Recent Gaza violence

The amount of hated towards Jews in the last few weeks is astounding!

Israel was created as a refuge for those who could not go anywhere else.

The amount of hatred displayed in the last few weeks really is proof that it’s creation was necessary.

As Golda Meir said, we would rather be alive and with a bad image than dead and pitied.

Making Challah the Easy Way

I’m sure some would say it’s cheating, that’s is going against tradition, but I just love my new bread maker.

There is nothing like waking up to the smell of fresh bread in the morning. For a notoriously inconsistent baker like myself, having a soft fluffy loaf magically appear is pure gold.

Of course today I’m trying to make challah again. Last week the dough was lovely and soft, but oh so sticky to work with. The week prior turned out more like a plaited scone (what I believe Americans call a biscuit?).

It’s very satisfying to cook delicious things for my family, giving a deep sense of satisfaction and connectedness to many previous generations of women.

My matzah balls are definitely better than my baking though…

End of Judaism

Internal division. Highly likely that this will expedite the downfall of Judaism. The level of disrespect and lack of empathy seen amongst the different denominations can be extreme. Everyone knows that this antipathy is in direct conflict with the underlying tenets of Judaism, but pride overrides this anyway.

The different denominations are here to stay, denying this delays our capacity for growth and increased strength.

Besides there has always been different streams throughout the ages.

From an outside perspective, to 99% of the world, if someone calls themselves a Jew, then they’re a Jew. The fact is that we are a tiny proportion of the world, and that survival should always be paramount.

I get the immense pride in perpetuating the Judaism of our ancestors and it is an admirable goal and deeply spiritually satisfying.

Those who scapegoat and hate Jews however, do not give a fig about who follows traditional halakha the most stringently.

Those who hate us are laughing at us and our internal division.

Tu B’Shvat

It is Holocaust Remembrance Day and now also Tu B’Shvat, the birthday of the trees for tithing purposes.

Such an interesting juxtaposition. Fear and hate led to nearly successful genocide of European Jewry, not to mention the incitement of pogroms across the world. But yet, an ancient Jewish tradition persists at the same time, one that is being reinvented to ensure it stays relevant to Jews in the modern world.

The Tree of Life lives on.

Rejection of the Ugandan Jews

The Israeli Interior Ministry has determined that the small Ugandan community of Jews called Abayudaya are not Jewish enough to be eligible to immigrate to Israel.

They converted to Judaism in early the 1900s, doing so with no contact with established communities in the Diaspora, which I think is pretty amazing.

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/a-history-of-the-abuyudaya-jews-of-uganda

I suppose this decision is probably because the Abayudaya are associated with Conservative Judaism, through which formal conversions occurred in relatively recent history.

Surely supporting these nascent communities can only benefit Israel? How about just the simple fact that there is strength in numbers?

Mikveh Day – Post 2

My mikveh!

I am now Jewish.

What a feeling of elation, the amazing feeling of immersing and saying the blessings with my Rabbi next to me, guiding me.

There were 3 blessings, 1 after each immersion, in the Ashkenazic tradition.

  • Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam asher k’dshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al ha’t’vilah
  • Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam shecheheyanu v’ki’imanu v’hi’gianu lazman hazeh
  • Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad baruch shem k’vod malchuto l’olam va’ed

I truly felt the presence of something greater than myself.

I felt a connection to prior generations of Jews who had to give up their religion entirely. Those Jews who never even knew the heritage they were entitled to, because their parents had forsaken Judaism out of fear. Those Jews yet to come who deserve to know where they are from. Nature. Humanity. God.

My daughter was also immersed in the mikveh. For her I said the blessings on her behalf. I didn’t quite give her enough warning so she spluttered a bit, but she’s a trooper. Immediately after she was welcomed to the covenant and given her Hebrew name officially. It was moving and fulfilling. I gave her a little silver necklace with her Hebrew name on it when we got out.

Having a mikveh outdoors was just perfect. Although on a warm summer’s day there wasn’t oodles of privacy, I was so grateful to be able to take the final crucial step outdoors, where I feel most at peace and most at one with the world and the one who created it.

Shalom.

Mikveh Day – Post 1

So here it is.

The day of my conversion. Up at ridiculous-o’clock because I can’t sleep.


Haven’t seen a dawn for a while. In particular, haven’t been this excited to see dawn in a while.

Today I will go to the mikveh, which in our community involves a trip to the local rockpool. Luckily for me and the toddler it is going to be a very warm day. Think 37 degrees celsius.

Today I will become officially Jewish.

I have heard other people say they felt terrified, or even dissociated at this point. I feel super-duper excited.

Personally I don’t have any doubts that this is what I was always meant to be, I don’t feel as though I am leaving behind anything, but that I am gaining an inheritance that was always there, finally claiming a part of who I was always meant to be.

I just hope there’s not too many people at the beach today…

Israel – Post 1

I think part of the problem with some people’s perception of Israel is that they can’t quite believe that Jews have actually maintained an unbroken line of tradition and religious practice for nearly 2000 years.

How could they possibly have been able to sustain this continuity for so long whilst in exile? How could they possibly be the same people who were kicked out of the Levant all that time ago?

I have seen some who claim that all European Jews were descendants of the Khazars and so couldn’t possibly be direct descendants of those exiled originally. This seems like a very convenient justification, with absolutely no evidence behind it. But then, people will always conveniently forget the truth when it suits their purposes.

Annexation

Israel was set up as a sanctuary for those who had no where else to go.

Israel has controlled the West Bank for decades, but now they want to make it official. They’re not exactly going to listen to the rest of the world telling them not to do it. Israel doesn’t have any reason to trust the rest of the world, everything it’s achieved has been pretty much on its own. It fought hard for its survival from the day it was formed. But those with no where else to go have every reason to fight.

I believe that the Palestinians have a legitimate claim to self-determination and self-governance on their own land, but where should that land be?

It’s not going to be the rest of the world that decides the answer, that’s for Israel and it’s neighbours to work out.

The Messiah in Judaism

Perfecting the world. Photo by @mfassphotos

Obviously one of the big differences between Christianity and Judaism is the fact that only one of them believes that a Jew called Jesus was the Messiah.

The main reason for this is that in Judaism the Messiah will not arrive until the world has been perfected. What route we take to reach that perfection varies depending on your view point. There are Jews who spend all their spare energy getting other Jews to perform mitzvot, because when a certain number of mitzvot have been performed, the world will be perfected.

Many Jews actively work towards perfecting the world, or at least righting its wrongs and injustices. I really admire that the pursuit of social justice and equality is such a strong focus in Judaism. That’s not to say it’s not in other religions as well.

Some Jews believe that the actual Messiah will come at some point. Others believe more in a messianic age. Shabbat is supposed to be a taste of this perfect world.

Hope is a necessary part of the human experience. Hope for a better world drives many people to do exceptional things. I personally totally agree with the idea that you must not sit idly by and wait for a perfect world to come to you, that the only way to achieve it is by action.

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