Tag Archives: Jewaicious

New Year-Current Year

SkyWatch Friday time!

Saturday night is New Year’s Eve, a night that is celebratory, a night that welcomes the new year on the Gregorian or Civil calendar. At the stroke of midnight we say good bye to the year 2011 and welcome the year 2012.

For Jews, this is double-fold , as we already welcomed the new year 5772 according to the Hebrew calendar on 1 Tishri. We are still in the current year.

If we look at the Gregorian calendar, tonight will be the last Shabbat in the year 2011, but it is not the last Shabbat celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar. We have many more Shabbosim left before the Hebrew new year of 5773.

Take a moment, tonight at sunset, to reflect on both the worlds we live in…the Jewish world and its many traditions and beliefs, and the modern world which follows the Gregorian calendar. Try to reflect on how you have blended both these worlds into your lives, and how they have become compatible with each other in the scheme of things.

Have a wonderful 2012. Shabbat Shalom!

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All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express permission.

December 30, 2011 – 4 Tevet, 5772

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Water Scenics and Jewish Reflection

A calm day on the canals in Venice, CA.  Check more watery scenes out at Watery Wednesday

The sea, rivers, lakes, ponds, and other watery wonders never fail to bring me happiness and a sense of serenity/calm in which to reflect on my Jewishness.

I see beauty and awe within water scenes, and can’t help but ponder on the visuals before me, and think about how grateful and thankful I am for what inspires me to reflect on Jewish-related subjects.

I remember this particular day, and remember walking the paths in Venice, and crossing over the lovely white bridges, and seeing settings such as this one, before me.  The day was bright and sunny, there was no wind, the stillness resounded with the echoes of nature, as the waves of the sea could be heard in the background.  The melodiousness of the sound of the waves lapping was music to my ears and my heart, causing me to think about the sea and how it intertwines with religions practices.

Many Jews come to Venice or Santa Monica to “cast away their negativeness and sins” during the High Holy Days.  It is an emotional sight to see.

There is so much more I could write about the sea and Jewish beliefs, but I will choose that for another day.

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express permission.

December 29, 2011 – 3 Tevet, 5772

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Review – Fugitive Pieces

  Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels is more than a novel based on the Holocaust, it is a poetically-rendered geological metaphor for the power of loss and love, memory and place. Human history is woven within the bogs and peat of the past and present, as both are intertwined within the beautifully written stories.

Yes, stories. Fugitive Pieces has two narrators…one for the first two-thirds of the book, one for the last third. The transition from one narrator (Jakob) to the next (Ben) might seem awkward for some, but I found it to be a brilliant method of bringing two men from two different generations together within the whole of the novel. The layers of their lives read like an archaeological dig, through the muck and mire of the Holocaust.

Our first narratorJakob witnessed the horror of war at a young age, listening from within a cupboard, as his parents were being murdered and his sister being taken away by the Nazis. “The burst door.  Wood ripped from hinges, cracking like ice under the shouts.  Noises never heard before, torn from my father’s mouth.  Then silence.“  In order to survive, he becomes a fugitive of sorts, and he hides himself in the bogs and peat of the forest, burying himself underground, burying pieces of his past with him. He is like an organism, living for a day here, a day there within the bog, surviving as an organism or parasite, living off of the peat. Along comes Athos, a Greek geologist, who finds Jakob barely able to breathe, and brings Jakob to live with him in Greece. Athos is like a father to Jakob, and raises him like he is his own son.

Yet, all the fatherly affection and love can’t bring Jakob peace from the emotional past he is fleeing. He is like a piece of wood loosened from a desk, separated from the entirety. He dreams of his sister, Bella, in order to survive. He must have some hope, and she is his inspiration. Jakob physically matures into a young man. He becomes a poet, a writer, a translator, trying to find his way in a world of loss and sadness. He is stuck in that layer of time that has yet to be dug out.

Meanwhile, Ben looks to Jakob as a mentor. He too is a survivor. A survivor of his parents (Holocaust Survivors) and their daily nightmares, fears and eccentricities.

Michaels writes with flair and frankness, beauty and poignancy, and weaves the novel with brilliance.  Her naming each chapter is a definite foreshadowing of events and illuminations to follow.  I find her title to the book to be very revealing, if taken literally.  The transitory factor is ephemral, as parts of the whole are often short-lived, and characters, like Bella, Jakob and Ben are fugacious and unable to blossom to their full potential. Jakob is much like an organism in the geological scheme of things, in the sense he can’t let go of the past. Ben is in the same emotional situation within his family unit. Both of them have trouble with relationships, each relationship a small piece of the stepping stone to fulfillment and contentment.

Fugitive Pieces is an important story, in my opinion, not for historical fact, not for Holocaust history, but for its layers of humanity, humaneness, and the bogs of emotional pain and dust that are eventually swept away through time and love.
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Non-Fiction, Novels