Monthly Archives: September 2012

Shuttle Endeavour, Shabbat

This is a TV screen shot of Space Shuttle Endeavour on flyby over the building in Palmdale, CA, where it was built.

The Space Shuttle is dear to me, being a NASA retiree. No, I was not an engineer, or in any way affiliated with the design or construction of the Shuttle, but, nonetheless, space flight has touched my heart with excitement since as far back as I can remember.

I have seen several landings of various Shuttles, and felt excited each time I saw one land. It never got old. I met astronauts, and had the privilege to work with one who actually piloted the 747 that ferried the Shuttle back to Florida from Dryden Flight Research Center.

To realize that none of the Shuttles will fly again, brings me mixed emotions. I am grateful for the service that all of the Shuttles and their crew have given our nation. They have been workhorses, through thick and thin, through sadness and joy. Thank you so much.

This Shabbat, please take a minute to recognize all of those who endeavored to make our space program a reality.

My God, My God, I pray that these things never end,
The sand and the sea,
The rustle of the waters,
Lightning of the Heavens,
The prayer of Man.

The voice called, and I went.
I went, because the voice called.

Hannah Senesh

Visit Erika Dreifus‘ blog for some wonderful links regarding Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!

September 21, 2012 – 5 Tishrei, 5773

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.



Filed under Judaism

Book Review – Soul to Soul: Writings From Dark Places

Soul to Soul: Writings From Dark Places, is, in my opinion, a compelling read regarding the journey one takes from learning about illness to acceptance of it, and the effects it has on one’s self physically, mentally and emotionally.

Deborah Masel does not mince words in describing her journey upon learning she has metastatic breast cancer. It took her over two years to write her book, a book filled with so many emotions, within the backbone of logic that is often ignored or put aside. Her descriptions of her thoughts and feelings and roller coaster of emotions is vividly described within the pages. Acceptance is difficult, and initially unwanted. Religion and Jewish writings are the glue that helped her to finally realize the harshness of her predicament and helped her to become focused.

Her struggles brought upon by her illness heightened her religious foundation through her readings of the Torah scholar Kalonymus Kalman Shapira. Although he was murdered during the Holocaust, he became her mentor. She thrived on his words, words of strength, commitment and encouragement. His teachings brought her comfort during times of extreme distress, while trying to manage and deal with the cancer that continued to infiltrate her body.

While focusing on life’s beauty, focusing on the Rebbe’s words, and accepting positive and heartfelt compassion and love from friends, Masel was able to accept her cancer, and accept the fact that her life would come to an end, sooner than she expected it to. We all die, some sooner than others. For me, that is the message within the pages of Soul to Soul: acceptance of life, terminal cancer and of eventual death

I read Soul to Soul in one sitting. I could not put the book down. I laughed, I cried and I sighed many sighs. Aside from the haunting images of how her cancer affected her, I found the book to be an intriguing and fascinating read regarding her combining cancer with her Jewish ideals. Masel’s words touched me in many aspects, in part due to the fact that my mother had Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, so I could empathize to Masel’s story, as a family member of one who had the same illness.

I highly recommend this book for many reasons, including its inspirational content. Masel’s writing is forthright and filled with the struggles one endures while trying to accept a disease that has taken over her body. Soul to Soul: Writings From Dark Places is a legacy to those who are suffering illnesses that may or may not be terminal. It is a gift to the families and friends of those who are suffering or have suffered. It is a tribute to Deborah Masel’s strength, and it is Deborah Masel’s legacy to her Jewish identity and to her mentor, who was instrumental in guiding her spiritually through the most difficult and toughest of times.

I personally own and have read this book filled with sadness and inspriation.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Judaism, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

I’m Late on Wednesday

Oh my! Has my head been in the clouds? No, not really. Time just got away from me, so I have backdated this post to reflect yesterday’s date – September 19, 2012.

I find beauty in the aging rose, the way the petals curl, turn brownish, and look lovely in their aged state.

Life in its fullest is vibrant and has so much to offer, much like the beauty in this lovely pink rose.

Visit Nature Notes Wednesday to see more photos from around the globe.

September 19, 2012 – 3 Tishrei, 5773

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.


Filed under Photography

Book Review – The Litvaks: A Short History of the Jews in Lithuania

The Litvaks, A Short History of the Jews in Lithuania, by Dov Levin, is intense, dramatic, and an amazing non-fiction book that belongs on every book shelf, especially the shelves of those who have Litvak ancestry.

This is a book, of not only history, but one of insight into the vibrancy and the demise of the Jews and of their geographical environment and culture, religion and fight for survival, within the ever-changing demographics of the country. From independence, to repressive rule, to Russian rule, to independence again, the book details the struggle of the Jewish people to maintain a place in history as a historical group of people, surviving with its religious tradition intact, surviving as a whole in the scheme of history.

The Litvaks is a poignant book, detailing the history of Lithuanian Jews, from the 1300s through the present, detailing the end of WWII, including the Holocaust, through the present, through witness and survivor histories. It is an extremely compelling and forceful read.

Levin manages to detail lifestyles, from banking to education, daily life and cultural practices, and how they apply to the governmental discrimination and restrictions imposed upon the Lithuanian Jews and, Jews in general.

Dov Levin undertook the research, dedication and the writing of this insightful and informative book. As a historian, he infused the pages of The Litvaks with minute details of Eastern European Jewry. The Litvaks, A Short History of the Jews in Lithuania has helped me learn about my ancestors regarding their Lithuania, where they resided, the hardships they endured (forced and otherwise), and the cultural background within their environment, life in their small Lithuanian Shtetl, and the Jews of yesterday.

I personally own and have read this book.

September 13, 2012 – 26 Elul, 5772


Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Non-Fiction

Skies, Honey Cake Recipe Link

I like walking down the street and capturing the sky on camera. I could take a photograph from the same spot every day, and each time it would look different. The photographs below, were captured while out walking.

Here is a link to my Honey Cake Recipe. It is a great addition, any time of year, but especially so for Break-the-Fast, after Yom Kippur.

Book Recommends:

Avodah: An Anthology of Ancient Poetry for Yom Kippur

September 12, 2012 – 25 Elul, 5772


Filed under Judaism, Photography

Three Flowers for Wednesday

My photographs are my contribution for Nature Notes Wednesday, taken about two weeks ago.

September 5, 2012 – 18 Elul, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.


Filed under Photography