Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rabbinical School Bound

For those of you that don't know, TBLJ is heading to Rabbinical school.  I will be attending the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, starting this summer.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Giving thanks for Our Food

When we bless our food we are acknowledging a higher power; the creator of the food, and thanking Him/Her for providing the food for us.  Eating is primal and most of us do it without giving it much thought.  As Jews the Torah tells us that before putting the food in our mouth, we must pause for a moment, say a very simple blessing and then proceed with eating.   

One does not have to believe in God to recite a blessing giving thanks for food; just remember that we live in a world and even a country where many go hungry.  And remember the food, did not just appear on our plate, many people played a part in bringing it to us.  Giving thanks for our food can transform even the simplest meals into something special.


This is the blessing that most of us are familiar with.  Recite this blessing if your meal contains bread if not then pick one of the other blessings listed 
ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ.
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam hamotzi lehem min ha'aretz.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.


ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי העץ
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam borei p'ri ha'eitz.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.


ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי האדמה.

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam borei p'ri ha'adamah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the ground.


ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, בורא מיני מזונות.
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam borei minei mezonot.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates varieties of nourishment.

Miscellaneous Food (meat, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy products, candy)

ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, שהכל נהיה בדברו
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam shehakol niyah bidvaro.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, at whose word all came to be.

If you need more info on the Blessing for food, check this site out

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Morning Blessing -Modeh/Modah Ani

Jewish tradition states that Jews pray three times a day and recite 100 Berachot (blessings) a day; that's a lot of praying. Actually it's not that hard if you do all of the prescribed prayers plus do all of the blessings for just everyday occurrences such as food, washing hands, hearing good news, hearing bad news...etc etc.  

For me, this presents a challenge; can you imagine going from a zero prayer practice (except in shul) to praying 100 times a day? Impossible.  So I've decided to start off small and just focus on one prayer at a time.  I will probably never be so observant to prayer 100 times a day but I do hope that by adding a prayer practice into my life I will feel more connected to the larger world around me, be thankful for life's blessings and hopefully feel more connected to G-d.

I'm a morning person and so I've decided to start with the the morning blessing of Modeh/Modah Ani:
 מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך.
Modeh/Modah ani lifanecha melech chai v'kayam shehechezarta bi nishmahti b'chemlah, rabah emunatecha.
I offer thanks to You, living and eternal king, for You have restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

Modeh/Modah is said immediately upon rising before we get out of bed and should be the first words we utter every morning. When we recite Modeh/Modah Ani we are essentially thanking G-d for giving us another day. We wake up grateful instead of thinking about what may have happened the previous day and our first conscious thoughts are spent expressing, "thank you".  As someone who has had a rough time these last few months it's nice to wake up and kind of remind myself to be thankful instead of thinking about the stuff that weighs me down.  Basically if we wake up with a sentiment of gratitude, we feel grateful, and we can continue with a more positive day; if we don't then we won't.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Obviously, You Were Not Born Jewish!

This past Shabbat, I was at this pretty progressive shul in Baltimore, I say progressive because I want you to understand that what I experienced is typical of my experiences in synagogues and also typical of the experience of other Jews of color. Anyway, the service was really cool and we had this awesome discussion on King and Heschel. During the oneg, after the service, this woman comes up to me, let's just call her S. and the discussion went something like.
S: "Hi my name is S." I replied with same. "...are ya Jewish"
Me: "I'm wearing a Kippah (pause breath)...Yes I'm Jewish"
S: "Well obviously you weren't born Jewish!"
Me: "Why do you say that."
S: "Well... Because you're black!"
Me: "Well at least you're honest."
What was so surprising about this exchange was not that she asked me, was I Jewish or that she assumed I wasn't born Jewish, it's the fact that she was actually; to quote Mixedjewgirl an honest bigot. Does that mean she should get applause? No of course not, but usually when faced with these questions and I ask back, I get every conceivable tap dance that one can imagine.
I did use the opportunity as a teaching moment and quickly educated S. on the diversity of the Jewish community and the sheer numbers of Jews of color in the United States

Monday, December 28, 2009

Life in Baltimore

I have had some interesting Jewish experiences since moving to Baltimore; and I hope to use this space to document some of those experiences. So stay tuned

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Now From Baltimore

I moved to Baltimore this summer to start a Jewish Studies program at Baltimore Hebrew Institute located at Towson University

Sunday, January 25, 2009