Passover Granola

March 19th, 2013

I am posting this again, because it is still my favorite and I have been receiving requests. More Pesach posting to come!

This is my favorite Pesach recipe. I got it from “Stove Tops Personal Chef Service” several years ago when speaking about Pesach at a local Hadassah meeting.

I have talked about the Pesach granola so much that everyone is tired of hearing about it. But it is easy to make, yummy to eat and with yogurt is a million times better than pesach cereal for breakfast.

You can substitute or omit most of the ingredients. I recommend mixing it right in the pan you bake it in. My hope is I am giving you enough time to buy the ingredients.

If you make it, PLEASE post a comment.

4 c. matzo farfal, or broken up pieces of matzo
1 c. slivered almonds
1 c. dried raisins/cranberries
1 1/2 c. sweetened, shredded coconut
2 tsps cinnamon
2/3 c. veg. oil
1 c. honey
2 tsps Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Toss the matzo, almonds, fruit, coconut and cinnamon together in a large bowl ( I do it in an aluminum pan I am baking in). Pour the oil and honey over the mixture. Stir until the mixture is thoroughly coated. Add the Kosher salt and toss.

Spray pan with non-stick spray ( usually don’t do this step.) Pour mixture onto the sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the granola and cool on the sheet pan. Stir occasionally as it cools. Store the granola in an airtight container.

Variations: you can add chocolate chips when cool, add more dried fruit, change or add more nuts.


Seven Stones

Related Reading:

Local Boy Maccabeat Makes Good

February 17th, 2011

I went to a “mediashmooze” last night in Manhattan.  While I decide whether or not to write about the whole experience, I do want to spread the word about one of the sponsors, Jdeal, and a great proud moment for those of us here in my little Jewish community.

Jdeal, a project launched by MetroImma is kind of like a Jewish Groupon, and is growing quickly.

The lastest deal is a discount on tickets to the Maccabeats’ performance this Monday night in New York, at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill on Monday, February 21st at 8PM.

The Maccabeats - Yonatan is in the white shirt, bottom left

I wish I could go.  It’s a day off for a lot of people, but not for Imas to seven, so I have to bow out. But it promises to be a great show.

One of the band members, Yonatan Shefa, grew up in my little town in my little Jewish community. I have had the privilege of singing with his mother, a talented musician in her own right. Every time I hear a word about the Maccabeats I feel like a proud momma.  I couldn’t wait to show my kids the clip of the Maccabeats on live network television. If you click on the Jdeal link, you get to read about their success story. There I am, crowing, right?

When I meet their fans, I crow about our local boy. I am probably embarassing him a great deal. So Yonatan, if you ever see this, and if I am right, I am sorry.

This event marks a great accomplishment for any aspiring musicians – arrival on ticketmasters – and Jdeal. If you grab the deal and enjoy the show please come back here with a comment and let us know.

Related Reading:

Another Baby?

December 21st, 2010

I am NOT having another baby right now. No big announcement happening here on the blog. Sorry.

But it is the conversation that I, and many of my peers, friends – and fellow bloggers – have to have. For some of is, it is a conversation we keep revisiting.

I realize that for some people it isn’t as easy as a conversation or just deciding. I also know there are plenty of times we have “the conversation”, make a decision, and G-d just has other plans.  For better or worse, as Scary Mommy puts it: “It seems like all I need to do is think about a baby and poof, nine month later, I have one in my arms.”

So there are those of us who have “the conversation” because we do think that we have the ability to decide,at least on some level.

The decision can be about a lot of things, and I am hoping that you will chime in about some of them. There are two things I hear most often. For some, it is a question of family size above all else. “How could I possibly handle more? I can’t handle what I have!”, for example. Or, “I always thought I would have X number of kids, but maybe that is just my ideas getting in the way of what is practically best for us.”

For some, it is the AGE thing… “well, I am going to be/am/am over  40, so it’s now or never!” I hear too. I am going to be 39 in March, and I guess, well, I fall in this category. I say I am done, but saying so when you still have time to change your mind is one thing…..

When I was in labor with my youngest child (who will be 3 this spring), my husband said to my doula “the next time, we will…”  There was no rest of the sentence, because I threw the birth ball at him.

Seven is a lot of children. (And any of you tempted to say, or even think ” six and a stepson” you will just have to read this post on the matter.) It is a lot.

Everyone has to do what is right for them, and for many of us that means not only having “that talk” with our spouses, but with a Rabbi.  But I do want to address those of you who are considering going from 2 to 3 or from 3 to 4, because this is a group of women I think I hear from the most.

Here is my two cents, which may be worth much less than that:

  • When you have two kids, you can have a lifestyle. I mean hobbies, vacations, date night… a lifestyle.If you want to maintain a lifestyle and choose to have a third, you have to stop and consider how close your parents live, how good a roster of babysitters you have, and how flexible you are. I believe it can be done, but with effort.
  • However, if you want or are willing to have parenting be your lifestyle, than three is nooo problem, because parenting is what your lifestyle will become. You will take vacations around the kids, and basically do what you do for and about them – at least for a decade or two.
  • … And if you have chosen parenting as your lifestyle, then four is really not a big change over three. Very often you can then have “team A” and “team B” for the purpose of logistics. Who is on which team is constantly in flux, but you can divide up the kids while doing  playdates/errands/ naps/baths/homework… you get the idea.  The kids have taken over the life, then house, the plans, so a fourth means more diapers and less sleep, but not much of an adjustment.

A friend recently related her feelings of still yearning, loving pregnancy and child-bearing, and wanting to enjoy yummy little babies. She is not sure if those feelings are a sign she should keep going, or just some biological stirrings that she needs to learn to contend with. Another friend told her of a woman in her fifties having a hysterectomy and crying, because for some, there is no magical age when that feeling just fades away on its own.

People often talk to me about this very personal issue, telling me that they wonder how can a person do what they do, times seven. “It seems so crazy!”

I tell them that it is crazy, and fun, and joyous and hard and full of love. That when I became a mom I wasn’t a patient person who could live with clutter or a lack of control. I had no choice but to become that kind of person along the way. I remain organized, I prioritize my expectations, I ask LOTS of people for help (and try to help in return whenever I can, ) and I am married to someone who LOVES babies, and loves kids and loves being involved with the poop-changing and bed-timing, etc., which is a HUGE factor in the equation for me.

My husband’s involved co-parenting is the primary, if not sole reason I have the family I do. However, it is precisely because he really does love babies that much, we do end up still having “the conversation“…..

What about you? Are you having “the conversation”???

Related Reading:

My “old friend” wrote a lengthy comment in response to my post last week, and I have decided to share it with you as a guest post:

I think friendship the way you have described it is what it truly should be: a laboratory where we get to try out each other’s ideas and see how they fit, volleying them back and forth to see how they can grow and take on a life and meaning that is at least clear to us both, and perhaps also, even although not necessarily, acceptable;). I too value that about our friendship, and always enjoy the sharpening that comes to my mind when I have to articulate things that have become nebulous through non-speech. The following is some “word soup” to continue the conversation and to perhaps sharpen the distinctions between our positions. I have always believed that I am responsible for doing those things that I wish or believe need to be done, and therefore that I must do them. Whether those things are making sure my children have the best options for growth and learning, or whether the Torah is dispensed and dispersed in the world in optimal ways.

This is why I spent most of my children’s young years as a housewife and mother, cooking and baking nourishing dishes to eat and working at and with the schools in which they learned. I never actually thought of myself as chaining myself to a stove, nor did I see that as part of Orthodox Judaism. It did mean that my career and personal development took a different route, even perhaps a bit of a detour, and that I added different types of experiences and skill sets to my already eclectic resume. Now that they are grown and out of the house, I continue to cook and bake most of my own foods, for the nutritional value that provides me, again not because of some gender role or some external force, but because these are choices I make, based on my needs and understanding of what is available and what I wish to put in my body. To a certain extent I feel the same way about my understanding of Halakha and Torah. It is not so much an issue of “trust”ing male sages, rather understanding how they arrived at their conclusions, and whether those conclusions are still valid in a world where both men and women share the burden and the partnership in raising, educating and growing our children, and whether they are still valid for me in my world. In a world like this, perhaps the rules that Ima2Seven sees as playing out for her are not really applicable. It is perhaps convenient, and even pleasurable or correct for her family, for her and for her husband to be to be doing the tasks they do, but does that make it the case for every Orthodox Jewish couple?.

In my experience of learning, many of the “rules and regulations” that appear in our legal corpus are the result of attempts to formalize case law into formulas that can be generalized. The problem with doing this is that there will always be exceptions to rules like these, that case law would have provided for but legal formulations cannot. A difference between me and Ima2Seven is that she prefers to give these questions, when they arise to her Rabbi, I prefer to learn the sources and find out the options for myself.

This is my way of initiating a healing of those “parts of the body that are afflicted”, for myself.  I do not believe that this is “uprooting”, rather casting new and relevant light and perspective on laws that need to be seen. Understand please, I do not believe that I will be able to solve these issues, not even for myself. I wish to understand some of the sources of what i perceive to be difficulties. I do however believe that that is the first step in the dialog, of men and women with the Torah and the Halakha that will hopefully lead to the healing without uprooting that we all wish to see.

Even though Ima2Seven declares her “sexist” position, I think that she herself would have a tough time accepting the original rules that go along with it. We fought long and hard so that women could vote, get equal pay for equal positions, could speak or perform in public and many other advantages that will allow her daughters to reach at least the same heights of knowledge and independence as those reached by her sons. To disallow that in the religious context, is to me the worst of the logical outgrowths of her position, since at some point, for some of these young women, one of the only options left them might be to leave the religious fold altogether, in order to find intellectual satisfaction, or suitable partners with whom to connect, because we have not shown our young men and women how to navigate these very complex yet intriguing waters.

I told you she is a “hachama”; what do you think?

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I  have an old friend (can you say that after nine years? What if it feels like you have always been friends?) that I rarely get to spend time with. We are different ages,  at different stages of our lives with different schedules. Recently we got a precious hour to catch up over some of her delicious warm soup.

Her company feels like “comfort food” as much as the soup.

Yet the conversation we had, like so many that we do, was not a comfortable one in some respects, and did not involve much in the way of what our respective children are up to lately, or any small talk. We wound up in a debate of sorts, that was, for me, enlightening, refreshing, challenging and real – the precise words I would use to describe this friend.

She and I come from very different Jewish backgrounds. While we arrived at an observance that is quite similar in a lot of ways (we have both studied at the same women’s beit midrash, davened at the same shul… ) we very often disagree about aspects of Orthodox Judaism, especially as it relates to women.

This particular conversation revolved around the idea that Traditional Judaism is a Patriarchy, one that has not created a suitable status for women with an expertise of Torah knowledge, one that has not created a voice for women’s thoughts and ideas on the Torah, one that has arbitrarily unilaterally* dealt with women’s observance of certain halachot without their say, and one that has not sufficiently encouraged and inspired women to learn, teach, interpret, think, or speak out.

That is what I believe is her opinion… you see, it isn’t mine. [ Dear friend if you read this and I have gotten it wrong, please forgive and feel free to let me know, comment away, and clear up the misunderstanding. ]

How much we need to “trust” the male sages of our Talmud that their decisions are what are best for women as well as men is a real source of disagreement for us.  I don’t want to see women as Rabbis. I don’t want more access to “male” halachot, and I don’t want to spend time exploring if some of them actually should also be my obligations as a woman.  I think there is a lot of wisdom in many of the decisions that the male sages have made about women, many that are antithetical to modern sensibilities of women’s roles in families, societies and Judaism.

Of course I believe that when it comes to gender issues(as well as lots of other things) there are problems within Orthodoxy. There are lots of groups of people who are serving Hashem in lots of ways that I may think are, well, misguided. There are also whole religious societies that have certain areas that need a lot of work…. but I think they are parts of a body that need healing, not an affliction from within that must be uprooted or defeated.

She did make an interesting and very compelling point to me, one that has stayed with me: we live in an age where women live more years than every before with grown children. Those children customarily don’t live around the corner, meaning in our times women have more time available for Torah study than ever before. More time to attend shul, more time to sit in a beit midrash.

This huge shift was pointed out to me several years ago by another friend and amazing woman who is the past president of her Conservative Temple. She said: ” I don’t have to be home to take care of anybody. I have time now. I am not a mom to young children. I am not a grandmother. My children didn’t get married after high school, they are busy pursuing their careers. So I have time as a Jew – and what is the Jewish world offering me to do with that time? Where is the establishment putting that decade of my life to good use as a member of the Jewish people? Why are they telling me not to use it to be Shul President? Were would they like it to go? Away?” I had a momentary desire to drop everything at that moment and write a book. Because what ARE we doing with that new-found decade (or more) in the lives of Jewish women? What are we offering them to help cleave to and serve Hashem? And what is the establish doing to work on the problem?

One answer is that we have more resources for Torah learning for womenthan ever before.  In Israel, in New York, and on-line. I have friends in this in-between stage who are consuming Torah classes at places like at an astounding pace — because they simply have the time.

So a woman who is a true expert in Torah? My friend is right when she says that there are now scores of women with far more Torah knowledge than an average Talmud Torah 3rd grade male teacher bequeathed with the title “Rebbe”.

So, what are we to do?  I want women’s roles to stay far away from those that men have. I have stated before on this blog that I am a sexist, and with strong reasons. I don’t think women encroaching on male territory is good for men, and therefore I don’t think it is good for the perfection of our society. But these women have accomplished something that is often taken seriously by the people who know her, yet isn’t acknowledged in any systematic way.

Personally, I like the idea of a “Hachama“, which could be translated as “wise one”.  I would like to see “hachamot” in schools. I think it would confer an understanding that some women – like this friend of mine – are head and shoulders above the rest of us in their Torah learning, due to the hours and years of study that have been put in. I would like Yoetzet Halacha Shani Taragin, for example, to be “Hachama Shani Taragin” because at the end of the day, she is an expert. She cannot perform the duties of a Rabbi, and she cannot give halachic rulings, but she certainly can teach Torah rings around most Rabbis and Torah scholars I know.  She certainly could be consulted as an expert on a lot of Torah topics. And she should be called something other than Mrs. when she teaches at the many Torah institutions that she does. She will soon be a “Dr.”, but do we really want our Torah credentials coming from the world of secular academia? I don’t think so.

So, while we may not agree on the solution, at least I was positively persuaded of the need. I hadn’t missed it, not being a hachama myself, but when pointed out to me, I do understand the lack.

Long after arriving home from this visit with this debate still percolating in my head, it occurred to me that one reason that we have such different viewpoints is because we arrived to a similar spot from opposite directions… with one thing in common. We both have a Jewish voice that was silenced in the past.

My friend grew up in a traditional household with a traditional education….if you can call moving around the world going to zillions of Jewish schools traditional. I don’t know much about her family life growing up and I would never presume to describe how her parents taught her to view women in Judaism. But I do know that she had a lot of experience with women learning Torah… for the purpose of teaching their sons. Or girls being limited in what they could learn – and what they could say – within Orthodoxy.

“Don’t speak, don’t think out loud – you have to fit our mold“.

I grew up in the seventies, with feminism at its strongest, including within the Conservative Jewish world I lived in. I was encouraged to daven, read Torah, learn Torah, wear a tallis, be a Cantor – forge ahead in helping women being everything a man could be in Judaism.

But I wasn’t taught women’s halachot. And I was told that it isn’t okay to want to stay at home and raise children, or change diapers rather than make it to shul. (Not only is it not okay to do, but it really isn’t okay to want to.) It wasn’t okay to let my husband’s career take precedence, or to view myself Jewishly in any way different than a man. When I chose to be Orthodox I was told I was “chaining myself to a stove”. Why would a woman want to do that to herself? It would not have been socially acceptable to admit I am a sexist in my former life. To say such a thing was a “shanda“.

For the record, I have spent a great majority of the last decade barefoot, pregnant and/or nursing and cooking! Because I want to and I love it. It nurtures my family, it has made me happy – and I resent being told that it simply isn’t a valid option – it is only a symptom of oppression!

“Don’t have those goals or desires – you have to fit our mold“.

So, I want a place for the traditional woman’s role to be elevated and valued by society, including secular society. And my friend wants a place for women to do more, take on more, say more, be heard more and have it elevated and valued by society, not just secular society. But I think both desires come from a place of being invalidated.

The Girl Scouts have a saying which has become a life-mantra for me: “Always leave a place better than you found it.” I think they must have gotten that from the Torah somewhere,  Tikkun Olam and all.

This friend? Well, a short get-together over warm soup leaves me better than she found me.  And I think that is a sign of a great friend and a real “hachama“.

*the wording where crossed out was changed at the request of this friend.

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December 17th, 2010

Shabbat begins in 45 minutes, which means I should be scrambling and running around frantic rather than blogging.

Normally I would be, making the house a little more perfect, making just one more dish to ensure we have too much food. But, I have been sick for the last two days so I have no choice but to take it easy.

I was able to rest yesterday because my husband got the kids off to school. My boss(es) let me take it easy. I work from home, so I could take care of the necessary from my bed.  Our school’s PTO sells kosher pizza on Thursdays that you bake at home – so I didn’t have to make dinner. My eleven year old daughter ran me a bath and cut the pizza for her siblings. Husband put them all to bed without me and then got up with everyone this morning and got them off to school.

He was able to do so quietly enough that I could sleep until 9:30(!!!!)  Then my neighbor, a friend, widow and all-around-spectacular person, came over to help me cook. She chopped, rinsed, diced… and then sensitively exited when it was clear I had exerted myself and needed to go back to bed for more rest.  She came back later to drop off a pie and dessert for Shabbat lunch.

My husband worked from home today, which is completely fine with his boss.

A different neighbor dropped off two desserts, to lighten my load for Shabbat prep. Why two? Because she knows we limit the kids’ dessert intake, so she specifically made a bowl of fruit.

As I sit to write this, three of my sons are outside squeezing in a few last minutes of baseball with each other before showers and candle lighting. They do this because they love baseball and each other — and because they can.

I am sure this posting is so gushy as to make some of you gag. But I am sick, and I have a whole community and life full of blessings around me that make me so grateful.

I am incredibly grateful to live in a religious Jewish community. For my husband’s flexible job and gracious and helpful attitude. To work from home, doing what I love, but near to the people who need me most.

I am incredibly grateful for all of the tremendous help from my tremendous friends…. and even for the illness that is minor enough to pass, but  reminds me of just how lucky I am.

Related Reading:

A different Menorah…

December 12th, 2010

I have had a very frustrating month unable to upload photos. This is only one of many excuses reasons I have not been blogging for so long.

I know, I know: Chanukah is over. For most of you, I would imagine that it is already out of your mind. As my big return, shouldn’t I post something timely and relevant? Probably.

But I really wanted to put up this post, and I can finally do so with photos, so please bear with me, dear readers (all two of you that haven’t given up on me.)

My almost 11-year old daughter came to me about a month before Chanukah declaring that she wanted to make a completely unique menorah this year, as a project – and as a surprise for the family – with just me.

I haven’t had time to blog because I am adjusting to worki

ng full-time, and not adjusting well so far. I don’t have time to breathe, and I certainly don’t have time for special projects! But I have to have time for my daughter…. so we came up with a project together.

Homeshuling’s Amy Meltzer let me know it isn’t all th

at unique… but it is creative, and pretty, and was not a lot of cutti

ng and gluing or creatively molding or shaping, all of which I don’t do very well.

Daughter decided we weren’t going to buy anything; the challenge was to use what was in the house. SO, this is what we did:

We washed and saved jars from food with relatively similar heights and wide nec

ks. Then, we glued the together, like this:

Jars glued together

Next, we filled them with water. In order to make them the same height, I had to eyeball the water to get the levels the same, since the jars are different. (In order for the menorah to be kosher, the candles have to be the same height.)

Then dear daughter had a great time adding food coloring to each jar to create a variety of colors… we had agreed earlier that the shamash would get to be purple.

Jars filled with water

Then we added the tealights.  Despite my husband’s worries to the contrary, they floated beautifully, and didn’t sink once throughout the holiday.

It isn’t a very compact solution, but we had a lot of fun, and the colors looked beautiful. We did reuse materials in our house, and we had our mother-daughter time.

lit menorah

I know it is late, but perhaps this can be filed away for next year…I hope you had a Chanukah holiday full of lights, latkes, love, freedom and family, music and matanot (gifts.)

…I also hope to get to starting blogging again more frequently than once a month.

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October 30th, 2010

I have neglected this blog for a very long time. I am doubtful that there are any of you left still checking in, my once-faithful readers.

I agreed to take on more work this fall. I love the work, but my new timetable does not leave me any time for blogging. It doesn’t leave me any time for dishes, laundry, cleaning… or even sanity, either. I am working on correcting that, and I will keep you posted. Forgive the pun. In the meantime, this blog is just part of this long neglected list.

I am able to post now because I decided to neglect a portion of my family and take off for Massachusetts this weekend.  Driving all day Friday meant neglecting my work for the most part as well.  I am in Cape Cod,  by my parents with two of  my children. The men are all at home alone, no doubt playing endless amounts of baseball, eating raw meat and leaving socks all over the house.

I am attending – and co-presenting at – LimmudBoston, a conference on Jewish education.  This is to pursue a love of mine that is a cause I believe in deeply, but is not directly related to my family or my career. I am working with two other fantastic women on the creation of an Early Childhood Jewish Music curriculum. I will have to write a separate post to fully explain, but the gist is that little children can learn about music, and can do so with Jewish music.

I got up here after a week of insane intensity; of non-stop running. My children spent the week letting me know I was neglecting them, running to meetings, charity events and appointments all week.  I was supposed to drive to the conference this evening… and I neglected to do so, writing this post instead.

Something happened on Friday when I finally stopped. Just simply stopped. Having someone else make and serve the Shabbat food, not running after my kids all weekend, curling up with a book, I just  slowed down. I guess I couldn’t rev back up this evening enough to drive 90 minutes in the dark and I put it off until tomorrow.

The conference is an indulgence, albeit an important one. I believe this curriculum needs to be created, and that eventually someone with money will be convinced as well, and that it will happen. Sitting with so few responsibilities feels medicinal, but indulgent as well.

Since starting to work full-time, I cannot say that I have yet struck the appropriate balance between all of my activities, responsibilities and self-maintenance, but I know that this weekend is a very long overdue correction of major neglect… of the latter.

I was all set to publish this (brief) post, and was blessedly interrupted by a small child urine emergency, involving a quick change of bedding as well as comfort and kisses very late at night. So, I no longer need to worry about any guilt at all over a) being here (to deal with it) instead of in Boston at the conference, or b) neglecting my parenting * other responsibilities  so I can sit and blog…. at least until the next time.

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Last lap?

October 3rd, 2010

For me, one of the clearest “punishments” for choosing to live outside of the land of Israel is the three-day yom tov.  Here in the diaspora, September has been a string of holidays chained together by a few work/shop/cooking days.  My guess is that with the holidays coming at the same time as back-to-school and the non-chag days being on Fridays, it didn’t feel that much different in Israel, but no doubt my readers will clarify this for me. (I hope.)

I went into Shabbat morning telling at least a couple of community members that I felt like I was running the “last lap in a very long marathon.”  A month of cleaning, shopping, cooking, serving, cleaning, serving, cleaning, serving…. laundry…. lather, rinse, repeat. The last day had finally arrived.

I was glad that I made it to shul to hear the Rabbi speak, because he really turned the whole day around for me. I am sure he chose his topic the same way he always does; by listening to whatever has been going on inside my head the past few days. I keep asking him to stop eavesdropping on my thoughts when he chooses his sermon topics, but it doesn’t appear to have stopped the habit.

The Rabbi spoke about parashat Bereishit, yes, but he spoke about how in this parsha, in the beginning, is the clearest, starkest way that man can emulate G-d. We rest on the seventh day because G-d did. Period. Wanna be like G-d? Keep Shabbat.

He went on to remind us that yes, it is keeping the Shabbat, but moreso it is being “in the Shabbat” that makes us like G-d. That when we truly dwell in the mindframe and Shechina*-consciousness of Shabbat, then we are emulating G0dliness in the purest form.

He reminded me in that one moment that it wasn’t the “last lap” of anything. The holidays ended the day before. It wasn’t the Shemini Atzeret moment, the Sukkot moment, the Simchat Torah moment, or even a last moment of any of them. It was “mamash the holy Shabbos.” The only thing that made the day the “last lap” was that it was one more day to dwell in G-d’s presence and to stay close before going back to months of normalcy… a normalcy that includes less time and focus on accessing that closesness to Hashem.

I went home determined to be in Shabbat, and to savor the holiness rather than watch the clock for my return to…. everything else. It really changed my Shabbat, and I enjoyed it so thoroughly. I even had a house full of unexpected “stoppers by” and relaxed and enjoyed it. (Despite having nothing left in the house to serve them.)

I felt the sadness as Shabbat left us that I am told people holier than I feel every week. I suddenly remembered a dear friend (and tzadika), DE, telling me one year of the depressing let-down she feels every year at the end of Sukkot. I was very surprised; the only feeling I had ever  registered was relief. At the time I  couldn’t relate to her feeling at all because I didn’t have that kind of relationship with G-d.

I think I was able to connect to Hashem in Tishrei this year more than ever before. My grand theory on this is that since my children are getting a little older I was able to sleep more hours this year than ever since getting married.  I feel very strongly about the relationships between sleep &  religion, sleep & happiness and  sleep & health … but that is a blog post for another time.

But whatever it was, the davening, the sleeping, choosing to have fewer guests (!) or just the wake-up call from our wise Rabbi, I felt like this last day wasn’t a drag, and wasn’t a last lap…. it was a gift.

*The majestic presence or manifestation of God which has descended to “dwell” among humankind, traditionally referred to as the aspect of Hashem that comes down into the Holy Temple and/or comes closer to the Jewish People on Shabbat.

Related Reading:

A New Phase of Recognition

September 26th, 2010

I was a little surprised by my children’s reactions to the rebuilding of our sukkah this year.  Every year has been met with some level of wonderment and suprise as well as excitement. This year…. there was recognition. They had very clear expectations of what it looked like, where it would go, certain decorations, and even our annual problems with it.

As I was scrambling to get ready for yet another 3 days of yom tov in a row, I considered why this made any impression on me at all. They aren’t babies anymore was the most obvious and immediate thought.

Then I stopped to realize that I have now lived in this house longer than I have lived anywhere since I was sixteen and we left my childhood home in Connecticut. My parents moved to Boston at the beginning of my junior year which felt like a death sentence to me at the time. My life was my friends, and leaving that behind was unimaginable. Rather than put down new roots for the remaining two years of high school, I chose to spend part of 12th grade in Israel.  This led to many years of moving; three years at university in Canada, a brief return to Boston, and then aliyah.  I had thought for many years that once I had settled in Jerusalem that that was it. The end. Enough wandering.

First I would find a job. (I did.) Then I would find a husband. ( I did.) Then I would find a nice house in a nice Israeli suburb, settle in, and never leave.  That part wasn’t exactly what Hashem had in mind. So I moved to New Jersey, and took a while to settle here in the amazing community in which we live.

Time has passed and many babies have been born, thank G-d.  I have been busy with much and don’t pause to consider how long we have been here. I DO spend time “counting down” until Israel, but that clearly has distracted me from the roots that have been planted and grown here.

I think there is something wonderful about the wonderment and surprise of the sukkah  box that emerges each year. I am also enjoying this phase of recognition. The familiarity is becoming part of their holiday experiences, as ritual is intended to be.

This is just one piece of a much larger adjustment to a new phase. After over a decade of  “making babies”, my husband and I daily come upon some new aspect of having a house full of children, not infants and toddlers.  For example, we both took a nap at the same time on Shabbat.  Imagine that.

How does this change sukkot? Well, their expectations of us have changed, since they now have expectations for the holiday and its routine. Certain decorations from year to year have become important to them. Sleeping in the sukkah with a specific set-up matters. (Even at the expense of hundreds of mosquito bites, apparently.) Our sukkah door, (which I photographed and tried but failed to upload here ), must be added to every year, according to certain parameters not only not determined by me, but for the most part I am not even privy to.

This means I get to adjust my expectations too; children old enough to recognize so much from year to year are definitely old enough to start helping get ready for the holidays in a BIG way.   :  )

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