Monthly Archives: March 2013

Moon Above, River Below

moon

It was an overcast morning as our walk began. The sky was filled with grey clouds, the sun was not visible, but the moon was still visible, trying to spread its glow in between the clouds. The slight coolness of the morning was pleasant, and we all agreed it was much better walking in this weather than in the 100+ degree temperatures that can occur in the summer time.

Spring does have its positives, especially around the lake. The birds chatter away, the ducks, geese mud hens and other feathered creatures linger in the lake, gliding slowly, trying to awaken themselves. There are visions of wisteria trees with beautiful lavender blooms, and some with white ones. Their blooms will die off in another week or so. The cherry blossoms are beginning to fade away, too.

The lake area and its sanctuaries are a retreat for many people on the weekend, and even at 8:00 a.m. one can see people everywhere, escaping the bustle of the surrounding towns. There are walkers, runners, bicycle riders, those in canoes, others having a picnic breakfast, golfers on the adjacent golf course, and people from all walks of life enjoying the natural environment.

I enjoy my walking group, and it is a lovely way to not only walk, and get exercise, for one and one half hours (yes, we do this nonstop, other than to take one photo under a tree or near a beautiful setting), but also to interact with others in the group. I am glad to have found the “weekend walkers”.

river overcastMarch 31, 2013 – 20 Nisan, 5773

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Lorri M. Book Review: Doublelife: One Family Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope

Doublelife2 Doublelife: One Family Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope, by Harold Berman and Gayle Redlingshafer Berman, is a book that is inspiring and paints a vivid portrait of the religious journeys the authors took within their interfaith marriage.

From the moment they met, Harold and Gayle knew they were meant for each other despite their different religious outlooks. Harold was a secular Jew, Gayle was Christian. They did not let that deter them in their relationship. Once they decided to marry, their plans included a ceremony that would include aspects of both religions.

Their story is told through letters written to each other, letters that include the year leading up to their marriage. The letters written in that first year are filled with questions, hesitations, apprehensions regarding religion and religious life, and emotions that ebb and flow. Their letters are infused with their thoughts, blending logic and emotion, yet, always trying to come to a resolution that is shared.

For Gayle, Christmas was a big issue. For Harold it meant nothing in the realm of religion or Christmas trees. For Gayle, whose music career was important, church attendance was primary in her life. For Harold, renewing his Judaism and attending a synagogue was becoming a primary factor.

They had both decided that they would attend a local synagogue. Gayle did not want Harold to feel excluded from Judaism, and also wanted to learn more about the service and celebrations. From there, Jewish ideals took root in Harold, and the reader can see him change from one written correspondence to the next. He was beginning to ask questions, ponder issues, and he became involved in Jewish practice from baby steps to large strides. The building blocks were in force, and each step cemented his beliefs and caused him to seek more knowledge. He set a religious foundation for himself. Gayle followed along.

And, with that act of following, we see her grow and come into her own regarding Judaism. She fasts on the first Yom KIppur that they share. A small step for some, a large step for her. She becomes knowledgeable on various Jewish holidays, and the more she learns the more she wants to educate herself. She slowly evolves, and at one point even questions how she can be involved in a church music program when her Christianity beliefs are beginning to fade.

In the beginning of their marriage, they did not want children. That eventually changed, and it was Harold who initiated that change. Once they decided to have a child, they knew that an interfaith religious background would not suit them. Gayle was receptive and supportive of that concept.

I enjoyed Gayle’s transition over the years. And, more so, once she and Harold adopted their first child. They had decided that their son would be raised Jewish. They both felt that one religion should be a dominating factor, and that two religions might be confusing to him. From that moment on, the change in Gayle was dramatic. Her searches lead her to question more. They also bring her discomfort with herself, as she flounders within a religious realm, not realizing who she is or what she is.

Harold also transitions, and we see him evolve as, not only a person, but also as a man of religious depth. Orthodox Judaism becomes his choice, and within that choice, discussed with Gayle, their child will be raised as such.

Doublelife is a story that shows the determination of two people to accept each other’s religious backgrounds, and work towards an understanding that will blend their views together. And, through that acceptance, they remained in constant communication with each other regarding their fears. Communication was the cement that bound them together.

There is so much to glean from reading Doublelife: One Family Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope. It is a story whose journey has religious depth and meaning, and has multitudes of questioning on Judaism. The reader can learn a lot from this family, who began their married life as an interfaith couple. The trials of keeping a Jewish home, especially for Gayle, shows the religious force depicted in great detail. Her spiritual outlook became defined in ways she could not have imagined. The story unfolded, and this reader was swept away by the frankness, and the sense of love that sparked two individuals to change, not only for themselves, but for each other and those around them.

I highly recommend Doublelife: One Family Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope. There are lessons within the pages that everyone can find meaning in. It is not simply a story regarding Judaism. There are many more aspects to it that will appeal to everyone. From acceptance and understanding to hope and inspiration, the messages are ones we can all learn from and appreciate.

Mazal Tov to Harold Berman and Gayle Redlingshafer Berman for bringing their story to the forefront.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Sunday Scenes – March 24, 2013

Curving

This was taken on a walk through the lake and its bird sanctuary, and offshoot streams that lead to the L.A. River. I belong to a walking group, which is nice, because not only do we walk at a decent pace, but we also chatter the time away. We all seem to have a lot in common, which makes it enjoyable.

Blossomsmall

I am in the middle of reading The Retrospective, by A.B. Yehoshua. I am an avid reader of his works.

Visit Straight Out of the Camera Sunday for more photographs from around the world.

straight out of the camera sunday

March 24, 2013 – 13 Nisan, 5773

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Lorri M. Book Review: And You Shall Tell Your Children

andyoushalltell And You Shall Tell Your Children: A Chronicle of Survival, by Dr. Ida Akerman-Tieder, is an inspirational book that sets the tone for living life positively.

As a psychoanalyst, Akerman-Tieder depicts the events in her life, especially those that took place during the Holocaust when her parents were murdered, with an attitude of hope for the future.

And You Shall Tell Your Children is filled with vivid word-imagery, paintings so strong that the reader’s senses are wrapped within them. Akerman-Tieder’s vivid thoughts and lessons on how to live life to its fullest is demonstrated by her own examples, both familial and personal.

Judaism played a major role in her family life as she was growing up. Traditions, holidays, celebrations, prayer, and everything that encompasses a strong Jewish life was of the utmost importance within the family unit.

I found the psychological aspects of the book to be very revealing. Guilt was often a predominant issue, especially when her parents were murdered. Her relationship with her father was a strong one. His opinions mattered and he reinforced the importance of Jewish education as being a tool for inner strength and avenues of escape from antisemitism and the injustices of persecution.

And You Shall Tell Your Children: A Chronicle of Survival is an incredible book on many levels. It is a compelling psychological study of human behavior at its worst. It is a study of behavior at its best and most positive, resulting from horrific wounds inflicted upon one family. The fact that she is able to relate her experiences with such a positive force is a testament to her family and how they raised her. It is a testament to her own undeniable, genuine attitude, an attitude that has inspired and helped others to overcome their fears and be able to move forward.

The lessons she evokes within the pages is powerful and offers guidance to others. I enjoyed reading some of Akerman-Tieder’s poetry throughout the book. It is forceful and filled with positivity.

And You Shall Tell Your Children: A Chronicle of Survival, by Dr. Ida Akerman-Tieder is a book I highly recommend.

March 21, 2013 – 10 Nisan, 5773

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Cascades

Cascade at Lake

Cascade at Lake2

These two photos were taken at a local lake, where there is a small cascade.

March 20m 2013 – 9th Nisan, 5773

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Lorri M. Review: The Rarest Blue

therarestblue Have you ever wondered how “Tekhelet” is created, or where it originated? Do you know the meaning of Tekhelet? Baruch Sterman, with Judy Taubes Sterman, have brilliantly written about “Tekhelet”, or Tyrian Blue in their book, The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered..

The story takes the reader on a journey, not only through time, but through thousands of miles, literally trekkiing to find sources of a particular snail, the murex snails. These snails are the foundation for the dyeing process that produces the particular Tyrian Blue color.

Think about it, where in nature do you normally find a blue color? The sky, certain seas or lakes take on a blue tone, and even a few flowers have blue tones to them, but it is not normally found in nature, never mind the particular Tyrian Blue used in Tekhelet. It was also used in the High Priest garments and in the Tabernacle’s tapestries, and a few other items. Blue, surprisingly, is not normally a color found in nature’s environments.

I enjoyed reading about the adventure that was undertaken in order to find the murex snails and in order to find documentation of the dyeing process. It was fascinating to read. It was also inspiring on several levels. For me, it was especially intriguing and inspiring concerning the precious Tzitzit threads, the knotted fringes that are attached to the corners of the Tallit/Jewish prayer shawl, and how Tekhelet, the biblical blue dye, is created and used in the shawls.

The authors are brilliant in their descriptions, and the word-paintings within the pages are masterfully depicted. Other than the scientific and the technical inclusions, I found the pages infused with beautiful prose, almost poetic at times. The scientific blends perfectly with the religious within the story line and the historical factors. Torah and science coexist on this adventure through time and place.

The biblical references that were mentioned reinforced the ancient use of Tekhelet, but also conveyed the deep-rooted Jewish tradition of using the color that was considered to be sacred.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Discovery of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered. I learned so much about Tekhelet, and the historical factors that went into producing it centuries and centuries ago. I will look at my Tallit with more profoundness, and will never take Tyran Blue for granted.

Bravo to Baruch Sterman and Judy Taubes Sterman for their extreme endeavors and devotion to uncover the mystery of the ancient knowledge of Tekhelet.

March 18, 2013 – 7 Nisan, 5773

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