Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Watch with Me! 2nd Installment

I finally sat down this morning to watch the second installment of Dr. Michael Chighel's video series, called "What Torah thinks of Torah". I think it was about 15 minutes long.

Whoa. Either my brain in completely fried, or there was a lot of information packed into those few minutes.  It could really be both. I hadn't had my coffee yet when I watched the video. The upshot is, that I think I have to watch it again.

The first few minutes I thought were excellent. Dr. Chighel tried to illustrate the question of how an Infinite Being (G-d) could get across information to a finite being (us). His clarity of exploring that question made sense and I could really feel the divide... if a finite being (person) has trouble explaining 1+1=2 to another finite being (dog), than how much more so does an Infinite Being have giving over deeper sociological/ethical/spiritual issues to finite beings. Chighel does a great job on this.

After that, I think my brain wandered... so I will have to watch again and update this post.

I hope you are watching with me - feel free to set me straight!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Get those brain cells moving!

With four kids under the age of 6.5, it's hard to get back into learning... anything. I'm sleep deprived, and generally running around (mostly back and forth from school) doing stuff for other people. I not even quite sure if my brain hasn't atrophied into nothingness. I have no problem with any of that, though I'd love some more sleep please... but it's also important to realize that everyone needs a spiritual "checkup".

I thought about this last week and happened upon a series of videos that looks doable. Interesting, thoughtful and I think I may actually learn something.

Dr. Michael Chighel, a PhD in Philosophy, brings an introduction to Torah and Torah ideas to us. My goal is to watch a video a day (or every other day). His introductory video, is about 18 minutes long - so after I dropped two kids at school, went to a doctor appointment with the third, took him to school, then sent the baby to his bed for a nap, it was time for breakfast and a very much needed coffee, a perfect time to watch a video. And anyone who knows me, that's impressive, I have no patience for videos of any sort. The videos following this introductory one look shorter, about 10 minutes apiece.

Here's the link.
Jewish Introduction: 101 Authors Who Didn't Write the Torah

I'm going to try and watch each of his videos and write up my impression here. If you'd like to join me in attempting to get my brain cells running again and have a discussion in the comment section... please do! Grab a coffee, tea or even water (yes, it's healthy!) - watch the video and leave your comments here on the blog.

Looking forward! Have a great week!

Friday, August 4, 2017


I came across an op-ed article yesterday from the LA Times, titled "It's too expensive to be Jewish". To read it, click here. In the article, the mother is complaining about the cost of bar mitzvah lessons. One quote is for $140/hour, another for $80. Her kids attend a Hebrew school that meets twice a month and reading Hebrew is not part of the curriculum. She goes on to talk about the cost of membership in a Temple that does have Hebrew as part of the curriculum, and the cost of High Holiday tickets.

Now, I get that there are times that being Jewish does cost extra. If you are sending your kids to day school, tuition does not come cheaply, neither does kosher meat. But within the Jewish lifestyle there is plenty that is free and inexpensive. Lighting Shabbat candles once a week, is not an expensive habit. Having a family meal together without the gadgets is recommended by experts who have studied the breakdown of the nuclear family. Making that family meal on a Friday night with some wine and challah make that meal a holy one, something really special. Bringing that meal to a holy level, to connect with all the Jews around the world, all saying the Kiddush will make an impact on everyone at that table.

There are plenty of synagogues and organizations that do not charge astronomical fees for praying on the High Holidays - one just needs to take a quick look around. Chabad, for one, does not. And it's as easy to find them as the 7/11 on the corner.

The question really are priorities. This woman sends her kids twice a month to a Jewish Hebrew school. I applaud her for that. However, does she think that those two times are really going to make a deep impact on her kids? Does she re-enforce the lessons taught at school... at home? Does she read Jewish books with them? Does she light Shabbat candles and have Friday night dinner as a family sans electronics?

The op-ed ends with this thought:
As for Nathaniel, baseball and sleep-away camp and a million other not-so-good excuses have prevented me from setting up his first tutoring session. But it's on my to-do list.
Priorities. She manages to find the money for baseball and camp (and who knows what else) - but not for a Jewish education for her kids. Like I said, not everything Jewish costs money - but some things do... she needs to be honest with herself - if there is limited money (and she makes clear that she did not win the lottery), then how is she budgeting. What is most important to her and her family? Judaism and Jewish continuity or baseball? Perhaps it's a Jewish camp - that would be fantastic. That would be a good use of money. But we don't get that sense from her writing.

I wish her and her family the very best - and I hope that she finds a way to inject a joy of Judaism into her kids and not boil it down to nickels and cents... especially since she's finding other ways of spending that change.