Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Challah at the Bakery

When I returned to NY this summer, I found challah in the bake shops!  It was so exciting and for the first time after two years of making challah, and even a little stint of selling my challah, I was able to buy challah in a bakery for Shabbat!!   For anyone in NY or other area where you can find challah, it may be hard to fathom getting so excited about this! But as I live in Japan, and in a part where the only challah is the ones I make,   I just was so happy to see the challah lined up in the bakery and to bring a challah home for Shabbat!
At first I thought it would be hard not to make it, as I love making Challah as part of Shabbat, but buying it had another wonderful quality , as here I was in a place where so many people observe Shabbat that the Shabbat bread was available and readily even in the supermarkets!!  And I was also able to "study" the taste and way of making!

Being in a community to celebrate Shabbat was wonderful, and being able to go buy challah on Fridays was a treat!!  Challah was also like  sign that there are people who observe Shabbat, and that was also such a sense of homecoming for me.  I guess it might be funny to think about being so happy to buy challah, but yes I savored the chance to buy challah!!  From the round challah for New Year to the fluffy soft challah each Shabbat!

I even got the chance to observe the baker making challah, to see how it is made on a professional scale, and  to take back some tips.  God has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives.  The time away in  community centered around the syngogue and ...the bakery! showed me in a concentrated way the things that I love to be surrounded by in my life.  The challenge is how to bring this into existence here where I am, or whether to go to somewhere where those are a focus of the community.  I get overwhelmed a little to think of it, but with God all things are possible!

Praying for you too that the new year will bring you closer into the focus of those things that your heart and spirit are leading you to pursue.

To be continued....!



*photo credits and a big thank you to the Beach Bakery!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pomegranate Shalom

Awake, north wind, and come, south wind!  Blow on my garden, Let its fragrance spread out.  Let my lover come into his garden and eat its choicest fruit.  --Song of Songs 4:16

Several posts down in my New Year post,  a friend* asked, where's the Pomegranate?!
Alas, the new year posts wouldn't be complete without it, here it is!
Blessings and Shalom!
Happy New Year!

acknowledgement;  *thank you, Duta, for asking!! 
You inspired me to find a pomegranate before the end of the holidays!!

Vay'hi Erev, Vay'hi Voker

וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר

There was evening
and there was morning

We thank you LORD
for bringing on the evening
and bringing on the morning

 Holiday Reflections

Morning Photos from Long Island, my "home town" where I visited over the holidays.
The Jewish Holidays, which are the Biblical Fall Feasts, and every Shabbat, and each day on the Hebrew calendar,  always start in the evening at sundown, and end the next day sunset, so the day starts in the evening and goes to sundown the next evening.  We can see where that began as expressed in the first chapter of Genesis, where God begins each day by bringing it into existence from evening to morning.

And there was evening
and there was morning.

At the end of all the feasts, after we scrolled back the Torah and listened to the reading of the beginning of Genesis, those words "vay'hi erev, vay'hi voker" came to life in a new way.  It's very exciting at the very end of the cycle to hear the last Torah portion read and then right after to hear the first chapter begin again and read from Genesis.  When the service finsished there was a wonderful "kiddush", spread of bagels and beautiful breakfast out on a banquet table.  When I reached for a bagel, and saw all the good foods, I felt the love of God and how He desires us to live each day in abundance.  His mercies new every morning as He invites us to partake in His goodness. And asks us to find those to whom we can share it with.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Succa Song

With joy you will draw water from the wells of Salvation.
 --Isaiah 12:3 

Mark, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the yield of your land, you shall observe the festival of the LORD (to last) seven days:  a complete rest on the first day, and a complete rest on the eighth day.  On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.   You shall observe it as a festival of the LORD for seven days in the year; you shall observe it in the seventh month as a law for all time, throughout the ages. 

---Leviticus 23:39 ~ 41
In the succa, we are reminded that we are temporary dwellers
We are reminded of the divine presence, of the God who provides
and brings us to this season.  It is a time to give thanks for all His abundance and to savor the blessing of being brought to this season on His appointed times. 
It is a time to rejoice, as we are commanded to be joyous in the succa!
Yes, it is a command!

I couldn't believe how beautiful the sounds of singing could be, in that temporary place, with the species of plants and natural materials as the "roof", and walls open to one side.  After all the eating and rejoicing, or somewhere into the feast, someone asked the cantor to sing.  As he was not in the pulpit, but sitting at the table with everyone, when the cantor sang, it was spontaneously in a moment where a song was called forth,  and the sounds of his voice were released like an audible fragrance and everyone's senses and whole being were attuned to his song.

When he sang, it was as if all eternity came into a sonorous presence, yes, that is how I would describe those earthy and at the same time heavenly sounds of Hebrew songs sung and springing from a mouth given by God, to be the source of song.

After several songs the air of the succa became  infused with the songs, everyone was drawn into an atmosphere that was transforming, and the choir, who were also just a minute ago individuals sitting and rejoicing and eating at the table, once again became the choir and ran out for a few minutes to get their song books.  They came back into the succa with songs that must be the same ones that were sung by our ancestors and are sung by the angels in heaven and that are sung in the succa each year.

Songs that have been sung and will be sung and are eternally sung.

The thing for me, was that it was my first time to hear the succa song.*
It was a summer of "Teshuva" for me, of "return" and I had never before sat in a succa like that hearing them although they have always been sung and always will be and always are sung in the succa.

When the songs were sung people sometimes joined and sometimes just listened.   Nourished by song.

It was a deep listening started as a listening with ears but became a listening with hearts and with souls and then we were all transported at once and there was a kind of palpable soul-stirring from the cantor's song and I didn't quite know where I was except that I was in the succa song.  Maybe the swirling of angels of heaven, preparing to take us up...but just before we were swept up into the heavens, the song came to its sonorous crescendo that was soft and sweet, and

the next thing I knew, the rabbi was saying something,
that it was time
for dessert.

note: The name "succa song" is my "poetic" title for this post and a term I made up here to refer to the songs that were sung in the succa, though it is not a particular "song" title or song I am referring to, it is the whole mood of what it was like to hear the singing by the cantor in the succa at my "return" this season. 

note:  Succot is the holiday in the season of fall feasts that comes after the Ten days of Awe of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, after the work of repentance and reflecting and "return" come the joyous holidays of Succot and after then Simchat Torah.  Related post about Succot HERE and song and Succot HERE.

note:  After all the festivities the Torah is scrolled back to the beginning so if anyone is new to observing the cyle of the Hebrew calendar and God's appointed days, it is perfect time to start!! The list of the dates of all the Shabbat and Feasts and readings on the Torah can be found HERE, a good printable version,  or you can find it if you search for the Weekly Parsha readings 2018~2019.  You can always  find this link and a related link to the readings on the sidebar at right under "Pages".

This Shabbat will be the third one already of the new cycle!!   Already out of the garden and after the flood!

Monday, October 8, 2018

To the Beginning

 בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

--Genesis 1:1

 We scroll back the Torah to the beginning.
When the earth was chaos and waste, and darkness was on the surface of the deep.

The Ruach Elohim was hovering on the surface of the water.  (1:2)

Then God said, "Let there be light!" and there was light.  (1:3)

God saw that the light was good. (1:4)

After each day of creation was completed, God said "so there was evening and there was morning", and then he counted the day, starting from one.

In this very day too we are entering a very new day and God is continuing to create a-new.
What number day is it?  I don't know but it it is the very same God who created that very first day, and He continues to give us a new day. Its like a new chance.  Every day.  He said every day that it was good.  And how good it is that He continues to give us a new day.  A new chance.  A day to be created a-new and to have the amazing chance to spend that day in acknowledgement of our Creator, and giving thanks and glory to Him in every living moment of that day.

So there was evening and there was morning...

As we start again from the beginning,
May we give thanks for!!
Have a blessed one!


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Challah for Rosh HaShanah (a little early, you'll see)

I made a Challah a little early for Rosh Hashanah.
It is to send to my daughter, so she can have a challah and apples and honey at the New Year!
I had a good time making it and reflecting on the year and on the sweetness and goodness of our Lord and Father and King.  And happy that she will have a challah delivered on time.

I filled another bag with apples and honey to send with the challah ---for a sweet new year---,  and in doing so, found myself wanting to bring apples and honey to people in my days.  To share the season we are in to honor our Father our King! 

In this season where we celebrate the beginning of creation, the crowning of the King, may we bring our repentance and turn it in, starting a-new.  May God Bless you!  And keep you and shine His face upon you and give you Peace--Shalom!!

A few scenes from the making!  It is a tradition to make a round challah on Rosh Hashanah, some say it represents a Crown , or the eternal cycle of the year and years, and the round shape of the world,  as we celebrate the Creator and His creation...It is also sweet, whereas mostly challah during the year for Shabbat is sprinkled with salt, this challah has honey and can also be made with other sweetness.  I put apples in the filling of one, but for sending I wasn't sure how it would hold up so I also made a basic sweet round challah with honey and on top, sprinkled sugar and cinnamon.  

This year I had a new personal revelation while making the challah, as I was braiding the four strands and crossing them over each other, I thought of the scriptures about God bringing us together from the four corners of the earth and gathering us back.  Isn't that perfect!

 Then ADONAI your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you, and He will return and gather you from all the peoples where ADONAI your God has scattered you.  Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the heavens, from there ADONAI your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.  

Deuteronomy 30:3~4


 please note I will be taking a blog break in honor of the High Holy Days. 

Wishing you a Happy and Sweet and Blessed New Year!  See you in 5779! 

Shana Tova!

Much Love,

Elul to Tishrei, some reflectiions towards the new year

Sounding the Shofar
Psalm 27
A call for repentance
A shout up to heaven

The sweetness of return
is like nothing we can ever learn

It's easy turn towards the Love of our King
from that day on, To Him all we bring!

As we approach the New Year
5 7 7 9 !!
Dear Father
May we A L I G N
with You , with Your will
with Your word and
Your days
Submitting to You in
all of our ways!

Happy Blessed Sweet New Year 5779!

Note'  Elul is the sixth, and  last month of the year we are in 5778
Tishrei is the Head of the Year, where we have Rosh (=head) HaShanah (=the Year, hence Head or Beginning of the Year).  So this New Year is really in the seventh month, but is the start of the new "Year" and note the first month of the Hebrew calendar actually being Nisan is in spring.

Monday, August 27, 2018

One Shalom Fan Story

It was a short meeting at a bus stop.
I sat down at the bus stop and an elder woman came under the shade of the bus stop stand.
I moved over a little for her to sit down in the shadier part of the bench, as the afternoon sun was coming in most everywhere and there was enough shade for about one person.

At first she said no, but then she sat down.

I took out a Shalom fan and offered  one to her.  She saw that I had the same one and she expressed thanks to receive it.

As we were synchronized there in the fanning of the same fan, and we both commented on how hot it was and where we were going.

Waving our fans in a synchronized `shalom` wave,
I looked up at the blue sky and how the blue in the background on the fan reflected the blue on this clear day.
I felt Heaven smiling.
I know that God likes moments like these, and His Spirit was moving with us and leading us in
joyful conversation.

She told me she is 89 years old!
I was impressed how vigorous and young she seemed and could get around so well in the city on her own.

All our conversation was in Japanese of course, and she said she does well,
except she has a pain in her knee that has been bothering her and slows her down.

I knew I didn`t have much time as my bus was to arrive in four minutes, so I felt brave in the Holy Spirit and asked her if I could pray for her.

She said yes!
I did my best to make the prayer in Japanese, asking Father in Heaven for healing of her knee.  A bus came by and I thought it was mine but it wasn`t so I continued a little more and right after she said her knee was feeling better!!

I told her a little about Yeshua, how He healed people who couldn`t walk and gave sight to people who couldn`t see and even raised others from the dead.  Amazingly, she listened to all this and I sensed she was hearing it!!  Then the bus with my destination came by and I had to hurriedly get on and say good-bye.

But even in what was like that split second, I felt our goodbye wave was orchestrated by God, and he put the scene in slow motion as I was climbing up the stair into the bus, looking at her and smiling and waving my shalom fan, and she was sitting at the bus stop,  smiling and beaming and waving her shalom fan, and our fans were waving, waving. As the bus pulled away and as the fans waving  seemed to come closer and closer together it was as if even with the distance that we were separating, in a `whish` God`s Spirit completely enveloped us
together,  in His great

note:  Photo is just an image from another time of the day!   drawings below other "true stories", but unfinished, just putting them here for now.  Blessings and....Shalom!!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Psalm 27:4~6

One thing I have asked of ADONAI,
that will I seek:
to dwell in the House of ADONAI 
all the days of my lfe,
to behold the beauty of ADONAI,
and to meditate in His Temple.
For in the day of trouble
He will hide me in His sukkah,
conceal me in the shelter of His tent,
and set me high upon a rock.
Then will my head be high above 
my enemies around me.
In His Tabernacle I will offer sacrifices 
with shouts of joy.
I will sing, yes, sing praises to ADONAI.

--Psalm 27: 4~6

PS Rainbow cakes and kugel

The Shabbat table stayed festive even as the week began.  A small gathering with friends we hadn`t seen for a long time became a kind of Elul snack party, and as my daughter won`t be here for the Fall Feasts, I made a few recipes that are traditional for the holidays like Classic Kugel and Rainbow Cakes.  Everyone seemed to like them. Where I grew up in New York,  kugel and rainbow cakes can be found in all the Jewish delis and bakeries.  But of course you can't find those here in Japan, at least not where we live.   I remember when my daughter was little I started craving Jewish foods, and as there was no place to get them,  so I started baking.  The rainbow cakes are fun to make, and it comes out as a surprise to taste them and all it once there is that Jewish bakery taste!

Blessings and Shavu`a Tov, have a great week!