Monday, April 30, 2018

Postcard from today!

"It`s a nice sight to see a woman holding flowers."

--quote from a neighbor

Wishing you a wonderful day, from Challah and Cherry Blossoms!



Sunday, April 29, 2018

Counting the Omer--Shabbat Shalom! Omer Blessing

The Castle is made of light!! So when it appears bright and illuminated as the sky turns to night,  I read a blessing and count the day of the omer!!

And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering---the day after the sabbath--you shall count off seven weeks.  They must be complete:  you must count until the day after the seventh week--fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the Lord.  You shall bring from your settlements two loaves of bread as an elevation offering;      --Leviticus 23:15~17a

The days counting up from Passover to Shavuot are very exciting.
The commandment to count the Omer comes in the reading portion we are in this week!
In the counting, it is so wonderful to realize the living cycle of God's calendar and feasts, and  honor and marvel in His exquisite timing and eternal plan. 
The count each day and the blessing are made when the sun goes down, just at night fall or any time after night fall.

In our city there is a castle made of light that goes on at night,
It's perfect, so when the lights of the Castle go on,  we can count and make the blessing...

Today is 30 days, which is four weeks and two days of the Omer!
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.

May the LORD be gracious to us and and bless us.  May He make His countenance shine upon us forever, that Your way be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.  The nations will extol You, O God; all the nations will extol You.  The nations will rejoice and sing for joy, for You will judge the peoples justly and guide the nations on  earth forever.  The peoples will extol You, O God; all the peoples will extol you, for the earth will have yielded its produce and God, our God, will bless us.  God will bless us; and all , from the farthest corners of the earth, shall fear Him.
 Accept our supplication and hear our cry.  You who knows secret thoughts.

Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.

(exerpted from the blessings and counting of the Omer,and Psalm 67) 

Related posts on this blog for Counting the Omer, HERE
Related posts on this blog for Shavout, HERE

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Shabbat Shalom and a new pink road for worshipers!

Isaiah 43:16

God makes a road where there is none!!
Shabbat Shalom! Shavu'a Tov! Have a blessed week!



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Challah Diary PS and one to Send!

In the Challot (plural of Challah) I made (post below), I kept one loaf out special to send to my daughter!
I have always wanted to try sending a challah to another part of Japan, in preparations for
Shayndel's Challah Delivery Service.   Challah for all Japan!  To start,  the first one has been sent.
I hope she receives it with gladness and will enjoy a Challah in her new home and student life !!

Blessings and Shabbat Shalom!!  Love, Shayndel

Challah Diary---David Dancing, Raisin Cakes

David whirled with all his might before the LORD; David was girt with a linen ephod.  Thus David and all the House of Israel brought up the Ark of the LORD with blasts and shouts of the horn.                  ---2Samuel 6:15

I read there is a Jewish tradition to make a challah in the shape of a key for the first Shabbat after Passover.  I considered it,  but didn`t make a key shape this time.

I made challah cakes with raisins instead.

It was an inspiration from the Haftarah readings for this past week, where King David gave raisin cakes and bread to all of Israel, after he rejoiced and danced with all His might for the Ark of the Covenant was returned safely to the City of David, amid rejoicing.

They brought in the Ark of the LORD and set it up in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of Hosts.  And he distributed among all the people---the entire multitude of Israel, man and woman alike --- to each a loaf of bread, a cake made in a pan, and a raisin cake.  Then all the people left for their homes.    ---2Samuel 6:17~19

That verse spoke to my challah-making heart when I read it in the week`s readings.  Plus I love that passage about King David dancing with all his might, in unashamed rejoicing of the LORD God of Israel! It spoke to my worshiping heart.  This is  one of my favorite Haftarah portions. 

I made extra portions of raisin challah and gave them to friends and neighbors.
It was a way to rejoice and share the joy of the LORD with others. 
Celebrating with sharing Challah is a great way to enter into a new season and to praise God for the Bread of Life that He has given us in Yeshua, our Salvation.  May we dance and rejoice in our Maker and in wonderful plan for Salvation!! In un-abashed praise!

The Torah reading and this part in 2 Samuel also talk about obedience, dis-obedience, and the laws of cleanliness and of kahrut (kosher).  We see where both of Aaron's sons were struck down in the reading in this week in Leviticus for their "unauthorized fire";  and we also read in the Haftarah portion where one of the ark carriers was struck down by the LORD for his discretions.  Surely obedience to the LORD is "key".

Blessings and Shalom! Shabbat Shalom!



PS while I am making the challah for today's Shabbat, writing this post inspired me to search for some fun songs related to David Dancing, and I found some fun ones here (an Israeli dance flash mob) and here (Dance like David Danced, somthing I "stumbled upon" by Duke Ellington  , here (David Danced by Joshua Aaron) and if you got this far,  here (me , like Miriam danced!), if you have your dancing shoes ready, or not, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fruit !

Always cut (trim))
the branches of an Ume tree, but do not cut the branches of a Sakura tree.
--wisdom from Japanese gardening

standing under the fruit and leaves of an ume tree in God`s gorgeous sunshine is a great happiness!!!
First Fruit of the Ume tree!!! (plums!!)

The ume (plum) tree has borne fruit!
 Its been exciting from January to see the gardener pruning the tree, and then the beautiful blossoms in February, and now the leaves are green and it is bursting with fruit.  Ume means `plum` in Japanese, and now on the tree at the castle you can see the green plum fruits appear on the tree.

Even closer to home, the olive and grape trees on our balcony are showing signs of fruit--i.e., little buds of blossoms. For the first two years we lived here, we didn`t see these signs except for one tiny patch of flower last year, so its exciting to see that little blossom buds are appearing on many of the branches.

  It is exciting how God`s word and calendar are expressed in the seasons around us,  May we too bear good fruit in this season.  Today is the 19th day of the counting of the Omer up to Shavuot.  It is also April 19th and a day to rejoice, it is Israel Independence Day!!  Happy 70th Birthday Israel!!

Much Love, 


The fruit of the Ume tree!! (Ume = Plum)  (above)

The beginning of flowers on the Olive tree on our balcony  (below)

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God, 
I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever."   

--Psalm 52:8

And see in  the thickening vine and green and beginning of flowers on the grape vine (below)
Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.    ---John 15:4~5

Grape vine thickens so quickly, and the blossoms are shooting forth in tiny buds from between the leaves (too small now for my camera lens to find in this picture, but they are there!)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, 
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   
---Romans 15:13

Blossoming prayer for Israel

Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the earth with fruit.
--Isaiah 27:6

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wrapping up the Passover Posts, Rejoice in His Love

 Some time before the end of Passover I always like to do a dance under the cherry blossoms.
After the cleaning and confessing, the festivities and the matzah,  the contemplation and the prayer,  and all of the blossoming there is definitely undoubtedly a renewal and something set free within us.

May we rejoice and Praise the King of Kings in this season and at all times!
May we see a new season of Salvation for many and may the yokes of bondage be broken off.
For He is good and His love endures forever!! And He is coming again!!

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life. 

 Romans 6:22

Blessings and AHAVA (Love)
Now showing on this post: 


Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Castle (another castle!) at the Center of Tokyo--Cherry blossoms in the foreground, and almost wrapping up the Matzah Posts

So I may always keep your Torah, 
forever and ever,
and walk about in freedom.
For I have sought your precepts.
I will speak of Your testimonies
before kings, and never be ashamed.
I delight in Your mitzvot,
which I love.
I reach out my hands for Your mitzvot,
which I love,
and meditate on Your decrees.   
---Psalm 119: 44~48

Matzah in front of the Imperial Palace Tokyo!  from my Passover series in Tokyo!!
In the center of Tokyo, The Imperial Palace at sunset, with hanging cherry blossoms.  To me it looks like a Castle!!

Many years ago before I even knew I was going to be living in Japan, I read a book about Japan, it was called The Empire of Signs.

It was by a French writer named Roland Barthes.  He talked about how when he visited Japan  he got to know it through reading many different `signs`, mostly visual and cultural, as he didn`t know the language and anyway is one who reads into things with his writing.  He described Japan as an `Empire of Signs`.  For example, he talked about chopsticks and how he learned something about the culture by the  way people use chopsticks to `choose` and `divide` foods.  He contrasted with the way in western culture we use a fork to `pierce` into foods, and the way the plate is arranged, a western way is with a main at the center, but on a Japanese plate many small dishes and dishes within dishes.  He looked at the plate without a center, vs. the western way of eating, and shows the reader his view of  Japan people through a series of essays each one unfolding and shaping his narrative.  It was a very interesting book and at the time it opened my eyes to a new world of Japan, a country I didn`t know I would one day live in, but a country I had always been drawn to for it seeming so different from my own.

One of the things he also gave a chapter to--the chapters in his book were each a short essay on an aspect of Japan-- was the center of Tokyo, and the Imperial Palace that is located there.  But mostly he described the center as `empty`.  As the Palace occupies that center, if you look at the plan of the city center, it is `empty`.  The Palace is built, like the castles, with a plan that surrounds an `empty` center.  I was intrigued by this idea of the `empty` center of Tokyo, and the writer contrasted it with the busy and congested centers of most of our cities. (note these recollections are from my memory of the book which I read maybe 20 plus years ago!)

Funny how the other day when I was in Tokyo I wasn`t even planning to go to see the center of Tokyo, but I ended up there!!! I wanted to find a place called David`s Deli, to try it during he Passover week, and the station clerk said to go outside to change to another subway line. 

When I  went to the exit out of the subway to switch trains, I saw a sign in the station that said `This way to the Imperial Palace`.  The subway I needed to transfer to, was just that way, and a walk above ground.  So I took a detour and took a walk around the center of the city.  I never made it that day to David`s Deli, but to the Imperial Palace instead.

I had been there once before years ago when I first visited Japan with my husband on our "honeymoon" trip.  So returning there this time after years of living here,  it was a new experience finding myself there on my own on Passover week!

The cherry trees were wonderful and there were so many kinds!! I took more photos with the Matzah, keeping in the theme of Cherry Blossoms and Matzah.  Indeed, in the center of the city you can see, there is a "moat" of water surrounding the Palace, (it looks like the castles), and a lot of green as well.  When I got there it was already close to sundown, and the gates were closed to enter, but I enjoyed taking a walk around the center.

I kind of forgot I was holding matzah, when a couple approached me near the time of the sundown, and smiled and said something about the matzah!! It turned out they were a Jewish couple who had just arrived in Tokyo and were there on their 30th wedding anniversary.  They said it really blessed them to see the matzah, totally unexpected.  I was blessed by meeting them too.

I was surprised how much the Imperial Palace resembles the Castles!  I hadn't noticed that when I was there the first time.

God Bless you and thank you for reading and sharing in my Tokyo posts, I think they are just about done, as I have already started making Challah again.  Today was the first Shabbat after Passover.

For you who kindly asked how I am doing with my daughter in her new life and me in mine, thank you for asking.  God so wonderfully and lovingly is bringing me new fellowship to celebrate the Shabbat with, starting the first Shabbat after Passover.

May we  bring what we learned from the Passover weeks and be set free into the new season.. 

Blesssings and Shalom! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Pro-Semitic

 (post in progress.

photo from Odawara Castle, Japan, looking from the Castle, there even seemed to be the shapes of the two triangles of the Star of David, that is what I saw!)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sakura Gelato

special order, for Passover, no cookie, substitute with matzah

 From your Challah and Cherry Blossoms Correspondent, a view during Passover week

Cherry Blossoms Gelato at Odawara Castle!!

It was a treat the color of the blossoms, 
the sweet taste of the Goodness of the Father, 
our Father our King,  I believe He smiled 
He comforted me
made me feel like a child at His Castle 
in the midst of all this pink!!


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Cherry Blossoms at Odawara Castle-- w/matzah

Yes, really !  Cherry Blossoms Balloons, in the street leading to the Castle

matzah and Odawara Castle, Tokyo Japan

I loved seeing that this Castle has triangular shaped windows!! Did you know what these small windows are for in a castle? Something would be pointed out towards the outer area as a defense from the enemy. 
The cherry blossoms at Odawara castle were exquisite.  Below is where the "moat" was at one time.  Most of this castle is re-constructed, but it was a beautiful site to see how it was and the the cherry trees blossoms always a new.

The earth is the Lord`s and all that is in it.

Psalm 24:1