Thursday, 9 May 2013


Can I just say how much I like listening to my son practicing his Parasha for his Bar Mitzvah?

I like his voice, I like the togetherness of it, and I like what it says about his Jewishness. Okay maybe I love all those things.

It just makes me happy.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Loshon Hora

We have weekly classes with different trips that discuss Jewish issues, stories, laws, traditions, etc. 

Tonight's meeting was about Loshon Hora. Last week's was too. And it's such a fascinating subject to me that I don't really know where to start to talk about it.

It's Hebrew and it means derogatory speech about someone else.

I don't know if I had ever really heard about it until we went to Israel and Lori Palatnik talked about it. It was certainly the first time the idea really made an impression on me.  I forget exactly what she said, but I did walk out of that room, out of that lecture, wondering what I could say, who I could say it to, and thinking maybe I should just be quiet for a while, as I was at risk of breaking the rules.

There are tons of rules about it, and nuances, maybe as many nuances as there are different situations where you might speak ill of someone. And really the guiding principle seems to be that you shouldn't speak ill of anyone, and that your intention should be good.

The basic rule  is that one should never portray a derogatory image of someone even if that image is accurate.

So if someone said that somebody was having an affair (or stealing or greedy or bossy), even if the news was true, that would be loshon hora.

Now there could occasionally be exceptions for saying something, like when a person needs to be warned about potential harm or that a situation really needs to be addressed. In my example, if the person who had an affair was planning to marry a friend, maybe someone would need to warn the friend. Or if a person who was stealing asked a friend to go into business, someone should warn the friend.

My notes caution that one should weigh one's motivation in speaking out, and perhaps consult with a Rabbi before telling.

Why does it speak so strongly to me? I think because it's so easy to be hurt by words or to use words to hurt someone else.

Lauren asked our class tonight, "do you remember the worst thing someone ever said about you?" My answer was "yes", it was something so hurtful that I still remember it a lot of years later, and no, I'm not telling. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Israel Impressions

Do you remember being on the trip, being in the airport in Canada, and thinking, "I don't really know these women, I wonder how this is going to work."

Do you remember getting off the plane, tired, stiff, getting everyone out of the airport, and onto the bus and sorting out phones? Was Lori there to meet you with her sign that said "Welcome Home!"

Do you remember the bus ride north, to Tiberius or to the border? Sitting with someone, looking out the windows at fences and barbed wire, and the beautiful flowering trees?

And then Decks? Dinner, dancing, new friends?

Did you get to do the rafting? I did the first time. I think that was a major bonding moment. Laughing together, getting wet (some more than others) seeing the beauty of Israel.

What about Tsfat? Wasn't that cool? Some touring, some history, some shopping. Some bonding. Not enough time for shopping btw, there are still things I want from Tsfat. The glassblower, the synagogues, the hills. Did you stop and see the beauty and drink the pomegranate juice and see the Mikvah?

What about being in Jerusalem, how tired were you that first night? How overwhelmed? I couldn't wait to see it all in daylight. In this past visit we pulled open the balcony door in the King Solomon and discovered the balcony not as stable as I wanted it, but we were right across from the Windmill. Awesome. Beautifu. Amazing.

And the next day, walking to the Aish building and seeing the Kotel from the windows of the building? Did that make you cry? Was that amazing? Location, location, location. Right?

And the rush from there on in, the food, songs, prayers, shopping, stories, sightseeing. The new friends. The realizing that the similarities were more important than the differences.

What did you see? What did you buy? Clothing or jewelry or dates? Who was with you?

Did you love the tours or the sessions or the people?

Did you go for coffee or donuts or dinners? Did you buy wine in the corner stores? Do you know where the bomb shelters were?

What did you think of the soldiers? And Shabbat? And Havdallah? And the markets?

And somehow, at the end, we were a team, a group, a sisterhood. New friendships, new understandings of ourselves and each other.

Would you go again? What's your biggest take away impression? In one word?

Would you send a friend? Who would you send? Why?

What do you remember? What would you want Lauren and Lori and JET to know?