December 2008


Visions of Paul Newman and Tom Cruise walking into a pool hall, sharks looking over their prey, flash through my head as my daughter sits down at the dining room table. This petite young girl with innocent eyes sizes us up and then proceeds to shut us out, winning both games tonight.

We all decided we would play two games per night with the winner(s) getting to eat two coins each. Last night my daughter, aka the ringer, won our family’s first ever dreidel game convincingly by spinning Gimmel 5 times in a row. Actually, she spun 9 Gimmels in a row as we wanted to see just how long she could continue. Immediately my son and I concluded she must be using a loaded dreidel, so a switch was made. No luck, the onslaught continued tonight with two more victories in her gelt belt bringing her record to 3-1.

Something must be done. She has to be stopped. There’s too much chocolate at stake here!

Gelt

Gelt

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One of the things that I am beginning to love about blogging is that finding other bloggers with great posts is easy. Just today I came across Blogshul. Rabbi Yonah posts about an interesting family that devotes there time to helping others:

Miracle in the Hood

This brings up an interesting point. As I continue to grow in my conversion I am inspired by the level of importance that Judaism places on tzedakah (charity). This is not just some afterthought or something that is done only around the holidays. It is an everyday event. A lot of families have their own tzedakah box where all family members are encouraged to make donations which are collected and distributed to various charities.

This year, as my family celebrates our first Chanukah we have set aside one night where instead of giving presents to each other we will give to those truly in need. In fact, I’m looking forward to setting up our own tzedakah box and making charity a bigger priority in all of our lives.

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Chanukah is quickly approaching and I was in the mood for something funny. So, without further ado… Enjoy!

Thanks to Jason Patterson, I’ve come across a video series called God on Trial (WARNING: profanity, violence) produced by the BBC.

The screenplay is based on an event described by Elie Wiesel in his book The Trial of God, where prisoners of Auschwitz form a Beit Din to decide whether or not YHWH has broken His covenant with Israel. The story is fictional but stunning nevertheless. It asks the question “what if?” What if YHWH has abandoned us? What if we are no longer the chosen people?

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This will be the first Chanukah celebration for not only myself but for my family as well. So, after visiting numerous websites a Chanukiah selection was made (final approval given by my wife of course!) The order was placed, shipment notification was received and at long last the question of  “What can brown do for me?” was answered. However, all was not as it seems…

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This is an issue I have been dealing with since I first began my studies and conversion. I am really hoping that those of you that might have been down this road before can offer some advice.

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The Western Wall (Kotel)

The Western Wall (Kotel), image copyright NICHOLASTAN

For the past couple of months I have had this longing to daven at the Kotel in Yerushalayim. It’s almost like there’s a small part of me that feels empty inside, like I’m missing something in my life and each day the desire to visit Yerushalayim becomes stronger. Now, I know that YHWH hears us no matter where in the world we daven but I can’t shake this feeling. The closest thing I can compare it to was the loneliness I endured before I met my bride, albeit in a spiritual sense.

I imagine that inside of me are many jars, some completely full, some partially full, some empty, and many that I am not even aware of yet. I praise YHWH for the way He has poured out His blessings upon me. He has been generous with an abundance of full jars (my bride, our kids, family, friends, Fellowship, our dachshunds). Still I wonder, why has He made known to me the empty jars? Actually, instead of kvetching I should be praising Him for not showing me all the empty jars in my life.

See, this is an area that I still really struggle with. I know YHWH blesses me so greatly and yet I still find myself kvetching about such minor things. Basically, it boils down to the fact that I am too spoiled. I have endured so little when I look at what others have gone through and what others still continue to deal with. Does this make me a bad person?

When I found this beautiful image captured by wl2ider on Flickr it truly touched me as it completely expresses what I am feeling inside. So much soul, it’s almost like we can get a glimpse into this man’s innermost feelings. Thank you Nicholastan for sharing this with us!

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