Song of Peace
When we left slavery in Egypt the Bible counted more than 600,000 men. Considering the similar amount of women there were 2-3,000,000 Hebrews entering the land of Israel in the estimated 1300 BCE.
As a comparison the Zhou Chinese dynasty which took control of China about the same time at 1200 BCE counted 13 million Chinese people living in China.
The Hebrews were one fifth or 20% of the population of China at that time.
Today, 3200 years later there are a billion and a half Chinese in the world. That is 1500 millions.
There are maybe 14 million Jews.
From being 20% of the Chinese population we are now 0.00052 of the Chinese population.
Compared to the Chinese growing curve of the last three thousand years and keeping the estimate of about 20% of the Chinese population, we should have numbered many hundreds of millions at least.
In fact, we are dozens of times smaller than the Chinese margin of error in any census they take.
We all know the reasons for this awful disparity. The Roman empire of 2,000 years ago murdered about one million Jews. It is estimated that over the millennia in Europe about three million Jews were either slaughtered or forced to convert in masses.
Just in South and Central America alone there are many millions of descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism between the 15th and 17th centuries.
All that translates to about 100-150 million Jewish descendants of all the Jewish victims over the centuries who could have been with us today.
We cannot afford to lose more Jewish souls to other influences.
Generations of Jews since then have changed. Their religious as well as Israel outlook has changed.
With the chaos, killings and destruction in the many cities Anti-Semitism begins to stink to high heavens. it is used as an important part of radical actions against America
Nothing new here!
Jews have been caught in the middle of civil chaos and destruction for hundreds of years with very dire consequences.
Anti-Semitism is being bred in many campuses in some of the most prestigious schools. And it is getting a stronghold among young impressionable ill informed students, many who are Jewish students.
In the name of this perverted agenda what is really being ignored purposely is the honest and real details of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. Its origin, its true reasons and goals are being purposely ignored
The agenda is simple: to deny Israel the right to exist as a Jewish state. Also to remove Israel from being a close ally and best friend to the USA.
A whole generation of students, many of them are Jewish, is being bombarded and poisoned with distorted information. This happens even in traditionally Jewish colleges like Brandeis or colleges with a large Jewish student body.
And these are our future congress members and leaders!
Using unfair influence on our students for an intentional Anti-Zionist agenda discourages students from arriving at their own independent conclusions.
What is claimed to be lessons in critical thinking which is a common course in college amounts to almost brain washing.
This is a gateway to Anti-Zionism which in some places has become institutionalized and tolerated.
Make no mistake: Anti-Zionism, denying Israel the right to exist as a Jewish country or not at all - is absolutely Anti-Judaism.
The land of Israel is a central part of Judaism. It’s like Mecca to Islam or the pope to Catholicism.
Judaism cannot exist without it. The hope and yearning to return to Zion in the last 2000 years has been a central component of Judaism.
Anti-Zionistic activity is an act against Jewish survival.
In 2019 there were 2100 reported cases of assault, vandalism and harassment against Jews in the United states alone including schools, synagogues and community centers.
The problem is even more compounded because for many of our Jewish students it’s a gateway to losing their Jewish identity.
What concerns me is that we have become complacent in the face of those who wish to hurt us the most. We simply do not think it is a major problem.
While, of course, not all of our young people leave their heritage because of college influence,
We cannot afford to lose anyone.
We cannot be complacent. Let's continue doing what we, the community of Shirat Shalom have been doing for many years.
Let us continue bringing Judaism of the heart and souls to our children. Instill in them love and pride in our heritage and in Israel. That is the best remedy against detrimental influences and assaults on our heritage.
It’s about Jewish identity much more than Jewish or Hebrew knowledge.
Children as we all know, get from us their parents the sense of pride in our heritage and commitment to our Jewish homeland in Israel.
When our children sense that both Israel and the Jewish tradition are a crucial part of our own identity they understand that Zionism is an existential part of Judaism and in turn, Judaism is an existential part of the welfare of the world.
They then will be more inclined to make the effort and seek the honest truth about the Israeli Arab conflict and explore Judaism further on. We cannot afford losing any more Jewish souls.
Senator Daniel Moynihan said in 1974 in a rally for Soviet Jewry: One cannot eliminate a tree which has its roots in the center of the earth.
It is our duty to ensure our children’s Jewish continuity.
May G-D inscribe all of us in the Book of Life. Let us pray for a much better year next year. A year of health and healing.
A year of tolerance and unity. A year of love and prosperity to all of us. A year of elimination of all viruses and social turmoil.
Rabbi & Cantor's Messages
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Recently I was asked to sing the Lord’s Prayer at an interfaith wedding. I didn’t know too much about the prayer except that my girlfriend recited it every day growing up in her church and that it is a central and revered prayer in Christianity. Well, I certainly wanted to sing it with the reverence it deserved so I began learning it.
I didn’t get too far though and stopped after the first line as a beautiful sacred Presence had entered the room.
Wow, I thought! Does this prayer have the same power as many of the Hebrew prayers I sing? They are meant to connect us with the Divine which can come in many energetic variations. Or was it my intention to sing the prayer with reverence that called this Divine Presence? Yes, our intentions can be that powerful!
Intrigued, I went on a YouTube search and listened to several videos of people singing the prayer. Hmmm.. most of the videos invoked the Presence.
The next day, my Catholic neighbor, Gina, posted the prayer on her facebook page and wrote: "I hope everyone who reads it answers Amen and sticks it on their page. Prayer chain for world peace and end of the pandemic. Amen."
Gina's Facebook Post:
This certainly caught my attention. I mean, what are the chances my neighbor would post this the day after my experience with the prayer! I knew this was a message to me to explore further. Intrigued again, I went on a google search and discovered what is just basic knowledge for most Christians. That Jesus taught this is a prayer in how to pray and that it covers everything.
Well that made sense why so much of the wording seemed familiar to me. The same concepts are in the Jewish prayers. And Jesus after all, was Jewish.
A week later as I sang the prayer during the wedding I could see how touched the Christian family members were that their tradition was honored. This filled me with such Joy! Even in these days, it isn’t always so easy for everyone when there is an interfaith marriage.
Two months later as I finished my preparations for the Jewish holidays I realized I never formally added my Amen to my neighbor’s post!
So now, just before Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, I offer my prayer. “May ALL our Sacred Prayers from ALL Hearts come together bringing World Peace and an End to the Pandemic. Amen!”
The Divine Presence that has come in now certainly seems happy with this! I feel a smile in the midst of all the Love that is present!
May we all be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year!
Connection to Healing
I heard the story from the mother the week before but I wanted to hear it in the boy’s own words. So he told me that when casting his fishing lure, it caught a dragonfly trapped in a spider web causing its wings to break. He used a pair of tweezers to set the wings back together. Afterwards he put the dragonfly in a jar in order to nurse it back to health and fed it moths each day. Under his watchful care the dragonfly lived for another few days.
When he finished telling the story, his mother exclaimed “What child does this!” I knew the answer but I just smiled.
When I first met the boy a year and half earlier to prepare him for his Bar Mitzvah ceremony, I immediately understood he is one of the amazing children who have come to help heal the planet. So many of these kids don’t have an easy time in our left brain educational system or fitting into our paradigms and this teen was no exception.
When we had his rehearsal months later and he could read Hebrew which traditionally uses left brain teaching techniques, his mother called me a miracle worker. But I knew the child is really the miracle. For these kids are impelling us to “think out of the box,” to reframe our perspectives when it comes to their education. The Infinite Child Institute is certainly a result of this thinking. It didn’t surprise me when this teen excelled in the program.
As we got close to his Bar Mitzvah, everyone was so excited that the boy’s great grandmother would be able to attend. What a blessing!
But with the pandemic postponing his Bar Mitzvah day for five months this all changed. His great grandmother passed away three weeks before the new date at the amazing age of 107.
The boy’s mother continued her part of the story. That during the great grandmother’s funeral, a dragonfly stayed with them the entire time. She would have never noticed it if her son hadn't rescued the first dragonfly and knew there had to be a connection.
I told the teen that dragonflies have one consciousness. That the essence of his dragonfly came to say thank you! But there is another message too. His mother continued, “Now, whenever you see a dragonfly your great grandmother will be present!”
Before they left, I took the boy aside and asked him to promise me that he would never forget how special he is, of what he came here to do.
On the day of the Bar Mitzvah, the mother displayed a quote saying, “Dragonflies Appear when Angels are Near.” There were certainly many angels in the room that day.
And the great grandmother... well, she had the biggest smile of them all!
High Holy Day Services
There are certain numbers that Judaism considers sacred as they occur over and over again in the Torah. Well known of these numbers include 4, 7, 10 and 40. The number 40 is especially intriguing. We read about 40 days of rain during Noah's flood, 40 days Moses spent on the mountain receiving the Torah, 40 years spent wandering in the desert, 40 days Elijah fasted and others. Forty seems to signify a time of purification that leads to transformation where we build to a higher consciousness.
As we begin to prepare for the High Holy Days, our tradition also asks us to offer 40 days of inner work or purification throughout the 30 days of the Hebrew month of Elul and ending with the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This work is so important that each day during Elul which begins on August 21st this year, the shofar is sounded, reminding us to wake up and judge our deeds. The intent of this self judgment is not to promote guilt but to help us discern what would like to keep in our lives and what we would like to discard. The daily process of inner reflection is meant to also help us become more aware of our emotions and perceptions allowing us to eventually have control over them rather than having the emotions and perceptions control us.
In Jewish meditation circles, there is a popular teaching story that illustrates this. A retired Air Force Colonel was standing in the express line at the grocery store and found himself getting quite agitated. At the head of the line, the cashier was not only speaking to a customer with a baby but was cooing with the baby and tickling her. While everyone in the line waited, the colonel found himself getting more enraged by the minute. Fortunately he had taken an anger management class and was able to use the tool of focusing on his breath to help his anger subside.
Once he got to the head of the line, he was even able to remark at how cute the baby was. The cashier responded, "Oh, you think so? The baby is actually my baby. My husband was an Air Force pilot who recently died in an airplane crash. I needed to go to work to support myself and my mother takes care of the baby for me. She comes into the store to buy something several times a day so I can see my baby."
Especially as we continue to deal with issues arising from our situation with Covid may we learn to shift our perspective and truly be examples for our children.
May we all be blessed with awareness, discernment, peace and joy as we begin the High Holy Day season! May we radiate out this Light to all inhabitants of our world!
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From Cantor Lee
Here's to Tu B'Av, the Holiday of Love! I know, you probably haven’t even heard of this holiday! I certainly didn’t growing up! But yes, we have a Jewish Valentines Day! In Biblical Days the maidens would dress in white and dance in the vineyards of Jerusalem, the idea being to find their soulmate. In modern times we really don’t have rituals to celebrate Tu B’Av so people are creating their own celebrations including community gatherings or just giving loved ones an additional “I love you” during the day.
Love is actually already a huge theme in Judaism. When we follow the prayer book for Shabbat or weekdays, a whole section is devoted to prayers about Love. The prayer, “V’ahavtah,” “You Shall Love,” is inside our mezuzzahs and is traditionally used as a bedtime prayer for children. The Hebrew word for Love, “A-ha-vah” has much power and is used in Kabbalistic Healing. It isn’t an accident that each syllable has an “Ah” sound which is the universal vowel sound for our hearts. What do we do when we see a baby or a puppy? AAhh……… And our hearts open…
In honor of Tu B'Av, I decided I too would create my own personal observance to celebrate the holiday. I asked myself, “How can I connect to the Love energy of the holiday? How can I bring more Love into the world?”
After some thought I decided the focus for my personal observance would be Loving everything that came into my awareness. I already have a mindfulness practice of gratitude and would just add “I Love You.” So for example when walking up steps… I might say, “Thank you feet, I love you. Thank you shoes, I love you, Thank you steps, I love you, Thank you sound of walking, I love you…etc.”
I was quite happy with this idea and called my friend to discuss it. I told her, “Not only will this connect me to the increased energy of Love from the holiday, but it will bring more Love into the world!” (Yes, it really is true that whatever we do personally does energetically affect others.)
My friend wasn’t so sure. “Thank and Love everything? What if you experience someone with road rage or read about something on FB that upsets you” I answered, “If that comes into my awareness on Tu B’Av, I will be very grateful. It just means G-d is asking me to be the instrument to send Love to the situation.”
My friend replied, “That is really a good answer!” I just smiled and thought, “Love is always the answer!”
Happy Tu B’Av! Thank you, I Love you!
From Rabbi David:
The 15th day of the month of Av, Tu B’Av, the Holiday of Love, is a little known yet very significant Jewish holiday. This year it begins sundown Aug. 4th and goes to sundown Aug. 5th. While it does not have any specific religious ceremonies associated with it other than the omission of one particular prayer, it is considered a very festive and happy occasion. It originated during the second temple when Jews returned from their Babylon exile and Judea was just a small province within the Greek empire and later on within the Roman empire.
The holiday is an happy celebration of the first day of the grape harvest as well as a biblical occasion which has to do with celebrating women’s specific biblical marriage rights. It therefore became a happy celebration of love and marriage.
The 15th day of Av, is also the time of the full moon which in Jewish tradition brings hope and festive feelings. It therefore became an antidote to the national yearly mourning day of the 9th of Av, Tisha B’Av, the day the Temple was destroyed which is observed six days earlier.
According to a biblical prophetic description, love and marriage is also a symbol of a national redemption in which Judea will flourish again. “The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the LORD , Jeremiah 33:11” The holiday of the 15th of Av combines both the redemption from the disaster of 9th of Av with the celebration of love and marriage, so much so that it is considered the happiest of all holidays.
In modern day Israel Tu B’Av is known as the Holiday of Love and is an auspicious time for weddings and finding one’s soul mate. In Biblical days unmarried women would wear white dresses and dance together in the vineyards of Jerusalem while young men would choose brides for themselves.
So in that spirit , I am inviting all the single young ladies of our congregation to dress in white on the 15 day of the month of Av and dance. Since we do not have vineyards around us, the streets of Boca Raton will do just fine... According to the tradition it would be a great way to find one's True Love...
May we all be blessed with an abundance of Love!
Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av falls on July 30th this year. It is a day of fasting and mourning. Very few events in our history are considered to be such a powerful memory to the Jewish people as this day represents. The Holocaust of course, is another one.
Officially it marks several calamities in our history including the destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians as well as the destruction of the second Temple by the Romans (who went as far as plowing the entire Temple area.) This day also marks the expulsion from Spain in 1492 as well as the Jewish expulsion from England in 1290.
Tradition has it that on the ninth day of Av the spies who were sent by Moses to tour the land of Canaan when the Israelites were about to enter it, returned from their journey to deliver a negative report about the country and its people. As a result, the people dipped into fear wanting to return to slavery in Egypt. To enable them to mature to a state of trust, of accepting and navigating freedom, G-d had the people wander in the desert for another 40 years.
Tisha B’Av is therefore a day when Jews gather in synagogues all over the world to recite the scroll of “Eicha,” Lamentations, a text of mourning believed to be written by Prophet Jeremiah who actually witnessed the first Temple’s destruction.
The Ninth of Av is not an easy day as we remember Jewish suffering throughout our history. But it also represents an amazing truth. It is a symbol of our eternity. Remembering the day we lost our independence in the land of Israel also brought the Tikvah, the Hope for the Jewish redemption. That hope was burning in our great, great grandparents’ hearts. It is that two thousand year old hope which held us together and eventually helped us to reestablish our independent life in modern Israel.
So if we now have Israel, a proud, very prosperous and independent Jewish state why keep mourning on the ninth day of Av?
The message of that day is not only a message of Jewish survival. It is also a message of world peace and harmony. The great rabbis of the Talmud taught that when the world lives in peace, when there will be no hate, when antisemitism and bigotry vanish from the world, then Tisha B’Av will turn from a day of mourning to a day of celebration.
This year, as we observe Tisha B’Av may we use the powerful energy of the day to offer a special prayer to the creator, G-D of all mankind, to help us put an end to the awful pandemic that is ravaging the entire world. Let us all pray for Israel’s and the world’s safety and peace. Let us pray for all the turmoil and divisiveness we are experiencing here in the US to end and ask for peace to be restored in all the cities across the nation. Let us pray that we each find compassion and tolerance within our own hearts. For only then can G-d truly help us.
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It was going to be the first event for our congregation since the quarantine began. A puppy naming where any dog without a Hebrew name would receive one. It really isn’t part of our tradition to give pets Hebrew names as we do humans. But it has become a Shirat Shalom tradition. I guess mostly because it is just so much fun! Here was the invitation:
Although connected in our hearts,We've been physically apart,So we’re hoping seeing you in person can now gently start!
Our yard is Huge, so please stop by, We’ve missed you and just want to say Hi!
If you don’t have a doggy, just bring a stuffed one!Or come by yourself, and join the fun!
If your puppy needs a Hebrew nameRabbi David will bestow one with Love, Or you can pick a Yiddish one And we’ll all shout Mazel Tov!
Even though the gathering was going to be outside in my backyard I still wondered, would anyone come? People were still reluctant to be in groups as several members told me. But eight dogs sent in a RSVP and would be bringing their humans.
The morning of I wondered again, would anyone come? With torrential downpours all week and rain still predicted, it wouldn’t be easy to be outside in the high humidity of South Florida.
But in the end five dogs did come along with seven children and their parents. When I saw the children I knew G-d was fully creating with me. These were my special crystal and rainbow kids who would be radiating their powerful Light throughout our gathering!
The first activity was to decorate a fan with anything about our doggies that warms our hearts. I was so glad I finally found a use for the straw fans I had been saving. Not only would they help everyone stay cool, but they were perfect for our activity and my plan for later!
For the naming ceremony we began with the traditional thanksgiving blessing using the words on the fans. Each doggie was featured.
Here is an example: Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu melech Haolam who makes Brooklyn a cutie! (Blessed are you Adonai, our G-d, Creator of the world who makes Brooklyn a cutie! )
Then each family sang the song they had composed. The instructions were to change the lyrics to a Hebrew song and you guessed it, make it about their doggie! In this song, David Melech Yisrael, Lily the dog becomes a queen! You can just imagine how much we all laughed since Lily really is queen of the house!
Rabbi David then gave each dog their Hebrew name and had us laughing even more! This dog, a Russell Terrier, yes named Russell, received the Hebrew name Ratz which means “Run!” You can probably figure out the connection!
Kiwi received the Hebrew name Karmel which is a mountain in Israel!
Brooklyn received the Hebrew name Simcha which means Joy!
Lily received the Hebrew name Meshuggah which you probably already know means Crazy!
We ended with the chanting of the Sh'ma that declares that we are all One with G-d and each other. Keeping this Oneness in mind, I asked everyone to wave their fans as we sang, radiating our love and gratitude for our doggies into the world.
I knew Shechina's Love Energy that answered was saying thank you! I told everyone to keep fanning and radiating!
We continued to have such a wonderful time being together afterwards. The weather turned out to be beautiful with such a strong breeze we didn’t even feel the humidity! I thanked G-d as well as the weather elementals for answering my prayers, for their part of our co-creation.
As we talked I heard the same theme others have been telling me. The appreciation for slowing down, for time together with their children. The gratitude for the gifts of Mother Earth - Gaia, such as a butterfly’s dance, a gecko on a leaf, a seed that grows into a plant.
We couldn’t hug each other as we said goodbye but as my friend recently told me we will never again take hugs for granted.
Afterwards I expressed my gratitude to all including my doggie, Cinnamon, who joined us from over the rainbow bridge. I told her, “There was so much Love at the Puppy Naming!” “Of course!” Cinnamon whispered in my ear as she licked it at the same time. “After all, what is DOG spelled backwards?!”
I thought about this for a moment. "Exactly Lee," said Eliza, a dear friend's angel doggie. "It spells Love.”
♥Love, Lee & all the Doggies!♥
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With my sister moving I learned I would be inheriting her computer desk and hutch that I always loved. I even thought one day I would get one just like it! Thank you G-d!
The timing couldn’t be better! Just two weeks earlier I had decided to paint my office and dedicate it as a sacred space for our Infinite Child program. With all the sessions with the children now virtual, my office needs to be conducive for this sacred work where children learn to utilize their Infinite Light Vision.
On moving day when we were carrying the hutch, a small prayer book seemed to appear out of nowhere! As my husband, Rabbi David caught it in midair, the memory came back of ten years earlier when I had hidden the prayerbook on top of the hutch.
It was the day my sister called me from the hospital. My brother in law had just been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. After I hung up the phone, I immediately went to her house to work with the energy there. I understand now that it was my Divine Self directing me. I only knew then I was on a mission and had to follow it.
I still remember walking into the house and being hit with an extremely heavy oppressive feeling. I knew it was from all the worry and uncertainty from my brother in law being sick. I worked in each room, clearing the energy and afterwards bringing in a higher vibration. I then hid small Hebrew prayerbooks open to various pages around the house. They were all put in secret places on high shelves including the top of the desk hutch.
When my sister returned later that night she called me. What had I done to the house! It felt so peaceful, so amazing! I just smiled and said I just cleared out all the negative energy but I didn’t tell her about the hidden prayerbooks.
My brother in law passed away a month later. As you can imagine the next few years were extremely difficult for my sister and 14 year old nephew. But I knew the prayerbooks were doing their job of supporting them by keeping the house at a higher vibration. Each time I would go visit, I would make sure each room was as it should be.
A couple of years later my sister found a hidden prayerbook. “You had to have put that there,” she told me! And I let her in on the secret! Over the years every time she would find another one she would carefully dust it off and put it back.
I was excited to place the desk and hutch in my newly painted office. And then decorate with everything my sister also gave me. I was even able to fit in the pink chair I also inherited! Of course I cleared everything of any old energies that were lingering.
Redoing the office also meant going through old files which also brought up many emotions of what was and what will no longer be. Children just learn differently these days. So many of the old programs and ways of doing things just don’t fit today’s special children who have come to help the planet. Much material had to go.
When everything was to my satisfaction, Rabbi David and I put a new mezuzah on the door.
A few days later I just had one more thing to do. I thanked G-d for all my blessings, for my beautiful new office and that my sister was now newly married and so happy. I took the prayerbook and began flipping the pages, stopping where I was guided to do so. It opened to the prayer of gratitude, Modim Anachnu Lach, We give thanks to you, G-d.
I took the open prayerbook and placed it on top of the hutch.
I Love all the ways I can keep the vibration high in my office. This was a gift a few years ago from my then student Jeremy. He is famous in Shirat Shalom as our star shofar blower!
Prayerbooks, Holy texts and special Crystals radiate a sacredness that are helping to keep the room flowing with beautiful energy!
I light a candle when doing certain prayers and work. These are my special crystals that help me connect with the spiritual realms. B'nai Mitzvah Students who have a Torah portion about the High Priest always love learning that the breast plate had precious stones on it. The High Priest used them to communicate with G-d.
I put more crystals in the petals of this paper rose. The rose with its 13 petals is discussed in the Zohar, a mystical book of the Kabbalah.
Every year at Chanukah the children learn that the eternal light in the Temple called a menorah had seven stems. Menorah means lamp. In Hebrew the Chanukah menorah is called a Chanukiah to differentiate it from the Temple menorah.
Even the hallway to my office brings in holiness. I make sure our entire house stays a sanctuary. The mezuzah on the front door reminds us of this central Jewish teaching.
I love learning how other spiritual traditions use different language to explain the universal concepts we all share. This panel from the Council of Love shows 13 chakras which are the body's energy centers. In Judaism we use sefirot (spheres) of the Tree of Life.
I love this gift from Lisa and her three boys, Brogan, Brody and Bryce. It reminds me of my sacred mission and purpose in life.
Love in its many forms always brings the highest vibration! Rabbi David wrote a very special poem for me that is tucked inside this card. Keeping it on my desk reminds me of how blessed I am!
Love, Lee ♥♥♥♥
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My neighbor, Fara, has a way with animals. So much so that we call her the Animal Whisperer. All creatures love her and she loves them! You could also call her a People Whisperer for the same reason. You can usually find her outside practicing her love craft, bringing everyone together, making sure all the animals and people know how important they are. I think of her as Guardian of the Neighborhood.
So of course Rocksie knew what she was doing when she picked Fara’s home for her nest. During their initial meeting when Rocksie startled Fara on the side of her house, she immediately told her, “Don’t worry, you are safe here!” “Confirmation this is the right house!” Rocksie thought. “This is the perfect place for my babies!” And so Rocksie took up residence in one of Fara’s hanging baskets lined with coconut fiber.
The neighborhood was abuzz with the news especially since an owl hasn’t been seen here for several years. We all learned she is a screech owl which explains her tiny size. One neighbor, Gina, decided her name should be Rocksie as we all live on Rockwell Way! Rocksie was quite pleased with her new name and allowed a celebratory picture.
Fara and Rocksie continued to deepen their relationship. Each day at nightfall Fara would tell Rocksie, “Time to hunt!” Rocksie would pop up her head up, hop to the rim of the basket and then take flight. I think she appreciated Fara’s daily reminders.
Fara’s husband Charlie watched over her as well. One day when the wind was very strong taking Rocksie for quite a swinging ride. Charlie wasn’t going to allow that and tied down the hanging planter! Okay, now the eggs and Mama were safe!
There was much excitement when the three eggs began to hatch. The tiny owlets looked like little snowballs! Gina promptly named them Rock, Well and Way.
Charlie was concerned a baby might fall from the nest so he made plans to put cushions on the ground below. But the next day before he could do so one did fall out!
He told Rocksie he would put the baby back with all the proper precautions. She was quite agreeable to the whole plan especially since he explained what he was doing each step of the way! We are still not sure if it was Rock, Well or Way that fell but whoever it was, baby is safe now under Mama’s wing!
I had a chance to visit Rocksie yesterday. Fara made sure to let her know “Aunt Lee” was coming. Rocksie really is so sweet! I have been wondering what the spiritual reason is for her arrival and there are so many! But one message keeps coming so clearly. Rocksie is helping us remember what is really important in life.
What a beautiful gift! Thank you Rocksie for coming to Rockwell Way!
Here are some updates since this article was first published.
Grandfather Charlie as we now call him has made sure the babies are safe as they grow. Some days he has spent hours outside keeping a lookout for anyone falling! He has made sure they now have a very soft surface to land on! He has had to fight off crows and other birds as he gets the babies safely back to the nest! Mama, babies and Fara and Charlie have become one combined human/owl family!
The 5th day of the Jewish month of Iyar, April 29th this year is Israel’s 72nd birthday. For the Jewish people this event became a symbol of our everlasting existence as a unique people whose religion cannot be separated from its nationality.
Independence day is a reminder that our existence depends on having a land of our own and that land is specifically the land of Israel with very specific borders. This land is part of us, of who we are as Jews.
I am reminded of an episode which happened at the beginning of the 20th century when the Zionist movement was offered the country of Uganda in Africa as a homeland and a safe haven for European Jews. Many were victims of the infamous Kishinev pogrom in Russia. In a rejection letter the leader of the Zionist movement at the time explained that the land component of Jewish religion is directly related to the land of Israel because of its specific spiritual value and its holiness to Judaism, without which Judaism cannot exist. This principle trumped even the immediate need for a safe place for thousands of Jewish Kishinev refugees.
Other than the religious claim, there are other profound reasons for the existence of Israel as a Jewish state (Judea and Samaria included). The crime of taking away a land from its people is not expunged due to time passed, not even hundreds or thousands of years. When a nation is forcefully removed from its legitimate homeland, and as long as that nation exists as such, its claim to the land would never get old. It would always be legitimate.
This principle became more profound when we, the Jewish nation made it very clear to the rest of the world over the long years of exile, both through our daily prayers and through decisive actions that we can never give up our legitimate claim to our land.
In the last 2000 years the world knew very well that the Jewish people never gave up on their claim for the land from which they were exiled. In medieval times the church, fearful of Jewish immigration to their homeland, which over the centuries, intensified periodically, forbade Jews to travel on Christian boats to the land of Israel. The same was true after the expulsion from Spain in the 15th century as well as in other centuries.
The Arabs, recognizing that the land of Israel is the land of the Jews were especially fearful that the Jews would one day return to reclaim their land. One of the major attempts to resettle millions of Jews back in Israel was a plan to create an economic infrastructure first, which would allow for rapid Jewish migration. This plan was made by Don Yosef Nasi, a highly influential Jew in international circles in the 15th century. The Arab nomads in Israel opposed the plan which Don Yosef had started to implement. The plan was eventually abandoned due to the extreme violent resistance of the local Moslems.
To be sure, the Moslems built a cemetery in Jerusalem in front of the city Gate of Mercy from which they believed the Jewish messiah would come to the city. Their rationale was that the messiah, being a descendant of Jewish priests, a Cohen, would not be allowed to go through a cemetery and therefore would not be able to enter Jerusalem and to establish a new Jewish kingdom in Judea.
In the 17th century an estimated eight thousands Jews, mostly young men, gathered in Turkey under the leadership of a man called Shabtai Tzvi who promised them that they would take the land of Israel by force through his magic. They were all slaughtered by the Ottoman army. Over the centuries numerous "Messiahs" gathered Jewish believers around them in a naive attempt to magically take over the land of Israel. All ended up in failure. However these constant attempts, as naive as they all were, serve as evidence throughout the centuries that indeed, action was taken by Jews who tried to reclaim the land of Israel.
These and other similar actions, including that there were a significant amount of Jews that never left the land of Israel, are undeniable historical realities. They stand witness to the fact that the Jewish people never gave up on their rights to their land. It was a constant battle for our legitimate land which we finally won in 1948 with much but not all of the Jewish land in Jewish hands
So is the term Israeli independence Day really accurate?
To suggest that Israel became independent in 1948 is not only inaccurate it also provides many Arabs with the anti Israel propaganda which they are seeking.
The term may suggest that the term Israel's independence as it related to the modern state of Israel separates itself from any Jewish evidence of independent living prior to 1948, as if there was no Jewish independent existence for many centuries prior to the modern state of Israel.
It is therefore very important for us to understand that what we celebrate is the Jewish return to independent living in our land, a restoration of previous Jewish independence in the land of Israel.
Let us all remember then that we as a people are resilient. Throughout our four thousand years of history we have faced many challenges, most recently the Holocaust, leading to the creation of the State of Israel. We have the inner strength to get through these challenging times as we, along with the entire world, are dealing with the Coronavirus.
May our inner strength that helped us survive many calamities, enduring centuries of persecutions and tragedies throughout history lead the world to better times ahead
Happy Yom Ha-atzmaut -Israeli Independence Day!
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