I never heard of Tashlich before this article or video. Tashlich is a form of a prayer or very old Jewish tradition that Jews perform when repenting for their sins and commemorating G-d as their king. Specifically done on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, Jews pray next to a large body of water and recite special verses to cast away their sins and prepare for the new year. The reason this is done on Rosh Hashanah, is so that G-d blesses us with a happy and healthy new year. The reason, it is performed near a body of water, such as a lake, river or pond is because water symbolizes the trip Abraham took to sacrifice his own son Isaac on the day of Rosh Hashanah. It is symbolic for Jews to cast away their sins and prepare for a new year with G-d by their side. If there was one thing I can cast away it would be any negative attitude or emotions towards people. This upcoming year, I want to work on my patience with others and have a more positive attitude towards people at work and in my personal relationships.
I give the name of this photo a very simple one, "Girl in Tzfat". This picture was taken in the middle of the day while on a day tour of Tzfat. Even though, we didn't get a chance to see the whole city, I feel like I got a huge essence of it by walking down the quite streets and also seeing the artwork. The city is known for its artwork and spirituality. It is where I really began to discover my own Jewish identity. Seeing this girl in the middle of a quiet street, and how natural she was in her surrounding was what moved me.
3) Read through the prayers and slowly think about what you’re saying and don’t be overly concerned about being behind. Look, the worst that could happen is that you will fall behind, but don’t worry, they’ll probably announce the pages so you can always catch up.
- In my opinion, this tip is very important to me. Im usually concerned with what it is exactly I'm pronouncing and if I sound funny. If I stop thinking like that and actually slow down to try to understand the meaning then I will make it more meaningful for myself and not worry about if Im following along exactly page by page.
2) “Unfulfilled expectations lead to self-imposed frustrations.” Therefore, don’t expect to be “moved” by every prayer or to follow along with the entire service.
- My first prayer service, I believed I was going to have a powerful moving experience the whole way through and that definitely was not the case. I was taking everything in slowly and analyzing the rabbi, the room, and the prayer being said. I felt myself distracted at times and not paying attention 100 percent. However, there were few moments where I actually enjoyed the feeling I got when I followed along and watched others. Another tip, which I can take away from is not worrying over the fact that I don't speak Hebrew and might not pronounce the prayers properly. As long as I'm trying, is what counts.
One tip I can suggest to others is to not care about how you look and just be in the moment. So many people are nervous about how they look or sound and that should not matter when you are attending a prayer service. It is about being in the moment and feeling connected to the Jewish community you are a part of.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q2nLAWVzU4. This video is Called This is Israel: Resilience. This video is about a young man that was severely injured while fighting for Israel. He almost lost his leg and had to have numerous surgeries to repair it. After long months of recovery, he was able to walk on his own two feet again. He was determined to overcome the pain and walk again. After doing so, he became a doctor with a better understanding of what its like to be injured and to suffer. He believes his injury gives him a different perspective in the field, having to go through such a hardship in his life. Giving him an advantage towards his patients and understanding them. Naming his daughter Neta, which means a sapling in Hebrew. He wants to pass on his brave soul to his own "seed". Asael shows his bravery not only through his determination to fight for Israel, but as well as helping patients who have experienced similar injuries and hardships. People of Israel continue to fight not only for the country, but for the people.
I watched the video about a young man named Zeev who decided to join the IDF from a young age and stand by Israel. It is very moving to see such a young man so determined and passionate to fight for a country he loves and believes in. Zeev knew this was his destiny from a young age and he continues to fight for Israel, even though he lost a close friend in the army. It made me view Israel as a powerful country who influences people in a positive way, such as to fight for the country and stand by its side no matter the hardships or consequences these young people have to face.
I listened to the podcast about Gossip by Batya and Mottle. We all know what gossip is and surely have gossiped about someone or something once before. However, what I did not know that the Torah has and Mottle explained was the laws of guarding the tongue. Apparently, the Torah has 31 different speech related commandments. Mottle described a few and it was interesting enough some things I have gossiped about. For example, you should not compliment someone if you do not mean it. Or you can not sell non kosher meat to someone and claim it as being kosher. Most of the commandments were simple morals one should have. It was interesting to know that the Torah has as many as 31 commandments in regards to how we use our tongue with others and about others.
The story was about a surgeon who was detached from his patients and their intricate personal lives. As a surgeon dealing with many patients on a daily basis, he was insensitive to them. However, when his sister was diagnosed with cervical cancer, his perspective and attitude changed. He was now on the other side, and was very sad. We do not realize the pain of others until we are hit with it personally. I thought the story was very relatable to people working in the medical field who have to see patients and their families dealing with death. Medical personnel such as doctors and nurses are trained to be strong as "soldiers". But no on prepares them to deal with a death when it is personal to them. I experienced a death in the family a couple of years ago and watched my mother mourn the death of her father. I never really understood how other people felt when they lost a loved one or family member. Just like the surgeon in the story, you become weak and not as strong as you are on the other side delivering the news.
This year, celebrating Rosh Hashanah was a lot of fun for me because I got to spend it with friends and family. It started off at my aunts house for a big family dinner. We had the traditional apples and honey on the table, along with sweet honey cake. My aunt always says its her favorite part of celebrating because it means we will have a sweet year ahead. Ever since I was a child, I would remember her telling me that and it stuck to me. I had apples with honey and said blessings with my family. After celebrating with family, I got to see my friends and continued the celebration with food, drinks, and music.
I have never celebrated Sukkot before and I was invited by my co-worker to celebrate with her and her family. She explained to me what the holiday was about and why you had to eat inside the tent like structure. She explained to me that her husband builds one every year and they always have a lot of guests over. I went for the second night of Sukkot and we had a delicious homemade meal with lots of variety. Her husband said a blessing and read a prayer from the Torah. I had a lot of fun and definitely hope to experience it again next year.
On Yom Kippur this year, I decided I was going to fast and go to temple. I talked to one of my good friends and we decided we would go together. We picked the reform temple in our neighborhood. I had taken the day off and we went to temple early in the day. When we got there, I ran into my neighbor who happens to work there. She greeted me nicely and was happy to see me. At the time, they had child services happening and a learning class. We joined the service with all the adults and small children. We were both attending service for Yom Kippur for the first time. We were excited and a little anxious. We broke fast together by having Kosher sushi. The most meaningful part for me was seeing the small children with their parents attending service. Even though they might not have known exactly why they were there and what the holiday was about, they were happy to be a part of it. I definitely want to bring my future children to temple and have them be a part of their religion and culture from a young age.
One of my favorite little restaurants in my neighborhood is this small kosher place called Pahal Zan. They have been featured in several magazines and have the best falafel and different salads to go with it. Whenever I go there, I usually get a chicken kebab platter with various sides or the falafel on pita. This time, I decided to try their lamb kebab. I had this with hummus, Israeli salad, and loads of pickles, yum! I definitely recommend this place if you want delicious Israeli food!
I really enjoyed watching the Love and Relationships class. It was interesting to see people's answers and answers to questions about love and what are key elements in a lasting relationship. This video clearly explains how men and women view relationships differently. Women seek love and wanted to be respected. However, a man seeks respect and then love. Men and women both want understanding, caring and compassionate partners. Physical attraction fades after a while but strong communication and understanding what the other one wants and needs is what makes a lasting relationship. We all want someone to be honest with us and their feelings. To not hold hatred or negative emotions in our heart. It is important to communicate with our partners and seek a safe place. Boundaries should be set in a relationship and to watch your words and actions. Treat others how you want to be treated in return. To value people with their virtues while accepting them with their faults is a way we can achieve great love.
During this time as we reflect on the year that just passed and think about the year ahead, there are a few things I would like to ask from G-d. First, is patience to deal with everyday struggles. There are times I get frustrated and stressed out and I end up giving up. I want patience to get me through whatever I'm trying to overcome and achieve with success. Second, I ask G-d to bring my family and friends health and watch over their well-being physically and mentally. And last, I would want to ask for guidance for my future in my career, love and spiritual life. I am not exactly where I want to be spiritually and sometimes I wish I had the courage to pray more to G-d and attend prayer services. It feels good to know that my friends and family members encourage me to further seek my jewish identity and challenge myself to find more meaning behind it. To me Jewish identity is beyond who you are, its the people you surround yourself with and what you can do for your Jewish community. This year I want to do more for my community through charity and volunteering to help those who are less fortunate and in need. In addition, I plan on going to the synagogue with friends and family. I want to be able to feel more spiritually connected with G-d.
After watching this video I learned how important it is for us to feel connected to G-d. The father used the story with his son as an example to show us that even though we might not be perfect in doing what we hoped to, we still want to feel included and be part of something. The boy wanted to go with his father to Schul but didn't want to stop playing either. The father had to understand this and make a compromise with him. In the same way, G-d has to understand that we may sin and do wrong doings but we still hold him in high regard. Therefore, for Yom Kippur we ask G-d to forgive us.
You Kippur is considered the holiest day of the year because it is the day of Atonement. It is the time when we repent of all our sins and essentially ask G-d for forgiveness. It's taken seriously because it's the time to spend time with friends and family and reflect on the past yeat. Any wrong doings we have done to our friends and family is asked to be forgiven. Thus, G-d is judging us and ridding of sins and preparing us for the new year with a "clean slate". I have observed the holiday before but did not always have a clear understanding about it. This year I prepare to observe it by fasting and going to service for prayer.
I read Start up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle" by authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer. I was intrigued to read this book after learning about Israel and start-ups during a panel in Tel Aviv during my birthright trip. The panel was about Israel being one of the largest countries in the world with the most of amount of start-ups. I learned that Israel invests more money than any other country on research and development. Thus, Israel’s economy in recent years has grown faster than the average for the developed economies of the world. Despite the wars that Israel has fought again and again, it doesn’t stop them from continuing to develop their country. It actually has been the opposite. While Israel was being hit with the second Lebanon war, the global venture capital market doubled! The world’s major companies benefit from Israeli innovations by buying the Israeli start up and/or setting up an Israeli R&D Center. It is so great to know that a nation that has been through so many struggles and wars, is doing so well in regard to economic development. The country takes risks in coming up with new innovative designs and ideas and shares them with larger companies. In turn, it is a collaborative process. This book made me look at Israel in a different light. It gives the country hope for the future and the IDF soldiers , which should proud to fight for a country who despite being under attack are advancing in technology and start-up businesses.
This past Friday I hosted a Shabbat meal at my house. I invited my good friend and her boyfriend and my aunt. My friend's boyfriend grew up in Israel and has Shabbat meals at his parents house all the time. He was the important guest at our Shabbat meal because he read from the Torah in Hebrew. My aunt was in awe of this and was very impressed how well he spoke Hebrew and said the blessings before and after the meal. It was very special having him there because he is the only one who made the meal even more meaningful for all of us. My family and I used to have Shabbat meals at my grandparents house and my late grandfather would read prayers. Ever since he passed away, we don't get together for Shabbat. So this was nice having everyone over our house with family and friends. My mom and I baked salmon with redskin potatoes. We had various salads and Israeli spreads. In addition, we drank kosher red wine and even had a little grape juice. For dessert we had a home made apple pie. The most enjoyable part of the meal was sitting around the table and everyone sharing memories from their time in Israel. It was very interesting to hear everyone's different stories and experiences as everyone at the table has at least visited Israel once. Everyone left my house full and content. I would definitely host a Shabbat meal again and invite all of the same people.
I watched the Comedy of Conflict film and read the two separate suggested readings. I really enjoyed watching the film and how they incorporated various short clips from famous movies to explain conflict and how these characters overcame them and passed the "suffering" stage. We find these conflicts that the characters are going through as entertaining because we know that they will overcome it and come to a better ending. We enjoy watching others overcome obstacles. However, in real life situations when we are presented with conflict, we tend to ask ourselves why is this happening to me? This film and reading is suggesting that conflict is brought to us from G-d and it is there to help us overcome a certain struggle and better ourselves. If these conflicts are presented by god than it means we are being taught a lesson and it is for the better. Judaism believes everything happens for the better, even if it is something terrible such as illness or hardships. A life without conflict and struggle suggests that we wont leave this world better than we entered it. It is important to have conflict to grow as a person and appreciate the life we have. The conflicts presented in movies show these characters going through pain and suffering but also show how they overcome it. The lessons being taught are that G-d is not responsible for the horrible things in life such as starvation and killings. However, he is responsible in presenting to you different conflicts and pain in order for you to overcome these struggles and grow as a better person. If we only lived based on pleasure, then life would be mundane.
This podcast was very interesting in that it provided the meaning how the Jewish calendar separates the different months based on holidays and historic times. Nissan, considered the beginning month of the Jewish Calendar and Adar, the end of the Jewish Calendar year. In addition, why is that we celebrate Rosh Hashanah in the middle of year and not at the beginning. Rosh Hashanah is during the Tishrei month. I was not aware of the different Jewish months and their special dates within that month. This information will be useful to know when referring to a Jewish Calendar for Holidays. David Sacks gave insightful information regarding the Jewish months and how we perceive virtual reality. I would definitely recommend this podcast to a friend and would listen to his other podcasts.
I decided to donate a portion of my deposit back to Taglit Birthright Israel. I had such a wonderful experience on this trip and would love others to have the same experience as well. To know that my donation will make it possible for others to have a once in a lifetime experience, puts a smile on my face.
I watched Charlie's video on the Chuppa,http://www.aish.com/v/r/Chuppah_Why_the_Tent.html. With wedding season here and seeing many wedding posts on Facebook, this one caught my attention. Before seeing this, I actually did not know why at a Jewish wedding you get married under a "tent like" structure. It is interesting to know the meaning behind it and how it symbolizes the ideal spiritual home for the new bride and groom. It made me think of my future wedding and how I would go about having my Chuppa decorated.
After returning from my trip to Israel, I told my cousin all about it. I explained to him why I chose URJ Kesher and how it was a great learning experience! He's never been to Israel and I told him this program is perfect for him because it doesn't pressure you to be more or less Jewish. He will be signing up for the Summer 2016 season.
My trip to Israel with birthright was very memorable. I felt at home in Israel both spiritually and physically. I have always heard stories of people traveling to Israel and how much they feel connected to the people and the land. I didn't quite understand what they meant by this untili I got to experience it for myself. After visiting the Western Wall, I felt very connected to G-d and felt like I could actually pray to him directly. I got very emotional at the wall and stood there for a while with my head down and my hand touching the wall. I didn't even expect to get so emotional as I did. Two years ago, I lost my Grandfather and this hit me very hard. He always dreamt of going to Isrsel. I felt so spiritually connected to him and to G-d at the western wall. In the past two years since his passing, I have become more aware of my Jewish identity and have prayed more. Therefore, being in Israel was so special for me because I felt in my heart that I was experiencing Israel for both my Grandfather and I.
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AboutThe 100 Point Challenge is an opportunity for returning Taglit-Birthright participants to TRY a variety of Jewish activities, find those activities that they LOVE and want to continue to LIVE. Bring Israel Home participants can choose to complete any Jewish activity that speaks to them to earn 100 points. 50% or more of the American participants in a participating Taglit-Birthright bus must earn 100 points on the Bring Israel Home website within three months after returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience to earn a Bring Israel Home reunion. The Bring Israel Home 100 Point Challenge is divided into two milestones. Participants must earn 50 points within the first month of returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience to qualify for the following milestone. After achieving the first milestone, participants have two months to earn their final 50 points of Jewish activity. The milestones are clearly outlines below:MilestonesMilestone 1: 50% of a Taglit-Birthright bus must complete 50 points of Jewish activity in the first month after returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience. Milestone 2: 50% of a Taglit-Birthright bus must complete 100 points of Jewish activity in the two months after achieving Milestone 1. Travel Stipends*:
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At The Maimonides Fellowship, you will have the opportunity to meet with like-minded peers with a choice of over 100 locations nationwide. The program meets 1x a week for 10 weeks and includes an exciting Shabbaton Weekend Retreat. The weekly meetings include FREE food, along with dynamic discussion on HOT topics relating to Israel and Judaism. Upon completion, Fellowship participants typically receive $300-$500 CASH or a FREE/Highly subsidized trip!
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