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
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
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
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
I've got some trips coming up down to the lower 48 and while I've written before about the logistics of backcountry camping kosher, I thought it might be good to write about traveling while observant, for those who might be new to it. Kosher travel really begins when we begin planning our trip, specifically the … Continue reading Wandering Jew-ish? Traveling Kosher!
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
A little known fact I learned this Yom Kippur, during Neileh services. Anchorage, Alaska, is, in fact, the final Orthodox Jewish community to say Neileh, sounding the shofar later than any other community in the world. As we davened, I couldn't help but feel a weighty responsibility, as if we were the last to leave … Continue reading The Last to Close the Gates of Heaven