Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our Sukkah

We built our first Sukkah! We decided to go with the wood option, since it seemed to be sturdier, easier and the most flexible. We had such a great time building and celebrating.
We built it over Tuesday evening, so I'm sorry the photos are so poor. It was a very east process for us, just a few pieces of lattice, a few 2 x 4's and we were all set. We trimmed our bushes to make a brush covering.
Here are some friends we had over. The only problem we had was that it was too small to have a large group come inside. We wished that we would have made it larger, that way we could have had the large table I just refinished inside.

Oh well, notes for next time...

How was your Sukkot?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Taking on a Sukkah

This year the Birthright NEXT Shabbat program is offering Shukkah grants, and I signed us up for one. My family never made a sukkah. I don't actually know one person who constructed one when I was growing up. I remember driving by temples and synagogues and seeing them, but I don't really remember having an experience when I was a child.

Fast forward to college, and I started to embrace the religiousness of Judaism. I remember the 'pop-up' sukkah that was featured in the middle of campus and I remember shaking my lulav and etrog.

When I got my first 'real' job I was still on a college campus. They constructed a sukkah in the middle of campus, and they had free pizza, so I used to head over there for my sukkah experience.

Now that I'm an adult, and don't work on a college campus, we've decided to build our own.

Last night we actually discussed the plan. Turns out that we had two completely different ideas about how to go about building one, and the purpose of building one of our own...

Plan 1: PVC pipe with some metal pipe. Putting it over our concrete pad in the back and using the walls of the garage and house as some structure

Plan 2: 2x4's and other wood- materials. Lots of screws and such...

We'll see how it all goes down. Are you building a sukkah? Anyone else out there with a NEXT Shabbat grant?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rosh Hashana Rehash

I wanted to share a few snapshots I took just before Rosh Hashana started- these are of the table before the house filled up with guests. As a reminder, this was our first major meal at our new home. We ended up with 14 people, a great crowd.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Inner thoughts to Yom Kippur

As you sit in temple tonight over Kol Nidre and tomorrow through Yom Kippur, remember what your doing. Remember that other people don't get this opportunity. To really look into themselves and see what they did, what they didn't, and where they are. Remember that you are lucky- you are a Chosen One. **let's not discuss the intricacies of that term please**

Each time you beat your chest, take a moment to be thankful. To be gracious. To know and live in the understanding that you are here today, and that you are welcomed into the new year as a clean person. A new start to where ever you are.

Good luck- May your fast be easy, and may you all be inscribed into the book of life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rainy days

It's pouring here today in Los Angeles. It really brings down the day. Yes, I'm sure that those of you reading this in Seattle will say that it's barely raining here, and there is nothing to complain about. Here in LA though, people loose their minds. They forget how to drive, forget where to go, they honestly loose their minds.

However, there are glorious things about rainy weather. Fireplaces start to blaze, comfort foods abound, and cuddling on the couch is a favorite activity.

For us, this will be our first rain in our new home. We've had a few minor sprinkles before, but this will be our first major downpour. Let's hope I don't leave work today to find a small surprise puddle at home.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Days of Awe

Right now we are in the days of Awe- that magical time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. For us, that means that we wander around to family and friends and apologize.

In theory, this is a worthwhile exercise. When I was a child, we would write long lists of friends and people we wanted to talk to. We'd wander around school feeling slightly out of place, clutching the notebook until we worked up the courage to speak to our friends.

Most of my friends weren't Jewish, so during middle school and high school the idea of Yom Kippur was foreign to my friends, and trying to apologize for nothing in particular was difficult.

Now, my family stops everyone a few minutes before we walk in for Kol Nidre and states this formulaic apology "If I did anything wrong to you, I'm sorry."

Now that I'm an adult, starting a family and coming into my own, I've learned a lot more about what Yom Kippur is, and what it's not. I'm chagrined to say that neither of the stories above really encompass the true idea behind the holiday spirit.

This year, I heard something wonderful. The Days of Awe are Jewish CPR. Through charity, prayer and repentance we can 'avert the severe decree.' Charity-being kind, between yourself and others. Prayer- internal thinking, between yourself and G-d. Repentance- internal knowledge, all inside yourself.

Now is the time to evaluate your past year, determine where you went wrong, and look to make things better. It's not about resolutions (I'll loose 10 lbs), it's about self-development. The external piece of this, the asking for forgiveness, is honestly acknowledging that you've done something wrong. This is two-fold. One part is between you and G-d; stating that you've done wrong, feeling guilt and then accepting your past as your past. The other is between you and the person you've wronged; telling G-d your sorry can't fix your worldly relationships. You need to acknowledge that you've made mistakes, and attempt to apologize or correct them with those you've wronged.

Jewish tradition dictates that you have to apologize three times. You have to give a heartfelt, honest apology to the people you've wronged three times before you can consider yourself absolved from their forgiveness.

Hopefully each person you talk to will be happy to give you their forgiveness. They will recognize your apology as the heartfelt apology that it is, they will accept you for who you are, mistakes and all. However, just because you think someone might reject your apology is no reason not to try.

So over these days of awe try to see Yom Kippur anew. To really delve into the truth of forgiveness.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


This is a great program. If you haven't joined it yet, I highly recommend that you do. Take advantage of the 10 days of Awe. Really reflect and think about your life.


I'll be back on Monday with pictures- sorry it's taken so long, but I had some trouble loading them....