Author Archives: ginahagler

Torah Exploration – Va-Yetse’

This Torah portion, Va-Yetse’ [Genesis 28.10 – 28.22] is one that I find intriguing. I hope you will, too. Take some time to consider what you would do differently if you knew the Lord was present in a place. Then ask yourself why you don’t do that any way.

10Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran. 11He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. 13And the Lord was standing beside him and He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. 14Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. 15Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is present in this place, and I did not know it!”17Shaken, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.” 18Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19He named that site Bethel; but previously the name of the city had been Luz.

20Jacob then made a vow, saying, “If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21and if I return safe to my father’s house—the Lord shall be my God. 22And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, shall be God’s abode; and of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You.”

SOURCE: JPS Tagged Tanakh

Shabbat 04/06/13

Shabbat Candles

Passover is nearly over. The matzoh balls were what they were. My kids are used to it. It’s sort of the family joke. Why? Because I’m a fairly competent cook – except for when I’m not.

Spring break is over for my oldest and winding down for the youngest two. The house will be quiet with them both in school all day again. Still, the routine makes me appreciate the moments of special time we create and fit into the cracks between school, homework, work, and sleep.

For Shabbat this evening we’ll talk about the Book of Job. I’m interested to hear what my kids have to say on the subject. I’m usually amazed at what they bring to the table. If that’s a no-go, we’ll discuss the Torah portion for this week or use the guide from Family Shabbat Torah Talk. Either way we’ll have some quiet family time.

Shabbat Shalom!

Related Posts:
Keeping Shabbat

Job as Everyman

If it’s possible to have a favorite Biblical entity, mine is definitely Job. To me, Job is a particularly virtuous Everyman. He is living his life, loving G’d, and just a generally happy guy. Next thing he knows, the G’d he loves and trusts enters into a wager with none other than Satan. The wager? That even when Satan torments Job, Job will not renounce the L’rd. Continue reading

Function of Religion: Analysis

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion. Wait! There’s more!

Shabbat 03/23/13

Shabbat Candles

Passover is nearly here. I’m deep into my annual matzoh ball dread. No matter what I do, my matzoh balls are heavy as lead. I have these dreams of puffy clouds floating on the surface of my marvelous broth. I have the reality of matzoh balls that sink like rocks. I’m begging you. If you have some matzoh ball tips, please share with the rest of us – or at the very least with me!

For Shabbat this evening we’ll finalize our plans for our family seder. I want to make it special this year. The kids are all definitely old enough to have an opinion and lend a hand. I think it could be fun. I have a book, Jewish Holiday Style, to get us started. After that, I’m sure the kids will have some great ideas of their own.

Shabbat Shalom!

Related Posts:
Keeping Shabbat

Welcoming Interfaith Families

Napkin 2 03-19-13 5.58.53 PM

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is hosting an afternoon dedicated to exploring ways in which the Jewish community can be an inviting place for interfaith couples and families. The event will include a variety of perspectives, news of initiatives at the local and national level, and a play about interfaith couples. Dr. Erica Brown, Scholar-in-Residence at the Federation, will lead a conversation on what the Jewish community can do to welcome interfaith families. Continue reading

The Orange on the Seder Plate

So. I learned something new at the women’s seder. I learned that there is now an orange on many seder plates around the world. Why an orange? It’s sort of complicated but here’s the link to The Background to the Background of the Orange on the Seder Plate and a Ritual of Inclusion by Deborah Eisehnbach-Budner and Alex Borns-Weil. In case the whole Megillah is not for you at the moment, I offer the Cliff Notes version here:

Our story begins… “In 1984, a group of eight young feminists at Oberlin College created “A Women’s Haggadah.”” There were 200 women at the seder and they wanted to use language that included the voices of the women who had come before them in Judaism. Part of the inclusion they sought was inclusion for lesbians and gays.  Continue reading

Thin Skin and Interfaith Marriage

Sad_sThin skin and interfaith marriage do not make for a healthy combination. I know this because when I was first married, and then again when I was first converted, I’m pretty sure I was the Princess and the Pea of anything to do with interfaith life. I also know, given my personal history, I came by this honestly. But really. That wasn’t who I wanted to be. I’ve worked hard to appreciate that the things that seem insensitive to me are often parts of a religion that does not actively seek converts, working to find a way to integrate people from a variety of backgrounds into their religious life. At this point, I get it that it’s not easy on either side. Continue reading