Category Archives: Judaism

Bare and Beautiful

barren copy


Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare, and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit.
-Anton Chekhov

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
-Henry David Thoreau

Even if I knew I would die tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today. -Rabbi Hillel

Shabbat Shalom!

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Review: The Heavens Are Empty

Avrom Bendavid-Val has written a concise, compelling and historically relevant book, regarding the town of Trochenbrod, Ukraine, with his compelling book, The Heavens Are Empty: Discovering the Lost Town of Trochenbrod.

It is a work of non-fiction, written with fantastic prose that evoked vivid word-imagery in this reader’s eyes.  The initial description of the street was filled with in depth details that fascinated me.

The town/village had one street about two miles long.  It was an agricultural town, and, so, behind the houses and/or shop fronts, were acres of land, owned by Jews.  Those Jews had managed to carve out a living for themselves, and live totally unburdened by “gentiles”.  From leather goods and tanning, to produce and milk, the Jewish community fended for themselves, and managed to live decently.

The entire town was made up of Jewish individuals, except for one or two adults.  This was amazing, in and of itself.  Those adults were the ones who lit the lights during Shabbat, took care of the ovens, did the things that the Jews, due to religious traditions and beliefs, were not permitted to do on Shabbat and on the Sabbath.

The street was constantly filled with “mud”, as the reader is informed throughout the pages of witness statements.  It was almost comical how often “mud” is mentioned.  It left a deep impression, decades later, on those who had lived there, in more ways than one.  It also left an impression on me.

From documents and data, to witness statements, the foundation of Trochenbrod is detailed with information that needed to be told.  It is a poignant story, often heart-wrenching, yet one that is an important story in the realm of history.

For those of you that wish to understand the history of what once was, and no longer is, The Heavens Are Empty is the perfect book to educate yourself regarding the events that unfolded.  Not only were the events horrific and filled with contempt and the murderous rage of thousands of Jews, but they led to the obliteration of Trochenbrod off of the face of the planet, literally.


Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, World War II

Sunday Scenes: October 4, 2015

dairy and vegg

In all actuality, this ‘Sunday Scene’ occurred on Friday evening the Synagogue. The first part of the evening saw a lovely ‘Shab-BQ’ dinner, as I stated in my previous post. Yes, our congregation had the dinner beforehand, unlike some synagogues where the dinner is held afterwards.

The above photo shows a small portion of the vegetarian and dairy dinner items. The beet salad was scrumptious, as were the barbecued potatoes, the latkes and applesauce, the dates and figs (not shown), the egg salad and other items not shown.


Once the dinner items were entirely cleared and cleaned, the tables were folded up and put away.


Then chairs were arranged in the Succah, for our Shabbat Service. During the service the addition of the Yaaleh Veyavo was sung by the congregants, as were other prayers related to Sukkot.


All in all, it was a meaningful and lovely evening.


Filed under Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography

Sukkot Dinner Pre Shabbat

sukkahnby rochelle blumenfeld copy

I love the painting, above, Succah, by Rochelle Blumenfeld.

Tonight will be spent at the synagogue celebrating Sukkot with a dinner in the synagogue’s Succah.  The Brotherhood is preparing the entire dinner, and doing all of the cleanup before Shabbat service begins.  How nice of them!

The women can sit back and enjoy the fare, without having to lift a finger, except to eat the food.  It is a rare occasion!  But, we are extremely grateful for this moment in time.

honey pot


The honey pot and the plate above were mine.  I treasured them for years.  I lovingly let them go to the next generation before moving back to CA, by handing them over to my daughter.  I know she will treasure them, as I did, with love.

For those who celebrate-Shabbat Shalom! To everyone, enjoy your weekend.


Filed under Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography

Sunday Scenes: Synagogue Simplicity

mickve israel

I have attended many Shabbat and holiday services in synagogues, some have been architectural wonders, like the synagogue in Savannah, Georgia, Mickve Israel, pictured above (photo taken by me a few years ago).


The exterior is grand in appearance, much like the interior, which houses an old Torah brought over on a ship, and other antiquities from the 18th century. Do not get me wrong, I loved the interior, with all of its flourishes, opulence, columns, vaulted ceilings, etc. To be able to pray within the walls of magnificent architecture holds its own place in my heart.

interior syna

But, my heart feels at home, in simplistic surroundings, like in the photograph above, which I took, recently. The exterior and the interior speak to me, and illuminate my experiences while praying and mingling with the congregation. The euphemism, “Home is where the heart is”, holds true for me, while within the simple architectural environment with its basic chairs, understated Bema/Sanctuary around the Torah Ark, etc. (The screen is not a normal part of the interior, and is only used for special screenings.)


My sense of being a part of the Jewish community, a community that has endured so much struggle and hardship, horrific moments and perseverance, through the millennia, is heightened by the subtle and toned-down architectural interior, and the simple Judaica accessories, paintings, etc.

Prayers are elevated within the context of the interior, and resound through me immensely. I am home, each time I attend service or events. My heart fills with the many emotions that prayer reflects, such as sadness, strength, candor, joy, and so much more. I treasure my moments spent within the walls of synagogue simplicity.


“(Proverb) People long to be at home.; Your home is whatever place you long to be.”


Filed under Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography

Dr. Oliver Sacks

I was saddened to hear that Dr. Oliver Sacks has died.

In his own words, in an Op-ED in The New York Times:

And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.

Read MICHIKO KAKUTAN’s tribute to Dr. Oliver Sacks, in today’s (August 30, 2015) New York Times.

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