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Kasey / Holidays - Posts
Autumn has always held a special charm for me - the changing leaves, brisk breezes and warm drinks! It induces a rather festive feeling that excites the senses and makes one feel like a child again. Here in Israel it is slightly different being that there is no real feel to the change is season, but there is a difference in the air. And the fruits of the harvest are very much part of the celebration - though it will take some getting used to, substituting pomegranates for pumpkins!
Last year in my Hebrew class I learned songs for the holidays, and just yesterday as I was shopping for groceries I heard them being played throughout the store. I noticed that I was actually singing along to them and that my pace was much livelier and my shopping much happier. It was then that I realized that this year I really feet part of the holidays in a very keen way.
We are entering
A holiday with cheese as the main ingredient is right up my alley! Last night my Israeli family and I gathered at my husband's mother's home for a festive dinner....everything we ate involved cheese in some way! Of course cheese is always improved with a nice glass of red wine - and there was plenty of that.
As we ate and enjoyed my mother-in-law reminded me of another aspect of the celebration - Ruth. She told me, "You know, this is your holiday." She explained how it is a celebration of Ruth the Moabite who married Obed. Obed then fathered Jesse and Jesse fathered the great and honored King David.
King Solomon dedicated the Holy Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem with a prayer and a precedent that has been followed by Israeli leadership since they reunited Jerusalem in 1967 and took responsibility for the Holy places - the foreigner is welcomed.
"When a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name's sake...when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name." (I Kings 8:41-4)
It doesn't matter if it is the media, history teachers, tour guides, religious leaders or the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, they all like to refer to the fact that Jerusalem contains holy sites for the three great monotheistic religions of the world. Just not all of those mentioned above are so quick to add that there has only been freedom of worship for every religious group when Jerusalem has been in the hands of the Jews. It isn't a
During the holiday of Lag BaOmer in Israel every open space is filled with enormous bonfires, boisterous kids, sizzling food, and energetic conversation and laughter. My apartment, or flat as they call it here, is right on the border of civilization and acres of sprawling farmland. I enjoy having the option of going out of my parking lot and choosing either coffee to the left or fresh orange pickings from the orchards to the right.
Last night it seemed that all of Ra'anana decided to camp to the right of my flat. I never cease to be amazed at how holidays seems to pop-up around every corner of the calendar here in Israel. I still don't really understand Lag BaOmer, but it is rather impressive to see massive camp fires throughout densely populated areas. When I say "massive camp-fires" I don't think you can really appreciate it without seeing it. (photos below)
My husband and I attended the festivities at Park Ra'anana this week as Israel celebrated her Day of Independence or Yom Haatzmaut. It is preceded by somber days of remembrance - for the Holocaust and for the fallen soldiers. The celebrations of Independence are always festive, boisterous and joyful - not despite the days leading up to the birthday of the nation, but because of it. The whole country remembers the sacrifice and goes through a process of reflection that leads the people of Israel, especially the younger generation, to remember what this freedom and national holiday cost.
There seemed to be a million and one families at the park with children everywhere. Energetic music pumped through the park and a smorgasbord of food stands filled the air with the aroma of flame grilled meats that seems to accompany every event worth attending. The Mayor of Ra'anana, whom I like very much for his frequent visits to programs at the Absorption Center where I took ulpan, opened the evening with a moving prayer and then the residents of Ra'anana were treated to a ten-minute display of fireworks.
It is something I can't describe. It must be experienced to understand the weight of it. At 10:00 am today, April 12th, a siren sounded all across the country to commemorate Israel's day of remembrance for the Holocaust vicitims and survivors. For two minutes the entire country comes to an abrupt halt - people on the sidewalks stop suddenly and stand at attention, the fast paced traffic on Israel's streets and highways slows and roads become parking lots as drivers quickly exit and stand in reverence. For a moment in time we are cut off from our individual lives, pursuits and self interests. Nothing matters, nothing moves and all is silent as the ominous air raid alert blasts through the country.
Blessed to have grown up in such a sheltered, prosperous country, I had never heard such a siren until I came to Israel. If the landscape of people - suddenly frozen in their tracks - and the lifeless still frame where just moments before the pulse of activity was strong, were not enough to unnerve me, the screaming siren always thrusts a terrible stab of dread through my whole being and I think I must have just glimpsed a fleeting insight into the horrors of those who lived during those murderous years of Wor
The Passover Seder was just a few days ago and Easter just a few days ahead. I feel a little like this moment in time...caught between the two holidays. I understand all the logic behind celebrating the Passover as Christians and I am always eager to learn about Jewish traditions and how much they help me understand the Jewishness of Jesus - Yeshua. His message is much stronger and clearer when seen through the lens of Judaism.
The first Seder I attended with Jewish friends was such an eye-opener. Yes, the Passover reminds us of the miraculous way God saved the Israelites from Egypt but Christians see it as a powerful forshadowing of the crucifixion. A lamb was slaughtered and the blood placed on the door post to signal to the angel of death to passover and spare that household from the curse of death. It doesn't take much imagination to see Yeshua in every aspect of the Biblical Feast. I can't count the amount of sermons I have heard that draw comparisons between the Israelites slavery to Egypt and a nonbelievers slavery to sin. Jesus is referred to time and time again as the Lamb of God. His is the "pure and spotless lamb" who took away the sins of the world. The Lamb of God that has saved us from the curse of death.
Today at sunset it will be the eve of Tisha B'Av. It is a day which marks great tragedy in the Jewish Calendar. Both the first and second temples were destroyed on Tisha B'Av. The first was in 586 BC when the Babylonians conquered and the second was when the Romans demolished the temple in 70 A.D. Since the second temple fell the Jewish people have mourned for its rebuilding.
Though it may seem strange at first, this day reminds me of my wedding. I married a Jewish man and we had a Jewish wedding complete with the breaking of the glass when the groom recites the words of Psalm 137 verse 5:
If I forget you Jerusalem
May I forget my right hand
May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
If I ever don't think of you
If I don't raise up Jerusalem above my highest joy
Though there are many interpretations of what the broken glass symbolizes, many see it as a memorial to the destruction of the temple. My husband explained that the broken glass is to remind us that even in moments of our greatest joy we must not forget the loss of the temple and the importance of Jerusalem.
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