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Posts Tagged ‘Shabbat’

Shabbat and the Environment - Olameinu: Jewish Environmentalism

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

One of the areas of Jewish environmentalism that doesn’t often get spoken of is Shabbat. We most often think of Shabbat as a spiritual time. This is a time for rest but not typical physical rest, rather spiritual engagement, discussion, family time etc.

All of that is true but there is another component that touches on environmentalism. One of the ideas behind Shabbat is the concept of self-discipline and withholding myself from imposing onto the world around me. For one day a week I am reminded that I am ‘part of’ and not ‘owner of’ the world.

On Shabbat I must respect the natural world around me and refrain from interfering in its natural process. I should not be pulling grass our or killing bugs or chopping wood or any of the other ways in which I assert myself onto nature and dictate what should happen.

Take a moment on Shabbat to notice how you can restrain yourself in this way and create yet another level of meaning to the Jewish Sabbath.

Half Shabbos

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Have you heard about Orthodox Jews who send texts on Shabbat? There’s no punchline here. Originating from groups of Orthodox Jewish teens, “Half Shabbos” is keeping Shabbat yet using your cell phone to stay connected to friends. Watch this video to learn more about the growing conversation occurring across Shabbat dinner tables.

Not my average weekend

Monday, February 1st, 2010

My weekends are often spent catching up on sleep, running errands and socializing with friends. This weekend, I decided to change it up a bit.

Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat Shalom

Following a wonderful Shabbat pot luck dinner with friends, I woke up early and headed up north to cottage country.  I was thrilled to be among great friends, the peace of the wilderness and it was an added bonus that we celebrated Tu Bishvat together. On Shabbat we ate 15 species of fruit and grains that had different levels of edibility (edible skin, edible pit, inedible skin, inedible pit) which acts as a metaphor for different personality types and we blessed  four cups of wine representative of the seasons.      I was inaccessible via phone, there was no Facebook activity and we were treated with 20+ centimetres of snow.  While I often complain that I have chosen to settle in such a climate, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to wear snowpants, sled down the driveway and catch snowflakes on my tongue. It helped that I was among young children and toddlers.

Jewish Holidays

Showered with snow

Jewish BeliefsSeasons are important. They force us into different clothing, they encourage us to participate in exciting activities and they help instill an appreciation for our surroundings and our religious observances and celebrations.

These 3 crazy nights!

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Since Chanukah began, I have managed to celebrate with different friends, family in real time and face to face on each night.

You see, my entire family lives elsewhere and I just NEEDED to be included in their Chanukah candle lighting this year.  So, I coordinated with my sister and we met on Skype just in time. An added bonus that we were also celebrating Shabbat!  

While my sister-in-law couldn’t get over the fact that we communicating like the Jetsons did, we all recited the brachot and sang Ha’nerot Halalu.  Truly a moment.

Yesterday, I celebrated the second night of Chanukah with over 200 Russian-Israeli Jews in Thornhill at their community celebration.  The ’setlist’ of the show included such favourites as Tumbalalaika and a traditional Russian dance dedicated to all of the Babuskas and Dedushkas in attendance. A whole new experience with such a familiar feel.

And tonight, after a couple hours of peeling, grating and frying, I have consumed my annual quota of latkes.  Classic potato latkes, with options of sour cream, maple syrup and applesauce as toppings.  The 3 adult attendees at this evening’s feast each had their own favourite topping and the child enjoyed the applesauce best. Mostly without the latke.  So, I created a quiz to get feedback from our readers out there.

CLICK the photo to take the quiz!

CLICK the link to take the quiz!



Feeling Like a Bigger Piece of The Puzzle

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

A key moment in our prayer service is the Shema. It is our personal and community declaration that we have one God and that our God is One. My synagogue community is small with only a couple dozen people attending Shabbat services on a weekly basis, and maybe 200 people when there’s a Bar or Bat Mitzvah happening. In small congregations like mine and small Jewish communities spread all over North America it can sometimes be hard to feel a greater spiritual connection to Judaism.

Shabbat Morning service with 3500 fellow congregants in Toronto

This past weekend I spent Shabbat at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial Convention in downtown Toronto.

Kabbalat Shabbat services was attended by over 3500 Jews from all across North America. Talk about a lot of Jews in one room. The most amazing feeling was being able to join in prayer with over 3000 people, and standing all together as we recited the Shema, “Hear O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is one!” It was such a wonderful experience surrounded by so many people joined together by prayer.

Boston Travelog

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Last weekend I traveled to Boston for my cousin’s wedding. From my research I discovered that Boston is a beautiful walking city and in the fall it has even been described as “heaven on earth”. In addition to exploring the natural beauty, I was looking forward to discovering Jewish Boston.  While we have the Bathurst Street strip in Toronto, I was excited to engage in something new.

This is what I found:

Only in America!

Only in America!

Again...Only in America!

Again...Only in America!

Only in Jewish America!

Only in Jewish America!

The Brookline neighbourhood in Boston proved to be rich in Jewish culture and I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure. In addition to the sites and sounds of Jewish life, particularly on a Friday afternoon. This was my favourite:



So, in sum, Boston had what to offer AND it lived up to its beautiful reputation…

Minus the power lines...

Minus the power lines...

Hope restored

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

I am sometimes fearful of the types of children, specifically girls, that are being raised in our society. I frequently witness the preoccupation with pop culture, celebrity gossip and fashion among our young women. This past Shabbat, my hope was restored and I felt that everything will be alright. I attended a Bat Mitzvah and the theme was “THINK PINK” - A popular and successful breast cancer awareness campaign.  http://shop.thebreastcancersite.com/store/site.do?siteId=224 The Bat Mitzvah girl had designated a certain percentage of her Bat Mitzvah gifts to this worthy cause. Not only was the tzedakah project a monetary contribution, but a Breast Cancer awareness board to educate the attendees of her simcha, was handmade.

While I understand tzedakah projects are common among our young men and women, this project was creative, thought provoking and inspiring!