L’Chaim! To Life!!!

One of the defining characteristics of Judaism is that it is a religion of life.  It doesn't focus on the afterlife or some eternal reward, but is grounded in what we do here and now.  There is little emphasis on martyrdom.  We are meant to live for Hashem and Judaism, not die for it unless … Continue reading L’Chaim! To Life!!!

Shavuos, Last Week in Alaska, and the Mystery of the Missing Rabbit

It's been an interesting week.  We had Shavuos, but first, we closed on our old house in a mad rush of moving boxes and furniture.  Through some coincidences, we found a place to live temporarily until our flight leaves Alaska.  An acquaintance living on the east coast reached out to us, asking us if we'd … Continue reading Shavuos, Last Week in Alaska, and the Mystery of the Missing Rabbit

Preparing for Shavuos and the Conversion that Wasn’t

Over a year ago, we sat in our Rabbi's office and he promised, honestly and earnestly, that our conversion journey would finally end in the mikvah the coming April.  This April slipped by with little fanfare and drama, peacefully but busily, as we prepared for our move.  At this point, there is no more timeline … Continue reading Preparing for Shavuos and the Conversion that Wasn’t

Eating Matzah as the Bears Awaken

There is one great comfort in the long, dark Alaskan winter and that is that the odds of being eaten by a bear go down considerably.  Bears hiberate during the winter, only occasionally stirring if there's a warm snap, but generally sleeping through the dark cold months in their dens beneath the snow.  About the … Continue reading Eating Matzah as the Bears Awaken

House Showings and Passover Cooking

I had just put a huge brisket for Passover in the oven, the kind that you have to cut just to fit in the pans.  Two glorious full sheet pans where covered and ready to go and the oven was heated.  My cell phone announced a text.  It was from our realtor. "Can you do … Continue reading House Showings and Passover Cooking

“Turning Over” My Kitchen…and Turning Over my Pre-Passover Anxiety

The same thing happens EVERY year without fail.  I always plan to "turn over" my kitchen (that is, clean and kosher it for Passover), as close to Passover as possible so that my family doesn't have to either eat kosher for Passover food longer than necessary or eat their floury, chametz-leaden food in the garage.  … Continue reading “Turning Over” My Kitchen…and Turning Over my Pre-Passover Anxiety

My Son and His Passover Sacrifice

One of the things my son was looking forward to most about 8th grade was the Advanced Orchestra trip to Hawaii that the 8th graders in his school take every year.  He had been thrilled when he'd first heard of it during his Junior High orientation and he'd fundraised last year to help send the … Continue reading My Son and His Passover Sacrifice

All That You Can’t Leave Behind

I used to be a big U2 fan.  I'll freely admit that as a child of the 80's, I was listening to U2 well into the 90's.  One of their songs that always stuck with me was the song, "Walk On," particularly the lyrics about "all that you can't leave behind" and the idea of … Continue reading All That You Can’t Leave Behind

The Season of Letting Go

Passover must always fall in the spring.  It's a rule of the Jewish calendar and a whole leap month will be added to the calendar to make sure this happens.  For Orthodox Jews, this also means that Passover cleaning is a form of spring cleaning, with cabinets cleared out and all manner of pasta, flour, … Continue reading The Season of Letting Go

Purim and Living Between Worlds

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

Chanukah Sameach from Alaska!

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!

How a Trip to the Ends of the Earth Helped Me Make Peace with Christmas as a Jew

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