Shabbat Shalom!

I am involved in reading The Source, a novel by James Michener. It is my third reading.

I read it decades ago, the first time, right after its publication, and read it a second time about twenty years ago. I am reading it for a book club. I love this novel so much, for varied reasons. The archeological aspect is so intriguing and fascinating. The kibbutz story line, is also, and the characters that wind their way through that lifestyle.

I love the archeology digs, within the story and how each time period is ascertained by the characters to be correct and documented. I enjoy reading about the characters within a specific period of time, their daily lives, their social aspects and their mindsets and growth.

Well, onward I go, synagogue calls me in an hour.

Shabbat Shalom! For those who do not celebrate, have a great weekend.

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Tu B’Shevat Begins at Sunset

orange-grove 11

Tu B’Shevat begins at sunset, tonight, and ends at nightfall tomorrow, February 4th.” It is The New Year for the Trees.

Tu B’Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. See Lev. 19:23-25, which states that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year’s fruit is for G-d, and after that, you can eat the fruit. Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B’Shevat, so if you planted a tree on Shevat 14, it begins its second year the next day, but if you plant a tree two days later, on Shevat 16, it does not reach its second year until the next Tu B’Shevat.

horse and pond

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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January 27, 2015 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the United Nations. It is on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. This year, it will have been 70-years since the liberation.

Wolf Blitzer at Auschwitz: “You can smell the death”. Watch him walk through Auschwitz.

You can read about Gina Turgel’s survival story, here.

“Auschwitz Concentration Camp Survivors Return to Mark Anniversary”-read the story, here.

Here is an interesting article on Auschwitz, and how it is perceived.

Read about Greta Wienfeld and her story of survival, here.

We Remember Them by Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer
At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.

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Sunday Scenes: January 18, 2015

touch

If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.
-Matthew Fox

Upcoming: “Tu BiShvat or Tu B’Shevat or Tu B’Shvat (Hebrew: ט״ו בשבט‎) is a minor Jewish holiday, occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. In 2015,T u Bishvat begins at sunset on February 3rd and ends at nightfall on February 4th.”

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Lone Tree

lone tree

Trees are often seen standing by themselves, alone, but not necessarily lonely.  Their beauty always illuminates, even in winter time when the branches are bare.  They spread their winter joy with their arms and fingers stretched upward, downward and outward, as they beckon those who walk by to stop and perceive them with awe.

I was one such person, who stopped to inhale and view the vivid loveliness of the scene before me, at the end of December 2014.  I stood for a while, contemplating and saying a prayer of thanks for what stood before me.  As the euphemism goes: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  And, this beholder noticed every minute detail in this scene, from the river to the tree, to the weeds encircling it, and so much more.  The tones, textures and contrasts of nature were stunning to my eyes.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Review: A Perfect Peace

Amos Oz’s novel, A Perfect Peace, brings the reader a bit of an inside look into life within the kibbutz environment. Set in Israel, as most of his books are, it was quite the insightful story. The 1960s kibbutz setting emphasized the harshness and the difficulties the individuals had to go through in order to find a sense of place, sense of Self and sense of peace.

The characters were floundering for varied reasons, and their mindsets were brought to the forefront by Oz’s masterful writing. From first-generation disenchantment with kibbutz life in the stifling environment, where “privacy” is only a word, to the almost guinea pig atmosphere of life, Oz confronts the issues of daily life with strength and uncompromising honesty.

Through Oz’s honest appraisal, the reader is given privy to the corruption that runs rampant throughout the kibbutz and the state, within the pages. It is not an idealistic story in that respect. Some of the less than ideal situations causes much disharmony within the kibbutz, where life is stifling to begin with. In the view of a few of the first generation to be born on an Israel kibbutz, kibbutz life was stifling.

We are given access to the mindsets of the characters, and their disillusions, anger and rage, questioning of ethics and questioning of participation in the humane along with the non-humane running of a tight ship, almost in a tyrannical fashion. Lack of motivation leads one man in particular, named Yoni, to want to leave the kibbutz in order to find what he believes he is missing. He feels there must be something better and more worthwhile outside of the confines of his daily life.

Yet, another individual tries to move in, and is in constant fear of being turned away, and of not being accepted and liked by others. His trials and tribulations take different paths than Yoni’s.

Oz understood the social, political, emotional and environmental aspects. He lived on a kibbutz beginning in his early teens and continued to do so through 1986. I applaud him for his excellent and brilliant word-images he presents us, and for his mastery in not only conveying corruption, but also in conveying the kibbutz life in all of its essences.

I read the book to learn more about kibbutz life, and once I was finished, I realized that for some, kibbutz life affected the first-generation in ways that have not usually been written about. Life was not easy, was harsh, was not conceived as individualistic. Each individual was a part of the whole, part of the kibbutz community. Each child seemingly had more than one mother and father.

How this upbringing impacted the children gives one food for thought. Most of the adults were escaping a pogrom, escaping Holocaust-related events, tyranny, antisemitic abuse. The were also escaping in order to find a better life. The kibbutz was a form of communal effort and struggles, some of which did not afford the adults the dreams they had wished for.

Those dreams were quashed and their children were raised with firm hands and old ideas and ideals. In essence, their own dreams (children’s) were not given any credence, and they came to regard those dreams as being unfulfillable. The story line was quite illuminating in that respect.

I want to make something clear. My review is not meant to be in anyway reflective of a negative attitude on my part. I have relatives and friends who spent part of their teen years or young adult years on one, and had wonderful experiences. The novel details one kibbutz of many, and a few individuals living in that kibbutz, along with their own baggage.

I recommend A Perfect Peace to everyone.

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