Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Good Shabbat

From Sunday, December 16, 200712:45:00 AM EST

Feeling: Happy
A Good Sabbath
Though it is quite messy outside with the rain and all, it has been a good Sabbath.

I went to the early morning Torah study. I'd missed that class and need to start attending once again. Then there's the service itself. It has been a long time since I'd felt the Breath of G-d as I did today at Temple. I could feel G-d in a mighty way today.

Many could.

I wasn't there last week, but a sister told me she saw Yeshua's Face in the Ark.

I saw Him as I read from the Torah. In the lady's room the Glory was so heavy that four of us prayed right there and then the Rabbi's wife spoke the very words we prayed in the service. This is season for miracles and we are feeling them. We as a faith communty went through a major storm this pass summer. I am beginning to see a slight rainbow overhead.
Sadly, I did not speak to my beloved today. I do miss him so much and there is a calm I have after I speak to him. But I aslo understand that with the phones the way they are, he sometimes cannot get through. What really gives me true peace is knowing how well he is really doing. He sounds good and most importantly he feels good and knows that there is a purpose for his being there.
As Mark has said, "President Bush signed the order, but it was HaShem Who send him there."
From Sunday, December 16, 200712:45:00 AM EST
Feeling: Happy
A Good Sabbath
Though it is quite messy outside with the rain and all, it has been a good Sabbath.

I went to the early morning Torah study. I'd missed that class and need to start attending once again. Then there's the service itself. It has been a long time since I'd felt the Breath of G-d as I did today at Temple. I could feel G-d in a mighty way today.
Many could.
I wasn't there last week, but a sister told me she saw Yeshua's Face in the Ark.
I saw Him as I read from the Torah. In the lady's room the Glory was so heavy that four of us prayed right there and then the Rabbi's wife spoke the very words we prayed in the service. This is season for miracles and we are feeling them. We as a faith communty went through a major storm this pass summer. I am beginning to see a slight rainbow overhead.
Sadly, I did not speak to my beloved today. I do miss him so much and there is a calm I have after I speak to him. But I aslo understand that with the phones the way they are, he sometimes cannot get through. What really gives me true peace is knowing how well he is really doing. He sounds good and most importantly he feels good and knows that there is a purpose for his being there.
As Mark has said, "President Bush signed the order, but it was HaShem Who send him there."

Lighting the Darkness

From Dec. 12th, 2007
Lighting the Darkness
Some 2,200 years ago, the Land of Israel came under the rule of the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus, who issued a series of decrees designed to force his Hellenistic ideology and rituals upon the Jewish people. He outlawed the study of Torah and the observance of its commands, and defiled the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with Greek idols.
A small, vastly outnumbered band of Jews waged battle against the mighty Greek armies, and drove them out of the land. When they reclaimed the Holy Temple, on the 25th of Kislev, they wished to light the Temple's menorah ("candelabra"), only to discover that the Greeks had contaminated virtually all the oil. All that remained was one cruse of pure oil, enough to last one night – and it would take eight days to procure new, pure oil.
Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted eight days and nights, and the holiday of Chanukah was established.
To commemorate and publicize these miracles, we light the Chanukah menorah (also known as a chanukiah) on each of the eight nights of Chanukah.

This year, we start lighting the menorah on Tuesday evening, December 4, 2007.

Gone But Not Forgotten
For me the last night of Hanukkah (last night) is the most special one of all. For all of the candles are lit and every room is bathed in candle-light. I like the silence of the last night. In our home, I insist that is the night Mark and i enjoy for ourselves, making it linger just alittle bit longer, like Sabbat. I don't put the things away quickly either. i lke to enjoy the moment.
Sometimes I think we miss that in our hurry up world. The joy of just enjoying the moment.
Life is a gift from the Hand Of G-d. And I plan to enjoy it.

Chanukah Prayers & Blessings

From 10th Dec, 2007
V'al Hanissim
During the eight days of Chanukah, we add the V'al Hanissim ("And for the miracles...") section in the amidah (daily silent prayers) and in the Grace after Meals.

In this section we summarize the miracles of the Maccabee victory, and thank G‑d for the "miracles, redemption, mighty deeds, saving acts and wonders" that He wrought for our ancestors.

Every day of Chanukah, we recite the complete Hallel in the course of the morning prayers. The Hallel is a sequence of praise and gratitude-themed psalms (Psalms 113-118) that is recited on Jewish holidays.
Torah Reading
The Torah is read every day immediately following the Hallel. The Chanukah readings are from the Book of Numbers (7:1-8:4), and discuss the dedication of the Tabernacle, the gifts that the tribal leaders brought in honor of the inauguration, and the command to Aaron to kindle the Tabernacle Menorah daily.
On Chanukah, too, we celebrate the dedication (or, to be precise, the re-dedication) of the Temple by the Maccabees after it had been defiled and contaminated by the Greeks. And the command to Aaron to kindle the Menorah is also an allusion to the Chanukah Menorah, a mitzvah that we have thanks to the bravery of Aaron's descendants—the priestly Hasmonean family that led the Maccabeean armies in battle against the Greeks.
Various hymns have been composed in honor of Chanukah. The two most popular ones are Maoz Tzur and Haneirot Halalu, which are traditionally sung after the lighting if the Menorah.

My Beloved

From Tuesday, December 11, 200711:59:00 PM EST

Feeling: Quiet
I really shouldn't have been surprised by the dress and scarf from Iraq. It's just the thoughtful thing Mark would have done.

It's just his nature. Mark is the sweetest, kindest man I know. Not perfect, but perfect for me.
I remember when we were preparing for our wedding. Nothing but the best would do for me. Mark said he could look into my heart and knew what I wanted. If I wanted it; it was mine. Nothing was too good for his beloved.

And he still treats me in the same matter.

I think it is one of the many, many reasons I love Mark. The love, honour and respect I recieve as his wife, as his beloved.
Almost every Shabbat of our married life, I receive flowers. I have more 'just because' gifts than I can count. Even now, I can receive a phone call; "just to hear your voice" or "just to say I love you." Or a card in the mail.
Sometimes, if I close my eyes, I can feel my head resting upon his chest, feel his breath upon my hair, his hand stroking my cheek. I can even now hear his whispering my name, kissing my nose. I can heart his heart beating in my ear and inhale his scent.
To love and to be loved is a most precious gift from G-d.

A Different Hanukkah

The Freeing of the SoulOn Hanukkah the freeing of the Jewish soul is represented with eight days of candle lighting.- Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Tuesday, December 11, 200710:25:00 PM EST
Feeling: Quiet
This morning as I was leaving to meet mummie at her doctor's office, I found a small box waiting for me.
It was from Mark.
When I arrvied at the doctor's, I opened it, knowing mummie would wish to share in the goodie box.

It was a beauitful lavender dress with white and silver needlework.
A light lavender scarve with lavender needlework to match. That man. That wonderful, thoughtful, loving man. I could see him now, fingering the dress and scrave, knowing his beloved would love it.
Love from Iraq.

I am so blessed.
It has been a different Hanukkah this year, Ouiet, peaceful. And for the most part, personal. We have lit the candles together; Mark in Iraq, I here in Virginina.

Mark has been blesses to bring Hanukkah cheer to his fellow Jewish soldiers. I shared from my table. It wasn't the nosey, parties or merry-making that we are use to, but a nice quiet Holy day that I shared with my beloved in a special way.
And next year, G-d willing, Mark will be home for Haunkkah.

The Hanukkah Party By Rina Friedman

From Sunday, December 9, 200710:00:00 PM EST
Dec 02, 2007
The Hanukkah Party

By Rina Friedman
Hanukkah was finally here.

After the doldrums of school, homework and report cards, my kids and I (being a teacher, I suffer from many of the same school ailments that my kids do) were looking forward to a real “Hanukkah” treat . . . a meal out in our favorite Chinese restaurant.
As my family and I opened the door and entered the restaurant, we anticipated a real treat.
After all, it was Hanukkah, a time for celebration, joy and oily foods. Besides, China Palace was our favorite restaurant. We had been coming here for almost fifteen years.
Once inside, and sitting at our favorite table, we were in for a shock. First of all, after waiting for at least twenty minutes, and after waving wildly at every waiter (and being totally ignored), we were all cranky and starving.
This was a celebration! Soon my kids would want me to go home and start frying up a storm. (Heaven forbid!)
Second, all the action seemed to be centered at the opposite end of the restaurant, in the party room.

“I’m going over there,” I said to my husband. “I want to see why they are getting served, and having their party, while we’re waiting here, dying of starvation.”
My husband, who knows how much I hate waiting for service, said, “No, let’s just leave. Obviously Hanukkah is the wrong time to go out.”
He grabbed my arm to restrain me. “After all, we can always go home, and you can make latkes. . . .”
I knew it! Desperation motivated me to say, “I don’t want to leave yet. Let me at least go to check it out,”
I protested, loosening his grip.With a sigh, he let me go.
I walked to the other side of the room . . . and what a sight met my eyes! Balloons, gold dreidels, and sparkling menorahs were festooned everywhere . . . at least fifty people sat at various tables. There was a big sign, with a picture of an elderly, smiling couple, propped up on a table, with the words “Happy Hanukkah . . . Celebrate the Miracle” written in gold pen, which each guest had signed.
The thing that made the deepest impression on me was how happy these people seemed. The love was palpable in the air. I knew Hanukkah was a time of joy, but they were really excessive . . . smiling, and hugging, especially over in the corner, where the celebratory couple (whom I recognized from the picture on the table) sat.
I remained standing there, all hunger forgotten, as guest after guest went up to this couple, hugged and kissed the woman, and left beautifully wrapped presents on a side table, already piled high with previous gifts.
Suddenly, a feeling of terrible black envy filled my heart. I thought, You know, it’s not fair. . . . I will never have a Hanukkah party like this, with that many people. You see, my extended family is very dysfunctional, and I would have given anything to be part of such a family gathering. Sure, I always celebrated with my husband and kids, but never grandparents, uncles, cousins. . . .
Why her and not me? I wondered darkly.The black, cold feelings enveloped me, and I literally had to sit down as I felt self-pity overcome me.
I could at least watch the party, even if I’d never have one like it, I thought. Then, a wild impulse entered my mind. Why not go over and wish this woman Happy Hanukkah?
After all, I could sort of be a part of the celebration that way. I got up and walked over to the table, which was still a beehive of activity.“Uh . . . You don’t know me,” I began awkwardly . . . feeling like a fool. “But, I saw how lovely your party is, and I felt I just had to go over to you and wish you a happy Hanukkah.”
The woman looked at me and smiled, but I could see by the way she was gazing into my eyes, she sensed that something was awry.“One minute, Sy,” she turned to an elegant-looking man seated at her left. “I want to talk to this young woman.” She took my hand and began walking away from her table.
“Oh, no,” I protested. “I didn’t mean to disturb your party. Please, go back and sit down . . . please . . .”
“In a moment,” she said in a quiet voice. “But first, I need to tell you something. . . .” She placed her arm around my shoulders and led me to a quieter corner of the restaurant. “You see, I saw you staring at the party, and I knew that you were wondering what was going on. Maybe you even wished it was yours. Isn’t that right?” she asked.
How could she possibly know that? I wondered. Hot shame, like a high tide, filled me. I could feel my cheeks burning red hot.
I nodded, looking at the ground.She reached out her hand and lifted my face, her kind eyes gazing into mine. “I want to explain to you what this party is all about, and then you’ll see that you have nothing, nothing at all, to envy.”
I looked at her in disbelief. Not envy the attention . . . presents, people who obviously loved this woman. I truly doubted that anything she’d say would make any difference to me.
“First, do you know what this party is for?” she asked me.
“I assumed . . . a Hanukkah party,” I stammered.
“The reason all these people are here is because this is a very special Hanukkah for me. So you are correct, this Hanukkah is special because a few months ago the doctors told me that I’d never live to see it. . . .”I gasped in shock, my mouth gaping open.
“Yes,” she continued, “I have no family left either. . . . The ‘guests’ you see here are the nurses and doctors who saved me from my heart attack. Over there,” she pointed, “is my private nurse, whom I have to have with me at all times, and there,” she pointed to the corner table, “is my husband. He was my teenage sweetheart, do you know that? I never would have made it back without him. He’s the only family I have.”
She held my hand as she resumed her sad tale. “There is also a dietitian at the table, to make sure I eat only what is on my special diet. . . . No latkes for me, I’m afraid.” Then, she smiled sadly at me.“Another reason my husband is giving this party is because I probably won’t make it to next Hanukkah. But he doesn’t know that I found out, and that’s such a heavy burden to carry alone, all the pretending. For his sake . . . that’s why I had to tell someone.”
She gave me a fierce look.“Do you have a family, dear?” she questioned then. Speechless, I raised a very shaky finger, and pointed to my husband and kids, patiently waiting at our table.
“Oh yes,” she nodded. “So sweet, so young and healthy. You see, my dear,” she said, “it is you who are the lucky one.”
She gave me a tremulous smile, straightened out her shoulders, and walked slowly and with great dignity back to her party.
I turned away, my eyes blurred with tears . . . choking sobs rose up in my throat.I felt so mortified, so low.
How could I have forgotten what was really important? Health, a wonderful husband, great kids, a wonderful home. Now I understood everything, the solicitous attention her “family” was giving this woman, the waiters’ attentiveness. How could I have envied her, even for a moment?I returned to my table, a much wiser woman.
“You were gone so long,” my husband said. “So when are we going to have some service?”
“You know what?” I said, reaching for his hand and covering it with my own. “We can wait a while, it’s okay,” I smiled, my heart aching, remembering. “After all, it’s Hanukkah, right? A time for families to be together.”
“Right,” he affirmed, gripping my hand and squeezing.
I regarded him with new love in my eyes, then turned to gaze at my children. Having them in my life is a miracle, indeed, I thought. I truly am blessed. Truly blessed . . .As I looked around the table, there was only one thing I could say, and this time, I finally understood its true meaning.
“Happy Hanukkah, everyone . . . ,” I said.

Reprinted by permission of Rina Friedman (c) 1998 from Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul

The Beauty of the Lights

From Dec. 9th, 2007

The Maccabees
The lasting achievement of the Maccabees was not that they won a war but that they rekindled the light of hope in Jewish hearts and saved the faith of monotheism from defeat.- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, 1997

The Celebration of Hanukkah
Hanukkah has always been a celebration of Judaism in the midst of pressure to let go of Jewish uniqueness.- Cantor Ari Priven
As Jewish believers in the Messiah, Mark and I love Haunkkah. For it isn't the winning of the victory over our enemy(jews do not celebrate war) that is impotant, but the mircale that occured afterwards.
The Temple was made unholy by the offering of unclean animals, mostly swine, and it had to be made clean before offerings to the One True G-d could be made. However, there was only enough oil one day. However, the oil lasted eight days until more oil could arrive.
And it is during this time of reflection of the miracle our G-d has done and is doing in our lives that we celebrate. It is a time of fun, family and thanksgiving.
Thanking G-d for His goodness and for sending His Son, the Messiah to the world. For while Yeshua wasn't born this time of the year, it was during this time, Hanukkah that Miriam (Mary) concieved He Who is the Redeemer of Isreal.

From Sunday, December 9, 20075:40:00 PM EST

Feeling: Happy

Watching: A Life Apart (PBS Special)
The Beauty of the Lights
This afternoon, I had to run out and buy more candles for the Hanukkiahs. Each night, we add a candle to the hanukkiah and the house slowlybecomes ablazed with light and colour. I love to turn off the lights and enjoy the lights.
There is a store I love to shop at, Texture and I was hoping they still had candles. They did. So I borught two more boxes. One of the sales women lives in the same apartment build as I. She and her boyfriend's livingroom faces ours. She told me how much she enjoys seeing the lighting of the candles each evening.

As I lit the hanukkiah this evening, the one facing the court, I could see a neighor standing, waiting for me to kindle the lights.

As I lit the one on the other side of the apartment, I saw a family walking by and the children pointed up to my window, for they could see the candles. They were drawn to the beauty of the lights.
It makes me wonder; do people see the Light of Yeshua burning in my life? Is my light shining so brightly that others are drawn to Him? Or do I need to clean my 'temple' so that His light blazes in the darkness?

Love From Iraq

From Saturday, December 8, 20078:04:00 PM EST
Feeling: Happy Hearing A Christmas Carol

Love From Iraq.
I went downstairs to get the mail and found a large box.

It was from Mark. He has told me he was sending me my Hanukkah gifts. Here this man is in a warzone and he is shopping for Hanukkah gifts for his wife.
Now you see why I'm crazy for this man I am blessed to call my husband.
He send me a pillow. I am sure its one of his pillows. He had anointed his body oil, myrhh on it. His scent now fills the air. His smell.

I remember reading in the Song of Songs years ago: "my beloved's hands drip of myrhh."
Since then I wished to marry a man who wore myrhh. Years later, after we met, and we were engaged, Mark went with me to the place where I have my body oils made. I wear rose-myrhh. Mark wanted to know what myrhh would smell on him.
My dream come true! Myrhh is a clean, scent, smells like baby powder.
And my beloved indeed is the scent of myrhh.
I had just send him a bottle of his oil and now I have a pillow with his scent upon it. I know I shall sleep well and dream only of my beloved.
Mark also send me a Teddy Bear. He is so cute. A tiny honeybear with a white-tee shirt and the army logo. He now sits next to the Teddy Bear Hanukkahial. The one I light at 11 am, the same time Mark light his. There is also the same wallet he carries. This way, I have a part of him in my purse along with our wedding pictures.
This box, filled with things my beloved placed in it, filled to overflowing with his love, cheered my heart more that any movie or bowel of popcorn could ever do.

The answer to the simple question Mai Hanukkah?--What is Hanukkah?--has continued to be like the flickering flame of the menorah. The flame never looks the same from one instant to the next, but at its core it remains unchanged.- Rabbi Michael Strassfeld


Saturday, December 8, 20076:02:00 PM EST
Feeling: Angry

I stayed home from Beth Messiah today.

Last night was very hard. Dealing with a rude older woman that I know none can correct (if you do, you are the one who is wrong)
The lights of the Hanukkiah's lit up the room and Mark wasn't there.
Dealing with another rude comment because the Challah was a little darker than it usally is. (I left the loaves in the oven too long) but they were still good. It is a joyful time and yet I am without my beloved.
Right now, I just need to be alone, enjoying the light of the candles, a few movies and then the Torah.

I am trying to feel the warmth from the candles, but it just isn't there for me right now. I am feeling alone. Right now, I don't even feel my L-rd. I know He is here, I know that He loves me. But right now, I just don't feel it.
And I know enough not to go by my feelings.

Saturday, December 8, 20076:46:00 PM EST

Feeling: Quiet
Hearing: Popping Popcorn
Popcorn and A Christmas Carol
The candles are almost burned down.

I took pictures of the five Hanukkhiah aflamed. Each of the Hanukkahiah has a story. The ones Mark recieved this year while in Iraq will have their own stories as well. I love the colours that dance before me. Mark and I like the multi-coloured candles with tiny little coloured pearls on them. They give off a rich colour, like a lush rainbow. Mark is taking pictures as well and I can't wait to see them.
I am planning a night of movies. My three favorite A Christmas Carols back to back with a big bowel of popcorn.

Something Mark and I love to do on Christmas.

The Rabbi is Here! From Mark

From Saturday, December 8, 20072:13:00 PM
The Rabbi is Here!

He was not supposed to come until the 9th and 10th of December which would have put him at the last days of Channukah.
For a little while, we did not think he would make it, but Adonai has everything in His control. Funny thing about prayer, it works. Now I know everybody says, "Duh!" But think about it: how many times do we try and scheme and figure things out, present company included, when all we need to do is pray. We have a G-d who listens to even the faintest of whispers and will move heaven and earth to make our requests come true, but I digress.
What happened is that the Rabbi and his chaplain's assistant flew here on commercial air, and as part of the ritual, they lost his luggage. Well, Baruch HaShem, he found his luggage, but that messed up all of the prior coordination because he missed all of his connecting flights in country; therefore, he had to redo his schedule. Now, instead of being the last stop, we were the first.
Anyway, I linked up with a Marine that I work with who is Jewish. Unfortunately, I did not put two and two together, so I did not realize he was Jewish until the fourth night when one of the other Marines asked me about Channukah, and wanted to know some of the traditions that go with it. Well, I told him and then asked why he was interested. He told me that Sgt Friedman is Jewish, but no one had made any overtures at wishing him Happy Channukah.

Of course, I felt even worse because it did not dawn on me until this Marine made me aware of this. Anyway, I gave him one of the many Channukiahs that people had sent me. At first he thought somebody was messing with him since no one had made a big deal of it. Well, when he found out that the Marine really wanted to wish him Happy Channukah, he was touched.
And when I came in to work this evening, I wished him Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday) He said thank you, and that is when I invited him to light the Channukiah with me. He gladly accepted and we headed to the chapel at 1800, 6:00 p.m. When we entered the chapel, that is when we had the pleasant suprise of running into the Rabbi! So this has been a blessing after all. We went from just us lighting the Channukiah to having us and the Rabbi light the Channukiah. Then we went to dinner together. We spent over two hours just talking of different things!
Well we said good night to the Rabbi and the chaplain, and set up a time to light the Channukiah tomorrow. It will again be at 1800 hours, but as one would have it, the Jewish people started coming out of the woodwork. We talked to a few and are putting out a message for tomorrow night. I hope to see more people come to the Channukiah lighting, maybe even as many as eight.

Pray for this to come to pass.

Lighting the Lights

From Dec. 7th, 2007
Lighting the Lights
Mark called.

We kindled the lights together. He had lit the Shabbat lights and even at sunset, lit the Hanukkah candles. He said that the Jewish Federation has had memebers send Hanukkah and carepackages. For which I am thankful. Our jewish brothers and sisters have not been forgotten this holiday.
I made chocolate chip challah for tonight and I am praying it comes out well, since it has been a long time since I'd made chocolate chip challah.
I am taking a small break before I get to the latkes and the salmon cakes for tonight. I have to be honest, I am looking forward to it. Something that I can give that takes me out of myself. But I am also not feeling very well. I hope I'm not coming down with anything. Lots of handwashing and orange juice. If I was squeezing or coughing, I would hav ebowed out of cooking for tonight's oneg. I wouldn't wish for anyone to get sick.
I am beginning to smell the chocolate chip challah even now.

The Third Night of Hanukkah

It is a quiet evening. I took a long nap since I didn't sleep very well.

So my plans for the afternoon have shifted for this evening.
Mark did call. The call was dropped about three times before we could really talk. The internet is limited to the unit. They are having a hard time getting on their accounts.

Right now, everyone is using the office computers and they should get their internet back in their rooms. Mark is taking pictures of his kindling the lights with Avraham. The last night of Hanukkah the Chaplen will be there to lead a Hanukkah service.
We will have our Hanukkah service tomorrow.

It will be the first time I will attend a Hanukkah service without my beloved by my side.
But he will be in my heart.

Latke Recipe
I've been asked by several for a latke recipe. So I am posting the two I use.

Since no one has a copyright on latkes, adapt to your own use and taste. And please let me know how they can out for you.

We like lots of onion and garlic in ours.
We don't wait for Hanukkah, but enjoy them all year round. We like ours on the brown, crispy, side. You can also use sweet potatoes for a sweet-spicy taste, which is the one we like.

The recipe calls for:
2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and placed in a bowl of cold water⅓ cup grated onion, finely chopped garlic or 1/2 garlic powder2 eggs, lightly beaten (1 egg per pound of potatoes); too many eggs will overpower the potatoes taste1 cup all-purpose shift flour or ½ cup matzah meal. We prefer matzah. Too much starch will make your latkes heavy.

1 teaspoon salt,

1 teaspoon Cajun seasonings plus additional to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to tastePeanut or canola oil for frying.
For sweet potato latkes, sprinkle in your batter a bit of nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar along with the Cajun seasonings.
Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. If not serving the latkes immediately—out of the frying pan into the dining room—preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have a large bowl of cold water ready.
Grate the potatoes, using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the medium shredding disc. As potatoes are grated, transfer them to the bowl of water. When all of the potatoes are grated, set aside for 5 minutes. Drain the shredded potatoes in a large colander, rinsing with cold water. Make sure you drain the potatoes well. Transfer to a clean bowl.
Add the onion, garlic, the eggs, flour, salt, and pepper and seasonings. Thoroughly combine the mixture.
In a large, preferably straight-sided pan, add oil to a depth of ¼ to ⅓ inch. Heat oil until a shred of potato dropped in the oil sizzles immediately.
To form latkes, we use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop up mixture and pour into hot oil. Flatten with spatula. Repeat until the pan is full, but not crowded. Cook the latkes until browned at the edges. Turn the latkes over and cook until fully browned. Transfer the finished latkes to the lined baking sheet to drain excess oil. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
If not serving the latkes immediately, transfer the sheet to the preheated oven to keep warm. If serving even later, set the latkes aside to cool to room temperature, then freeze until ready to serve. Reheat the latkes in a 350-degree oven, and drain again on paper towels because reheating will release more oil.

Serve with kosher sour cream or applesauce. Add salt to taste.

A Child Shall Lead Them

Thursday, December 6, 200712:32:00 PM EST
Feeling: Quiet
A Child Shall Lead Them: Local students create Hanukkah greetings for troops overseas
Rose Ybarra
Dec. 3--Daniel Tadmor, 11, expects his Hanukkah will be filled with fun, family and hopefully even a few gifts, but he can't help but wonder what Hanukkah will be like for the Jewish troops serving in Iraq.
"They'll probably be pretty sad," said Tadmor, a fifth grader at Sallie Curtis Elementary in Beaumont.
Tadmor and several other students in the religious education program at Temple Emanuel in Beaumont on Sunday made cards to send to Jewish troops serving in Iraq.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, begins Tuesday at sundown and lasts eight days.
"Churches and schools often send Christmas packages and cards but the Jewish soldiers are forgotten," said Rabbi Barbara Metzinger of Temple Emanuel. "This is an opportunity for them to be remembered, for them to know that the people back home care."
Tadmor said the service person that gets his card might have a hard time reading it.
"It's going to take them a while to figure out what I wrote because I have bad handwriting," he said. "But once they figure it out, they'll know that there are people that appreciate what they are doing."
Arianna Alter, 10, a student at Sallie Curtis, wrote, "Thank you!" on the front of her card and drew a reindeer with menorah antlers.
"I'm thankful that I can stay here in Beaumont and enjoy my Hanukkah, but sorry that they have to be over there fighting," she said. "I want whoever gets my card to know that I am grateful."
Alter said a family friend is stationed overseas and that she's heard that holidays can be especially tough on the troops.
"I know they miss their families and friends very much," she said. "I think the cards are going to make them really happy."
Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday because it is a commemoration of the rededication of the Temple of the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians.
There was only enough oil to burn for one day, but, according to the tradition, it miraculously burned for eight days.

Second Day of Hanukkah

I made it back home just before it was time for me to kindle the candles.

It was both a sweet and sad moment, yet gave me a measure of piece because I was indeed kindling the lights the same time my beloved. I smiled, for in my mind's eye I could see him lighting them as well. I am hoping he calls this afternoon.
It is bitterly cold today, so I am making lentil soup for supper. In the meantime while the lentils are doing their thing, I am making Haunkkah cookies, latkes and salmon cakes for tomorrow. We will enjoy the foods of Hanukkah at our Temple tomorrow. I am making sweet pototoe lakes and salom cakes and will freeze them. This way all I have to do is heat them up before Sabbat in the oven. I also have cookie cutters in the shapes of Stars of David, dreidels and of course Judah Maccabee.
So while it is biting cold outside, I will be nice and toasty warm inside. Cooking, baking and waiting for Mark to call.

Hanukkah in Iraq-From Stars and StripesHanukkah

From Dec. 6th, 2007
Feeling: Quiet
Hanukkah in Iraq calls for a little creativity By
Joseph Giordono,
Stars and StripesMideast edition, Wednesday, December 5, 2007
It’s not just the cultural and religious sensitivities that make celebrating Hanukkah “downrange” in a predominantly Muslim land a bit of a challenge.
It’s the little things, too — like finding out that the base dining facility does not have kosher sour cream, seemingly a must for any potato latkes worth the name.
While the ceremonies do not come close to reaching the fever pitch associated with Christmas on bases downrange, servicemembers at several bases in Iraq paused Tuesday night to mark the first of Hanukkah’s eight nights.
At Camp Taji, for example, Chaplain (Capt.) David Goldstrom, a rabbi with the 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, led about 50 servicemembers in an evening service. Goldstrom is one of three Jewish chaplains tending to U.S. troops in Iraq.
Another of the Jewish chaplains, Capt. Andrew Shulman of the 4th Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, performed similar services at Camp Striker, also in Baghdad.
Until about two months ago, Shulman was the only Jewish chaplain serving the estimated 160,000 U.S. servicemembers in Iraq.
Shulman will be hitting the road to take Hanukkah services to soldiers in Mahmudiyah and in the Green Zone. Additionally, soldiers from Forward Operating Base Hammer, Camp Slayer, Camp Liberty and other bases will travel to take part in services at Striker.
Shulman said the circumstances will make Hanukkah a little different than at home.
“The custom is to eat oily foods on Hanukkah, as the miracle had to do with oil,” Shulman wrote in an e-mail. “In the U.S., people eat potato latkes — kind of like a poor man’s hash brown. In Iraq, we don’t have eggs to mix with the potatoes ... so a woman from Cedarhurst, N.Y., mailed me 10 pounds of frozen potato triangles (not so frozen anymore) and applesauce to dip them in.”
But, Shulman said, “I checked at the [dining facility], and their sour cream isn’t kosher, so that’s a no-go. Oh, and there really aren’t any ‘windows’ at Camp Striker to display the menorah in, so we’ll light it inside the chapel on a table.”
Shulman also said that on Thursday, he and other officials will perform a menorah-lighting ceremony taped by public affairs videographers for later broadcast. The ceremony will be held in Saddam Hussein’s old al Faw Palace, with soldiers from Afghanistan and California Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger participating via video.
At Camp Taji, Goldstrom said the menorah was designed and built by Fred Dillard of Morse Welding in Copperas Cove, Texas, near Fort Hood. Goldstrom brought the large menorah from Fort Hood.
“Hanukkah is really about respect for each other’s religious beliefs,” Goldstrom said. “While the historical events the menorah commemorates is related to a military victory and the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem, when you look at the history and the political and cultural context, it was about people fighting against oppression, persecution and for the opportunity to practice their religion.
“And that’s a great message for what we are doing here in Iraq. Helping a culturally diverse country while remaining true to the high value we place on religious tolerance and pluralism.”
Asked about the sensitivity of celebrating a Jewish holiday in a Muslim country, Goldstrom said, “American soldiers are both culturally sensitive and committed to religious pluralism, so we both respect the host nation’s cultural and religious sensitivities while providing an opportunity for our servicemembers to observe their faith traditions.”
Shulman saw historical parallels to the first Hanukkah.
Then, he said, “a small band of citizens defeated the mighty and fierce Greek army. This week, 2,200 years later, we light a menorah to commemorate the events and acknowledge God’s continuous interaction in our lives, all while on a U.S. Army base in the middle of the Iraqi desert.
“Moral of the story: Where there’s a will to make something happen, there’s a way. Nothing is too difficult

Oh Hanukkah

Wednesday, December 5, 20072:28:00 PM EST
Feeling: Happy
Chanukkah, Oh ChanukkahCome light the menorah

Let's have a party, We'll all dance the hora
Gather round the table, we'll have a treat;
Shiny tops to play with, Spinning Dreidel
latkes to eat Latkes
And while we are playing, The candles are burning low

One for each night, they shed a sweet lightTo remind us of days long ago
Chanukkah, O Chanukkah A yontev a sheynerA lustiger a freylicherNito noch azoyner Ale nacht in dreydl shpiln mirZudigheyse latkes esn mir
Geshvinder tsindt kinderDi dininke lichtelech onZogt "al ha-nisim," loybt G-t far di nisimUn kumt gicher tantsn in kon

The Second Night:
Thursday, December 6, 200712:32:00 AM EST
Second Night of Hanukkah.

Even though Mark isn't here and I miss him dearly, it is a nice Hanukkah.
I think this Hanukkah has more meaning to me. How precious our faith is. What a wonderful gift. And despite the separation, it is a faith that Mark and I share. I feel just as close to him as if he was right here with me. One of the Hanukkiahs I am going to set aside and light it at 10 in the morning.
I believe sunset will be about that time and I want to kindle the Shabbat lights about the same time as he does.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Wednesday, December 5, 2007
11:39:00 AM EST
Feeling Hopeful

Tradition. Tradition. Why do we do the things we do?
Tradition. Often times there is no explanation for what we do; the answer-tradition.

There is nothing wrong with tradition, for there often define and confirm our beliefs, values and way of life. But I also believe that there for the tradition to truly carry weigh, there must be meaning behind it.

Why do we light eight candles? Why jelly doughnuts and laktes? Why cheese? Tradition, yes, but there are reasons that give each true meaning.
We fry foods in oil to remember the miracle of the Oil that lasted eight days. We eat sweets and dairy to remind ourselves we can once again partake of the sweetness and nurture of Torah.

This year, while Mark has been away, I given much thought to our own tradition and the meanings that they have, not only to our faith, but our life together.
For us, Hanukkah is the time of the year when we realize the love we shared and found against fear of commitment to become one.
For us, the simple, pure light reminds us of Messiah, the Light of the World.
For us, sweet potato latkes are a celebration of our Sephardi roots. The doughnuts are a sweet treat, a reminder of the sweetness of G-d and how He provides for us. The sweetness of His Torah and the sweetness of freedom.
Hanukkah is a time of fun for us, but also a time of reflection. A time we enjoy greatly. And really, nothing has changed.
We kindle the candles together and say the blessings. He is doing it now in Iraq, I will here in several hours. Mark will call in a few hours and we will wish each a Happy Hanukkah. We will reflect on Hanukkah past, the one we are sharing now, knowing that this memory will be a quilt square in the Hanukkahs to come.

Harder Than I Thought

4th, Dec. 2007
As I dressed for the day, I realized that this Holiday is going to be harder than I thought. I had looked at the clock and realized it is Hanukkah in Iraq.

That my beloved has already kindle the Hanukkah lights.
I hope he had latkes.
The hanukkiahs are in their places in the windows, waiting to be filled with olive oil.

The white table cloth with the symbols of Hanukkah are waiting to be set out.
And I can't see for the tears.

This is very emotional time. It has always been a special time and for him to be so far away is ripping into my soul.
I'd not sure if I can even eat a latke or a jelly dougnut tonight.
I will try.

Hanukkah; The First Night
Blessed art Thou, O L-rd Our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and cammonded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
Blessed art Thou, O G-d our G-d, King of the univcrse, Who has kept us in life, sustanined us and brought us safely to this season.

The foods of Hanukkah are cooked in oil, usually olive oil.
We cook in oil to remember the mircale of the Oil lasting eight days.
In Sepherdic Jewish homes, like Mark and my, latkes-pototes pancakes aren't really traditional. That tasty dish comes from our Jewish brothers and sisters from Eastern Europe. Ours is fried dougnuts, often jelly dougnuts with some type of jam.
But since I don't know anyone who doesn't enjoy pototes pancakes (Served with sour cream or apple sauce) I draw from my North-West African roots and use sweet pototes instead of white ones. Has a sweet-spicey taste. This year, I have added salmon cakes to the menu. The cook wasn't able to make Mark laktes; so I will make them for him when he comes home for a few weeks. Sweet potote latkes, salmon cakes, rasberry jam dougnuts and red wine.
Counting down the days....

My thoughts on Channukah-Mark

Monday, December 3, 20073:01:00 PM EST
Feeling: Angry
My thoughts on Channukah
Once I get over my anger because I just had a really nice entry only to have it disappear when the internet connection was lost. I will take a few deep breathes and try to recreate this journal entry again...
Channukah, that special time of year for me when I and my Beloved started becoming serious friends. I remember helping her to decorate her did she have a lot of decorations. She had so many decorations that not only could we decorate one Channukah Bush, we could also decorate a second, and the rest of her apartment, both upstairs and downstairs!!!
What do I remember about Channukah, making latkes, lots of them. I actually started getting pretty good at making them. They were so delicious, often times they did not make it to the freezer. Either my old roommate, Hisham, would delve into them, or we would. There were many a times we would sit back with sore tummies because we ate a whole platter of latkes. They were kind of like Ruffles potatoe chips...You can never stop at just one! Of course we would make promises to ourselves that we will not do this again, until the next plate of steaming latkes was placed on the table...and then it would happen again!
What else do I remember? The presents; we have this tradition that we give a small present for each day of the celebration. It makes it nice to have a small gift, one for each day. It kind of extends the joy because it is not over in one day! No, it lasts for a whole eight days...
Yes, this time I am going to be a little sad, but I will rejoice because I know my Beloved will be standing by the window praying for me and the soldiers in my unit. And just knowing that she is praying makes everything a little more bearable..

Channukah the Celebration of FreedomChannukah, the celebration which commemorates when a group of people stood up and said, "Enough!!!!!!!!!" For you who do not know about Channukah, it was a time of great darkness. A foreign ruler was doing everything he could to systematically wipe out any rememberance of the Jewish people. He forbade us from studying Torah, from worshipping, from teaching our values to the next generation! He even desecrated our Temple! Sadly, there were some who succumbed; they did not want to stand out. They did not want to be different, yet that is exactly what G-d calls us to do. When he calls us out, he gives us an identity that stands in stark contrast with what the world wants. Yes, it was a very dark time, yet there was a small group of people who said, "Enough!" And they lead a revolt, that finally succeeded in driving out this evil king and his army. It was not easy, but they won because G-d was on their side, and they had family at home, praying like Daniel. Praying that G-d would manifest himself in some marvelous way. So yes, I am a little sad, but I will be fine because my Beloved is praying for me...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Preparating For Hanukkah; My Reflections

I remember our first Hanukkah together.

Having been raised in Boston, one of the things I was use to was the Hanukkah Bush.
Yes, I know, there is no such thing as a Hanukkah Bush.
Hanukkah Bushes came about as a way to off-set Christmas. Given the wonder and richness of the Holy Day, it doesn't need any glitter or gold, but has a wonder and awe of its own.
During this time, I still had two Hanukkah Bushes.
Since then, I no longer do the Bush. They never even heard of "Hanukkah Bushes" here in Virginia.
Anyway, Mark came over to help me decorate for the holidays. I love this time of year. I would have white lights against evergreen and little Victorian figuries I have collected. I also had a winter villiage, lots of snow. The only time I like snow. I had at that time only two hanukkiahs. A hanukkiah is special, nine branch menorah we use only during Hanukkah. One was a small ivory and pearl hanukkiah I found at a Hallmark store. I have since given it to a single friend of my. The other was nine glass candlestick holders I wrapped in evergreen branches.
Now, we have several hanukkah's ; one that was a gift to Mark from his parnets, one we brought for our first Hanukkah as a couple. I found one in a seond hand store that was made in Isreal. We saw a TeddyBear hanukkiah with TeddyBears. It was sold out last year; I will pick it up tomorrow.
The Chaplen gave Mark an hanukkiah, so that he too will light the lights of Freedom.
I am praying that one day, we will have one for the children G-d will bless us with. And we shall tell them of our Hanuakkahs of days gone by.

Preparing For Hanukkah

I spoke to Mark this afternoon.
Sadly we were disconnected.
We are both sad; it is our first Hanukkah apart in three years.
Our first Hanukkah was with Uncle Jim and Aunt Michael. It was so good to finally meet this part of Mark's family. And we had an awesome time. It was a time of healing for us. I'd suffered a miscarriage and wasn't handling it well.
Plus, newly married, we had been dealing with a lot; Mark's Chemo and radition treatments, setting up a new home, Mark starting a new job and attending classes. We were busy at our Temple. Uncle Jim (a Rabbi) gentley put it to Mark; that at this time, we were a young married couple and having gone through so much, we needed to pull back and forcus on each other.
We did and it made a world of difference in our marriage and in our lives.
Last year, we had family and friends over for a Hanukkah supper.
So much fun and we were able to share the Hanukkah story for those who did not know. I made salom; Mark made the latkess, following my recipe. He is a very good cook. I have suggested that he give the cook at Camp R my recipe and see if he would be willing to make latkes. Latkes
It will be a different memory.
But I know this; we will kindle the lights together, though worlds apart.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Preparing For Hanukkah

Sunday, December 2, 200712:35:00 PM EST

Feeling: Quiet

Hearing: Cross Talk

The house is almost clean and I have to run out for a bit. Then I will come back home to prepare for Hanukkah.
Hanukkah holds a special meaning for me this year.

It is a quiet Hanukkah, one that causes much reflection.

During those days of old, there was a nation that captured our land Isreal, our Hebrew people. The aim of their king wasn't live and let live, but to wipe us out as a people. We were denied our place of worship, our scriptures, languge. Our Holy Days were outlawed. Teaching our children their Alphabet was outlawed and punishable not only by the death of the parnet, but the child as well. We will being forced by the threat of death to deny the G-d of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

Finally, a small band of Jews, starting with a priestly family, rose up and said "enough is enough." One year into the battle, the leader died and his son, Judah, stood up as the leader .
Judah left behind his beloved, Mrs. Judah waiting for him at home.

A priest wife, she knew how to pray and in my mind's eye, I see Mrs. Judah, standing at the window, like Daniel of old, praying for her husband, for the men he led, trusting G-d to protest the troops and bring victory. At night, she lit the oil lamp, awaiting his return home.
And after years of war, he and his army, drove that enemy out and reclaimed our land, our Temple, our faith. The Holy Place had been defiled by pig's blood and needed to be cleased. And there was only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day. It would take days for more to arrive. The miracle? The oil lasted eight days. And thrus the miracle of the Oil that we celebrate today.
Today, there is another enemy that whichs to wipe us off the face of the earth. There are people who wish to once again kill every Jewish man, woman and child. To outlaw our places of worship, our scriptures. That would make us deny the G-d of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. There are people who would love nothing more that Jews, Christians and these Untied States was nothing but a few pages in their history books.

There are countries who have said "enough is enough", and they have taken a military stand.
Amoung the troop is another Judah.

Yehudah ben Yacob. Mark's hebrew name.

Yehudah has left his beloved, Tirzah Elanna bat Levi behind.

And this Mrs. Judah is standing at the window, like Daniel of old, praying for her husband, for the men and women he leads, trusting G-d to protest the troops and bring victory.

At night, I light a candle, waiting for my beloved's return home.

And this Hanukkah, as I kindle each one of the lights, I will indeed light the Lights of Freedom, of Hope.

A Note From Mark

From Nov 2007:
A Note From Mark:

Camp Ramadi
Camp Ramadi used to be an Iraqi Army post. It is just outside the city of Ramadi, Iraq.

There are a few buildings here, but it is mostly tents and other temporary dwellings. The ground is a fine, dusty powder that gets all over everything. Its dry and gets all up my nose and in my eyes. Soon, though, I will not have to worry about that as it will be one big, soupy mess.
I live in a wooden building they call a Squaw Hut. I think that is how you spell it. It's about 10x20ft, and is made to hold six people. Right now we have four. Two others live with me, and an interpreter lives on the other side. He lives by himself. Lucky guy. I guess my roommates are not that bad. I will let you know more. Right now it is time for bed...

Mark Called

It has been a wonderful Shabbat.

Changing the date of the Challah Class did help: I now have six students.
And I am very pleased. More and more of the men are getting up and dancing so, last night I had the honour of leading the dance and today it was Lian. I also taught today since Lian'ss foot was bothering her.
Ere Shabbat, I was blessed to kindle the Shabbat candle once again.
This morning, as Rabbi began his Drash, Mark called. And since I'd forgotten to turn it on vibrate, the Ring Tune could be heard.

Since that means "ain't nothin' like the reel thin'" began to play, telling all around me that Mark called. I really didn't care; my beloved was calling and I needed to hear his voice.
He sounds good, enjoying his day off.

Rabbi had voiced an interested in speaking to Mark earlier, so this gave them a very minutes to chat. I could see the relief on Joe's face to hear Mark for himself. They have a always had a very special relationship.
Mark says I am doing great. I don't think I am, but if Mark says I am, then I am. I recieve great strenght from my beloved. I know that we going through this "deployment" together. Mark's of course is more hands on. My is to pray and make sure others know how to pray for him. To make sure he gets his peanut butter and grape juice and find a way to have Challah delievered for Shabbat. To send e-mail and Care Packages (those loving touches from home) and be ready with jokes and a listening ear. I remember one night before Mark rang off, he said: "I can face this, knowing you will be waiting for me. That I have you and our home to return to." And knowing my beloved will return to me, to our home, get me through this as well.
I am about to have a cup of hot coco and relax for the evening. Tomorrow, I will start decorating for Hanukkah. This has always been a special holiday for us and I wish to keep up the tradition.
I know Mark would wish me to.

Another Quiet Shabbat

From; Friday, November 30, 2007
Part 2
Finally! the house has warmed up and the Challah is almost at the end of the first rising. I have cleaned up my work place and will soon have to kneel the dough and set it for the second rising. I also need to start getting ready for Hanukkah which begins next Tuesday evening.

And while I love this holiday, it is very hard.
Our first Hanukkah together, I learned Mark had just received his orders to Iraq, his first tour.
The second he was in Iraq.
The third, was just after Mark started cancer treatment and we had started talking about marriage.
The fourth, we celebrated with our faith community and then our family in California, Mark's Aunt and Uncle. What a blast.
Last year, we had an Hanukkah dinner for family and friends. Lots of latkes and laugher.
This year, I will kindler the Hanukkah lights and look into the night sky, knowing Mark will do the same in Iraq.

Good Shabbat, Beloved.

Almost Ready

From Friday, November 30, 20073:44:00 PM EST
Feeling: Anxious
Hearing:Fox New
Shabbat is alittle more than an hour away.

The Challah is in the over and the house is almost back together. From now on, I will indeed stick to the 5-6 am Challah making time.
Yes, the house was very cold this morning, and if I have to get up an hour earlier, I will.
I am thankful I'd already made supper,

so all I have to do is heat it up.Mark called, just before Sabbat his time. Already getting dark, he said. He said he needs more candles. So I will go shopping next week.
Since they can't have wine on base, Mark has asked for grape juice for Shabbat. I am also going to order Kosher meals and Challah for him to be send to Iraq. I realize as we spoke, the last time he had Challah was the last Shabbat he was home. There was a fellow soldier, Jewish, who Mark had welcomed Shabbat with, but he has since gone home.
I need to find a to make sure that he starts getting Challah for Shabbat. And my hope is that others will begin to join him for Ere Sabbat.
The things we in this country take for granted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A little about me (Mark)

Shalom friends:
This is Mark, and for those of you who do not know me, I am a Reserve Officer who has served two tours in Iraq. Allow me to share a little of my background and what leads me to this point in our lives.
After my first tour to Iraq in Jan 2003 to Aug 2004, I returned to the United States and was diagnosed with cancer. Upon hearing the diagnosis, I started my cancer treatment, using my medical benefits I earned through the Army, and I applied to the Veterans’ Administration (VA) for benefits. At this time, Laini and I began courting, so I asked her to help me with my cancer treatment since she used to be a Hospice nurse that worked with cancer patients. For those of you who want to know more about us, see the blog, "We Made Our Own Huppah," which my Beloved started to journal about how our story really begins, but I digress.
As I went through my treatment, our love grew and on 13 February, 2005, I formally proposed to Laini, and on 26 June 2005, we were married. During this time the VA was not able to process my application, so I petitioned the Army to activate me once again in order for me to receive treatment. By the grace of G-d, I was once again placed on Active Duty, and went through cancer treatment. In September 2006, I REFRAD, demobilized from the Army, after my cancer went into remission.
After leaving Active Duty, I went back to the VA to reactivate my file. Not giving it a second thought, I started looking for work and decided to try my hand at teaching. After all, we always hear about the teacher shortage, and I always wanted to be a teacher, so I attended and graduated from the Career Switcher’s program at Old Dominion University. That was November, and from that time until I was again mobilized for another tour, I tried to find a job teaching, but none of the schools needed teachers. As time went on, I started feeling more and more down. About this time, we started hearing rumors that I was going to be activated once again for another tour in Iraq.
Now, those of you who know my Beloved, you know that she is a very wise woman. Anyway, one day when I was feeling extremely down, she just told me to go to the local park and pray about our situation. I did as she asked, and when I returned, I told her that I actually felt better. My Beloved told me that as SHE prayed, she could not help, but feel that G-d was going to bless us more than we could ever expect, or imagine. In fact, she said that The Almighty was going to “bless our socks off!” About two months later, two things happened:
1. In May I received orders to report to Fort Bragg for training and deployment to Iraq.
2. In June, the same week of my Beloved’s birthday, I received a check for about $22,000, which was back-pay from September until June. I was also informed that I would receive two more checks for July and August. This money more than helped us to pay our debts off, and set us up for success, as well as enjoy our last few months together without financial worry.
Next entry: Our time together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Shabbat

Friday, November 30, 20078:39:00 AM EST

Feeling: Quiet

Watching: Fox News

I awoke to a chilly apartment, so I have to wait for the house to warm up before I can start the Challah.

One of the problems of this lovely apartment is that it isn't the greatest for baking. Our building sits on the of a main street and with the trucks rolling by, the building shakes. And it took time to find a dark place for my yeast to work; not to hot that it kills the yeast and not to cool that it doesn't work at all.

Plus, the Kitchen is tiny, so I have to use the dinning room to make the Challah. Which is one of the reasons I start so early. So that I can clean my dinningroom before Shabbat begins.
My upstairs neighor brought me some cookies she hah made. I have got to get the recipe; they were awesome. But she was upset because they didn't get fluffy. And I pointed out the problem of the apartment. And sadly that is why most of the time, my Challah doesn't come out so fluffy and light. It seems that between 5 and 6 in the morning is the best time to bake .

And I am not a morning person. But, then it is a good way to start the day. Along with prayer and study.

A Sinful Teddy Bear?

Thursday, November 29, 20074:11:00 PM EST

Feeling: Angry

British primary school teacher Gillian Gibbons has been arrested in Sudan, accused of insulting Islam's Prophet by letting her class of 7-year-olds name a teddy bear Mohammed.
Left; Fernando Bengoechea / Beateworks / Corbis: Reuters

It probably seemed like the most innocent of ideas to the newly arrived teacher from England, still settling into life in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. She asked her class of six- and seven-year-olds to dress up and name a teddy bear, and keep a diary of his outings. She hoped it would provide material for projects for the rest of the year. And it might have, except for the name the children chose for their bear: Muhammad.
If you could walk past the teachers‘ lounge and listen in, what sorts of stories would you hear? An ...

Now Gillian Gibbons, 54, is spending her second night in a Sudanese prison, accused of insulting Islam's Prophet. She faces a public lashing or up to six months in prison if found guilty on charges of blasphemy. And Unity High School — one of a number of exclusive British-run schools in the Sudanese capital — has been closed as staff fear reprisals from Islamic extremists. Robert Boulos, the school's director, said the incident had been blown out of all proportion, but added that the school would remain closed until January to let ill feelings blow over.
"This was a completely innocent mistake," he said in an office decorated with sepia photographs dating back to the school's colonial heyday. "Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam."
Police raided the school, where Gibbons also lives, on Sunday.
"We tried to reason with them but we felt they were coming under strong pressure from Islamic courts," said Boulos. "There were men with big beards asking where she was and saying they wanted to kill her."
A similar angry crowd had gathered by the time she arrived at the Khartoum police station where she is being held.
Unity, founded early in the last century, is one of several British schools run along Christian lines in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Its high brick walls shut out the dust of everyday Sudanese life, transporting the visitor into the shady courtyard of an Oxbridge college or English private school. Many of its pupils come from well-to-do Sudanese families keen for their children to get the best education that money can buy. But Sudan is ruled by religious conservatives. Sharia law was introduced in 1991; alcohol is banned and women must wear headscarves. Convicted criminals are routinely flogged or executed.
The bizarre turn of events that led to the teacher's arrest began in September, soon after she arrived in the country, according to colleagues who have rallied in her support. Her young class was due to study the behavior and habitat of bears, so she suggested that pupils bring in a teddy bear to serve as a case study. A seven-year-old girl brought in her favorite cuddly toy and the rest of the class was invited to name him. After considering the names Hassan and Abdullah, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Muhammad — the first name of the most popular boy in the class.
"No parents or teachers complained because they knew she had no bad intention," said Boulos. Until last week. Parents from another class raised concerns with the school. Then Sudan's feared police came calling at the weekend. Gibbons' colleagues said they feared a disgruntled member of staff may be using the issue to cause trouble.
Bishop Ezikiel Kondo, chairman of the school council, said: "The thing may be very simple, but they just may make it bigger. It's a kind of blackmail." Khartoum has exploded with anger at accusations of blasphemy in the past. Last year angry demonstrators denounced cartoons of the Prophet that appeared in Danish newspapers. And there have been protests at the actions of Zoe's Ark, a French charity accused of trying to smuggle children out of neighboring Chad.
Now everyone is waiting to see whether religious leaders or politicians will take their supporters onto the streets this time. Most parents arriving at the school gates were supportive of the British teacher. One mother, whose seven-year-old son was in Gibbons' class, said her family had not been offended by the name. "Our Prophet Muhammad tells us to be forgiving," she said. "So she should be released. She didn't mean any of this at all."

My Job

From 29th, Nov 2007
From Moshe the Mouse:
My job; simple really.
To make Imma (Laini) happy and bring her comfort. Easy to do.
After all, that is what we stuffed animals do best.
We don't judge. We are good listeners and never repeat what was told to us. It is our job to just cuddle back. To allow the tears the fall. To be held tighter through a thunder storm. To bring a smile to the face.
And in my case, Imma sticks me in her tote bag and takes me almost everywhere with her. She says I bring her comfort as well as good company. People often stop when they see my little head sticking out of Imma's tote and many a child tries to claim me.
But my heart belongs to Imma.
Just like Abba (Mark) .
Tomorrow, Starbucks.

Getting Ready For Shabbat and Hanukkah

Friday, November 30, 200712:47:00 PM EST

Feeling Happy

Hearing: Coffee Brewing

I live in the best house in the whole world. Sabbat is in a few hours. The house will soon fill with the scent of Challah. What is Challah? It is an special bread that we Jews enjoy for Sabbat and it is the best thing in the whole world. Imma's Challah is Honey-Almond-Spice and it smells and tastes like heaven. Imma is cleaning up the house and soon she will light the pillars candles all about the house. Abba brought Imma Jasmine-Rose scent candles. Imma was a missionary briefly in Morocco and the Jasmine-Rose reminds her of the country she loves. While the Challah is baking, we will get ready for Sabbat. Imma made an Moroccon lamb stew for our table and 18 minutes before sundown, Imma will kindle the lights. Imma loves Sabbat, but it is also very sad because she misses Abba. Who is celebrating Sabbat in Iraq.
But today, Imma is also bringing out the things for Hanukkah; the Feast of Lights, which starts next week. A very busy afternoon. I shall write more after Shabbat.

This entry has 1 comments:
#1 Comment from
kherrywine57 6/22/08 2:19 PM
Your house, your life, sounds lovely. You are one lucky little Mouse.

A Letter From Avraham :)

Saturday, November 24, 20078:34:00 AM EST

Feeling Happy

Hearing: The Heat Coming On

If Imma (Lainin) saw me right now, she would be upset.
It is Shabbat and I should not be on the computer during Sabbat. But I finally recieved a letter from Avraham, so I think she will forgine me.
I have a bear that wants to speak with you and Moshe. I am going to finish getting ready for work. I have to work today because one of my soldier's is on pass to spend Thanksgiving with her husband who is stationed in another part of Iraq. I will find out how it went when she gets back... But for now, here is Avraham:

Imma, Imma this is so cool! Abba (Mark) is letting me use his Dragon Naturally Speaking program to dictate a letter to you and to Moshe. How cool is that! I probably should be typing, but this is so much fun. What do you think?
"Moshe I think that is awesome. I am so glad to hear you and Abba are doing ok, though I still miss you both very much."

Moshe my beloved brother, how are you? Do not be angry with me…. Imma told me that you are very angry with me because I have not written you. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.

I just wanted to let you know that I'm doing okay. Abba is very busy, so it is a good thing that I have Yehuda. We play every day, while Abba is at work. We also take time to study Torah. Abba plays with us when he gets home from work, but sometimes I wish he would play during the day. He works so hard. I really cannot tell you what he does every day. Maybe I'll sneak into his bag without him knowing. I will write you back and let you know what I found out...



Monday, October 20, 2008

6,000 Sunni Iraqis Join Pact With U.S.

I haven't notice CNN carrying this...
6,000 Sunni Iraqis Join Pact With U.S.
Associated Press November 29, 2007HAWIJA, Iraq - Nearly 6,000 Sunni Arab residents joined a security pact with American forces Nov. 28 in what U.S. officers described as a critical step in plugging the remaining escape routes for extremists flushed from former strongholds.
The new alliance - called the single largest single volunteer mobilization since the war began - covers the "last gateway" for groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq seeking new havens in northern Iraq, U.S. military officials said.
U.S. commanders have tried to build a ring around insurgents who fled military offensives launched earlier this year in the western Anbar province and later into Baghdad and surrounding areas. In many places, the U.S.-led battles were given key help from tribal militias - mainly Sunnis - that had turned against al-Qaida and other groups.
Extremists have sought new footholds in northern areas once loyal to Saddam Hussein's Baath party as the U.S.-led gains have mounted across central regions. But their ability to strike near the capital remains.
A woman wearing an explosive-rigged belt blew herself up near an American patrol near Baqouba, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, the military announced Wednesday. The blast on Nov. 27 - a rare attack by a female suicide bomber - wounded seven U.S. troops and five Iraqis, the statement said.
The ceremony to pledge the 6,000 new fighters was presided over by dozen sheiks - each draped in black robes trimmed with gold braiding - who signed the contract on behalf of tribesmen at a small U.S. outpost in north-central Iraq.
For about $275 a month - nearly the salary for the typical Iraqi policeman - the tribesmen will man about 200 security checkpoints beginning Dec. 7, supplementing hundreds of Iraqi forces already in the area.
About 77,000 Iraqis nationwide, mostly Sunnis, have broken with the insurgents and joined U.S.-backed self-defense groups.
Those groups have played a major role in the lull in violence: 648 Iraqi civilians have been killed or found dead in November to date, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press. This compares with 2,155 in May as the so-called "surge" of nearly 30,000 additional American troops gained momentum.
U.S. troop deaths in Iraq have also dropped sharply. So far this month, the military has reported 34 deaths, compared with 38 in October. In June, 101 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.
Village mayors and others who signed Wednesday's agreement say about 200 militants have sought refuge in the area, about 30 miles southwest of Kirkuk on the edge of northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Hawija is a predominantly Sunni Arab cluster of villages which has long been an insurgent flashpoint.
The recently arrived militants have waged a campaign of killing and intimidation to try to establish a new base, said Sheikh Khalaf Ali Issa, mayor of Zaab village.
"They killed 476 of my citizens, and I will not let them continue their killing," Issa said.
With the help of the new Sunni allies, "the Hawija area will be an obstacle to militants, rather than a pathway for them," said Maj. Sean Wilson, with the Army's 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. "They're another set of eyes that we needed in this critical area."
By defeating militants in Hawija, U.S. and Iraqi leaders hope to keep them away from Kirkuk, an ethnically diverse city that is also the hub of Iraq's northern oil fields.
"They want to go north into Kirkuk and wreak havoc there, and that's exactly what we're trying to avoid," Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the top U.S. commander in northern Iraq, told The Associated Press this week.
Kurds often consider Kurkik part of their ancestral homeland and often refer to the city as the "Kurdish Jerusalem." Saddam, however, relocated tens of thousands of pro-regime Arabs to the city in the 1980s and 1990s under his "Arabization" policy.
The Iraqi government has begun resettling some of those Arabs to their home regions, making room for thousands of Kurds who have gradually returned to Kirkuk since Saddam's ouster.
Tension has been rising over the city's status - whether it will join the semi-autonomous Kurdish region or continue being governed by Baghdad.
"Hawija is the gateway through which all our communities - Kurdish, Turkomen and Arab alike - can become unsafe," said Abu Saif al-Jabouri, mayor of al-Multaqa village north of Kirkuk. "Do I love my neighbor in Hawija? That question no longer matters. I must work to help him, because his safety helps me."
In Baghdad, a bus convoy arrived carrying hundreds of refugees home from Syria. The buses, funded by the Iraqi government, left Damascus on Tuesday as part of a plan to speed the return of the estimated 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled to neighboring Syria and Jordan.
Also Wednesday, an Iraqi journalist Dhia al-Kawaz who said 11 members of his family - two sisters, their husbands and their seven children - were killed in their Baghdad home challenged the government's denial of the deaths.
The Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, insisted that the deaths - reportedly Sunday in a northern neighborhood of Baghdad known to be a Shiite militia stronghold - never took place.
Al-Kawaz, who has lived outside Iraq for 20 years, told Al-Jazeera television: "I ask the spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh to let all of my family appear on TV."
The media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders condemned the attack and claimed Iraqi police at a nearby checkpoint failed to intervene.

What Keeps me Going

I just send a note to Mark. The picture I have included.
Yes, deployment is hard. Any militiatry family would tell you that. It is hard on the service person who is far from those they love. And it is hard on wives, husbands, siblings, children.
It is my faith that keeps me going. Knowing that we are in the Palm of His loving Hand, helps me hang on.
It is loving Mark and knowing that he loves me that keeps me going. Every time he calls, within minutes, he tells me that he loves me, that he misses me. And I miss him so much. And yet, we both know that he has a job to do and I support him in that role.
In many ways, nothing has changed. We still send each other love notes and little silly notes. We still give each other gifts for "just because."
Mark still calls just to hear my voice and sing me his wondersome songs. The distrance is just greater, that's all.
We serve a wonderful G-d, Who not only stands close to the lonely, but holds them in His Arms.

Finally! A Phone Call

If a commandment comes your way, don't delay.- Mekhilta, Bo

The phone system has been messed up since Friday, so I hadn't spoken to Mark for a few days. He called this afternoon.
Oh, how good it is to hear his voice. They no longer have internet service in their private rooms, so Mark will have to write me from his office for now.
But I praise G-d for the internet!
He sounds good, just misses his wife. And his wife misses him so very much. We are truly looking for those two weeks he will have in April.

Passover with my beloved Mark.
The bathroom sink is clotted, so I had to go and get some Draino. On my way home, my cell phone rang. It was my dear sister in Yeshua, Sarah.

She said I was heavy on her heart and she had to call. I am so glad she did. I then shared the pain of the past few days. I am so thankful that G-d moved upon her heart to call me. I felt so much better after speaking to her. I thank G-d for dear Sarah.
Earlier in the day, David brought me a 11 pound turkey, figuring I would know someone who could use it. Well, I remembered Mum Reel haven't brought the turkey for Christmas dinner and so I will be bringing the turkey. Along with Dad's Collard greens.
Ain't G-d Good