Back in the connected world

After two days of chag and a day of Shabbos, I’m back online again. That three day respite was great, even if it meant that I had 200 new messages in my Inbox.

We hosted a wonderful seder on the first night, enjoyed a relaxing first day of chag (and an impromptu lunch with a few friends), followed by a delicious (for the body and brain) second seder at Andrea and Aryeh’s that went until 2:30 in the morning. We slept in on Friday, had lunch with Rob & Lamelle, took a nap, and went to dinner at Cheryl’s house. Saturday felt like a normal Shabbos, except that Kiddush consisted of matzah and vegetables instead of the usual cookies, crackers and chummus.

It’s hard to believe, but Pesach is almost halfway over already!

Pesach Kashering

On the day before Erev Pesach, we kashered the kitchen and searched the house for chametz. Hannah came over to help clean the kitchen and cover the countertops with contact paper:

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Here we are “discovering” some challah and setting it aside for the next morning:

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The Counting of the Homer

homer-simpson.jpg This year, count the Omer with Homer!

The Homer Calendar is an interactive guide to counting the omer, with Homer Simpson. The site has printable calendars for each of the seven weeks of the omer, along with a 1-page calendar showing all 49 days of the count. The site also features background on the omer ritual, a slide show on Jewish life in the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield, links to other Jewish Simpsons sites and more.

(From a spam message that I actually found useful)

Mmmm… Quinoa

quinoa.jpg Jeff at work bumped into me in the hallway and asked if cous cous could be eaten on Pesach. He was bummed to find out that it’s made from semolina, so it’s a no-go.

I tipped him off to quinoa, which he had never heard of. It’s yummy, similar in size to cous cous, and it’s kosher l’Pesach, too!

Pesach is right around the corner. We’re going to be busy kashering the house on Sunday.

Rosh Chodesh Adar II

purim-clown.gif Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar II, the beginning of the happiest month of the Jewish year.

משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה

Mishe-nichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha

When Adar enters, our joy increases (Ta’anit 29a).

Purim falls on March 17th this year. That’s right, same as St. Patrick’s day. I’m looking forward to some cross-cultural drunken debauchery.

The Shtibl Minyan Purim celebration is sure to be huge again this year.

Shekhina on the mind this week

Shekhina by Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

I made my way to Sinai Temple this past Sunday to hear Leonard Nimoy speak about his new book Shekhina, a “photographic essay” of the feminine side of God. Nimoy spoke eloquently, told some great stories about growing up Jewish in Boston, and spoke about photography, his hobby/passion since the 1970’s. During the talk, he displayed a couple dozen photographs from his book, narrating a spiritual journey as his relationship with God developed and deepened. After speaking for about 40 minutes, answered some questions from Rabbi Wolpe and the audience. It turns out that the model on cover of the book wearing tefillin isn’t Jewish.

It turns out that Nimoy is full of yiddishkeit; he’s not some Kabbalah faker like Madonna or Rosie. Yasher Koach to Steve Silverman from the Sinai Mens’ Club for organizing the event and introducing us to a real mentsch. The Seattle Jewish Federation made a big mistake in asking him not to speak. Despite the controversy surrounding his book, they missed out on an opportunity to learn that this man is much, much more than Mr. Spock.

Niggunim with Reb Mimi

Last night, a dozen folks from the Shtibl Minyan spent an hour and a half with Reb Mimi learning melodies for Shacharit and Musaf. Since every time Jews get together is an opportunity for learning, she started with a brief shiur. We read a commentary on Parashat Kedoshim that said that when a community comes together l’shem shemayim (in the name of Heaven), the Shekhina is present, and that it is our responsibility to create a kli (vessel) for that presence. What an awesome responsibility. Can you imagine? The mere gathering of ten people creates the presence of God. I’ve always taken davening pretty seriously, but this makes the endeavor all the more important.

Many of the melodies we learned came from Reb Shlomo Carlebach z”l; others were Hassidic tunes from Yakar in Jerusalem. Some were haunting and melancholy. All were beautiful.

A couple of people brought tape recorders, and Chaim is planning to burn some CDs so we can learn the melodies well enough to sing them in shul.

I’ll be leading the minyan in Shacharit this Saturday. Even if I don’t get to include some of the new melodies I learned, my kavannah will be greatly enhanced knowing that Shekhina is there.

Leonard Nimoy, photographer extraordinare

Saw this ad in the Jewish Journal today:

LEONARD NIMOY goes where no man has gone before. Join him on a voyage towards SHEKHINA

Shekhina

Live at Sinai Temple on Feb. 23, 2003 Leonard Nimoy will present his new book and dialogue with Rabbi David Wolpe.

At least he’s Jewish. There are a few Hollywood celebs who study at the Kabbalah Centre just a few blocks from my home, and I’m not even sure if they’re Jewish. Heck, they probably aren’t even 40.