We read The Shema at the beginning of morning and evening prayer. Usually, The Shema focuses on gratitude and the beginning of good tidings. The female Rabbi led a discussion on the Shema and asked everyone what they think, feel, and do when they read the Shema.
Most mention they read it first thing in the morning when they wake up and thank God for giving them the gift of another day. Others mentioned gratitude. I raised my hand and I mentioned, “I read it after I do my Happiness Box Project. It’s a personal project I do where I either record gratitude or joys of the day or both. For me, it’s a wonderful ritual of giving thanks.” The Rabbi loved that and she said that sounded really beautiful. It inspired others to talk about how they use it as a form of gratitude as well.
I might try reading The Shema before I write for the Happiness Box and see if it has the same feeling. It made me feel good to be acknowledged and it makes me feel oh so good to be welcomed.
Oh, some good news! I got this! I feel comfortable with my reading. It’s only a line. I just did a transliteration (yes, I will be reading the Latin words so I can read the Hebrew… I’m still new and I need it, I think it’s understandable to others) and Hebrew is really not that radically different from Arabic. The sounds are similar, so I got this! I got this! I got this! I got this. I’m both excited and nervous.
This Saturday, the female Rabbi was officiating the services and I really like her too. I think it’s two weeks of the male Rabbi and two weeks of the female Rabbi, they switch and it’s interesting to see how different the followings are. More people came to the female Rabbi’s service.
Anyway, towards the end she asked if anyone would be interested in reading a line or two of the Megillat for Purim. I volunteered and added, “I’m new, but I’d be interested if someone cares to help.” Rabbi was so excited that I volunteered and said Cantor will be happy to help. He sent me what I have to read, so I will be listening to the recording in Hebrew and memorizing that. I am a bit nervous, but if I can speak Arabic and could learn Arabic, I can learn Hebrew (they share some similarities and common rules). He said if I need any help, don’t hesitate.
Oh, I won’t be! I will be reading my line on Thursday. He said, “if you can make it to the second line, great, if not, that’s okay too!” I’m thankful that there is an audio portion, I can listen and read along (that’s what I did in the past) and I’m thankful for the Cantor’s help too. I’m thankful that I’ve been welcomed and I can grow spiritually without anxiety.
A trend I started for Happiness Box 2019’s scrapbook, I like creating musical layouts that are interspersed throughout the Happiness Box scrapbooks.
On 21 February 2020, Silent Philly had three DJs present and for $25, you could rent headphones for however long you wanted. For 4 hours (since I can ice skate for free), I ice skated to three different stations. I had so much fun and I created a layout using this song:
When I’ve been getting done my full-time job or done with the library, I’ve been crafting and reading before bed. It feels nice to craft.
Anyway, I want to thank Phyllis for the lovely pick-me-up and Valentine’s Day cards; Lovina for the pick-me-up card, and Theresa for the Valentine’s Day card. I also have to thank Mike again. I’ve added each of your cards to my Happiness Box.
Krista, thank you for the journal, the disks to hold things together, and stickers. I have a lot of fun things planned.
I’m also thankful for the snow and for the teenagers/ young women who built this snow woman. I know young ladies live in that house, but I’m not sure if they are high schoolers or in college. Nonetheless, I appreciate their creativity.
I’m also thankful for friends and family. What are you thankful for today?
I’m working on scrapbooking Happiness Box 2020 and from time to time I like to join music inspiration challenges on Scrapbook.com. This month’s theme was “song with pink, red, or white in the title” and layout must have a heart somewhere. The song I was given was John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses.”
I thought one part of this song fit Jac well. I decided to use photos I took from last March. This performance was on 6 March 2020 and this was my last time seeing a live show. This was also my last time seeing Jac since he moved to Austin, TX in August. There were more musical opportunities for him in Austin, TX than Philadelphia, PA.
I didn’t put the date on this page, I might, but I have the note from that day and some other photos from that day on the back of the page.
I embossed the hearts onto white paper. I think the layout turned out wonderfully and someone on Writing.com thought it was innovative and heartwarming!
On Saturday, I had my second Shabbat service with Beth Tikvah B’nai Jeshurun (BTBJ) and when I entered the Zoom chat, it was only me and Susan. We wished each other a “Shabbat Shalom” and I mentioned that I was new. Susan gave me a warm welcome and asked if I joined any of the women’s groups yet. I said I hadn’t, I just joined last weekend, but I want to check them out. Burt then joined in and Susan introduced me. When more people joined and we finally had enough for a Minyan, Rabbi welcomed me and the rest of the congregation did too.
It wasn’t as big as last Saturday because they didn’t have the Hebrew schools perform. Last week was the Songs portion of the Torah, today was about the Ten Commandments. The discussions were more intimate and the Rabbi asked us about another time in the Torah where the importance of names and character came into play.
I thought of Cain and Abel right away, but someone answered first. Rabbi wasn’t thinking about that one, we discussed it, and then he asked again. I raised my hand and called on me. I replied, “Jacob and Esau. When Jacob tricked blind Isaac into thinking he was Esau so he could get the blessing.”
Guess what! The Rabbi said, “You’re right, Jessica! It wasn’t what I was thinking of, but you are right! Jacob, Esau, and Isaac is another instance. Some scholars think that Isaac wasn’t truly blind and knew it was Jacob all along, but blessed him anyway.” He was impressed with all of our answers and he discussed what he was thinking about. I felt so happy and proud of myself.
At the end of the two hours, Rabbi blessed us all and everyone said they were happy that I have joined them and can’t wait to see me again. I found my Synagogue and I found my home.
It’s the last Thursday of January, can you believe it?! One month down, eleven more to go. This first month was merry-go-sorry, a continuation of 2020, it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes. I’m remaining hopeful.
Happy Tu B’Shevat! It’s the Jewish New Year of the Trees! What’s the significance of this? It has to do with the rainy season in Israel, which commences with the festival of Sukkot. It takes four months for the rains to saturate the soil, nurture the trees and coax them into producing fruit. This is important to know if you are planning to give your tithes of fruits, as is done in the Land of Israel, because the required tithes vary from year to year. It’s also important if you are a tree and looking for something to celebrate.
We humans can also celebrate along with the trees. After all, the Torah says, “Man is a tree of the field.” We are nurtured by deep roots, as far back as Abraham and Sarah; we reach upwards to the heavens while standing firmly on the ground; and when we do all this right, we produce fruits that benefit the world—namely, our good deeds.
I’m thankful for my Jewish groups. Last Friday I met up with Mallory and she gave me a box to celebrate. I was also given a succulent to grow. After I met up with Mallory, I walked down to the OCJAC and they left my Shabbox for me. Since I work, I couldn’t make the meet-up before sundown. The Rabbi would have dropped it off for me, but I told him I’d pick it up later. He left it on the door for me and I was verklempt with his kindness.
I’m also thankful for friends and family. What are you thankful for today?