TEACHINGS OF THE ECOKOSHER REBBE
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HOLIDAYS, FESTIVALS & RECIPES

ודבר י-ה-ו-ה אל משה לאמר: דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם; מועדי י-ה-ו-ה אשר תקראו אתם מקראי קדש אלה הם מעדי אלה מועדי י-ה-ו-ה, מקראי קדש אשר תקראו אתם במועדם  And ADONAI spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the Israelite people and say to them; There are special sacred times that you must celebrate as special to ADONAI. These are the feasts of ADONAI, holy gatherings, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. LEVITICUS 23: 1-4

INDEX of this page

* indicates a recipe

THREE YEAR JEWISH CALENDAR
SHABBAT (THE SABBATH)
*THE ECOREBBE'S SHABBAT CHALLAH (Bread) RECIPE (from Sofia, Bulgaria)
*SHABBAT PITA RECIPE (from Babylon)
PRAYER FOR SEPARATING THE "CHALLAH" FROM THE DOUGH
HAMMOTSI PRAYER ONE SAYS PRIOR TO EATING BREAD
*ARROZ DE SABATO (SABBATH RICE PILAF WITH SAFFRON)
T"U B'SHEVAT W/SEDER (THE FESTIVAL OF THE TREES)
*PREHITO (SEPHARDIC BULGAR PUDDING)
PURIM
*HAMAN'S EARS (HAMANTASHEN)
*IRANIAN PURIM PUDDING
NISSAN, THE FIRST MONTH OF THE JEWISH YEAR
PRAYER FOR BLESSING FLOWERING TREES FOR THE NEW YEAR OF NISSAN (Birkhat Hailanot)
PESACH (PASSOVER)
*MATZA BREI
*LAMB STEW, (Moroccan)
*SEPHARDI CHAROSET
COUNTING OF THE OMER
SHABUOTH (PENTECOST)
*KUGEL - NOODLE PUDDING
TISHA B'AB (FAST OF AV)
ROSH HASHANAH (NEW YEAR) with/seder
TASHLIKH CEREMONY
*LEKACH (HONEY CAKE FOR ROSH HASHANA)
YOM KIPPUR (DAY OF ATONEMENT)
*HRIRI (before the fast) ALMOND MILK DRINK
SUKKOT (TABERNACLES)
*POTATO KNISH
SHEMINI ATZERET AND SIMCHAT TORAH
HANUKAH
*IDAHO POTATO LATKES
*SUFGANIOT (Sephardi donuts)

ANCIENT HEBREW CALENDAR
UNDERSTANDING THE HEBREW CALENDAR and it's relationship with the solar calendar

A CALENDAR OF JEWISH FESTIVALS AND HOLY DAYS

2014
Tu B'Shevat - Thursday - 5 February
Purim - Sunday - 16 March
Passover - Tuesday - 15 April
Shabuoth - Wednesday - 4 June
Fast of Ab - Tuesday - 5 August
Rosh Hashanah - Thursday - 25 September
Kippur - Saturday - 4 October
Succoth - Thursday - 9 October
Hanukah - Wednesday - 17 December
 
2015
Tu B'Shevat - Wednesday - 4 February
Purim - Thursday - 5 March
Passover - Saturday - 4 April
Shabuoth - Sunday - 24 May
Fast of Ab - Sunday - 26 July 
Rosh Hashanah - Monday - 14 September
Kippur - Wednesday- 23 September
Succoth - Monday- 28 September
Hanukah - Monday - 7 December
 
2016
Tu B'Shevat - Monday- 24 January 
Purim - Thursday -24 March
Passover - Saturday - 23 April
Shabuoth - Sunday - 12 June
Fast of Ab - Sunday - 14 August
Rosh Hashanah - Monday - 3 October
Kippur - Wednesday - 12 October
Succoth - Monday - 17 October
Hanukah - Sunday - 25 December

SHABBAT (THE SABBATH)

The HOLIEST day of the Jewish religion is THE SABBATH; SHABBAT in Hebrew!

Shabbat is also the holiday that is the most frequently celebrated; every seventh day; Friday evening, Saturday day.

Jewish time is measured by how many days until Shabbat, or how many days past Shabbat.

It is the Fourth Commitment of the Ten Commitments, to: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." It is the only holiday mentioned in the Ten Categories of Commitments.

The Sabbath day, Shabbat, is a day of joy! SIMCHAH! It is forbidden to be sad on Shabbat. If one is in the midst of mourning for a relative who died, the Sabbath is the day you stop mourning and rejoice. One does those things that cause one to be in a state of rejoicing on Shabbat.

Eighteen minutes before Shabbat, one anticipates the sanctity of the Welcoming in of the Queen of Shabbat by the wife, mother, sister and or daughter (the feminine energy within the family relationship) lighting the Shabbat candles with the Shabbat candle lighting blessing.

On Shabbat we are to do no mundane work affiliated with building, plowing, cutting, writing, shaping, sewing, etc. through to 39 types of work needed to construct the Tabernacle. Many Renewal and Flexidox Jews decide between that which they consider work that is LABOR and that which is relaxing and enjoyable.

However, we are actually commanded to do positive and joyful things, like: it is a positive commandment to have sexual intimacy on the Sabbath. We are also to eat three meals, with a glass of wine (overfilled), much singing and rejoicing on the Sabbath. We are to study Torah with friends and neighbors on the Sabbath. We are to sleep on the Sabbath. If we are having an arguement (God forbid!) with our spouse prior to Shabbat, we are to put the anger on a shelf in our minds until after Shabbat. Our home is to be a place where there is only SHABBAT SHALOM - Sabbath Peace, on Shabbat. Shabbat is suppossed to be a wee taste of the Garden of Eden; the life after death, in this life.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi stated it like this: "We should not make the Sabbath a day of the NO - NO's; when we point our finger at the "other" and say; "No! No!" Rather, we should make the Sabbath a day of the YES! YES! A day when we accentuate the positive about celebrating SHABBAT!

It is considered a Great Mitzvah to contribute to a charity that provides wine, meat and challah to poor Jewish families to see to it that every Jewish family has candles, challah, meat, or fish, and WINE enough for a glass apiece for each family member at each meal on Shabbat.

Our tradition tells us that we are accompanied to our Sabbath table by three Sabbath Angels. If our home is in disarray and the Sabbath is not honored in our home, the Angels saddly proclaim: "OY VEH! May every Shabbat be like this one!" However, if our home is a place of honoring the Sabbath; if the candles are lit, the children are happy, if the table is set in finery, if there is wine and challah and meat or fish, if the husband is blessing his wife; the Angels say: HALLELUYAH! SHABBAT SHALOM! May every Shabbat be as this one!"

Just as we bring in the Shabbat with candle light, so do we see Shabbat out with a candle lighting ceremony of Habdalah at the end of Shabbat.

THE ECOREBBE'S SHABBAT CHALLAH RECIPE (a Sephardic recipe handed down from Sofia, Bulgaria)

This is a Braided Sabbath Egg Bread traditional to most Jewish homes.

Dissolve 2 tablespoons of dry yeast in 2 1/4 cups of lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon of sugar mixed in it. Mix well and let stand 10 minutes until frothy.

In a large bowl lightly beat 4 eggs. Add to the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, & 1/2 cup olive oil or corn oil, or other vegetable oil. Beat it all together well.

Add the yeast mix and mix it all together. Now slowly add about 9 cups of white flour, mixing it into the mix with a heavy wooden spoon at first but later using your hands. Add flour until the dough is able to hold together in a soft lump.

Knead it vigorously for about 15 minutes I recite the Sh'ma prayer in its entirety twice. The dough should be smooth and pliable. It should NOT be sticky.

Now, lightly oil the dough ball with a very thin coat of oil.

Put the dough in a warm place to rise covered with a slightly dampened towel. When it doubles in size, punch it down and let rise again. Do this one more time.

Now, divide the dough into two balls for each loaf. Divide each ball into three seperate balls and roll each ball out into long ropes.

Now braid the three ropes into a single loaf. Do the same with the other loaf. Pinch the ends together so the braids do not come apart.

Preheated oven to 350 *

Meanwhile, brush one beaten egg yolk on the tops of each loaf and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds

Place the two loafs on a oiled cooky sheet in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes until the loafs sound hollow when lightly thumped with wooden spoon.

SHABBAT PITA BREAD (Babylonian Recipe)
Used for Hammotsi after Kiddush. The blessing for this recipe is "Hammotsi" at all times.
 

Ingredients:

 5 lb. Flour
 5 tbsp. Salt
 6 cups luke warm water
 2 envelopes dry yeast
 1 tbsp. sugar

Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water with sugar. Let it stand for five minutes. In a separate bowl put the flour and sprinkle salt on the edges. Add the yeast mixture and 4 cups of water in it. Mix well and knead for a few minutes. Add a little more flour if dough is sticky. Let the dough rise in a warm place for approximately 2 hours until the dough doubles in size.

Shape into approximately 40 to 45 balls and open to the desired size with a rolling pin. Let the dough rise an additional 20 to 30 minutes and bake in a preheated oven at 475 degrees for 8 to 10  minutes, or until they begin to brown and puff up. (The oven must be fully preheated to get the desired pocketing result)

PRAYER FOR SEPARATING THE "CHALLAH" FROM THE DOUGH USED TO MAKE CHALLAH BREAD OR SHABBAT PITA.

Before separating the dough into the two loafs, say the following prayer and then pinch the amount off the large ball of dough the size of an egg and put it on a piece of aluminum foil and burn it in the oven.

The Blessing is: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להפריש חלה תרומה Source of Blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Guide of the universe, who has sanctified us by allowing us to do commandments and has commanded us to seperate the challah as terumah.

HAMMOTSI PRAYER ONE SAYS PRIOR TO EATING BREAD

Whenever one eats a meal, one should serve the bread (challah on the Sabbath or Yom Tob) covered with a special cloth (ornately designed for the Sabbath and Yom Tob).

One should always wash the hands with a blessing, prior to eating at a meal where bread is eaten.

Before eating, a little salt should be lightly sprinkled over the bread (challah) and the bread lifted up and the following prayer pronounced:

ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם המוצאי לחם מן הארץ Source of Blessing are You, Infinite Eternal Creator, who brings forth bread from the earth.

The bread can be reverently cut and passed to each person, or torn off the loaf by each person (symbolizing that it is God who provides the bread, not man). No words should be uttered between the prayer and the act of eating a piece of bread.

ARROZ DE SABATO (SABBATH RICE PILAF WITH SAFFRON)

* 1 bay leaf
* 1/4 tsp saffron threads dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
* 2 cups long grain white or brown rice
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 scant teaspoon salt
* 4 - 5 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. If using white rice, you will need 4 cups stock. If using brown rice you will use 5 cups stock.

3. If using white rice, place the rice in a colander and rinse it in the sink in cold water until the water runs clear. Allow the rice to drain. If using brown rice, skip this step.

4. Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a casserole with a tight fitting lid. Saute the rice in the oil until it starts to brown.

5. Sprinkle the salt over the rice and pour in the stock, adding 1 bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water to the rice together with the stock. Cover tightly and place in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes (white rice) to 1 hour (brown rice). When the pilaf is done, all of the liquid will have been absorbed.

The rice gets a beautiful yellow color and a heady aroma from the saffron and bay leaf. The bay leaf will be resting on top of the rice at the end of cooking. Remove and discard it before serving. A lovely aroma will fill the room when you open the lid of the pot. Serve immediately as a side dish with a meat, fish or vegetarian entree.

T"U B'SHEVAT (THE FESTIVAL OF THE TREES)

T"U B'Shevat is the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat. It celebrates the "beginning of the flow of sap from deep within the consciousness of the trees," as Rabbi Winkler so aptly states.

Among many Sephardim, there is the tradition of holding a brief "Frutikas Seder" ceremony on the evening of T"U B'Shevat.

Some also have the custom of reciting the 15, in Hebrew, TET (9), VAV(6); or T"U(15), Psalms of Ascent; Psalms 120 - 134 prior to the ceremony.

The tradition is to sing a blessing or a verse from the Song of Songs in blessing the "Seven Species of Eretz Israel" referred to in Deuteronomy 8: 8; "Eretz chita u's'orah, v'gefen, ut'aynah, v'rimon; eretz-zayt, shemen, ud'vash." (A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and date honey), and other items. The items symbolize the TEN SEPHIROT of Kabbalah's Tree of Life.

The first item that is blessed is WINE.
The leader lifts up the cup and recites the verse from Song of Songs 2: 5; סמכוני באשישות רפדוני בתפוחים כי חולת אהבה אני
Ladino: Asufreme kon las redomas de vino, afloshame kon las mansanas, ke doloryoza de amor yo.
English: Sustain me with bottles of wine, comfort me with apples, for I am sick with love.
Now the blessing over wine is said:  ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי הגפן Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates fruit of the vine. We drink the wine.

The second item is a cookie made from wheat, a Panezico or Biscocho. The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the blessing: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא מיני מזונות  Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the various forms of nourishment. Eat the cookie.

The third item is a small dish of PREHITO, a bulgar pudding.
The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the blessing: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם שהכל נהיה בדברו Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, whose word causes everything to exist. Eat the pudding.

The fourth item is FIGS (Igos). The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the verse from The Song of Songs 2: 13: התאנה חנטה פגיה והגפנים סמדר נתנו ריח קומי לך רעיתי יפתי ולכי לך
Ladino: La iguera espunto sus igos, i las vides ensyerne dyeron huezmo, alevanta a ti mi kompanyera mi ermoza, i anda a ti.
English: The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Arise my love, my fair one, and come away.
The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the blessing: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the fruit of the trees. Eat the fig.

The fifth item is the POMEGRANATE (Agranada).
The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the verse from the Song of Songs 6: 7: כפלח הרמון רקתך מבעד לצמתך
Ladino: Komo pedaso de la agranada tu syen, de aryento de la krencha.
English: As a piece of pomegranate are your temples within your locks of hair.
The blessing : ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the fruit of the trees. We eat the pomegranate.

The sixth item is an OLIVE (Azetuna)
The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the blessing: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the fruit of the trees. We eat the olive.

The seventh item is DATES (Datiles).
The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the verse from the Song of Songs 7: 9: אמרתי אעלה בתמר אחזה בסנסניו ויהיו נא שדיך כאשכלות הגפן וריח אפך כתפוחים
Ladino: Dishe suvere en el datilar, travare en tus ramas, i sean agora tus pechos komo razimos de la vid, i huezmo de tu nariz komo las mansanas. English: I said, "I will go up to the date palm tree, I will take hold of its boughs. Your breasts shall be as clusters of the grape vine, and the smell of your nose is like apples.
We say the blessing: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ  Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the fruit of the trees. We eat the dates.

The eighth item is APPLES (Mansanas).
The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the verse from the Song of Songs 2: 3: כתפוח בעצי היער כן דודי בין הבנים בצלו חמדתי וישבתי ופריו מתוק לחכי  
Ladino: Komo el mansano en arvoles de la shara, ansi mi kerido entre los mansevos, en su solombra kovdisyi i estuve, i su fruto dulse para mi paladar.
English: As the apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. I sat down under his shadow with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
We say the blessing: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the fruit of the trees. We eat the apple slices with honey.

The ninth item is NUTS; walnuts or almonds (muezes o almendras)
The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the verse from the Song of Songs 6: 11: אל גנת אגוז ירדתי לראות באבי הנחל לראות הפרחה הגפן הנצו הרמנים
Ladino: A huerto de el nuezal abashi, por ver en frutos de el arroyo, por ver si enfloresyo la vid, si espuntaron las agranadas.
English: I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the grape vine florished and the pomegranates budded.
We say the blessing: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ  Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the fruit of the trees. (If peanuts, the blessing is: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי האדמה Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the fruit from the ground). We eat the nuts.

The tenth item is St. John's Bread [CAROB] (aharovas).
The leader lifts up the plate containing the item and says the blessing: ברוך אתה י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ  Source of blessing are You, Infinite Eternal, Powers of Creation, Guide of the universe, who creates the fruit of the trees. Eat the carob.
Either the Grace After Meals or the after-blessing is now recited.

PREHITO (SEPHARDIC BULGAR PUDDING)

1 cup medium bulgur
3 cups water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or almonds
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup chopped dates (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Combine the bulgur, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the bulgur is tender, about 30 minutes. If necessary, continue cooking uncovered until the liquid is absorbed.

2. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

3. Spoon into a 9-inch-square baking dish and refrigerate until chilled.

Variation:
Baked Prehito: Before transferring to the baking dish, add 1 lightly beaten egg, and bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes.

PURIM

Purim begins the day after the Fast of Esther (Ta'anit Esther), on the 14th of Adar, unless the 14th of Adar falls on Shabbat, in which case the Fast of Esther is one day earlier.

It is, according to the teaching of Rabbi Gershon Winkler, a festival commemorating the near annihilation of the Jews of the Kingdom of Persia, which in that day (5th century BCE) included Persia (Iran), Babylon (Iraq), and Assyria (Kurdistan).

The Jews of Persia were saved due to the actions of a secretly Jewish woman, who was queen of Persia, Queen Esther. Many times in Jewish history, Jewish women arise to become the saviors of the people; i. e. Deborah, Ya-el, Judith, etc.

On Purim, the Book of Esther is read during feastive evening and morning services. The people come dressed in costume, and, in some communities, much drinking of alcohol takes place. It is considered as a commandment for a Jew to become inebriated on Purim; at least to the extent that one cannot tell the difference between the words "Blessed be Mordechai" and "Cursed be Haman."

Whenever the name of the "bad guy, Haman, is mentioned during the reading of the Scroll of Esther, the people stomp, swing clackers, and boo to drown out his name.

The entire Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther) does not contain the Four Letter Name of God, except in the first letters of the four words; יבוא המלך והמן היום (Let the King and Haman come today) of chapter 5, verse 4; and again as the final letters of the four words; כי כלתה אליו הרעה  (that it had ended up badly for him) of chapter 7, verse 7.

However, some Bible Scholars feel that, originally, the Scroll of Esther was a scroll to teach apprentice scribes how to write a Torah scroll, and that is why it does not contain the Sacred Tetragrammaton, Yod (י ), Heh (ה), Vav (ו), Heh (ה). Torah Law (halakhah) forbids erasing a mistake in the Name of God. If the scribe were to make such a mistake, he would then be required to bury the entire manuscript. Writing a Megillat Esther would teach him how to write for sacred scrolls without having to be responsible for possible desecration of the Sacred Name.

As can be imagined, Purim is a very popular holiday, a party.

HAMAN'S EARS (HAMANTASHEN)

For the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, mix 1 3/4 cups flour with a pinch of salt, 2 tabelspoons of sugar and 2 or 3 drops of vanilla extract. Cut 5 oz. of butter in pieces and rub it into the flour. Mix 1 egg yolk and press into a soft ball. Work very quickly and add a drop or two of milk as needed to bind it. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until cool.

For the filling: Put 1 cup of poppy seeds in a pan with 3/4 cup of milk and simmer about 15 minutes, until thick. Add 2 tablespoons of honey, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 4 tablespoons of raisins, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon, mix well and let cool.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Roll out with floured rolling pin on a floured surface until it is 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch rounds with a pastry cutter or large jar ring. Collect the scraps and roll out and cut into 3 inch rounds, until no dough is left.

Into the center of each round, put a heaping teaspoon of the filling. Fold each of three sides to form a triangle pyramid around an open top with filling in the enclosure. Arrainge on a greased cookie sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg.

Bake in pre-heated to 375* oven for 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden. DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE COOKIES FROM THE SHEET WHILE THEY ARE HOT! THEY WILL CRUMBLE! When cool, lift them off the sheet with a spatuala very carefully.

IRANIAN PURIM PUDDING

Bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 1/2 cups sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover and let stand while preparing the semolina.

Melt 2 sticks of butter (margarine ok) in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of course (or fine, but not flour) semolina and 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric. Reduce the heat to low and cook, constantly stirring , until grains golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup walnut halves, 1/4 cup pistachios, 1/4 cup almond slivers and 1/4 cup pine nuts 10 minutes into the browning and finish them with the semolina.

Return the water and milk mix to a boil, and stir in slowly the semolina-nut mix, being careful not to splash on self.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid evaporates and mixture comes away easily from the sides of the pan (about 5 minutes). Stir in 1 teaspoon of rose water and 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Remove from heat, cover with a damp cloth, replace the lid, and let stand for 30 minutes. Spoon the mixture into serving dishes and serve warm or at room temp.

THE THREE PILGRIM FESTIVALS ARE PESACH, SHAVUOT AND SUKKOT.

These three festivals were called the PILGRIM FESTIVALS, as this was when Jews were required to "go up to Jerusalem" to offer up their agricultural tithes and terumah offerings to God.

Nissan, the First Month of the Jewish Year

The first day of Nissan, is the beginning of the New Year. It is the time of counting Royal Reigns; the day Jewish King-Messiahs were crowned on, and the day their reigns began to be reckoned from.

The Festival of Rosh HaShanah (in Sept-Oct) is actually the First day of the SEVENTH MONTH. Nissan is the FIRST MONTH, the Moon of Spring.

The first day of Nissan is also known as the Day of the Birchat Hailanot (the Blessing over the Fruit Trees).


The14th of Nissan is the Fast of the Firstborn (one either fasts during the day, until the seder, or one studies a text of Talmud-Torah) and is the start of Pesach (Passover). One attends a Seder on the nights of the14th and the 15th of Nissan.

Pesach lasts until the 21st of Nissan in Israel and the 22nd of Nissan in the rest of the world.

On the EIGHTH DAY of Pesach , we recite Community Yizkor Prayers in memory of all who have passed away in our community, especially during the past year.

It is also customary to pick fresh grass on the way home from the synagogue and throw the grass, mixed with some coins, and wrapped candies in the house prior to entering for the children to pick up.

PRAYER FOR BLESSING FLOWERING TREES FOR THE NEW YEAR OF NISSAN

The Sages instituted a special blessing to be said once a year in Spring, upon seeing edible-fruit bearing trees blossoming (Talmud Berachot 43b). One may say this at any time during the month of Nissan, but not before, even if he (she) has already seen blossoms, though it is praisworthy to be particular to say the blessing as early in the month as possible and customary to do so on the very first day (Rosh Chodesh).

If possible, it is preferable to go to the fields, out of town, for the recitation of the blessing, but if not, it may be recited anywhere in sight of AT LEAST TWO BLOSSOMING FRUIT TREES, even of the same kind. It should not be said before the beginning of Nissan, nor once the blossoms have fallen (even if the fruit is not yet edible). If it was not said during Nissan and there are still blossoms on the trees in Iyar, the blessing should be said then without SHEM UMALCHUT - that is, without mentioning God's Name - since it is questionable whether the MITZVAH applies beyond Nissan.

Some (Rabbis) hold that since making hybrid fruits is a Torah prohibition, (Lev. 19: 19), one should not say BIRKHAT HA'ILANOT over hybrid fruit trees (e.g. orange trees) and this is the accepted custom. Newly planted (non-hybrid) trees, however, whose fruit may not be eaten for the first three years (Lev. 19: 23), can be used since they have grown naturally and no law (of Torah) has been broken.

If one can join a group of people who are going to say the blessing together, this is preferred, since 'the larger the crowd the greater is the glory to the King', but one should not delay the blessing for this.

Concerning the wording of the blessing 'who has created good creatures and good trees...', one may ask what creatures are being referred to and what they have to do with the trees. The Ben Ish Hai (Sage and Chief Rabbi of Baghdad, born 1834, died 1909) sees it as a reminder to man that as the tree, which in winter was no more than as dry wood, is (in the Spring) now green and alive with blossom and will, having brought forth its fruit, return to being as dry wood, so is man like the tree of the field.

THE BIRKHAT HA'ILANOT:
ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם שלא חסר בעולמו כלום וברא בו בריות טובות ואילנות טובים להנות בהם אדם
Source of blessing are You, YAH, our God, King of the universe, from whose world nothing has been left out and Who has created in it good creatures and good trees for the benefit of mankind.

PESACH (PASSOVER)

WEBSITE LINK THAT TELLS YOU HOW-TO-DO PASSOVER (click here)

Pesach (Passover, also called Matzot) is the first holiday of the civil calendar, (which starts on the 1st of Nissan).

Pesach commemorates the miraculous Exodus of the Israelite people from 210 years of slavery in the land of Egypt.

Pesach starts on the evening of the 14th of Nissan and lasts for eight days. The 14th of Nissan is the Fast of the Firstborn (Ta'anit Bekhorim). In most communities, the custom has evolved to complete the study of a tractate of Talmud on the morning before Pesach. Since a banquet (se'duat mitzvah) accompanies such an occaision, the feasting negates the fast.

There is a festive ritual meal (seder) on the first two nights of Pesach. The center feature of this seder is the reading of the Exodus story from a HAGADDAH, the eating of MATZOT (unlevened bread), the drinking of four glasses of wine, and the singing of Pesach songs.

Though many see Pesach as being about remembering how Jews were once slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and how God brought them forth with miracles and delivered them with a Mighty Hand, Rabbi Gershon Winkler sees Pesach as much more than a cute retelling time.

Rabbi Winkler states: "Pesach, the Torah specifies, is about how God "passed over" our space when we were caught up in a whirlwind of life and death, of bondage and freedom. We were then instructed to eat lamb - then a symbol of innocence and vulnerability - in its entirety, meaning that we were not to cover up how scared and mortal and limited we were feeling when our journey forward was about to begin.The lamb was to be consumed whole, with not so much as a broken bone, and anything remaining had to be burned. This was a sign that we were ready to make the Exodus, for becoming alive, for moving from deathness to aliveness, for taking whole steps - not ambivalent ones, not one step backwards for every step forwards" (The Way of the Boundary Crosser, pg. 142)

"Egypt enslaved the Benei Yisrael with crushing harshness." (Ex. 1:13)

Even at the beginning of their slavery, YHVH was preparing their redemption. In Hebrew, the verse reads "ויעבדו מצרים את בני ישראל בפרך Vaya'avidu Mitzraim Et Benei Yisrael B'farekh." The first letters of these last four words of the pasuk-verse (אביב) spell out the word Aviv, which is the Biblical name for the month of Nissan.

Even as their enslavement began, the month of Nissan was already chosen for their redemption. From this we learn how within every mishap or negative occurrence, there is concealed within it a seed of good, waiting to sprout.

The Gemara speaks about a great Sage named Nahum Ish Gamzu. Now, Ish Gamzu was not his name, but it was his favorite expression. He would always say " גם זו לטובה Gam Zu L'tova" (this too is for the good).
Whenever Nahum found himself in a difficult situation he would praise YHVH with these words and miraculously, even the most despondent situations turned around and became good. Nahum recognized the concealed good within everything, even the bad. As such, he was able to extract it and turn bad into good.

Gematria and numerical themes in the Passover seder

The 10 items on the seder plate represent the Ten Sephirot (the ten aspects of Divine revelation in the world) on the Tree of Life.

The items are: 3 Matzot, representing Keter-Chochmah-Binah; 1 Shank bone (roasted), representing Chesed; 1 boiled (or roasted) Egg, representing Gevurah; 1 dish of Romaine Lettuce for Maror, representing Tiferet; 1 dish of Chroset mixture, representing Netzach; 1 dish of Celery or Parsley for Karpas, representing Hod; 1 dish of Iceberg Lettuce for Chazeret, representing Yesod. The Seder Dish makes 10, representing Malkhut. (The salt water for dipping Karpas is in a dish to the side).

The numerical value of the first opening prayer Ha Lachma Anyah (Poor Man's Bread) is 210, recalling the 210 years in exile in Egypt, during which the Jews ate only Matzah.

MATZA BREI (ala Yehudit Steinberg)

Take 4 whole matzas and break into quarters. Pour boiling water on them and let soak for 1 minute being sure to CAREFULLY wet them all. Put wet matzas on paper towel and pat dry.

In mixing bowl beat 4 large eggs. Add matzas, and stir carefully so as not to further break them up.

In a large skillet, add 3 tablespoons of butter or oil and heat until hot. Pour the matza mixture into the hot oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until golden brown and turn carefully and brown other side. Serve with hot maple syrup, jam, or sour cream.

LAMB STEW,(Moroccan)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 pounds lamb stew, cubed
3 cups beef broth
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon lemon peel
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup whole blanched almonds

Mix together olive oil, onion, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, ginger and pepper in a large Dutch oven. Add meat and stir to coat. Add broth, cinnamon sticks and lemon peel.

Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered for 1/2 hour. Stir in prunes and almonds and simmer for another 1-1/2 hours.

SEPHARDI CHAROSET

2 cups sweet apples, roughly rasped [grated]
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup of sweet wine
Mix all together

*variations: some add coconut, and/or dates, and/or pinapple

More Pesach recipes

COUNTING OF THE OMER

COUNTING OF THE OMER LINK (click here)

For seven weeks (49 days) after the first day of Pesach, we count the OMER. The OMER was the sheaf of early barley harvested prior to Pesach and offered as TERUMAH (a wave-offering given to the Aaronic Priests) on the Second day of Pesach. Each day of the seven week cycle corresponds with a SEPHIRAH of the lower seven Sephirot of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Each of the Sephirot represent an emotional aspect of our life during that particular week. "Each of the 49 days of the Sephirah Counting illuminates one of the 49 emotions; each day's energy consisting of examining and refining its corresponding emotion. After perfecting and purifying all 49 dimensions, we are fully prepared for מתן תורה MATAN TORAH (Receiving the Torah), for now we are in sync with the 49 Divine attributes from which the human attributes evolve" (from THE COUNTING OF THE OMER, by Rabbi Simon Jacobson).

The counting of the Omer begins on the second night of Passover and should be counted while standing. The time for counting is after three stars visably emerge in the night sky. If one forgets to count it then, one can still count it the entire night, until daylight, with its blessing. After daybreak, one can still do the counting but without the blessing.
 
The Counting of the Omer traditionally consists of a blessing, recited aloud, followed by the statement of what day and, after the first week, what week of the counting it is; i. e. Today is the ______day, which is ___ weeks and ____ days of the Omer.
 
The blessing is:
ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על ספירת העומר  - היום יום _______ לעמר
 
After the first week, the blessing is:
ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על ספירת
___ העומר  - היום יום _______ לעמר שהם שבוע ___ ויום
 
The energy of each day of the Counting of the Omer and the meditation practice of the Kabbalists that is associated with each day can be understood by viewing the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (the Ladder of Jacob's dream in Genesis 28: 10-15) as having Ten Sacred Rungs, called Sephirot, which are seen as Attributes of God which we humans are suppossed to emulate. The Seven lower Sephirot are each represented as a primary energy of each of the Seven Weeks between Passover and Shabuot, with each day of each week representing a secondary aspect of the energy of the Sephirah for that day.
 
For instance, the first week of the Counting of the Omer has as its primary energy the essence of CHESED, which is the Attribute of Lovingkindness or Mercy. The first day in the week of Chesed also has the energy essence of Chesed. Thus this day is called Chesed that is in the Sephirah of Chesed and has the ability to bring out in the meditator on this energy essence the ability to show love and mercy towards ourselves and others.
 
The Seven Sephirot levels of Energy Essence that we can contemplate on during the Seven Weeks, 49 Days, of the Counting of the Omer are:
 
1) Chesed - Lovingkindness or Mercy
 
2) Gevurah - Setting Boundaries, Strength
 
3) Tiferet - Beauty, Compassion
 
4) Netzach - Endurance or Reverberation, Magnifying Physical expression
 
5) Hod - Humility or Splendor, Restriction of Physical expression
 
6) Yesod - Foundation, Greater Ego, Bonding from a place of strength
 
7) Malchut - Nobility, Self Worth, Manifest Reality
 
Each night, as the blessing of the new day of Counting the Omer was recited, the Kabbalist focuses upon the Energy Essence of that Day within its specific Week and seeks to bring that combination of attributal essence into his or her own being.
 
As part of the meditation, the Kabbalist will meditate upon the Divine Name associated with the particular Sephirah of the Day within the specific Week, i. e. Chesed within Chesed חסד שבחסד
The God Name associated with the Sephirah of חסד is that of EL אל
The Kabbalist will chant the Sacred Name אל שבאל  seeing it engraved in his/her  mind in the color of the specific Sephirah (Chesed is White or Silver) with the intention of bringing about a feeling of Lovingkindness and or Mercy towards him/herself and all others.
 
Listed are the Names associated with each Sephirah and its Sacred Color:
חסד - White or Silver - אל
 
גבורה - Red or Gold - אלהים
 
תפארת - Purple or Yellow - יהוה
 
נצח - Light Pink (mixture of White and Red) - יהוה צבאות
 
הוד - Dark Pink (mixture of Purple and Silver) - אלהים צבאות
 
יסוד - Orange (mixture of Red and Yellow) -  אל שדי
 
מלכות - Sky Blue - אדני

SHABUOTH (PENTECOST)

At the close of the fifty (Pentecost) days of counting occurs the Festival of SHABUOT (Shavuot, in Ashkenazi pronounciation), meaning WEEKS, the harvest festival of the first-fruits and later ripening grains.

More importantly, SHABUOTH also commemorates the time of MATAN TORAH, the GIVING OF THE TORAH to Israel on Mount Sinai.

It is customary to bedeck the synagogue and the home with fresh greenery and flowers. The tradition is to stay up all night studying Talmud-Torah. The Book of Ruth is read during services on Shabuot. The Torah enjoins us to share food with those less fortunate. We traditionally serve dairy meals on Shabuot.

KUGEL (NOODLE PUDDING)

Boil 1 package of flat wide egg noodles in salted water until almost done (dente). Drain and add 4 tablespoons butter. Mix well.

In a mixing bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup sugar, with 3 chopped apples, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped dates, 1 cup of chopped walnuts, and any other chopped fresh fruit you like, together with 1 pint of sour cream and 1 pint of cottage cheese. Add in 4 eggs and mix well. Add noodles.

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Put noodle mixture into greased casserole dish and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from middle and brown on top. Serve hot or cold.

TISHA B'AB (FAST OF AV)

From the 17th of Tammuz (a minor fast day marking the beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E.) until the 9th (tisha - in Hebrew) of Ab, is a period of semi-mourning and serious reflection.

The Temple of Jerusalem was considered the most sacred edifice on earth. It had been built on the spot of land, according to tradition, where Abraham had taken his son, Isaac, to offer him as a human sacrifice at God's command. The plot of land itself became extra vested in sancitity only AFTER Abraham heard the Voice of Adonai telling him not to engage in this human sacrifice of his son.

Because the Tribes of Israel did not ever get what God was trying to teach about the unessential nature of the need to offer blood sacrifices as a means of effecting atonement for sins, God allowed the Temple to be destroyed on the 9th of Ab, 586 B.C.E.

While in the Babylonian-Persian exile, the Prophets taught that prayers, repentence and restitution atoned for sins; that animal sacrifices were unnecessary (Ezekiel 11: 16; Isaiah 1: 17; Micah 6: 6-8; Zechariah 1: 3-4; Hosea 14: 2-3; Ezekiel 14: 6; 18: 30; Malachi 3: 7; Jeremiah 3: 22). Yet, when the Israelites return from exile, they again build a Temple for sacrifice of animals instead of just offering prayers of the heart.

They just did not get the message! And so, on the 9th of Ab (AGAIN) 70 C.E., the Roman General Titus destroyed the Second Temple.

This time it has been 2000 years since the Temple has been destroyed. The Third Temple will not be built until we Jews realize that the Temple is not a glorified slaughter-house, but a House of Prayer for ALL PEOPLES - ALL RELIGIONS! NOT JUST FOR JEWS! (Isaiah 56: 7).

ROSH HASHANAH (NEW YEAR)

The Jewish New Year, celebrated on the first and second days of the Hebrew month of Tishri, is a unique combination of solemnity and rejoicing. On the one hand the Torah requires its observance to be "a solemn rest to you, a day of remembrance proclaimed with the sound of the shofar, a day of holy convocation. You shall not do any manner of mundane labor." On the other hand, it recalls Nehemiah's prolamation to the Jews of Jerusalem; "This day is holy unto YHVH, your God, do not mourn nor weep... Go eat rich pastries and drink sweet wine, and send portions of food to those who have nothing to celebrate with, for this day is holy to YHVH. Do not grieve, for the joy of YHVH is your strength."

The penitential mood of the day is ushered in by having done a month of Selichot prayers of confessional self-examination, and asking God, neighbors, family and friends for forgivness; making restitution wherever appropriate or necessary. These Selichot prayers are traditionally recited before dawn on every weekday during the month of Elul, especially on the morning preceding Rosh Hashanah, and on the morning preceding Yom Kippur. These Selichot prayers attune the soul for being in the spirit of the day of God's tribunal Court for remembrance and judgement of our work here on the earth, and to the earth. The prayers are our response to the solemn call of the Prophet; "Prepare, O Israel, to meet your God!"

The Rabbis teach that the world is judged at four periods of the year - in the spring at Pesach (Passover) when we pray for the early wheat harvest, in the summer at Shavuot (Pentecost) when we pray for the ripening fruits, in the autumn at Sukkot (Tabernacles) when we pray for the lifegiving "former rains," and on Rosh Hashanah, the day of rembrance and reckoning for the harvest of the deeds of mankind,on which judgement is sealed nine days later on Yom Kippur, after an opportunity for restitution and repentence has been proffered by the Eternal Merciful One. This theme of the Day of Remembrance (Yom HaZikaron) and Day of Judgement (Yom HaDin) is sounded for the Tribe and the State as well as for individuals. We come before God, our Director who decides if we are doing our assigned job, with the prayer on our lips that the Eternal Merciful One will temper all harsh decrees with mercy for that which has been created. On this day, the Book of Life is opened in the Heavenly Court, and as we begin a new year, our yearning prayer to be inscribed in God's Book of Life gives added solemnity to the blessings of the Amidah prayers and the sounding of the Ram's horn, the shofar, as it sounds its one hundred notes to wake us up from our not doing as we should do.

THE ROSH HASHANAH SEDER (Yehi Ritzones) CEREMONY

The home ceremonial of the Yehi Retzones, preceeded by the blessing by the husband of his wife and of his children and/or grandchildren, and the Kiddush at the family table, is done traditionally prior to the meal before Ereb Rosh Hashanah services.

The Yehi Retzones Ceremony consists of a short Rosh Hashanah blessing over several symbolic foods that suggest by their name and/or quality a pun on the needs for the coming Jewish New Year.

We begin by doing the traditional Kiddush over the wine for Rosh Hashanah (see the Prayerbook), followed by the prayer:

ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה BARUKH ATAH ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELEKH HAOLAM, SHEHECHEYANU V'KEEMANU, V'HIGEEANU LAZMAN HAZEH (Source of blessing are You, Eternal Infinite Creator, Director of the universe, Who has provided us with life and sustenance and brought us to this happy season).

Then we wash the hands and say the prayer:

ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו נטילת ידים BARUKH ATAH ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELEKH HAOLAM, ASHER KIDSHANU B'MITZVOTAV VITSIVANU N'TILAT YADAYIM (Source of blessing are You, Eternal Infinite Creator, Director of the universe, Who has sanctified us by allowing us to do good deeds and has asked us concerning the washing of our hands).

Without talking (we traditionally chant a niggun) after washing the hands, we hold up the loaf of round raisin challah and recite:

ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם המוציא לחם מן הארץ BARUKH ATAH ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELEKH HAOLAM, HAMOTZEE LECHEM MIN HA'ARETZ (Source of blessing are You, Eternal Infinite Creator, Director of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth).

We take a tray upon which we have placed seven bowls containing these seven symbolic items (the number seven represents the seven Sephirot of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the Jacob's Ladder):

DATES, A POMEGRANATE, SLICED APPLE DRIBBLED WITH HONEY, COOKED PUMPKIN, COOKED LEEK, COOKED RED BEETS, and a LARGE FISH'S HEAD or head of lettuce.

The seder leader lifts up the bowl of DATES and says:
As we eat these dates, may we date the new year that is beginning as one of happiness and blessing, and peace for all. ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ BARUKH ATAH ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELEKH HAOLAM, BOREY P'REE HAETZ (Source of blessing are You, Eternal Infinite Creator, Director of the universe, Who brings forth fruit of the trees). The bowl is passed and we eat a date. (We have pitted the dates and filled them with cream cheese and a whole almond kernal).

The seder leader lifts up the bowl of POMEGRANATE SEEDS and says: In the coming year, may we be rich and replete with as many actions inspired by the desire to do as many good deeds as there are seeds in this pomegranate. The bowl is passed and we eat a few seeds. (There are 613 seeds in each pomogranate, the same as the number of mitzvot in the Torah).

The seder leader lifts up the plate containing the sliced APPLES and HONEY and says: May it be the Will of the Infinite Eternal One, our ancestors God and Creator Force, that we be granted a year that is from the first day to the last day, as good as the apple and as sweet as the honey. The plate is passed and a piece of sliced apple with honey is eaten.

The seder leader lifts up the plate containing the cooked PUMPKIN mixture (some cook it as for pumpkin pie, then refill the pumpkin shell with the mixture), and says: May the coming year be as full of blessing as the pumpkin is full of sweetness. (A pun on the word GOURD). In the year to come, if enemies gird at us, may You guard us as we eat of this gourd with the blessing: ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי האדמה BARUKH ATAH ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELEKH HAOLAM, BOREY P'REE HA'ADAMAH (Source of blessing are You, Eternal Infinite Creator, Director of the universe, Who brings forth fruit from the earth). We put some pumpkin mix on a cracker or pita and eat of it. (If we make pumpkin cookies we say the "mineh mizonot" prayer instead of "p'ree ha'adamah).

The seder leader lifts up the bowl of cooked LEEKS and says: Like as we eat this leek may our luck never lack in the year to come. We put a piece of leek on a cracker or pita and eat it. (We serve a small bowl of leek & potato soup).

The seder leader lifts up the bowl containing the cooked BEETS and says: As we bite this beet, may those who in the past have beaten us or sought our harm, beat it into hiding in the coming year. We place a slice of beet on a cracker or pita and eat it. (We mix cooked beets and beet greens with borsht).

The seder leader lifts up the plate with the cooked FISH HEAD (or head of lettuce), flaked salmon or tuna salad mix, or sushi on it and says: May it be the Will of the Infinite Eternal, the Creator Power of our ancestors, that in the coming year we will go ahead and prosper in all that we undertake. "And the Infinite Eternal will set you ahead and not behind, and you will go only upwards and not down, when you will do the good deeds that the Infinite Eternal has asked you on this day to do, and to observe." We put a bit of the fish head or the fish salad on a cracker or pita and eat it. (One may substitute SUSHI).

Now, we remove the seder items and prepare the table for the regular dinner.

TASHLIKH

On Rosh Hashanah afternoon, one goes to a body of water, a stream, a river or lake where fish and aquatic birds live and empties their pockets of bread crumbs (brought along for this purpose).

The crumbs of bread are symbolic of our "missed opportunities", our sins. We are symbolically giving these "sins" away so that we might begin this New Year afresh, cleansed and pure from all negativity.

As we throw our bread crumb sins away, we recite:

Ribbono shel Olam! Master of All Universes! Shekhina! You who are never angry, always the Source of forgiveness and love; the Inner Presence of the Divine Self;
I release these crumbs of sin-bread to the fluidity of the Universe to be eaten by the living beings within that World.
May that Negative Energy be released from possessing me, bringing into my life fear and hesitation from doing those things that my Yetzer Hatob (my inclination to do good) would have me do. I let go of my Yetzer Hara (my inclination towards doing bad things) stuff. I throw it off! (Throw some bread crumbs away).

I let go of all expressions of blame towards others and towards myself. I forgive all that All might forgive me in turn!

I release all expressions of war and hatred; all anger towards others that becomes realized in conflict, shame, humiliation and arguments.

I release my bigotries, my homophobias, my sexism, my racist beliefs, my xenophobia; whatever it is that removes me from being in relationship with others. I throw them away! (Release more bread crumbs).

May my prayers of release be heard on High. May I be able to begin this New Year with a clean slate and seek to bring unification to the human, plant, mineral and spiritual worlds that I live in. May I continually be able to view the world without seperation between that which is Spiritual and that which is Physical; which, in truth, are but two sides of the same coin. My I understand the need to carve out and create Holiness out of the Profane.

May the words of my mouth, which create my reality, and the prayers of my lips, and the yearnings of my heart be acceptable to You, my Rock and my Redeemer. AMEYN!

LEKACH (HONEY CAKE FOR ROSH HASHANA)

* 4 eggs
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup strong coffee
* 2 Tbsp oil
* 1 cup honey
* 3 1/2 cups flour
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1 tsp allspice
* 3/4 cup blanched almonds
* 3/4 cup mixed candied fruit
* 3 Tbsp brandy

Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Combine cooled coffee, oil and honey and blend into egg mixture.

Combine flour, salt, spices, baking powder and soda. Sift together. Mix with fruit and nuts.

Gradually add flour-fruit-nut mixture to the egg-sugar combination and stir well to blend, adding the brandy when the batter has been thoroughly mixed.

Grease and flour a large loaf pan or two small ones. Pour cake mixture into pans.

Bake at 325 F for 45-60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Invert pan on a cake rack until cool. Then remove carefully.

YOM KIPPUR (DAY OF ATONEMENT)

Rabbi Gershon Winkler says that Yom Kippur is about letting go of the negative ways of being in the world; about releasing our entanglements with those factors in our lives that hold us back or bring us down.

On Yom Kippur we spend the entire 25 hours fasting from food, water, sex, bathing, in order to, as Rabbi Winkler states: "let go, forget, forgive; recycle or transform the husks of your harvest so that all you are left with is the positive, the most simple and bottom-line self that you are."

"We remove the obstacles that seperate people from each other, from God, from the planet, from the fullness of self. By fasting, by abstaining from the yearnings of our physical self, we stand a better chance of reconnecting with our spiritual self and becoming whole again after having been split. No wonder the ancient Jews chose this day for singles gathering. What more opportune time to pick a mate than on a day of fasting, a day filled with personal introspection and transformation, a day when one achieved a clarity of mind that reflected concord - rather than discord - between body and spirit" (The Way of the Boundary Crosser, page 122).

The Evening of Yom Kippur's beginnings of bringing that which has become seperated back together again is aptly symbolized by the haunting melody of the Kal Nidre prayer. This prayer, actually a formula, was created by the Spanish rabbis from a much earlier prayer, to allow those Jews who had been forcibly converted, and had taken vows of allegience to the converting body and philosophy, the ability to disallow those forced vows, and to be seen as fully within the body of the Jewish Tribe. The Kal Nidre prayer was so powerful that it soon passed to every community where forcible conversions, either to Christianity or to Islam, had occured. Later, the prayer came to symbolize all vows that one makes rashly or against ones better judgement between human beings and God. The Kal Nidre prayer NEVER, EVER negated vows between people, whether one of them was a non-Jew or not.

So powerful is the experience of Yom Kippur that even the most lax and secular Jew will attend services on that day; services that are often the longest and the most boring, of the entire Jewish religious year.

For those of us who attend services regularly, and participate fully in them, the transformational experience that the entire repentance ritual that begins with the reciting of selichot prayers through the entire month of Elul; the blowing of the shofar daily, the giving of extra tzedakah and charity, the seeking to mend broken friendships and to heal old wounds, is one of the most up-lifting experiences of the yearly liturgical cycle.

HRIRI ALMOND MILK DRINK
A strengthening (& delicious) drink before the fast.

6 oz. almonds (blanched if desired)
3-4 glasses cold water
1 tsp. ground cardamom
sugar

Rub the almonds in a dry cloth, to clean. Grind fine. Turn the ground almonds into a white muslin bag or a muslin square. If using a square, hold up and twist the four corners together, to make a bag, so that none of the almonds come loose.

Pour the water into a bowl, and holding the closed bag at the top with one hand, dip it in the water, squeezing the almonds in the cloth in the water repeatedly. The almond milk runs into the water. Empty the  milky water into a pot. Open the bag, stir the almonds around, and close again. 

Repeat the above process into two more bowls of water. The almond milk will now be thinner. Pour each bowl into the same pan.  Add sugar to taste (about one or two tablespoons at the start; you can add more
to taste when boiling, if required.  

Add one teaspoon ground cardamom. Bring to a slow boil, then simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until somewhat reduced.  Cool and refrigerate. 

A refreshing and strengthening drink before the fast.

SUKKOT (TABERNACLES)

Sukkot comes four days after Yom Kippur. Sukkot is a wonderful agricultural festival symbolized by many Jewish Shamanic ceremonies. "The sukkah (harvest booth) itself symbolizes the human's ecological relationship to the earth. In ancient Israel the sukkah was constructed out of palm branches - specifically the date palm, a tree that grows near water, albeit in the desert. The fruit of this tree flourishes and ripens where other vegetation is scarce and cannot survive. Not only do the umbrella-like branches of the date palm shelter the desert traveler from the sun, but its dates are a source of high-energy food, and its husks serve as forage for camels (The Way of the Boundary Crosser, by Rabbi Gershon Winkler, page 132).

The Torah tells us about the commandment to observe SUKKOT in Leviticus 23: 39-44. In this passage it mentions a fruit called "the fruit of the most majestic tree." This fruit is revealed to us through the Oral Torah as being the CITRON or ETROG. The etrog is a lemon-like citrus fruit whose flower, the female part, remains attached to the fruit after it has ripened. Thus, it is symbolic of the first Adam of creation who was created as BOTH male and female in one being.

The second species of the Sukkot shamanic ritual is the palm branch, the LULAV, which is symbolic of the embryonic womb as the branch has yet to be birthed, but is only in potential.

The third species of the ritual is the MYRTLE twig, the HADDAS, which is capable of remaining green and fragrant long after it has been cut from its parent bush.

The fourth species of the ritual is the WILLOW, the ARAVAH, which begins to wither, dry up and its leaves begin to fall off, as soon as it has been cut from the tree, unless constantly kept moist.

During the week of Sukkot, the Jew sings glad hymns of praise and thanksgiving as each day he or she, dwells in the SUKKAH BOOTH that they have made outside their home; a booth of solid walls and a roof made of branches and poles, so as to be able to view the stars at night from the inside. Each day he or she takes the lulav-etrog-myrtle-willows together and waves it towards the Four Winds and directions, then towards the Sky and the Earth, connecting them together with him or herself and with a shamanic formula said to the Creator of all.

"In each of our lives," Rabbi Winkler informs us, "these four species of the Earth's gifts constitute powerful shamanic means of bringing together the many diverse, and often contradictory, parts of our selves, and joining them in a consciousness of connectedness. This, after all, is the primal theme of Judaic monotheism: the awareness of the interdependence or ecology of all that exists in all of the iniverses, cosmically and microcosmically. It is not about the oneness of the Creator; it is about the oneness of Creation, the acknowledgment of which is essential to realizing the oneness of God. Thus we join that which has aroma (haddas) with that which has no fragrance at all (aravah); that which is potential, embryonic (lulav), with that which is fruition, realization (etrog), that which needs connectedness and substance to stay alive (aravah) with that which does not (haddas); that which is heart, the place of the erratic and the dynamic within us (etrog), with that which is spine, the place of the static and the structural within us (lulav). Each of us is composed of the symbolic attributes of these species, and when we combine them in our grasp as a single bundle we honor the paradox and the contradiction, the very distinct and often opposite feelings, tastes, idiosyncracies, qualities, opinions, and perspectives that each of us has not only in relationship to others, but also in relationship to our selves as we continue to grow and transform" (The Way of the Boundary Crossers, pages 133-134).

POTATO KNISH

Dough:
2 cups flour
1 egg
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup warm water
3 tsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Filling:
3 potatoes, peeled
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup margarine
salt and pepper to taste

1. Blend together all dough ingredients. Roll dough out thinly.
2. Using a cup, cut dough into circles which are 2-3 inches in diameter.
3. Boil and mash the potatoes. Sauté the onions in margarine. Add mashed potatoes to the onions in the frying pan, and season with salt and pepper. Blend well.
4. Place 1 Tbsp. of the mashed potatoes in the center of each dough circle. Fold the dough circles closed and pinch the edges together.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

SHEMINI ATZERET AND SIMCHAT TORAH

On the eighth day of Sukkot, though a festival day of its own; comes the Festival of SHEMINI ATZERET, "the closing"; the closing of the Festival Season of the Seventh Month of Tishri. In Israel, Shemini Atzeret is also called SIMCHAT TORAH, the Day of Rejoicing with the Torah! In the Diaspora, we add still a ninth day to the eight of Sukkot-Shemini Atzeret, and it is Simchat Torah, the second day of Shemini Atzeret.

Shemini Atzeret-Simchat Torah is a festival that marks the turning point in the Jewish year of spiritual shamanic cyclical education, which is based upon the understanding of the interrelationship between the earth and its ecology as affected by mankind.

On Simchat Torah we hold the sacred scroll of the Torah close to our heart as we dance in seven circuts around the synagogue. Each person; male, female, adult or child (old enough to carry it without dropping it), dances with the sacred Torah while the others form dancing circles around them.

In between these dances, the Torah is unrolled and the final PARASHAH of Deuteronomy; VEZOT HABRAKHA is read; then another Torah scroll is unrolled and the first three verses of the first parashah of Genesis; BERESHIT is read. This shamanic ritual is to invest us with the understanding that the reading of the Torah, like the history of the Jewish Tribe itself, is never ending; it is continuous AND that the two are totally intertwined in a dance through the pages of time.

HANUKAH

CELEBRATING THE WORLD'S FIRST RECORDED NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE

From the 3rd century B.C.E. when Alexander the Great conquered the Middle East and North Africa, until the Roman Empire defeated the Greek Empire in the 1st century B.C.E., the Jews of Palestine fought a ideological-religious-political battle with Hellenism.

It was the contention of the Greek Philosophers that all things Greek represented CIVILIZATION and all other philosophies were to be considered BARBARISM.

Therefore, it became a Greek mandate thrust upon them by the Gods of Greece, as witnessed by their ability to conquer the other nation's holy sites and defeat their gods, to civilize the conquered peoples by causing them to accept the Greek mannerisms, ways of thought, culture, and their gods. In this way the Greeks sought to create the worlds first universalist society.

The only difficulty for the Jewish people with this idea was that the Judaism of the Torah posited a universalism based upon the acceptance of diversity of religious beliefs and Tribal customs (Deuteronomy 4: 19; Amos 9: 7).

The God of Israel was also God of all other peoples, but known by different Names and through different rituals that were forbidden for Jews to practice as they were to practice according to how God had revealed their Tribal religion to their ancestors.

Many Jews favored the Hellenization of Palestine and they accepted that the Greek gods had defeated the God of Israel.

In the 2nd century B.C.E. the Hellenist party began to wrestle the twin powers of Priesthood and Govornership away from the traditional parties, the Zadokite lineage of Aaron, for the Priesthood, and the Davidite lineage for the Royal scion. They exiled the rightful High Priest, Onias III, who fled first to Damascus and then to Egypt, where he built a Temple after the model of the Jerusalem Temple, and in which Temple he was murdered.

The government of Israel was taken over by the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV of Syria in 196 B.C.E, who then appointed his own man, Menelaus, High Priest.

The Maccabean Revolt commemorated by the Festival of Hanukah, began in the year 168 B.C.E. due to Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem. It ended in the defeat of the Syrians in about 140 B.C.E.

Hanukah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple by Judah the Maccabee on 25 Kislev 165 B.C.E. The eight candles represent each of the eight days of the festival of rededication that one days supply of sacred lamp oil lasted until fresh sacred oil could be obtained.

IDAHO POTATO LATKES

Grate 6 medium Idaho Russet potatoes into a bowl of lightly salted cold water. Drain the water off and press out the rest.

Stir into the potatoes, 1 finely chopped medium onion. Add 2 large eggs, 3 tablespoons of matza meal or regular flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in a iron skillet over medium high heat. Heat until a single drop of water dropped into oil splatters. Using a large cooking spoon (3 tablespoon size) add large spoon of potato batter to hot oil and fry until golden brown. Turn over and again fry until golden brown. Place on a brown paper bag or paper towel to sop up the excess oil.

Put the cooked latkes on a cookie sheet and into warm 200 * oven until all the mixture is fried. SERVE WITH APPLESAUCE, SOURCREAM, or JAM.

SUFGANIOT (SEPHARDI DONUTS)
A typical Hanukah sweet.

* 2 eggs, beaten
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 1-/12 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 cup flour
* orange peel, chopped fine (optional)
* 1/4 cup almonds, chopped fine
* 1/4 teaspoon orange-flower water (optional)
* oil for deep-frying
* syrup (below)

1. Mix all ingredients except the oil for deep-frying together into a firm dough. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons more flour if necessary.
2. Roll out the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round flat shape, using a small glass to cut out the donut hole.
3. Heat the oil over moderate heat until it is hot, then reduce heat to low. Add the donuts, a few at a time, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until brown on both sides. The donuts will rise to the top when done. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Syrup

* 2 cups sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
* 1/4 teaspoon orange-flower water
* 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix the sugar, lemon juice, orange-flower water and vanilla together in a pan and just cover the mixture with water. Simmer the mixture over low heat for about 45 minutes to thicken. Stir and remove the syrup from the heat. Use immediately or set aside for later use.
2. When using it to dip the donuts, continue to simmer the syrup over very low heat. With a fork dip each donut into the syrup. Remove to a colander. If the syrup becomes too thick, add 1 or 2 tablespoons warm water. Spread the donuts on a platter, and sprinkle chopped nuts on top, optional.

JEWISH RECIPES LINK (click here then scroll down)

ANCIENT HEBREW CALENDAR (based upon the Geza Calendar, c. 10th century B.C.E.)

NISAN - The Moon of Tending the Vineyards
IYYAR - The Moon of Reaping Barley
SIVVAN - The Moon of First Fruits
TAMMUZ -The Moon of Reaping Flax
AV - The Moon of First Rains/Late Planting
ELUL - The Moon of Reaping and Measuring
TISHRI - The Moon of Harvest
CHESHVAN - The Moon of Accounting
KISLEV - The Moon of Weighing Grain
TEVET - The Moon of Muddy Ground
SHEVAT - The Moon of the First Sap Flow
ADAR - The Moon of Sowing Seeds

UNDERSTANDING THE HEBREW CALENDAR and it's relationship with the solar calendar

HISTORICAL REMARKS ON THE JEWISH CALENDAR

Since Biblical times the months and years of the Jewish calendar have been established by the cycles of the moon and the sun. The traditional law prescribes that the months shall follow closely the course of the moon, from its MOLAD (birth, conjunction) to the next New Moon. Furthermore, the lunar months must always correspond to the seasons of the year, which are governed by the sun. The month of Nisan with the Passover Festival, for instance, must occure in the Spring (Abib) and the month of Tishri with the harvest festival of Succoth in the Fall (Shalekhet).

Thus, the Jewish calendar is LUNI-SOLAR. It is in contrast to (the common) civil calendar, the Gregorian, which is purely solar, and in which the months have completely lost their relationship to the moon. But it is also quite different from the Moslem calendar, an absolutely lunar system, in which every month follows the moon closely but wanders through all four seasons during the period of 33 years.

Unlike these systems, which are either altogether solar, or altogether lunar, the Jewish calendar must meet TWO requirements, both solar and lunar. This accounts for its relatively complicated structure. Since the solar year of about 365 days is approximately 11 days longer than 12 lunar months, the Jewish calendar is faced with the problem of balancing the solar with the lunar years.

In the early times of our history the solution was found by the following practical procedure: The beginnings of the months were determined by direct observation of the New Moon. Then those beginnings of the months (Rosh Chodesh) were sanctified and announced by the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, after witnesses had testified that they had seen the new cresent and after their testimony had been thoroughly examined, confirmed by calculation and duly accepted. The Jewish communities were notified of the beginning of the months (Rosh Chodesh) in earlier times by kindling of night fires on the mountain tops, and later by messengers.

A special committee of the Sanhedrin, with its president (NASI) as chairman, had the mandate to regulate and balance the solar with the lunar years. This so-called Calendar-Council (Sod Haibbur) calculated the beginnings of the seasons (Tekufoth) on the basis of astronomical figures which had been handed down as a tradition of old. Whenever, after two or three years, the annual excess od 11 days had accumulated to approximately 30 days, a thirteenth month Adar II was inserted before Nisan in order to assure that Nisan and Passover would occure in the Spring and not retrogress toward winter. However, the astronomical calculation was not the only basis for intercalation of a thirteenth month. The delay of the actual arrival of spring in ISRAEL was another decisive factor. The Talmudic sources report that the Council intercalated a year when the barley in the fields had not yet ripened, when the fruit on the trees had not grown properly, when the winter rains had not stopped, when the roads for Passover pilgrams had not dried up, and when the young pigeons (for sacrifice) had not become fledged. The Council on intercalation considered the astronomical facts together with the religious requirements of Passover and the natural conditions of the country.

This method of observation and intercalation was in use throughout the period of the second temple (516 B.C.E. - 70 C.E.), and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin. In the fourth century, however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel. In order to prevent the Jews scattered all over the surface of the earth from celebrating their New Moons, festivals and holidays at different times, he made public the system of calendar calculation which up to then had been a closely guarded secret. It had been used in the past only to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses, and to determine the beginnings of the spring season.

In accordance with this system, Hillel II formally sanctified all months in advance, and intercalated all future leap years until such time as a new, recognized Sanhedrin would be established in Israel. This is the permanent calendar according to which the New Moons and Festivals are calculated and celebrated today by the Jews all over the world. Like the former system of observation, it is based on the Luni-Solar principle. It also applies certain rules by which the astronomical facts are combined with the religious requirements into an admirable calendar system (taken from THE COMPREHENSIVE HEBREW CALENDAR, by Arthur Spier, 1986).

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