The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Everybody Panic

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on October 31, 2011

Jews are funny. We can be absolutely about the gravest matters (death, politics, religion, suicide bombers), while we get completely wound up about minor things (lukewarm coffee, confusing freeway onramp signs.) We’re incredibly earthy, earnestly discussing life and death, but then we get all sidetracked by whether someone accidentally mixed Skittles and M & Ms in the same candy jar.

So anyway.

I’m working a volunteer shift selling bagels to the school kids at our temple. It’s a fun job and the time goes by quickly, though they do insist on serving “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” (Heresy! Bits tried some on a day when they ran out of cream cheese, took one bite, and handed it back to me in disgust. “What IS this?!”)

As our shift is winding down, the school director walks by. “Earthquake and lockdown drill in five minutes.”

Okay, so that’s normal. We live in Southern California, and we have regular earthquake drills. I get it. Lockdown drills might be a bit more unusual, especially for schoolkids in Poway/Rancho Bernardo, bit it’s not unheard of.

But a gunman scenario? Nobody told the kids in advance. “How can we tell how they’ll do if we warn them?”

Wow. Admirably uncompromising. And I do love temple. I don’t think these drills will traumatize the kids. (Me, maybe, but probably not the kids.)

The other bagel mom and I were advised to “find someplace to hide and lock the door.” Also we were lucky because (A) we had five minutes to plan where to hide; and (B) there’s not a real gunman. (And really, isn’t (B) the main reason we are lucky?)

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Sefer with the Sofer

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on October 24, 2011

A sofer (scribe) writes a sefer (scroll.) Temple Adat Shalom commissioned a new sefer ha Torah (Torah scroll) in honor of its double-chai (36th) anniversary.

Here is an up-close look at sefer Rabbi Attia’s work:

Our family sponsored a word of Torah in honor of Grandma Pearl’s 90th birthday. Here we are (plus one of our carpool buddies) meeting Rabbi Attia. He gave us the option of placing a hand on his shoulder as he wrote so it was like we were writing too. He confirmed my theory that there aren’t many left-handed scribes out there. Our writing is just too wild and crazy.

I don’t know about you all, but I find it hard to get pictures where every family member looks good (or however you want them to look, i.e. awake, attentive, all facing the same direction.) So for all posterity, here we are:

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And the Head-Sticking-Inniest Song Is…

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on October 21, 2011

It’s called Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu, and I heard it for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

Eva’s Youth Choir at Adat Shalom does a great version. It has a lot of different clapping sections and harmonizing or other vocal embellishments by the different voices (e.g. “All the altos, clap three times and say shalom twice at this part!”)

We have all been running around humming this song all week. It’s very catchy.

I knew nothing about its origins, and wondered why they keep saying “Salaam, salaam!” I did a little research (hello, Wikipedia) and found it has an interesting story.

First off, the reason they keep saying “Salaam, salaam” is that the song is actually called “Salaam (Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu.)” So that explains that.

It was written by an Israeli folk musician of Yemeni and Iraqi background named Moshe Ben Ari. It is hugely popular in Israel. The name translates to “Peace will come upon us” and it is a rallying song for an end to fighting in the Middle East.

So if you’re going to have a song stuck in your head for a solid week, there are worse ones you could pick.

Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu

Shake the Lulav, Smell the Etrog

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on October 20, 2011


Some years we have a big open-house style party for sukkot.  It’s the perfect holiday to have a  casual neighborhood get-together.  One year I did a wine-and-cheese, another I did a bagel brunch.

We got so busy this year that sukkot really snuck up on us, though, and we ended up with a low-maintenance at-home sukkot celebration:  leftover pizza in the sukkah and a quick shake of the lulav and sniff of the etrog.

The lulav is a palm branch.  You hold it together with a myrtle and willow branch and shake the little bundle in all four directions.  Then you sniff the etrog, which is a citron (a very fragrant fruit that looks like a giant grapefruity-lemon thing.)

shake your lulav

Don't think that dog is above stealing that etrog if he had the chance.

So that’s all we did.  Sukkot ends in a couple of days and honestly, I feel we could have done more.  Our backyard looks pretty bad these days and going back there just depresses me.  I solve the problem by going back there as infrequently as possible.  Not a permanent solution, I know.    Plus I’m still afraid rats might jump out of the bushes and try to climb up my legs.  So basically no tapas and tempranillo party until we get the vermin situation under control.

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A Good Name

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on October 17, 2011

Temple Adat Shalom held a naming ceremony in the sukkah for the kindergarten Sunday school class. It was beautiful and as usual my favorite part was the blessing of the children. They were sheltered under a tallit held by all the parents.

Jane’s Hebrew name is Nesya which is so unusual (perhaps even made-uppedly so) that she’ll probably never meet another. The biblical name trend was evident from the 80% of the class whose English and Hebrew names are the same — and not just the obvious Leahs, Rachels, and Davids, but two Elijahs.