The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Candy Suitable to the Clientele

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on January 27, 2011


Weekend in Pictures: Tu B’Shevat Seder

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on January 23, 2011

(From “A Seder for Tu B’Shevat,” by Harlene Winnick Appelman and Jane Sherwin Shapiro, illustrated by Chari R. McLean.)

The Kabbalists, a group of Jewish mystics living in Israel in the 16th century, created a seder for Tu B’Shevat. Today we gather as they did to study, sing, and celebrate the great miracle of trees.

seder plate

We have three seder plates:

1. fruit with a peel or shell that cannot be eaten, e.g. orange, tangerine, grapefruit, kiwi, coconut, peanut, walnut, almond, pomegranate (the oranges and blood oranges on the seder plate today came from the Eizenwassers’ trees, and they were delicious – simply perfect!)

2. fruit with pits or seeds that cannot be eaten, e.g. peach, plum, avocado, date, olive, cherry, apricot

3. fruit edible both inside and outside, e.g. grape, raisin, fig, cranberry, apple, pear, strawberry, carob

We drink four cups of wine (or, in the case of the religious school kids, grape juice), each to remind us of a different season.

The first cup is entirely white grape juice, reminding us of winter.

The second cup is darker. Add a bit of red grape juice to the white. It reminds us of spring.

The third cup is red juice with a dash of white: summer.

The fourth cup is all red: the autumn harvest season.

In past years, we’ve planted a tree on Tu B’Shevat, but this year, the kids planted parsley from seeds. Presuming it grows, we can use the parsley at Passover.

Parsley seeds do NOT taste good. (There's one in every crowd.)

Many years ago in Israel, there lived a righteous man whose name was Honi. One day, Honi saw an old man planting a carob tree. His grandchild was helping him. Honi laughed. “Foolish man,” he said, “do you think you will still be alive to eat the fruit of this tree?”

The old man replied, “I found trees in the world when I was born. My grandparents planted them for me. Now I am planting for my grandchildren.”

Weary from the heat of the day, Honi retired to a shady spot for a nap. But the short nap became a sleep of 70 years, and when he awakened, he did not know that his hair had turned white as snow. He was surprised to see a full-grown carob tree and an elderly man picking its fruit. “Are you the man who planted the tree?” Honi asked.

“No,” the old man replied. “My grandfather planted it for me.”

Many Jewish children are given Hebrew names for flowers and trees that bloom in Israel:

  • Tamar – palm
  • Oren – pine
  • Ilan – tree
  • Shoshana – lily
  • Alon – oak
  • Vered – rose
  • Dafna – laurel


Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on January 13, 2011

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it feels like an hour. Talk to a pretty girl for an hour and it feels like a minute.”

– Albert Einstein

You know how when you had one kid, it all seemed very overwhelming and hard, but once you have two, if you get to go somewhere with only one, it feels really easy?

Well today I had to dig two terrified cats out from under two different beds (who says I don’t have regular opportunity to turn the mattresses?) and hustle them off to the vet.

Easy peasy.

As I sat in the waiting room, sweating from exertion, covered with cat hair, dog hair, and scratches, I remembered the time I arrived at the vet with THREE cats in carriers, a preschooler, and newborn strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn. Plus a purse and diaper bag filled with snacks, toys, and burp cloths. And diapers.

And that, my friends, is the beauty of a little perspective.

Debbie Friedman 1952-2011

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on January 9, 2011

Beauty in Fragility

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on January 9, 2011

Life is so precious in part because it is at once so fragile and yet so enduring. At the end of the day, everything we think we have, including our closest loved ones, are on temporary loan to us from God, the universe, whatever you want to call it.

As I think about the tragedy of the Arizona shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, and bystanders, I think of the randomness of it all. Bad things happen sometimes. Even horrible – the worst! – things happen.

There has been plenty of political rhetoric especially since the rise of the Tea Party movement, but I don’t blame them. I don’t think it’s wise or particularly tasteful to put people – actual, living human beings – in gun sights, even if it’s just pretend – but I don’t think that caused this horrible tragedy.

What caused this horrible tragedy is the fact that sometimes in the world there are crazy people who do horrible things. Sometimes also there are hurricanes and floods, earthquakes and train wrecks.

A quick look at two of the shooter’s videos posted on Youtube was all I needed to see to realize he is clearly crazy. Often schizophrenia emerges in young men of his age. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be schizophrenic or have some other grave mental disease.

It is horrifying that he had ready access to the gun he used to commit his crimes, but I don’t believe tighter gun laws would have stopped him from eventually obtaining what he used.

It is hard to accept that sometimes there is horror in life and it’s just that — horror. It’s not possible to assign rational blame. So where do you put the hurt, the anger, the worry, the fear?

You move past it, and you turn it to an appreciation for the miracle that is the endurance of life. I heard this morning that Gabrielle Giffords was able to squeeze her hand and hold up two fingers, both signs that she could understand commands, which indicates function in the left side of her brain, which was devastated by the bullet. To be shot in the head, to have a bullet completely go through your brain and come out the other side, and to emerge alive and with even the most rudimentary of function, is nothing short of a miracle.

Gabrielle Giffords is Jewish (the first ever female Jewish member of Congress from Arizona) so I’ll call it nes, or miracle. Nes, nes, nes.