Tu B’ Av – The Holiday of Love

Tu B’Av, the fifteenth day of the month of Av, is a Day of Love in Judaism. Celebrating This holiday  has become a very popular holiday in Israel. Tu B’Av, the 15th Day of Av, is both an ancient and modern holiday. Originally a post-biblical day of joy, it served as a matchmaking day for unmarried women in the second Temple period. Today Israeli secular society commemorates the date as a festival of singing and dancing on the night of Tu B’Av. According to the Talmud, Tu B’Av was a joyous holiday in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, marking the beginning of the grape harvest. Yom Kippur marked the end of the grape harvest. On both dates, the unmarried girls of Jerusalem would dress in white garments and go out to dance in the vineyards.


What a lovely holiday to celebrate!


(thanks to Deb Radin of BAW for this info)

Posted in Holidays | Leave a comment

Pesach – A Chocolate Seder for Kids!

We did this at Beth Am for the 6 – 8th graders and it was so much fun… Thank Erin for making this a success ….   Everything chocolatified and targeted to the kids (of all ages) this fun seder can add a new dimension to your holiday celebration.  Chocolateseder5772haggadah





Posted in Holidays, Pesach | Leave a comment

Why we bury our dead?

It is from Genensis

The First Death: Death as a Mystery
“Cain said to his brother Abel…and when they were in the field, Cain set upon his brother Abel and killed him” [Gen.4:8].

How did Cain slay Abel? He took a stone and inflicted many contusions and bruises on Abel’s arms and legs, for he did not know what part of the body the soul goes out of, until, when he got to his neck, Abel died. After he slew him, Cain said: I must flee from my father and mother….Abel was lying in a field, his blood spattered over sticks and stones. The dog who had been guarding Abel’s flock now also guarded his corpse from the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky.

Adam and Eve came and sat by the corpse, weeping and mourning for him – but they did not know what to do with Abel’s body. A raven whose companion had just died said: I will teach Adam what to do. The raven took his dead companion, dug up the earth before the eyes of Adam and his mate, and buried his companion. Adam said: We will do as the raven. At once he took Abel’s corpse and buried it in the ground.

n  From Midrash Pirkei Eliezer [Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer], ch. 21; it is found also in two medieval Midrashic compilations (Yalkut Shimoni and Midrash Haggadol)

This is the documentation on why we bury our dead now as well…

Many of the customs around death are found directly in Torah and the related Midrash from this first death in the Bible to Abraham’s purchase of the cave to bury Sarah and also the concept of putting a stone marker to commemorate the names of those who have died.

Thank you to Rabbi Janet Marder from her talk on Death at Gesharim 11/6/11

Posted in Death/Funeral/Unveiling/Yahrzeit, Life Cycle | Leave a comment

Chanukah / Hanukkah / Hanukah

Festival Of Lights – Celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees success fighting against the Syrians (2nd century B.C.E.). Commemorated by lighting candles during each night.

THIS YEAR Hanukkah begins at sunset on Saturday, December 8, 2011, and ends at sunset on Sunday, December 16, 2012

from Avrham Rosenthal:
On the first night of Chanukah we light one candle. On each subsequent night
another candle is added, until the last night when we light eight candles.

On the first night, the first candle is placed on the right side of the
Menorah. From the second night of Chanukah and onwards, the additional
candles are placed to the left of the first candle. However, when lighting,
the candle furthest to the left is lit first, and then one proceeds towards
the right.


NEW Traditons:

• A mitzvah each night – children take 8 pieces of paper and write one extra nice thing they can do for their family each day.

When they light the candles they pull out one ‘mitzvah’ and try to do that before then next evening.

• A food tradition we thought of – after Sukkot you need to find a way to make a mitzvah with the etrog and lulav… So we make citrus jam with the etrog and oranges and then we share it with family and friends at Hanukkah time… goes well with latkes too.

• Have a treasure hunt for the children. Make clues and hide the clues one leading to the next until the children find their Chanukah ‘treasures’. Best if the clues relate to the story of Chanukah. Follow the “Macabee Treasure map” etc. (from Ethyl Kunes)

• Another ‘new’ Chanukah tradition – A focus on miracles at this time
in a good way to add more meaning to this holiday.

While we recall the ‘miracle’ of the Macabee’s success – each night
we try to discuss another miracle in history or in our lives now. It
is very interesting to think of other instances where ‘right won over
might’ or when ‘good came from believing the right thing will happen
against unlikely odds’. It makes for an excellent family discussion
and in keeping with the spirit of Chanukah.

Posted in Chanukah, Holidays | Leave a comment

Jewish Holiday Trivia Game


Download the pdf of questions or make up your own!






Posted in Holidays | Leave a comment

White for Yom Kippur

A link to the question of the week – why wear white and sneakers on Yom Kippur.


Posted in Prayers and Rituals, Uncategorized, Yom Kippur | Leave a comment

Rosh Hashanah Defined

JEWISH NEW YEAR: Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.” Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the January 1st midnight drinking daytime football game watching celebration.

BIBLICAL REFERENCE: The holiday is found in Leviticus 23:24-25. The name “Rosh Hashanah” is not used in the Bible. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar).

DATE: Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first day of the seventh month, Tishri. The first month of the Jewish calendar is Nissan, occurring in March and April. Why, then, does the Jewish “new year” occur in Tishri, the seventh month? Judaism has several different “new years,” which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American “new year” starts in January, but the new “school year” starts in August or September. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years and some refer it to the “birthday of the world” from the date of creation. This year is 5764.

Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Rosh Hashana | Leave a comment


Havdalah is a ceremony to mark the end of Shabbat!

end Shabbat with the flame into the wine - listen for the sizzle.

The name havdalah comes from the Hebrew word l’havdeel, which means to distinguish or separate. Havdalah is a ceremony that separates the Sabbath day and the secular work week. It is a beautiful service to bring a bit of the peace of Shabbat into your week.

Posted in Prayers and Rituals | Leave a comment

Don’t put the hat on the bed

While it is not certain that this is from Jewish origins, it seems the superstition comes from a time when people believed that evil spirits lived in the hair. This could have been believed from the static electricity that would discharge in the air when taking a hat off in a warm, dry environment. It is also believed that you don’t lay your hat where you’re going to lay your head because evil spirits spill out from hats. Another view on this custom is one of sanitary origins. Keeping the hat off from the bed also meant keeping lice from infesting the hat or the bed.

Posted in Mysticism and Superstitions | Leave a comment

Protecting the Babies

Garlic and red ribbons were placed on the baby’s crib to protect it from the evil eye, or demons. Lilith, one such demon, is specifically suspected of stealing small children for herself, since, as legend has it, she is forever bitter about her own inability to bear children.

Jewish amulets contain verse from Psalms to ward off evil spirits, especially the verse, “The sun shall not smite thee by day, neither the moon by night.” (Psalm 121:6).

Many mothers and grandmothers tie red ribbons and strings to children’s underwear and bedding to prevent the evil peer. The color red is significant within Jewish history because it was one of the items necessary for the building of the original Temple. Red thread and dye were used to make fabric; the red thread came from a type of worm. Rabbi S. R. Hirsch points out that the worm was the lowest form of life, and yet it was intrinsic to the building of the Sanctuary. The red thread, reminiscent of the lowly worm, can be seen as protection against this. Each time a person looks at the string he is reminded that a person is really as lowly as a worm. This humility is the ultimate weapon against the “evil eye.” Mashallah! (the verbal amulet to ward off evil)

Link to site where found: http://www.sefarad.org/publication/lm/038/13.html

Continue reading

Posted in Birth/Bris/Brita Naming, Mysticism and Superstitions | Leave a comment