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!
I remember vividly watching Apollo 13 for the first time, particularly the nervous part where the endangered astronauts pass to the dark side of the moon. Because the moon is between them and earth, there is radio silence. They're unable to communicate with the world outside and are left in an anxious state of separation, … Continue reading The Dark Side of the Moon
I hesitated writing this post. I never want to speak ill of the Jewish people, even isolated parts because I understand how someone reading my words might take that to be all Orthodox Jews, particularly if they've had little to no experiences with other Orthodox Jews. I also hesitated because I kept wondering if what … Continue reading The Darker Side of Kiruv
All things must live in darkness before they are born. Seeds sprout underground, hidden in the dirt and animals live either in their mother's wombs or in eggs until they are ready for the world. Today, the sun doesn't rise until 9:12am and it will set at 4:16. Candle lighting time is earlier than that, … Continue reading The Deepest, Darkest Winter
I've been fortunate to travel to different Jewish communities during my years as a conversion candidate and it's always interesting how different different Orthodox communities can be. Every single one has its own personality and subtle differences and it's neat to see all the different directions people in different places take their Judaism. The downside … Continue reading Welcoming Strangers?
Last Shabbos, I was curled up in my arctic sleeping bag. Granted, that particular sleeping bag was a little overkill for the night we were having. The temperature in the RV was only in the 40's, not below zero. Still, it was a taste of things to come as we each did what we needed … Continue reading Shabbos, Cold and Dark
In darkness, I awaken the tune of Hallel in my ears I whisper words of another tune and greet the dark day Summer's light has fled the mountains flowers bloom no more only the raven and magpie remain winter's sky companions cold rain falls snow comes late this year a reminder of retreating glaciers the … Continue reading Winter Hallel
We spent this past Shabbos in a hotel and wow did that feel positively decadent after so many Shabboses in the Shabbat RV 2.0! There was unlimited running water, heat, soft comfy beds with all the fixings, like smooth sheets. We had a mini-fridge I was able to stock with snacks and food and it … Continue reading Snow Instead of Flood and Paddling Your Own Canoe
I had one reader have a very negative reaction to a writing I did yesterday about the current state of conversion. Basically, by writing about my experiences and some of the other issues I have known about, this person was discouraged from attempting an Orthodox Jewish conversion herself and her image of the Jewish people … Continue reading Conversion Advice – You’ve Gotta Love BOTH
My very good friend over at Jewish Thoughts wrote a great blog post today about Orthodox Jewish converts, questioning how the Orthodox community treats them. After detailing some of the painful things that she has seen with the converts that she knows, she asks some very good questions. So what exactly should we do? I’m not … Continue reading Discouraging the Convert
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