Saturday, September 29, 2012

My first blog rant

I may anger and offed some people with this post, I do not apologize. 

I have lived many, many, many years hearing about how Christians are still being persecuted. I could list about 20 but the biggest "persecutions" I hear have been:

1. kids can't pray in schools
2. bible should be taught in schools
3. legalized abortion is against their religion
4. birth control is against their religion
5. doctors and pharmacists are forced to write/fill prescriptions for birth control against their religious beliefs
6. gay marriage is wrong and destroys traditional marriage
7. it's not safe to say you're a Christian because you will be hated/persecuted

As far as personal beliefs go, these are all valid. I make no claim that they aren't. Some have simple solutions:

1. pray silently, why does everyone have to pray the same thing as you do anyway?
2. religion is personal, you want to teach bible, teach it at home and in your church
3. don't have an abortion
4. don't use birth control
5. don't go into a field where you may have to do something that violates your personal beliefs
6. don't fall in love with some one of the same gender
7. stick a sock in it, most people will assume you are a Christian, they don't hate you for being a Christian - they hate you for pushing your beliefs on them and using "but we are called to preach the gospel of Jesus" as your reasoning - and stop acting like a hypocrite, if you LIVE the way you preach, you wouldn't be nearly as hated

But, quite honestly, Christians have NO CALL to claim persecution, not here in the USA.

You want to talk about persecution? How about you come with me next year to the Yom Kippur service at my synagogue, where we have to have police protection and armed security guards patrolling to keep the loony anti-Semites out and keep us safe?

Until you actually FEAR going to services at your place of worship you are NOT persecuted!

End of rant.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Preparing for Shabbat

Shabbat begins just before sunset on Friday and ends at nightfall on Saturday. Nightfall is when 3 stars are visible in the night sky. Because of the work restrictions for Shabbat, many people will take Friday to prepare for Shabbat... and there are a lot of preparations to be made.

Friday is particularly busy in my home. It begins with getting the kids up early so we can all start cleaning. Once I have assigned cleaning chores to each of the older kids, I start making challah. Challah is an egg based bread that we eat at our Shabbat meals.

Two loaves of challah - the left topped with sesame seeds, the right topped with poppy seeds.
Since the kneading, rising and baking of the challah is time consuming, I start that nice and early in the day. While the dough is rising I will go about other Shabbat preparations.

Next I check on how the kids are coming along with their cleaning projects. If they are going well, I will start my own cleaning. Once a week my house gets a complete and total scrub-down! It is like a mini-spring cleaning every week. Windows get washed, floors get scrubbed, walls are de-handprinted, carpets are vacuumed, toys put away, dishes washed and laundry gets put away.

Why so much work crammed into a single day? Because I prefer to go into Shabbat with a sparkling clean house. It makes it much easier to observe the Shabbat rest when I am not surrounded by clutter and dust. :-)

My favorite day of the week is Shabbat. It is a day when we focus on G-d and family and Torah. Every have a holiday where you don't have to work and you can relax and enjoy your family? THAT is what Shabbat is, a weekly holiday!

Speaking of Shabbat, I have taken a break from my hectic cleaning and baking to tell you a little bit about what it is like to get ready for Shabbat, but now I must continue to prepare for Shabbat... back to work for me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah has passed and tonight begins Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. Jewish adults spend the day fasting and praying. We will be spending most of the day at our shul (synagogue).

Today is Erev Yom Kippur. It is a day to seek forgiveness for our wrongs of the past year.

Fasting will begin 18 minutes before sunset tonight and last until nightfall tomorrow. This year my husband will be fasting alone, adults and those who have had their bar mitzvah are required to fast, but there are a few medical exceptions. As my youngest is only 8 months old and still breastfeeding, I will not be fasting this year.

It is also a day where I will be away from technology, just like on Shabbat. So I wanted to update with a short blog before shutting down the computer until after Yom Kippur.

See you in 2 days!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

L'Shanah Tovah!

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holidays, or High Holy Days. It is the Jewish New Year.

HERE  is a link to a short article about Rosh Hashanah.

In my home, I have been preparing for Rosh Hashanah by baking. Honey is a staple around Rosh Hashanah, it symbolizes the hope for a "sweet" year. We also have challah shaped into a circle and baked (it is also really good dipped in honey!). As a special treat for Rosh Hashanah, I am sharing my Rosh Hashanah challah recipe.

I will admit to a little time saving device called a bread machine. It has been a huge help over the years but during the fall and winter when I bake even more than normal, it has come in especially helpful. If you do not have a bread machine, you can also do this by hand.

Rosh Hashanah Challah (makes 2 loaves)

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup pareve margarine (Fleishman's unsalted margarine is pareve)
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
3 and 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 and 1/4 tsp yeast

Put the ingredients in your machine as instructed by the manufacturer. Set to the dough setting and let it go.

Once it has finished the dough cycle, remove the dough to a lightly oiled counter and cut into 8 even pieces (set 4 aside to work with once you finish the first loaf). Roll out the first 4 pieces into long (about 15 inch) strands. Now comes the fun part, braiding in the round!

Lay the first 2 strands parallel to each other and the second 2 should be perpendicular and woven into the first two strands like this (see the over, under, over under?):

You will have 4 "sets" with 2 strand in each set. Start with any of the "sets" and take the strand that was under and lift it over the other strand in its set.

The first "set"

Do this with all 4 "sets."

The second "set"
The third "set"
After the fourth set - you may have to even up the strands a bit to make seeing the "sets" easier.

Now you have 4 new "sets. We are going to change direction (I went counter-clockwise the first round, now we flip to clockwise) and repeat the process (the one that was under now goes over top of the second strand in the "set" until all 4 sets are complete.

Starting the second round
Just finishing the round. Don't worry about the small gaps, they will disappear soon.
Repeat the process again if your strand are long enough (I was able to make 4 rounds). Once you can go no farther (the strands are too short),

Not enough of the strands left to go any farther with the weaving.

tuck the ends up over the top of the dough.

I know, it doesn't look pretty, but this is the bottom of the challah.

Very carefully place 1 hand over your ends and lift gently with the other hand to flip the dough upside down. Carefully place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then repeat the whole process about with the second set of 4 pieces of dough.

Flipped and ready to rise again

Cover the challah lightly with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes. (Preheat oven to 350 degrees).

Once it has had a chance to rise again, use a pastry brush to brush an egg wash over the tops (1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water).

Put in the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Freshly baked and hot out of the oven.

 Perfect for Rosh Hashanah! Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Maccabeats - Rosh Hashanah Rock Anthem

Here's another of my children's favorite music videos. The Maccabeats, again, this time singing about Rosh Hashanah to the tune of "Party Rock Anthem."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Maccabeats! Rosh Hashanah Video!

With Rosh Hashanah beginning Sunday evening, here is one of our favorite music videos.

Maccabeats - Book of Good Life

Meet Me!

Hello! My name is Channah and I am a 30-something (ha! Not giving an exact age) year old wife and mother. My husband (Adam) and I have been married for 14 years and we have 4 children. Our children are Yaakov (12), Yitschak (11), Dvorah (5 - almost 6), and Gideon (7 months).

As the new year, Rosh Hashanah, approaches, I have been inundated with questions about Judaism from family and friends. The questions are understandable. I was not born Jewish. I recently converted to Judaism. This blog is in response to those questions.

Over time you will hear the story of how we came to be the family we are now, about our daily life, special occasions and holidays, what led me to Judaism and much more.

I will blog as often as I can with 4 children and a husband allow.

I look forward to telling you all about my journey.