life of it's own.

...thoughts have great power.

Guard your thoughts carefully can literally create a living thing.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tears, tears and more tears

I think that I have become a professional crier. Seems I have become quite good at it and do it an awful lot. Most times I cry because I miss my mother so much, today was 6 months since she passed. I guess that is to be expected and is normal. Lately though I cry over things I no longer have control of. Maybe I never did. It's hard to let go. To let go of dreams, let go of memories, let go of plans, let go of who I was. They say, "Man plans and G-d laughs." Doesn't seem very nice if you ask me, but who I am to question right? Hmmmm...not really sure how to answer that one. Someone told me recently that the Rebbe of Lubavitch said we could make demands of G-d. Demands, eh? Yep, sounds about right to me. Maybe now is the time to pray in a different way. Maybe I need to set forth a few demands and hold Him to some promises I read He made me. Maybe, just maybe, the tears will end and turn to joy.


Hear my prayer, O Lord, listen to my cry; do not be silent to my tears, for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner like all my forefathers. Tehillim 39:13


You have counted my wanderings; place my tears in Your flask-are they not in Your record? Tehillim 56:9


My soul thirsts for G-d, for the living G-d, "When shall I come and appear before G-d?" For me my tears were sustenance day and night, when [they] say to me all day long, "Where is your G-d?" Tehillim 42:3-4


“How very good it is, when you can awaken your heart and plead until tears stream from your eyes, and you stand like a little child crying before its father.”

“Speak to G-d and understand your purpose in life. Think about yourself and beg for God to help you find Him."

"The main time King David secluded himself with God was at night, under his covers in bed. Hidden from the sight of all others, he would pour his heart out before God. This is the meaning of the verse; 'I speak every night on my bed in tears (Tehillim: 6:7).'"

Happy is he who follows this for it is above all else” (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom # 68).

Friday, October 03, 2008

In the market for a spinning wheel?

Then by all means check out the new issue of Spin-Off magazine. Along with all the wonderful projects and tips on spinning fiber, this month's issue has a several page layout of information on almost all the wheels on the market. Of course the best way to find a wheel is to try it out but this list is pretty comprehensive, including prices! If you want a personal recommendation I can tell you I love my Ashford Traveller.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Next up, Yom Kippur

Keeping up with the chaggim as a preschool teacher has more than it's fair share of challenges and insights. Today we were back at school with only today, half a day tomorrow and two days next week to prepare for Yom Kippur. I think you would be surprised at all there is for the children to learn about this chag. I decided to start with the story of Yonah. I used the Artscroll children's version of the book of Yonah and read it loosely from the text. I adore reading to children and am particularly fond of voices and dramatizing the story. The children sat through the whole story which is no easy feat for active 3-5 year olds. They asked alot of great questions like, "Why was Yonah upset at Hashem for saving Nineveh?" Neat, huh?

I love this story because much like Yonah I do not get Hashem sometimes. Where is the justice, the vengeance? The people of Nineveh were bad people, really bad, they deserved their come uppance, didn't they? Even now there are bad, truly evil people inhabiting the planet and yet, they continue to breathe. I just don't understand, but I suppose like Yonah, how Hashem deals with them is really none of my business. Heck, I even happen to have a fig tree outside my home and I could sit there and pout about it, but my luck the worm would miss the tree and eat my lavender plants.

See the thing is, if that were the case we surely would not be reading this story at Yom Kippur because this story is not about paybacks or getting what we deserve. It is about teshuva and forgiveness. Tough ones aren't they. It is also about not being able to run away from G-d. Try as you might apparently there is just no getting away from the Creator. It is amazing story of Hope and of Divine Love.

After reading the story of Yonah, I reflected a bit. Although I do not plan on wearing sackcloth and ashes or sticking my dog in sackcloth and making him fast next Thursday, (all the people of Nineveh, young and old and all their livestock wore sackcloth and fasted) I will don white, fast and I will pray and I will mean what I say. I will try to do and try to be better and I will even try to forgive.

Forgiveness is never easy, forgiving others is difficult, (no matter how Big or small they are), but to be sure forgiving myself is by far the hardest.

Boy oh boy, am I glad I am not G-d.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My Rosh Hashana

5769 is here and as I said before I pray that it is a year filled with blessing and good things. I think the hardest thing for me this year was to watch and guard my thoughts. Negativity is such an easy habit to acquire and not such an easy one to lay down. As I observed my thoughts, I was amazed at how they would wander ever so subtlety to the negative side. I purposed in my heart not to allow that and it was no easy task. I attended services at a local Sephardi minyan both days and I really enjoyed being there. It felt very much like being with family and it was a good way to start the year. On top of that I was able to focus my tefillot (prayers) and try to have some kavanah (intention). Truth be told I was shocked when at a seemingly random time I found myself sobbing. Sometimes my own emotions shock me, they really do. I have felt so empty inside that to find tears streaming down my face, particularly during the service, startled me. I chose not to stop myself and allowed my heart to have it's way. I only hope that this is a sign of hope and and my heart will heal.

The first day I was particularly exhausted so fortunately my family and I had a lunch invitation. I was able to relax as far as the meal went and spent some lovely time with good friends and their families. It was particularly fun because two mommies I was doula for were there with their babies so I had a chance to reconnect with them. All of the children were delightfully distracting and their joy comforted me. I was even able to play a bit in spite of my immense over tiredness. Another of the great blessings of being there was having the opportunity to spend time with three dear sisters, two of which are Breslov and the other a dear Chabadnik friend. Seems silly I know to label them like that, but being a struggling talmidah of Rebbe Nachman it was good to have them there and gain a bit of chizuk from them. Mind you, we had no great chasidic debates, just simple conversations and encouraging stories about our respective Rebbes and others. It was good and very gentle. If this is an indication of what my year will be, then I look forward to the peace, comfort, and b'ezrat Hashem healing, that will come.

40,000 by Rebbe Nachman's Tziyon!!

From Arutz Sheva News:

As many as 40,000 Jews of all stripes, mainly Breslover Hassidim, are already in Uman, in Ukraine, to spend the holiday at the grave site synagogues of their spiritual leader, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, who passed away in Tishrei of 1810. Many say that their "Rosh HaShanah in Uman" is a life-changing experience, or at least provides them the spiritual replenishment they need for the coming year. Some rabbis, however, oppose the idea of leaving the Holy Land to spend holy days in the Diaspora.

This is amazing to me! Every year it grows and grows. It seems to me there must be a very good reason for this. Why would you pack up, leave your family at the beginning of the year and spend time in a not so modern town in cramped quarters to bring in the new year by a grave site? There must be something very special, very beautiful and very inspiring there to make this sacrifice.
To be by the Tzaddik is the ikar. Rebbe Nachman teaches us that the Tzaddik sweetens the judgement of Rosh Hashana, therefore you should strive to be with him on this day. I can only imagine the energy that is there and the fervency of prayer that is occurring. It is really quite amazing. I should think this would grant us a shift in the cosmos. I pray it does! L'shana tova to all of you and may you all be inscribed in the book of life for all good things this year!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The supermarket and a song

I am not a big cereal purchaser, they are too expensive and too sugar filled.I do make exception once a week though and try to have it in my home for shabbat. It is a special and easy treat we all enjoy. So, there I am in the cereal section of the grocery store minding my own business and trying to find something that is yummy and not so sugared filled for my family to enjoy. I finally lay my hand on one that looks good, is organic and on sale ta-boot when all of a sudden over the intercom comes the song 'Johnny Angel' and I start bawling my eyes out. It was my mother's song to my step-dad.

Sadness really sneaks up on you doesn't it...just when you are not looking, BAM, right upside the head with a song.

I miss my mommy so much.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dark Moon

Did you ever notice my moon phases there on the right? I love watching the moon, watching as it waxes and wanes. The passage of time feels more obvious and gentle to me as I observe the coming and going of each new month. I just looked at it today and sure enough there is little moon outside. The new moon is coming! But this is no regular new moon, this is the last moon of the year and the new moon that will be birthed this coming Monday night is the first of the new year.

New year, new time, new everything.

As I think of of the blackness of the moon I would like to imagine this year and all it's pain and confusion being buried within it's darkness. It's been a hard year for me all the way around, physically, spriritually, emotionally, financially. It has been very hard and I am pleased to bid it adieu, never to be seen again. I feel hopeful that this year will be better, a year that will bring healing and peace again.

Yes, the dark moon brings me comfort with it's blackness. I wish to also be concealed, even buried within it's womb-like darkness and be reborn with it's first cresent. I hope that with each phase of it's rebirth that I too am born again to hope and love, that I see the good again and find peace. I pray to grow again into fullness and brightness, reflecting that which is good and beautiful.

It is my prayer for the new year. It is my prayer for me and it is my prayer for you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Open Letter to the Jewish Blogging World

STOP in the name of LOVE!!!

Stop focusing on how screwed up we are!
Stop focusing on how divided we are!
Stop focusing on everything about us that is negative!
It is helping to kill us!
It is helping to destroy us!
It is tearing us up from the inside out.

No, we are not perfect and there is more than enough to complain about and to point out that is wrong. But it seems there is more than enough focus on what is wrong with us. Do we not have anything that is good an beautiful to talk about? Can we not spend equal time focusing on that?

Please, at least let us try. Doesn't anyone else heart ache?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It has been a month...again!

So family and friends, it seems this is the best I can do. Once a month posting and not a whole lot to say. Hard to return phone calls, emails etc. I feel most times overwhelmed although I work hard at staying happy. For sure it is mitzvah g'dolah. I really wish I could just stay home. It seems I have not been able to catch up with my modern lifestyle. But, no one will pay me to be a housewife and the bills still insist on receiving money, so this seems to be my lot. I know I should not complain, I really don't think I am. I admit who I am, how I feel and what the reality of life is. I know all this comes from Hakadosh, Barukh Hu, and so this too is for my good...and every little thing is gonna be alright.

'Don't worry...
about a thing.
Cuz' every little thing
is gonna be alright'

Absolute poetry!

Purim Katan

I am so clueless as to the significance of Purim Katan...I keep wondering if it means we just get a little drunk?
I am kidding of course, so in my searchings, I came across this blog and this post. Closest thing I have come to something to enlighten me on this subject.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Are you on a big fish?

The question the Rabbi brought out last night was why did Moshe Rabbeinu name his sons Gershom (I was a stranger in a foreign land) and Eliezer (The G-d of my father, came to my aid and rescued my from Pharaoh's sword.)? Apparently he was living a decent life in Midian with his wife, kids, and some sheep. Why give the children names that had to do with his past? Why not name them Simcha or Tov to reflect his life now?

So the answer comes to us from a story from the Gemara, tractate Bava Batra.

(These are from my notes not direct quotes, so the story is paraphrased.)

The Pardes Yosef tells the story (aggadah):

We were riding in a boat on very rough waters when we came across what appeared to be an island but was actually an enormous fish. We sailed the boat to the island/fish and got out. We immediately set up a campfire and began to cook. The fish then rolled over because of the heat and tossed us back into the stormy waters. Fortunately the boat was not too far away and we were able to swim back and pull ourselves back in to safety.

So now you may ask, 'What does this story have to do with the price of shwarma in Tel Aviv?' Well, I'll tell ya',that boat is Hashem (I think the Rabbi mentioned it was Olam Haba) but the safety of the boat is Hashem. The storm tossed waters are our lives and the fish, well that my friends is the galut, the exile. Here we are in the safety of our boat, managing to get through the tumultuous waters of life and we come across what looks like a pretty nice island. We suddenly think we found someting permanent, an island in the storm, and we immediately set up camp. We build our campfires, and then we build houses, we set up shop and then get down right comfortable. That is until the fish gets sick of us and decides to toss us from his back and then back into the waters we go! Thankfully our Boat is never too far from us, although we may have to swim like crazy to get there, the boat (Hashem) is always near.

Moshe Rabbeinu named his sons, Gershom and Eliezer because he understood this concept. He never forgot Who and where his home was no matter how 'comfortable' life in Midian may have been treating him.

So my two questions to all of us are:

1.Just how comfortable are we on this big fish we are riding?

2.How close are we keeping the Boat?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Question of Aliyah part 2

My daughter has returned from Israel less than enthusiastic this time around. Don't get me wrong, she had a wonderful time and it was amazing, but she saw alot of secular Israel and the less than spiritual side this time around. When she was there two years ago, she was relatively sheltered by her seminary, this time, she had to do a little spiritual fighting. It wasn't easy. I feel her vibe and feel the reality of the fact Eretz haKadosh is not always so kadosh.

Here is a great Q.& A. post over on A Simple Jew's site with Akiva of Mystical Paths. He and his family have made aliyah not too long ago so everything is very much in perspective. He is realistic and very encouraging.

Like I said yesterday, it is just a matter of Hashem's timing. My mind has not changed. We just might be having a longer engagement than first anticipated, but the wedding will happen, b'ezrat Hashem!

The Question of Aliyah part 1

Two years ago when I visited Israel for the first time in my life I fell madly and passionately in love! I couldn't believe it myself when it happened. everything but everything was beautiful. Every rock, every tree glowed with such loveliness that I was swept away with pure love. There were no questions to be asked, we were moving to Israel and making aliyah.

Since that initial romance there have been many folks who for whatever reason feel the need to tell my family and I the 'reality' of my lover.

"How will you make a parnasa?"

"What do you plan on doing to make a living?"

"There is no money there!"

"Life is hard there."

"Everything is expensive there."

and on and on and on they drone...

and you know what, all of their statements are quite correct.

But here is my reality, I have lived in the United States all my life. I have been poor, lived in a ghetto, been on welfare, was a single mother, been down to a can of green beans, been down to a bag of flour, lived in an apartment with no furniture, had no heat one winter, etc. We have had our share of struggles and hardships right here in the good ole' USA. And through it all we saw the most important reality of all: Hashem Hu Ha Melech. G-d is the King. He ALWAYS but ALWAYS made a way for us. He never let us starve or freeze. Somehow, even though many tears may have been shed our prayers were heard and Abba came through. He always does.

The true reality is, when we move to Israel, whether it be a year from now or ten years from now, it will be when Hashem says so. Not before and not after. It will be as easy or as hard as it is supposed to be. The only questions that will remain is will I trust Him and will I merit to actually live there.

That my friends is the reality.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Letting go and Letting G-d parent my adult children

Yippee! My daughter is back home again after two weeks in Eretz Israel. Needless to say I am so happy. I missed her so much. I know it was only two weeks but it felt much longer to me.

You see, this twenty year old woman I had the privilege of birthing is not just my daughter, she is my friend. I realized how she has become so much of a friend to me while she was gone. It amazes me. Talk about beyond your wildest dreams! She is so much a part of everything I do and am, and yet she is very much her own person. That is the part that is not always so easy.

Parenting adults, I am convinced, is far harder than parenting the little ones. When they were little it seemed fairly obvious what my role was and what I was supposed to do. Guide them, protect them, feed and nurture them. Although these tasks were not always walks in the park for me, it was simple and clear cut as to what was expected of me as a parent.

Now that they are adults it does not seem so clear. For me it has been a struggle to strike a balance of respect for their person hood and knowing when to speak and knowing when to shut up. Yep, that shutting up is a toughie. Allowing her the space and trusting her is just downright frightening to me. Yes, I know she is capable and competent etc., but my own experiences scream out at me to say something! But you see, that is the problem. They are MY experiences not hers. I made some other than wise decisions in my life when I was her age. She on the other hand has a self worth and faith that I never had at that age that enables her to make such good decisions. Decisions that blow me away! She has a head on her shoulders that I never had. What can you say to that except, Baruch Hashem, Praise G-d!

And then there is the issue of emunah, absolute faith, in G-d. Knowing that He is far better able to guide her than I ever will be. That He loves her more than I do, and that He has her best interests more at heart than I do. It's a struggle for me, but a struggle in vain. What I mean to say is, why do I struggle? It is just more growing pains, but more for me than anyone. As I let her grow, I too will grow. To be sure, this time sure keeps me praying. What choice do I have? I could keep trying to control, but the only one I can control is me. I could continue to struggle and fight but I am fighting with no one but myself.

I know I am still needed and necessary, but in a far different way. She still needs me to guide, protect, feed and and nurture her but in a deeper and not so obvious way. The trick is in figuring this out, and since I am just starting out on the leg of the journey it is a trick I have not yet mastered. So I guess the best thing for me to do is to 'let go and let G-d', which is a decision that is not easy because, well, I am me after all, but it is the one that will not only benefit me, but everyone I love too.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shakia West

Note: Post rated PG for mild use of language and strong use of opinion.

I don't know this young lady. More than likely neither do you. But what happened to her should not happen to anyone, anywhere. She is a 15 year old girl from West Philadelphia who was brutally attacked last Monday by 6-10 other girls with a box opener. I heard about Miss West on my drive this morning as I was flipping through the radio stations. A local talk show forum was speaking about her. Now this was the first I heard about this heinous attack because it is not my habit to listen to the news. It severely depresses me to do so. Accuse me of living with my head in the sand, but that is what helps keep me sane. But for some reason I had to hear this. When I did learn about this attack I was horrified! This girl was at the bus stop with a friend when a Dodge charger pulled up and apparently ten girls ages 14-17 attacked Shakia's friend. When Shakia tried to jump in and help she was rewarded with a trip to Children's Hospital and 114 stitches, 60 of which were to sew her nose back on. No one seems to know why the attack occurred, some are saying it was jealousy. The worse part about this was they were driven there by the Mother of one of the attackers! Can you imagine, a mother drove her child and her friends to attack someone else's child?

Is this is what our society is degenerating to?

Don't give me the plethera of supposed excuses as to why this happened. Poverty, music, the media don't help but there just aren't any real excuses. Even animals rarely attack in this way, let alone human beings.

Yes, I know this happens all the time, but for some reason I feel so struck by this young lady. Younger and younger they seem to be getting. Parents really don't seem to care about, let alone love their children. Yes, I blame the parents. What are they doing? Obviously not raising their children! Obviously not giving a crap about what they are doing! Apparently they are just arming them with a variety of weapons.

"Here honey, here's a box opener. Go kick that girl's ass!"

"Here sweetheart, here's a bomb. Go blow up some Jews."

"Here darling, listen to the poison spewing from my heart and mouth and hate that person who happens to be different than you."

Am I exaggerating? I wish I was. I wish I was just ranting right now, but even though I do not habitually read or listen to the news, the fact is this is happening at every moment. Talk about going to hell in a hand basket! What are we supposed to do? What is going to make tomorrow different? How are those of us who truly love our children, who really try to live a mesirat nefesh (self sacrificing) lifestyle, going to do to make the world a better place for them?

I know there has to be hope. I have to. I try hard to hold on tight to Hashem. I try hard to hold tight to His Torah. I try to hold tight to Rebbe Nachman's words, "It is forbidden to give up hope." LM II:78, but it is really dark out there sometimes.

Prayer is obviously the key. Prayer is our strongest weapon. But along with our prayers, we also need to act. Maybe I cannot stage a peaceful demonstration, it probably would not make a difference anyway. But I can live the life I believe in. I can try at least to do so. I can be kind and love my neighbor as myself. I can speak life to my children and to those around me.

I can surely do more than what I am doing and maybe, just maybe that will help. Acting as if, what I do, does matter. That the energy I send, does matter. Keeping my thoughts close to Hashem, the source of all light. Maybe that will shed more light in this dark world and then finally bring the light of Moschiach. Ultimately it really is up to us. See, Moshe Rabbienu could not drag us out of Egypt, we had to get up and leave. And you know what, we still do.

Special prayers and blessings for Miss Shekia West. Your suffering is horrible, but somehow, in some way, good eventually comes from all things. You have reminded me to draw closer to our Creator. May this suffering become a strength to you. May G-d bless you.

While preparing for Hebrew School...

I came across this map of Israel and was reminded of the one hit wonder song by Stealer's Wheel, "Stuck in the middle with you".

Think about it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Boy, did it get dusty in here!

Shalom aliechem and greetings to all! It has been three months since I wrote last and while there are many and varied reasons as to why I have not written, suffice it to say I am feeling like I am getting to a better place now.

See, that is the problem with these blogs. When I am in a less than desirable 'place' mentally, emotionally, even spiritually, I don't feel like I can write anything here. It's hard to be totally honest in blog land since I chose to not really be anonymous. I mean I have been recognized in public. No one knows my name, but they all ask if I am 'Philly Farmgirl'.(Check me out, a celebrity in my own mind, LOL!) Obviously I chose to not make this blog anonymous on purpose. I like to read blogs from people who I can see. They are real. I wanted to be that kind of blog. But, it does make you careful as to what you put out there for the world to see. It's probably not a bad thing actually. If I realized life is just that way, maybe I would always be more careful in what I said or allowed my mind to dwell on. Something to think about for sure.

Anyway, every once in a while I need to drop of the face of the cyber universe and re-focus. It's good for me. So lately I have been doing a lot of praying and some learning. My daughters and I have been attending a Tuesday night shiur locally. It is based of the weekly parsha and it is so enriching! The Rabbi who is giving it is a truly engaging speaker (ala R' Eli Mansour) and speaks from so deep inside his heart, you cannot help but come away with some spark of inspiration for the week. He has done so much to get the embers of my heart glowing again. I am so grateful to Hashem for these classes.

Both of my older children are in Israel. My oldest daughter is only gone for two weeks and will be back, G-d willing, on Monday. I know it is only two weeks, but I miss her terribly. My son won't be back until the end of the school year and it goes without saying, I miss him too.

My youngest and I have been having a great time just being together. We are enjoying each other's company and I especially enjoy her humour. She is so funny!

Well, that is my catch up for today. Maybe I will see you tomorrow?