October 2016


I arrived in Israel right after Rosh Hashanah (early October). I sensed the spirit of the chagim (holidays) as soon as I landed when I saw the Shanah Tovah (loosely translated as Happy New Year) signs at the airport! My Israel Adventure had begun!!

And it’s been quite a spiritual and physical adventure! Here’s the wrap-up:

  • A long-time friend met me at the airport—her beaming smile warmed my heart! And off we went in our private taxi to my Jerusalem cousins.
  • Friday early afternoon, I visited the Kotel (Western Wall) and merited to pray Mincha (the afternoon prayers) there. kotel-first-friday-afternoon-erev-shabbos-shuva
  • Early Tuesday morning, I travelled to Alei Zahav and spent Yom Kippur with other long-time friends. I enjoy the spirituality in this place, and the view from their porch grabs me each time, since I see the Mediterranean in the distance! alei-zahav-view-from-the-porch
  • Sukkah-building got underway; I heard hammers and drills late into the night after Yom Kippur! My cousins fill their sukkah with original paintings and decorations. As a friend put it, “You are eating in an art gallery!” What a privilege. sukkah-with-succos-painting                                             Artist: Elya Succot
  • Being at the Kotel for Birkat Kohanim (public priestly blessing) is my favorite Succot activity. This year, I was one of the 70,000 who attended! The thunder of that many people answering Amen to blessings inspires me for many months! And in the midst of the crowd, the doves peacefully watched over us. birds-at-birkat-kohanim-blog
  • The lighting effects, fireworks, and sound during the concert in Brechat Sultan (Sultan’s Pool) blew me away! Real feet-stomping and hand-clapping music—with many people dancing in the aisles!lights-brechat-hasultan-concert

 

dancing-in-aisles-breachat-hasultan

  • And then, I travelled to Tzefat (Safed) for the Shabbat during Succot. I toured part of the Artists’ Colony with a friend—and made some purchases, of course! artists-quarter-sculptureOne night a few of us drove to a quiet spot near the Jordan River…we chatted and enjoyed the gurgling of the rushing river. And the stars! WOW—millions of them! I could even pick out some constellations!
  • Back in Jerusalem, a friend and I took in the Valley of the Gazelles…right in the center of the city! gazelle-running
  • I’ve even done some mundane activities such as food shopping, clothes-buying, and helping a friend declutter!

Although my cousins put away the sukkah and the chagim are over, the festive spirit continues. We have a family wedding this week! Our dancing shoes are ready! If you hear loud lively music this week, it’s coming from that wondrous simcha (joyous occasion)!

Wishing all my readers a year full of health, success, joyous occasions, and exciting adventures!

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Sometimes I don’t know whether or not I can complete a project. At times, I doubt my ability to write a new article. There are times when the mountain of action items just appears plain overwhelming.

And I want to give up. Why even start?

I worked hard to hear my higher voice encourage me: “You CAN do it. Take one small action!”

As I’d start the action, the lower voices (Why are lower voices in the plural? There seem to be so many of them!) clamored for attention: “Oh really? What’s one small action going to do? Just give up! You know you won’t finish.”

Most times I’d plod methodically through the tasks. Eventually, I finish the project. Sometimes, I put the project on hold.

Recently I heard Eli’s* father describe his young son’s attitude. Eli battled cancer valiantly for four years. No matter how hard the treatments were, how he felt, how many times he had to stay in the hospital, Eli never gave up. He implored others to also never give up. When someone many times his age asked for advice, Eli told this to person to have a never-give-up attitude.

I now envision Eli with his bright smile telling me, “NEVER GIVE UP!”

**

*L’ilui nishmas (for the elevation of the soul of) Elimelech ben (son of) Menachem Mendel Malkiel Gradon.