History · Judaism · Uncategorized

Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

Today is Yom Kippur 5774. On Rosh Hashana God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book called the Book of Life and waits until ten days later, at Yom Kippur, to “seal” the verdict. During those Days of Awe, a Jewish person tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. “Yom Kippur is the 10th Day of Repentance and can’t mask over the fact that we have looked deeply into our soul over these last few days, we have exposed our weaknesses and shortcomings, and that causes us to weep with anxiety and dread lest I be found wanting on the Day of Judgment. But Yom Kippur is also the Day of Atonement, when all sincere penitents are guaranteed a second chance.” At synagogue the service includes the Kol Nidre prayer (meaning all vows) reaching deep in to our souls. Kol Nidre symbolizes the opportunity to free ourselves from the past and is about letting the inner light shine out.  As we’re about to fast for over 24 hours, we first have a big family meal. Yom Kippur ends around sunset the next day with the blow of the Shofar (the ram’s horn) at Synagogue.  On Shabat and on every Jewish Holiday we eat Challah – that is jewish special braided bread. I’ve been trying to make it many times and mostly not sharing as it has not been a success. But today, with a little help from Tori Avey’s website “The Shiksa in the Kitchen”, we have a beautiful and tasty Challah bread with photos as proof. Here’s a great recipe if you’d like to try your own including instructions and variations for braiding. I’ve made a 4-stranded challah, a round one (mostly what we use on high Holidays) and a Unified Heart one (Leonard Cohen fans should know what it its). And talking about Leonard Cohen, even though I shared it last year, I dare to share again. His song “Who by fire” is inspired by this prayer from the liturgy of the Day of Atonement. Here’s an amazing live version from the show in Helsinki in 2012 – yes Javier Mas plays an almost 4-minute-intro.

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed
How many shall die and how many shall be born
Who shall live and who shall die
Who at the measure of days and who before
Who by fire and who by water
Who by the sword and who by wild beasts
Who by hunger and who by thirst
Who by earthquake and who by plague
Who by strangling and who by stoning
Who shall have rest and who shall go wandering
Who will be tranquil and who shall be harassed
Who shall be at ease and who shall be afflicted
Who shall become poor and who shall become rich
Who shall be brought low and who shall be raised high.

Tsom Kal & Gmar Hatima Tova צום קל וגמר חתימה טובה

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And to end it on a lighter note with Ari Gold from Entourage and his way of celebrating Yom Kippur: http://youtu.be/3iqZIm-d7bk

Art · Music · Tel Aviv

Inspiration, passion & creativity…

Me&M

Working as a freelance producer you hop from one intense time job to another. When you have some time off in between (AND you finish all your other to-dos) it’s a pleasure to spend it creatively and passionately. Do you know that feeling when people just give each other great ideas and energies to go DO something creative? That’s called inspiration. I wish more people would have this kind of effect on each other and would use even their fears, demons and tears for producing positive things instead of wasting time on complaining whining & moaning. “Excelsior” – for those who’ve seen Silver Linings Playbook. Life is beautiful, we just need to see it, be grateful and embrace it, even in darkness. ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light comes in’ (L.Cohen)

M&M 4

We only needed a few minutes to throw some ideas and the girl was already filming. Shiran Pomerantz is the name and photography is her game. She likes Lana Del Rey, I like Leonard Cohen so the song choice was easily made. Black & White for the vibe. Location: my house. Shiran’s Canon 60D. She would edit it and in a few hours it was already online. We weren’t supposed to get any lighting, props, production or hair and make-up but by total coincidence some colleagues were using my back terrace for a TV-shoot so we ‘borrowed’ their hair services. While filming the intro, the Babyliss slipped out of the hairdresser’s hand and landed warmly on my shoulder. No panic, just some skin off, lots of cream, helping hands and a pretty wound. They say my skin heals fast. And then it leaves you with a little scar…

Also shared on Notes from the Road – the official Leonard Cohen road blog thank you Joey

Entertainment · Judaism

Dating a Jew or two.

When you write a blog between Tel Aviv and Antwerp, it was bound to happen someday. Yes it’s time for a personal statement that I know isn’t shocking anybody who knows me: I have a thing for Jewish men.

I’ve given “the Reason Why” a lot of thought lately. I don’t care much about God, Jesus or any other prophet. I never fully understood the concept of how something that is supposed to be a good higher power actually divides so many people. I never really made a difference between someone who read the Bible, the Koran, the Torah or just believed in karma. So my preference to date Jewish guys has nothing to do with their belief, that’s for sure. I feel however that most of the guys I go for are Jewish (or, if they’re not, they probably look Jewish). Needless to say that when it comes to their looks, Jewish men are very “interesting”: the intelligent gaze of a young Leonard Cohen, the funny Adam Samberg, my high school crush Jeff Goldblum and the ultimate stud James Franco. My grandma always told me “van een mooi bord kan je niet eten” (freely translated as: you can’t judge a book by it’s cover), so Jewish men must also have a lot of good inner qualities. They are known to be smart and treat their wives with respect. They are family oriented and most of them have a good sense of humor. What sounds better than that? Another reason that I think of a lot is that it might be a more personal challenge, since dating someone who’s not suppose to date you makes you feel all “13 years old and secretly kissed a boy at school” again (minus the teen giggles).

Ari-Gold-Yom-KippurAnyway, who cares about reasons. Leo Dicaprio didn’t have a reason not to get on that piece of driftwood with Kate Winslet when he was floating around in icy water, so I don’t need a reason to like someone. Let’s say: I just do. But I am not Jewish. I’m a Shiksa, as they say in Yiddish (after looking up that word on Wikipedia I most definitely am a Shiksa: “Shiksa refers to any non-Jewish (gentile) woman or girl who might be a temptation to Jewish men or boys, e.g., for dating, intermarriage, etc.“). And this is kind of a problem.

But who am I to burst my own bubble? Let the men do that for me! So, after some serial Jew dating I learned that – like all men – Jewish men possess qualities that make me want to run in all sorts of directions, preferably faster than Forrest Gump on energy drinks.

Of course, I don’t generalize. The experiences I write about are totally my own. I would also like to point out that this article is purely written for entertainment, I am not out to hurt anybody and surely not to make fun of someones religion. It could very well have been Belgian Boys, or Italian Stallions.

1. The “I like dating you, but we have no future together… Or maybe we do… No we definitely don’t” guy.

There’s always this moment in time that you think “where have all the heroes gone?”. At that point I mostly meet a handsome dark curly-haired Mediterranean guy and I’m like “There he is!”. We talk a while, we go out together, watch a movie, have dinner, etc. Basically we’re having a very good time and all seems like a little fairytale with a handsome prince who’s really making an effort to make me feel every inch a women (for readers who’d love a soundtrack to this, click here). Who cares that he’s Jewish? I do what every normal girl does and I already start fantasizing about big family shabbat dinners (who doesn’t like a table full of food) and romantically lighting candles together on Hanukkah. A fairytale indeed. At the moment one least expects it (probably while watching re-runs of Sex and the City to remind myself again how Charlotte handled her Jew-man) he drops the Bomb (bomb being the awkward word). “I’ve thought about it and although you’re great and I have such a good time with you… you’re not Jewish and my parents would never approve.”

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2. The “Let’s keep it casual” guy.

According to Jewish tradition, dating plays a very specific role. Dating is a serious matter and is not intended for entertainment purposes. Well, thanks for the heads up, but some Jewboys don’t seem to share that thought (they are probably the ones who invented the phrase “Shickses are for practice”). But then again, who cares? One can only appreciate honesty. And a busy girl like me doesn’t always have the time for serious dating. A little fling here and there never hurt anyone. So yes, let’s keep it casual! All seems to be going well for a few weeks, but then Drama kicks in. All of a sudden a statement like “you can see other people if you want, we’re casual” seems to be as untrue as Anna Anderson being the long-lost Russian princess Anastasia. Even if I didn’t see anyone else (why would I, when I have a gorgeous Jew man to satisfy me on daily basis), I’m being called names I’d rather not repeat. Maybe it’s the Jewish sense of entitlement, or just the mere thought of me actually living up to his self-proclaimed statement. Eitherway he turned into the Boy who cried Wolf. (I must admit though that drama in this story went both ways. I guess keeping it casual isn’t always that easy.)

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3. The “I don’t care you’re not Jewish” guy.

Ah yes, they do exist. Some of the Jewish men don’t really care if they date a non-Jewish girl. But by then, i was already so submerged into Jewish tradition due to all previous experiences, I was like: “What? You’re not a very good Jew!” This is when I found out that I actually love the Jewish traditions and the “we’re one happy family”-feeling. How could I be part of The Family if he didn’t really care about being Jewish or not? And here come the question marks. Well, at least I found another reason to add to the long list of why I like Jewish people so much.

1I must say, even though a lot of these stories ended in agonizing heartbreak (no not really), I have enjoyed every experience I had so far and the people I’ve met along the way. I would never wish for things to be different. Being the romantic naive fool I am, I’m sure that every experience made me grow and made me wiser about what I want, and how far I would go for someone who really deserves it. And I’m pretty sure we will all get where we want to be, with a wonderful person. In my case preferably Jewish. 🙂

History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv

Jewish Holidays Indian Summer

What better than to start your summer when most summers are over? I’m not a beach person really; I mostly hate the sand everywhere. But at this time of the year I love it. The big heat and humidity of July August is gone. And so are the many loud tourists. Finally it’s calm, I’m back and the city is mine again. I feel my feet in the white sand, I swim in the clear sea and spend hours just enjoying the weather until after sunset. When does one have time to spend days at the beach? Never. Or during the Jewish holidays. You almost have no choice. Nobody’s working anyways.

This month we celebrate Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year 5773), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Each holiday has its history, meaning and traditions; and families have their own rituals around them. Rosh Hashana is the New Year and starts at sunset (like all Jewish Holidays) with a big traditional family diner. One of its main symbols is the dipping of apples in honey. To have a sweet year. On Rosh Hashana God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book called the Book of Life and waits until ten days later, at Yom Kippur depending on wether the sinner repents or not, to “seal” the verdict. During those Days of Awe, a Jewish person tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). Leonard Cohen’s song “Who by fire” is inspired by this prayer from the liturgy of the Day of Atonement:

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed
How many shall die and how many shall be born
Who shall live and who shall die
Who at the measure of days and who before
Who by fire and who by water
Who by the sword and who by wild beasts
Who by hunger and who by thirst
Who by earthquake and who by plague
Who by strangling and who by stoning
Who shall have rest and who shall go wandering
Who will be tranquil and who shall be harassed
Who shall be at ease and who shall be afflicted
Who shall become poor and who shall become rich
Who shall be brought low and who shall be raised high.

We start Yom Kippur with a big dinner before commencing a 25-hour fast. I consider myself a secular Jew but this tradition is one I keep. I go to synagogue and I pray; in my own way. I question myself, I look back at the past year. Have I been a good person? A better woman? What do I expect and wish myself and my beloved family and friends for the coming year? Oh what am I lying, I ask myself those questions every day. Anyways; Yom Kippur is the day Jews ask for forgiveness. A day to repent. The end of the fast is sounded by the Shofar, a ram horn blown by the rabbi in synagogue. And then we go and eat again. What touches me is that Tel Aviv, a city that is not known for its silence nor religious practice, feels sacred on Yom Kippur. Just this holy silence for a day. And as soon as it’s over, Tel Aviv ignites again in its dynamics. This video by a colleague from StreetIsrael shows the power and impact of Yom Kippur on daily life.

During Sukkot Jews build a Sukkah (booth) where meals are eaten and the Mitzva is to host people in it. Sukkot refers to the temporary dwellings that we are commanded to live in during this holiday. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (“Rejoicing with/of the Torah”) mean the end of Sukkot and mark the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle.

Chag Sameach & Shana Tova dear readers…

Wishing card from the Israeli website Nostalgia Online archive

 

Music

Marilyn & Camp Cohen

Where do I start my Leonard Cohen story and how do I tell it? Needless to share the part of I’m a fan; loving his music and admiring the man. After working on his legendary concert in Israel in September 2009, I was asked to join the tour in July 2010 as production assistant. When I got the call from Leonard Cohen’s tour manager, I was first of all very flattered and honored. Of all working people they met over the years, they had chosen me. Luckily I didn’t have too much time to think and prepare, we were leaving 3 weeks later. Leaving for 4 months and a half. 3 months across Europe then New Zealand, Australia, West Canada and the US. As it has now been almost two years ago, some memories fade and one keeps mostly the good ones. Yes I was homesick many times. Living in a hotel, out of a suitcase and traveling is not made for everyone. Being on the move all the time is not an easy thing when you are attached to your family and friends and to your comfort zone(s). But what a ‘chance’. To see the world and to be part of the most wonderful touring company, the Unified Heart Touring Company. It’s hard work and it’s boring, it’s fast and it’s slow, it’s joy and it’s tears, it’s close and it’s far. It’s all of it. All together I visited 45 different cities/countries and did over 60 shows joining the last leg of a 3 year world tour. I listen to Leonard Cohen everyday. I am grateful everyday. The new tour has just kicked off in Ghent, Belgium and is making its way through Europe. It’s been an amazing reunion. So long my Cohen road family.

Hanging backstage signs in Tours, France – photo by J.S. Carenza III

My tour twin, road manager, blogger and photographer J.S. Carenza III took these in Strasbourg venue

Touring can be lonely, luckily I had 2 blackberries – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Santa Croce, Firenze, Italy – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Celebrating Jewish new year in France – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Deep talk over coffee in hotel lobby. Auckland, New Zealand – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Small talk over dinner in Brisbane, Australia – photo by J.S. Carenza III

The other highlight in Australia: wildlife park with my friend Mr. Koala

Soundcheck in Australia’s “Hanging Rock”

Celebrating Hanukkah in Vancouver, Canada – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Celebrating last Hanukkah candle in Portland, Oregon – photo by J.S. Carenza III

After show in the green room. Oakland, California, USA – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Last two shows in Las Vegas. December 2010.

Signed poster, framed on my living room wall.

My daily cup of merch and the “Unified Heart” ring I never take off.

Collage I made a long time ago with a quote from Anthem: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in

More info about Leonard Cohen on his website or on the Leonard Cohen Files. Follow “Notes from the road” for all updated tour info or for more souvenirs: http://leonardcohen.tumblr.com/archive/2010/12

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