Nourishment For The Soul

Aron Kodesh.jpeg

So the Rabbi , a Kabbalist of mystical Torah interpretation, told my wife to concentrate on 3 commandments.

1) Shabbat

2) Kosher

3) Going to Synagogue

Today, we had a little delay and almost didn’t make it to synagogue, but my wife said, “Remember what the Kabbalist said about going every week,” so we went even though we were a little late. 

We went to a conservative synagogue today called, B’nai Israel, in Rockville – it was our second time there. 

The services there are so orchestrated down to the tiniest of details…you could tell that a lot of thought, planning, and effort goes into every service. 

I was really impressed at how meticulous they were for example: 

– Explaining everything and even handing out the sources to their Shabbat speech

– Having everyone ready for their part of the service whether leading the prayers, reading the Torah, or making the blessings over the wine and bread (which was already on a cart on the bimah–alter)

– Including a women who read the weekly Torah portion, children who led some of the prayers, an elderly lady who spoke about upcoming events for the Seniors group, and they even sang Hanukah songs in everything from Ladino to Yiddish.  

At the end of the service, we spoke briefly to the Rabbi and thanked him for such a “perfect service,” and my wife commented how he had such a cool radio voice when he leads the congregation (and he really does..like JM (jewish music) in the AM).

After service, I told my wife how happy I was that we made it to synagogue, that is was like nourishment to my spirit and soul for the week.

We have to feed ourselves physically as well as intellectually, emotionally, socially, and of course spiritually.  

Like the fingers on our hand…we need them all to hold unto life itself. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Driving Your Organization Off A Cliff

Cliff.jpeg

So life is generally supposed to be a series a peaks and valleys. 


There are highs, but also lows.  


No one and nothing can perform at peak all the time. 


Like the commandment to keep the Shabbat, everyone needs a rest. 


And studies have shown that getting a healthy dose of sleep, pause, and rest in life is healthy.


When we force ourselves or others to perform past their “designed” limits, then we risk a breakdown. 


Machines break and people can break. 


The risks are either explosion or implosion: some people can frighteningly “go postal” and others end up on psychiatric medication or even sick and in the hospital. 


What is key to remember is that you can push the limits of performance so far, but then no further without a healthy, recuperative rest period and down time. 


If you want to raise the bar on yourself, others, or your organization, you need to do it strategically so there is a surge forward and then a normative recovery and energy buildup again. 


As we all know, life is a marathon and not a sprint, and the journey is as important as the destination. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Alan Levine)

Some Nice Hats For Shabbat

Hats

Just some fashion festive before Shabbat.


Suggestions for some nice hats for Jewish ladies who cover their hair in synagogue or out. 


I don’t think these were designed for that purpose, but it just made me think that it does the trick.


Modesty before G-d and for the sanctification of marriage. 


It’s a nice Jewish custom that seems holy and beautiful. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

(Re)Kashering The Kitchen

Kashering The Kitchen

So with all the 613s that we and are our friends and family are seeing, we are taking these as a sign and important message. 


Yesterday, I posted that I would show you today how it is personally affecting us.


So one of the things that we are doing is (re)kashering our kitchen. 


New and separate dishes and cooking utensils for meat and dairy meals.  


We got these beautiful French Perle Lenox in gorgeous lilac and ice blue (of course, no one better actually use one and break it). 


Being more a part of the synagogue and community now, we are hoping to host more people for Shabbat etc.


There are other small (and large) ways that we are coming back to more of our traditions, but we are far from perfect. 


Sort of a blend of the secular world, the religious one, and just being ourselves. 


But that is our road, and we strive to do better in all aspects of our lives and pray for G-d’s mercy and blessings all along the way and at the destination. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

613 In Miniature

613

So this is my fifth month in a row now posting about the holy 613 (number of commandments in the Torah). 


This time my daughter sent me this photo from this afternoon. 

Do you see the 613 in the middle (I almost missed it)?


She actually saw this on a city bus–it was on the vertical cord you pull to request a stop–and it was tiny.


But there it was–calling us out to have absolute faith in the Almighty above. 


As it happens, I saw another 613 this month–again out of nowhere. 


I was talking to a colleague in the office. 


He was wearing his badge–I think off to the side of his belt. 


And when I looked down for a moment, the number of the badge was glaring out 613. 


I thought for a second to take a photo, but this obviously wouldn’t have been appropriate. 


It’s just too weird at this point…


613 everywhere…and we are all seeing it.  


Mass psychosis, no.


Living in the time of the Messiah, hopefully.


Message to have faith, absolutely.


Please G-d, it should all be for the good. 


Shabbat Shalom!


Note: If there are any Torah scholars out there that can help interrupt these 613 sightings–would greatly welcome your comments for blessings. 


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Freedom Is Worth It

Respect.jpeg

This was a photo I took of a sign in my daughter’s old high school.


It says, “Respect for Self, Others, and the Environment.”


That is a great principle, which I was reminded of today in sitting for an IT certification exam–how lucky we are to live in a country that affords us respect to be ourselves…to speak, write, and practice as we believe. 


In this case, the certification exam was typically given on Saturday, but as a Sabbath observer, I was able to provide a request for an accommodation, and was able to take the exam this morning, Sunday.


What was absolutely amazing to me though going for the exam at this designated fancy facility, in Washington, D.C.–and with two proctors–was that I was the only one taking the exam today.


This was not just some lip-service tolerance for differences, but rather true respect for diversity, even when it’s not convenient and it is costly. 


I have got to say, how grateful I am to be part of a society where we are free to be who we are–what can be more amazing than that?


I feel this all the more when we are at a time in history when still so many in the world are battling dictatorships, demagogues, terrorist and corrupt regimes that impose harsh restrictions, censorship, monitoring, and severe punishments on those who don’t follow the dictates of the authority holding power. 


When we fight those restrictive regimes–from ISIS to Communism–that are looking not just to hold, but to spread their clutches on power and abuses of freedom–we are really fighting to be who we are and that is a serious fight worth having. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cholent Stew – Not Just A Game

Cholent
So I can’t believe they actually made a “strategy card game” about cholent. 



The only strategy that I know of with cholent is to make it hot, goopy, meaty, and savory. 



Cholent is a beef stew typically eaten for Shabbat lunch. 



Basic ingredients: beans, barely, potatoes, fatty fanken meat, sometimes a kishka is thrown in, onions and other veggies, salt, pepper, and lots of savory spices. 



Usually it cooks in a crock pot overnight. 



The sephardim call this dish Hamin (instead of cholent) and typically put in some hard-boiled eggs as well. 



With cholent, you can essentially throw in the kitchen sink as long as it add to the heartiness and flavor of the dish. 



Eating cholent is such a tradition that it is almost considered a special mitzvah to do it. Ah, would that make it commandment #614? 



When cholent is served at the kiddish (the meal after Shabbat services in synagogue), it is usually the highlight where everybody gathers around with big laddles to dig in and get the nice portions of meat bopping around in the stew or often sunken to the very bottom to be found and surfaced by the lucky lunch patrons. 



In New York, my friends used to have a running joke that there was a secret ingredient the Rebetzin used to make it so good–what it was, all bets were on. 



The biggest problem with cholent are the loads of beans (“the musical food”) and the most unpleasant odor-filled aftereffects–and of this we will not speak again! 



What type of game can you play with cholent? You can probably just toot out the answer when you’re ready. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fish Mish

I took this video in the aquarium store. 


Just found it so relaxing to watch these fish–swimming this way and that with their fish pals in the nice cool water. 


In the background is the sound of a little waterfall running into the makeshift pond.


Ah, the life of a fish–if you can avoid the nets and the bigger fish–it’s probably not too shabby. 


I remember when my mom used to make gefilte fish for Shabbos, especially the sweet kind in a sliced up roll, and it was delicious. 


For some reason, I remember calling it fish mish–I think because the fish is ground up–and then boiled or baked. 


A nice appetizer–pass the tartar sauce please. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

G-d Gave Us So Many Gifts

Life
Today, I just wanted to share the words of this beautiful Israeli song that a friend shared with me in Synagogue. 



It is called (in Hebrew) “Elohin Natan Lecha Bematana,”which means G-d gave you as a present.



It’s about everything wonderful that G-d has given us, and we just ask for one more gift…peace. 



Hope you enjoy (it brought tears to my eyes)! 



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Chorus:

God gave you as a gift

Something great, something wonderful

God gave you as a gift

The life on earth



Gave you the night and the day

Love, hope and dream

Summer, winter, autumn, spring

Good soul to look around



Gave you green fields

Flowers and blooming trees

Rivers, streams and seas

Sky, moon, stars



Chorus



Gave you feasts and Sabbaths

Israel, the fathers’ land

Hands and head to fulfill dreams

Gave you all the wonders



Gave you such nice things

To bring kids to this world

Listen to songs, see colors

Oh, so many are your deeds, God



Chorus



God, oh, please give me just one more gift

A small gift but a wonderful one

God, please give me just one more gift

The peace on earth



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Whiskey Pie

Piehole
So I picked up a Powerball ticket this week…hard to resist with a jackpot of $360 million!



The store that sells the lottery tickets sells liquor.



I see these 3 bottles side-by-side.



And it’s for whiskey.



The whiskey has cherry, pecan, or apple pie flavored liquor.



The ladies pictured on the bottles are sitting on the different pies. 



And this “Pie-oneering” whiskey is called Piehole!



70% proof, and makes for quite some table talk. 



Not surprisingly, they never has this at the kiddush in shule on Shabbat! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)