This week is one of my favorite Jewish holidays. One of the very best things about Orthodox Judaism is that there are so many holidays and they're all so different in their observances and traditions. Purim is a particularly fun holiday for children, with costumes and candy galore. This year, though, as we read the … Continue reading Purim and Living Between Worlds
It is fitting that the celebration of Chanukah comes so close to the winter solstice, the darkest part of the long dark winter of Alaska. Chanukah reminds us that we can always add light and the story of Chanukah is one of Jews bravely sticking to their traditions and refusing to assimilate, even when the … Continue reading Chanukah Sameach from Alaska!
Last week, I traveled to the north slope of Alaska, about as far north as anyone can go, and I spent almost a week in an oil camp. This was probably the most unlikely place for an Orthodox conversion candidate. As part of my work there, I had to walk through every dorm room unless … Continue reading How a Trip to the Ends of the Earth Helped Me Make Peace with Christmas as a Jew
It's often when everything seems to be going along just fine with everything coming together when the unexpected happens. This time, the kids and I were in our truck, waiting for Mr. Safek and Sam the dog to arrive at the Synagogue with the Shabbat RV 2.0. All our meals were carefully packed up, our … Continue reading The Simchas Torah that Stole Our Simchas
I'm about to log off, finish my cooking, and prepare for another 3 day Yom Tov, this time including the holiday of Simchas Torah. Simcha means joy and this holiday is all about the joy that Jews feel when it comes to the Torah. Other religions certainly have their holy books, but I've never seen … Continue reading Simchas Torah From My Side of the Mechitza
It's there, lurking in the forecast for this week and the weekend with cute little gradeschool snowflakes to denote the days it might happen. Those innocent looking little snowflakes belie the fact that we don't yet have studded tires on the truck and that we'll be spending 3 days this week in the Shabbat RV … Continue reading Trust, Sukkos, and Snow
We opted to stay home for the 3 day Yom Tov and celebrate the beginning of Sukkos in our own Sukkah. Sukkos is a quirky holiday and one of my favorites. We built huts in our yards to remind us of our past as wanderers, wandering the desert with Hashem's protection. Men are obligated to … Continue reading An Alaskan Kind of Sukkos
Like Tisha B'Av, Yom Kippur is sometimes a difficult holiday to explain to my non-Jewish friends, family, and coworkers. For most other people, holidays in general are associated with only happy events, but Jewish holidays really are holy days...and not all holy days are fun or easy. There is also the problem that the idea … Continue reading Yom Kippur
Every Yom Kippur, we read the story of the prophet Jonah, who was ordered to go to a non-Jewish city called Nineveh to tell them to repent. The Jews at the time were a mess and Jonah knew that the non-Jews he was going to would indeed repent. He didn't want to go, which is … Continue reading Jonah – Running from G-d
Here in Alaska, the leaves are leaving the trees quickly, fluttering to the ground and piling up. Our brief fall is fleeing and the chill is setting in. In this week, we've been preparing for Yom Kippur. It even feels like a whole new year with the house painted a new color, one of the … Continue reading 5778
I've often heard stories of miraculous happenings that occur when people are rushing to make it home in time for Shabbos or similar holiday stories. I did expect that this Rosh Hashanah, we'd have one of our own to share. Our home was being painted the two days before Rosh Hashanah and Mr. Safek was … Continue reading A Rosh Hashanah Miracle
I'm not sure, but I think my first year observing Jewish holidays was one that had several 3 day Yom Tovs in it. If not, then it was at least when I was still very shaky in observing them. This oddity happens when a 2 day Yom Tov (holiday) falls either right before or right … Continue reading 3 Day Yom Tovs!