Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sim Shalom--Grant Peace

 Dear friends, Taking off for a few days for the end of year I am just packing this page, a blessing to go.  And wanted to share it with you and wish everyone a Happy New Year!

It is the nineteenth blessing of a daily Jewish prayer called the Amida, to give thanks to ADONAI, and starts with the words  "Sim Shalom", which means Grant Peace. 
We thank You, for it is You alone who is ADONAI our God and the God of our fathers, forever and ever.  You are the Rock and Shield of our salvation, You alone, from generation to generation.  We thank You and tell of Your praise, for our lives are in Your hands and our souls are trusting in You.  Every day Your miracles are with us:  Your wonders and favors are at all times, evening, morning, and afternoon.  O Good One, Your compassions are never exhausted and Your kindnesses are continual.  We put our hope in You.
Much Love and Shalom in 2018!  See you in 2018!
Your Challah and Cherry Blossoms correspondant

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Pomegranate Challah in December, with fragrance of Yuzu

Your temple is like a slice of pomegranate
behind your veil

Song of Songs 6:7

challah journal from 12/22

For some time,  I have wanted to make a pomegranate challah.   It is rare to find a pomegranate where we live.  As they are not yet grown in Japan (as far as I know), there is not exactly a `season` here for them.    Because of the rarity of finding a pomegranate in our local supermarket , the timing of when to make such a challah would depend on when I could find a pomegranate.

I found a pomegranate in the supermarket in this December! It was at the time of the Parsha Vayashev.    With the excitement of finding the pomegranate, though, I forgot all about making the pomegranate challah, and enjoyed sharing the fruit itself with our teen guests at the Shabbat table. See post HERE.

 I decided after that, that IF  I could see a pomegranate again in the supermarket, then I would make a pomegranate challah.  And voila,  I did!

It is very exciting to open a pomegranate and see all those seeds, and even before that to just meditate on the shape of the fruit and of a special place it has in so many scriptures, from being the ornamental pattern on the robes of Aaron the High Priest (Exodus 28:33), to the bronze pillars on the Temple designed by King Solomon,

So he made the pillars with two rows of pomegranates all around on the netting covering the capitals on top of each capital.  1Kings 7:18

 and then in the writings of King Solomon in the Song of Songs.  This sensual and sweet fruit must have a lot of spiritual significance in the way it is used in the ornate designs and the flowing descriptions of the love between God and His people.  I like to read the Song of Songs on Shabbat, and with the pomegranate seeds and challah on the table, the verses with `pomegranate` just popped off the pages !

Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruit, henna with nard     --Song of Songs, 4:13

To make the pomegranate challah I used THIS recipe for a Fig Challah, and made the filling to be a pomegranate filling.  Because it is a season for Yuzu, a citric fruit, I  had the inspiration to add yuzu into the filling and to use it in this challah.

The combination of the yuzu peel and the pomegranate seeds was striking for their color and the fragrance of the juice from the  yuzu made an aromatic filling.

A pomegranate is a very expressive fruit.
When you cut it open it drips the bright red juice.  Some of the images in the song, even if not of the pomegranate, also come to life for  sensuous descriptions like hands and fingers dripping and flowing myrrh,
and descriptions of the beloved whose mouth is delicious, all of him is delightful.

All these seeds from in one fruit!

In this unique challah made in Japan, I mixed in some citrus peel from the Yuzu, a fruit which is in season here in the South of Japan, with the pomegranate seeds to make a sweet and fragrant filling
pomegranate and yuzu filling, to be rolled into the strands

this is how the challah looks before baking, 12 seeds to represent Joseph and his brothers and the promise of many descendants to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Post Notes:

1. After all, even though I didn't see this pomegranate challah as fitting into the cycle of the seasons, now I see how it can relate to the Parasha and the cycle of Torah!  We are coming to the end of the first book of Bereshit, Genesis.  In these last Parashiot (readings), the promise to Abraham, then to Isaac, and on to Jacob is coming to fruition as all the brothers and their sons have come to Egypt.  There the seed of Abraham will be greatly multiplied and the nation of Israel will be formed during the years of captivity.   I put twelve pomegranate seeds on top of the challah to represent the 12 brothers.
2.  After making the pomegranate challah, I will venture to share what I "tasted" in this look at the pomegranate.  I see it as an exquisite fruit that can even represent our study of Torah.  Outside is one exquisite whole, a God-formed shape that is like a womb, with its roundness and at the same time curvature and irregularity, each one with even a slightly different outline.  Inside it contains what are like countless seeds.  And if you cut it in half to open it, there are seeds filling both sides, as if mirroring that there are two parts of God`s story that go together in one, all from the seed of Abraham and continuing to fulfillment in Yeshua,  descendants as countless in number as stars in the sky .   Each seed is glistening.   Israel is described as the apple of God`s eye in the scriptures, and when you look at the pomegranate from above, it even has an eye if you can see it that way!  Each of these seeds even in their multitude is a cherished one.  He sees us, each one treasured, each one precious in His eyes! 

3.  reading note: for more  on the pomegranate in scripture and its significance, I found this article interesting when doing some research for this post, HERE
last but not least, challah note and thanks, I used this POST for a pomegranate challah for inspiration and for how to separate the seeds,  a big thank you!! to the  Challah Blog for the instruction and inspiration!! 

 Since you are precious in My eyes, 
honored, because I love you,

Isaiah 43:4a

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Eighth night

Light the Candles (two blessings from the First night, then readings for the eighth night, then a song)

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!  Shout in triumph, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  -Zephaniah 3:14

The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
                      -Zephanaiah 3:17

MA-OZ TZUR (Rock of Ages)

Rock of ages, let our song
Praise Your saving power...

Ma-oz Tzur Yeshua-ti
le- cha na-e le-sha-be-ach....

Finishing these Hannukah posts with a beautiful version of this song, played in a mix with Hark the Herald Angels sing by Misha and Marty Goetz, to listen, enjoy hearing it HERE.
Happy Hannukah,
        Merry Christmas!
                    Happy Holidays,
                                   Happy New Year!

Seventh night, outside light

In the  home we light the candles,
and then sometimes you can even see the reflection outside
and even the castle is 
reflecting His Glory

The seventh night of Hannukah this year it was also my birthday.   I was overjoyed to see the castle illuminated...where there is no castle, but just the lights of what was and what will be.... .  As if to say, even if we are not fully `built` into who we are yet, but that light from the LORD will make itself known both in us and in the world around us.

 It has been my second year of celebrating Hannukah in Japan, there are not many people around here in our area that observe Hannukah or even know of it, so I am glad to share with you and  thank you for sharing and lighting the candles together ...

Like on Shabbat, where it is said we bring the light from Shabbat into the whole next week, on Hannukah it is also said that we bring the light from Hannukah with us into the whole next year.  May it be so.

 Then God said, "Let there be light!"
               And there was light!            --Genesis 1:3


Saturday, December 16, 2017

 (This Hebrew letter `pey` for Po would be on an Israel Dreidel)Nes Gadol Haya PO means A Miracle Happened Here
(outside of Israel Dreidel, the Hebrew letter `shin` would be on the dreidel as the fourth letter)
Nes Gadol Haya Shin means A Miracle Happened There 

A miracle also happens here in our hearts when we re-dedicate our hearts and our selves to ADONAI   
For with You is the source of life---  By Your Light we shall see light. --Psalm 36:10
  Blessings and a Happy Hannukah(tonight is the sixth night of Hannukah)! 


Shabbat Hannukah --Challah and latkes

A Miracle Here, A Miracle there


This past Shabbat was also the fifth night of Hannukah, and a day my daughter got some good news she was waiting for, so it was a an occasion tripley to celebrate and be thankful for.
I wanted to make a special challah.

I made a Star of David Challah.  It looked more like a Star of David when I made the shape, then once it baked it took on a more wreath-like shape.  My daughter saw it, not knowing what the shape I intended was, and  asked if it was to represent a doughnut!  As you know that on Hannukah we make and eat oily foods to remember the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days, so maybe that is why she thought a doughnut.    

Blessings and a light-filled Hannukah to all !!

Shabbat Shalom, and already, Shavu`a Tov!

For Recipes, links to follow: LATKES,
CHALLAH (I used THIS recipe for a Ten Commandment Challah, and shaped it with two braids to make the two triangles of the Star of David), and BRISKET- a smaller version, inspired by this recipe  HEREt/,

Increasing Light

For You light up my lamp.
ADONAI my God shines in my darkness.

---Psalm 18:29 TLV

I love watching the lights of Hannukah, increasing in each day.

We add a candle for each of the eight nights of Hannukah.  Even though it's just a tiny thumbsize of a flame when you look at it with measurable eyes, each increase of light is immeasurable by what we can't see.

When the light increases in our hearts, we are changed .   From the simplest smile to another gesture of giving, those are things I can only do when I am 'lit" from His light. 

Light dispels the darkness.  Each tiny flame adds physical light into the room.  Each time we move closer to the light and seek God to bring light to our hearts, this adds light to our being and affects how we move in our lives and with others.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.    ---John 1:4-5
 We are now in the fifth night of Hannukah. I had one miracle in the first night, when lighting the candles with others lighting theirs.  We all had our rooms dark, and then at once everyone lit the shamash (helper) candle, and with it lit the first candle, and said the first blessing.  When I saw the "tiny" flames illuminate the blackness of each one's room, a huge lightness overtook my heart, and a heaviness that I had not been able to let go of just released and was gone!  God said Let there be Light and there was light! 

  Hannukah celebrates Light, a miracle regarding oil and re-dedication of the Temple.  We see Yeshua himself was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Hannukah (Rededication) in the book of John, 10:22. 

Then came Hannukah, it was winter in Jerusalem.
Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon`s Colonnade.    ---John 10:22 
 We celebrate a miracle of the oil  which lasted eight days, although it was only enough to last just one.  We celebrate the re-dedication of the Holy Temple back to ADONAI, because of the strength of spirit  and courage of a small band of Jews led by Judah Maccabee. 

Hannukah means Dedication.  The Feast of Hannukah is thus the Feast of Dedication. Like the Maccabees who re-dedicated the Temple and cleaned it of the desecration, Hannukah for each of us is a time to re-dedicate our hearts to ADONAI.

Four Hebrew letters are written on the dreidel, which is a spinning "top" played by children--and children at heart ---during Hannukah.  It is said that in the times when Torah study was probibited, children would play this game as a way to hide their Torah study when the officials came to check on them.
The fourth letter is either Shin or Po , depending on whether you are in or out of Israel.

Nes Gadol Haya Shin  (A miracle happened there), on dreidels outside of Israel
Nes Gadol Haya Po  (A miracle happened Here), on dreidels in Israel

Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world."   ---John 8:12

The Shamash candle, the one that is often in the middle of the menorah is the one light that is used to light all the others.  When we receive Yeshua as our Saviour,  He brings us back to the Father.  He is  the One whose light dispels the darkness from our hearts and the world and  brings light to our lives.
The people walking in darkness 
will see a great light.    ---Isaiah 9:1
It is He who gives us light so that we can be light.    Our Father in Heaven sent His one and only Son to be that light and commands us to be the light of the world!  May many  hearts be re-dedicated, turned back to Him and...see a great LIGHT!

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Its the third night of Hannukah

His loving kindness has no end.

Delight in watching the candles, 
spinning a dreidel with someone you love, dearly, and if its your daughter who will be going away to college next year, treasure the moments preciously. 
Draw if you want, on Hannukah there are no rules, as far as I know.

But in the game of dreidel, there are.
If you spin a `nun` do nothing,
if you get a `gimel`, get the whole pot!
If you get a `shin`, you didn`t win yet, gotta put one back,
and if you get a `hey`, Hey, you get half the pot!!



These are blintzes, they are like a crepe filled with sweet cream cheese and cottage cheese, topped with blueberry compote and sourcream.

Happy Hannukah!

The LORD is my Light and my Salvation.  --Psalm 27:1

On each night of Hannukah, we first light the `Shamash` which is the  candle which is used to light all the others.  On our menorah the Shamash is all the way on the right.  On many menorahs it is in the center.
The second menorah you see in the foreground in the first photo is one I made for our lobby downstairs in the apartment building.  For Hannukah we are to put a menorah where others can see it, by the window or in a public place.  It is like what Yeshua says, not to hide our light but rather to shine our light for all to see.  Wishing you many blessings during these days of increasing light.

"You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket.  Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."   -- Matthew 5:14~16

Blessings and Shalom!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Joseph and Cherry Blossoms and a Pomegranate

Joseph dreamed a dream

At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers, as a helper to the sons of his father`s wives Bilhah and Zilpah...   ---Genesis 37:2b

We had some guests at last Shabbat,
so happy we could share a Challah.
It was the first time for most to try a pomegranate.
And to hear the story of Joseph.

I told a little of the story after our meal, and illustrated the colored coat (striped tunic, specially given to him from his father Jacob) with gingerbread (cookies) in the hopes of making an impression that they might want to read more.  Everyone wanted to eat more for sure!

After the girls went into another room (I just realized the girls are about the age Joseph was when he had the first two dreams, at the start of this week`s Parsha Vayeshev), I opened up the Song of Songs.  Because of the pomegranate on tonight's Shabbat table, I noticed particularly the verses with pomegranates, and because of the lily we had at our Shabbat, I also noticed those lines too.

I went down to the nut grove 
To see the budding of the vale; 
To see if the vines had blossomed,
If the pomegranates were in bloom.    --Song of Songs 6:11

It is rare to find a pomegranate in Japan, and it took me by surprise to see one in the supermarket where I have recently been going for Shabbat meal shopping.  Could God have put it there for me?  I remember the last time I had a pomegranate it was in December, around my birthday, and even made a post and a pancake about it , HERE.  Happy Birthday to all whose birthdays are in December!!

Blessings and Shalom,
Its already Sunday in Japan.

Challah French toast with pomegranate seed

Shavu'a Tov!!!  (have a good week!)

Continue reading below for a quiz challenge, and a SHALOM finding from this week`s Parsha Vayeshev

1。Here`s a   QUIZ!!! Challenge! about the drawing (pictured above, top of this post)!
In Joseph's dreams there were 11 of something in each dream.(you can see in  this week's Parsha, starting in Genesis Ch. 37 for Q's 1-3!)

1.What was there 11 of in the first dream? 
2.What was there 11 of in the second dream?
3.  What do the 11 represent?
4.What else is there 11 of in the drawing (though not in the scripture)?
5.  If you found an answer to question 4, WHY do you think there are 11 of these, what might they represent? 

2。Here`s the SHALOM finding!
This year as you know I have been on a mission to seek Shalom, I have also been keeping my eyes open for when  the word `SHALOM` appears in the weekly Torah readings.

This week it appears twice (at least), in these scriptures:
Genesis 37:4 :
When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak to him in shalom.
Genesis 37:14
 Then he said to him, "Go now and check on the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flocks and bring word back to me." 
note: in this verse in the Hebrew scriptures, the word `Shalom` is used twice, for the shalom (welfare in this case)  of the brothers, and the shalom of the flocks
 I found this very interesting because in the first one (Gen. 37:4), it was about how the brothers hated Joseph and could not speak to him in Shalom.  And its the first time I noticed this form of Shalom being , rather `no Shalom`.

In the second one  (Gen. 37:14) is when Jacob asks Joseph his son to check on his brothers and see if they were well , in this case, in `Shalom`. 

When there is `No Shalom`, we can see in how in all the verses to come and the parashiot to follow, and the history from there, the lengths the brothers go to to try to get rid of Joseph, rather than face their jealousies and seek Shalom.

I learned from this Torah portion and coming on that place in the verse of seeing where there was `no shalom`.  It really spoke to me because there was a place in my heart recently where I wasn`t feeling shalom, and so I really stopped at that verse in Genesis 37:4.  I saw from this what happens if we let that go and don`t check on it,  and how it `snowballs` and creates dis-harmony in relations with others.  So how to get back to shalom in those times?  It is God`s shalom that is the peace that goes beyond understanding, so it is by seeking Him through seeking His presence, His word, and abiding in the vine, Yeshua, that brings us out  of the chaos of `no shalom` and back into His presence, the place where we find His Shalom!! 


Shalom I leave you, My shalom I give to you; but not as the world gives! Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid.   -- Yeshua`s words from John 14:27