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.