Monday, October 29, 2018

Prayer Blossoms

I wanted to write a post today that would be a moment of quiet and pause, to  join in prayer for the people in Pittsburgh of the tragedy at the Synagogue.
When I saw this photo on Sandi's blog,  and her post,  it  seemed to speak of hope and the blossoms themselves a prayer.  I am sharing the photo above that she posted.
And invite you to read her post for today,  HERE.

May the God of Comfort be with the families and community and bring healing to the injured.  May a new hope be born and blossom that will turn people to love the Jewish people and end the horrible anti-semitism in our world.  Our Messiah and Saviour of the World is the Prince of Peace.  May hearts be turned to Him.  May hearts of hate be changed to hearts of love.  May there blossom today a spirit of Love and Kindness with acts of kindness that we have never seen before towards the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.  God bless you.  God Bless the God of Creation, who was and Is and Is to Come.  Baruch Haba Bashem ADONAI.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Teshuva and the Ice Cream Truck

Challah  and Cherry Blossoms diary

Winding down, or up the posts from my LI visit and celebrating the fall feasts in this season of "return".
I know this post out of sequence, but for my records, I had to put in this photo of the butterscotch ice cream sundae and just wanted to include the story to go with it.

You will teach me the path of life.
In Your presence is perfect joy;
delights are ever in Your right hand.

--Psalm 16:11

At the Tashlich ceremony (part of the New Year celebration and observances, a Jewish tradition of symbolically casting our sins into the sea), there were two ice cream trucks!!  After the ceremony, where we read certain scriptures that are chosen for this day, and then throw crusts of bread into the sea to symbolize casting off sins, everyone lined up for ice cream.  Young and old.   Hearts were lightened from the blowing of the shofar the previous day at Rosh Hashanah. 

There at the marina, it was a joy to be part of.   Small children with their fathers in excitement for what kind of ice cream to have, and older people who were also joyously enjoying a treat that they might not ordinarily indulge in.   And I can't tell you when was the last time I had an ice cream sundae!  With butterscotch yet!   We all were eating and enjoying ice cream that was from a man in a truck,  but there was a wonderous unity and beauty in  how it was clearly understood that everything is provided from God. 

( somehow the spiral shape  of the soft ice cream even reminded me of the spiraling round challahs of return often made at this time of the year.  The whole experience being shaped by the Holy Spirit and filled with the sweet taste of return...)
Teshuva = Return

Post Script

The photos below are from another day, after the butterscotch sundae story above.  I suppose I had butterscotch sundae on my mind sometime after the Tashlich!  One day after that I was driving into the village and  surprised to find myself behind an ice cream truck.  I wanted to stop him but didn't quite know how from the car, so I  followed it through the winding streets of the neighborhood.  Finally he stopped in a cul de sac.   I stopped behind him and  got out and ordered... guess what?... a butterscotch sundae.  I had completely forgotten that I had almost no money and was on the way to the bank!  but he had already made the sundae and said not to worry about it!

I don't know if you or I will find an ice cream truck at the next feast of the Lord but I will say that  we enter new doors and new roads open to treasures and delights that God will reveal exquisitely ....and I might add, in unique each one who follows after His heart.

Love and blessings from your Challah and Cherry Blossoms correspondent,


Monday, October 22, 2018

Morning Glories, and a Challah for Abraham

I will surely bless you, and I will multiply your descendants like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.    

---Genesis 22:17
The morning glories on the verandah opened in late September this year, or maybe even early October.  I am a little off in terms of the seasons as I was away for all of September and the beginning of October.  I confess I was a little discouraged about the morning glories before I left for my travels in early September, that the morning glories on the veranda still hadn't opened.  But when I came back there were these beautiful blue flowers the color of the sky!!  Even as some of the leaves were starting to dry and turn to brown, the morning glories are still bursting open with the color of sky each morning into these late weeks of October.  And some of the other flowers too were unusually blossoming for this time!   I should mention, a thanks to my husband, who watered the plants when I was gone.
I love morning glories, and how it is a surprise to see them in the morning and how there are these flowers looking out on God's Glory while at the same time created by His Glory.   Everything speaks of His Glory.

About the Challah, I made a Red Bean Challah in connection with the Torah Portion we are in, Lech Lecha.  Where God tells Abraham to set out from his native land to go to where he knows not where.   Lech Lecha, which means go forward, yourself ! also has the meaning to go forth and into one's self.  Which is interesting as I always thought of the going out and setting forth, but the journey to God is also a great journey into our selves as well.

 I pray that from His glorious riches He would grant you to be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Ruach, so that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith.                     --Ephesians 3:16~17

Shabbat Shalom!
Shavu'a Tov!

To read about the Challah and Cherry Blossoms story of why a Red Bean Challah for Abraham, please see
HERE  Abraham's Journey and a Challah Tutorial 
 HERE  An Pan Challah and Lech Lecha Parsha
 HERE!  A Challah for Abraham,
and HERE  Challah for Abraham, cont'd!.  
(Or,  just enjoy the challah, without explanation!!! ) Thank you for making the journey and stopping by!  Enjoy!

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!