May we all be sealed, may we all be changed

2010NYCard-ShofarWishes of L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatemt to all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah.This greeting means may you be inscribed (or sealed) for a good year, or sometimes one will say, a sweet year. That is behind the symbolism of dipping apples in honey for Rosh Hashanah. Read a little more about that at this link. The apples and honey dish below can be ordered from Gans, in Jerusalem, a lovely shop. Perhaps Mark and I remain the only non-Jews who ever had a wedding registry there? I don’t know!

8706-56OK, you’re thinking, this is the blog of a Catholic, what’s with this? Well, as I like to remind everyone, Jesus was born as a Jew, lived as a Jew, died as Jew. Questions? Good – that’s what I thought, let’s move on.

Anyway, as I have mentioned numerous times before, I have some Jewish roots of my own, and my heart is moved by these holidays as well as the ones I celebrate.

RoshHashanah--JerusalemNewYear_001Rosh Hashanah, for those less familiar with it, opens the new year celebration. It is followed by the Days of Awe, and end with Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day of the year. On that day, one comes before G-d and fasts and prays, in order to make amends and start fresh.

Diane-Cameron-PasconeThat is why I was stuck by a recent column, written by my friend, Diane Cameron. Diane is an author who lives in the Albany area, and has a regular Times Union column. my life has been greatly enriched by knowing this talented and wonderful woman. On Labor Day she wrote about how it feels so much like a new year, more than January does. Go read her column, it is right here. It was very thought provoking and hit home for me. And very much in line with the Jewish new year.

Whoever you are and however you celebrate days, I wish you a sweet new year. Here’s a fun Rosh Hashanah music video, with a unique interpretation of the Daft Punk song, Get Lucky, done up Jerusalem style – Get Clairty. May we all be sealed, may we all be changed. My wishes are for days of transformation for one and all.

I Have Fixed My Eyes On Your Hills – A Meditation on Palm Sunday 2011

Palm Sunday is here and Holy Week begins. Many liturgies today will begin with a portion from Matthew’s Gospel; the I am not at home this weekend and it feels very strange to be away from my own parish community on such a day.

As I read the readings and Gospel for today, I am reminded of something very personal – the recent passing of my husband’s sister, Olga Szpylczyn. Is this too personal and far from the readings? I don’t know – it is all I can offer today. Like Jesus, Olga knew where she was headed and it was not going to be pretty. Death would not come by riding on the best horse.

Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”


Olga, who was anything but meek in life began to embrace who she was as she plied her way on the journey. She did so without fanfare or remarkably without much fear. Olga, as the very hard-working daughter of extremely hard-working immigrants was used to achievement in the classic American cultural sense of the word. If she wanted to book the limo, she could. While she would not typically do such a thing, she did know that she could because she had worked hard and achieved it. She was not arrogant, but she was clear about the relationship between work and rewards as seen in our society.

Her journey into death was not the one she imagined. Will any of our own journeys into death be what we imagine? Probably not – most of us can’t or won’t imagine them until we are forced to. That is when the game change begins.

So she rode on her beast of burden as all of us who loved her surrounded her with prayer. We wanted the limo to take her back to us. She stayed on that damn ass with her eyes on the Lord. The song in the video below reminds us “though I cannot see the end for me, I cannot turn away.” She did not turn away.

There is so much more to the Sacred Scriptures for today, but all I can think of is Olga, settled in for her ride. She met death without compromise and tumbled into the arms of God.

She journeyed to Jerusalem, as we all must do. Rest in peace dear Olga.

Four Years Ago

Four years ago right now I was on my second visit to Israel. For some reason the memories are really pulling at me. It was such an extraordinary trip.

Here are some photos.

Don’t let the name fool you… The American Colony is not some nutty, xenophobic enclave. Anything but! It is a hotel that is in East Jerusalem and it has quite a history. You can see it here, but warning – there is loud Arabic music that plays. I don’t like websites that have loud music of any sort. 

Actually, that is the hotel main page, I think you can read the history here and not hear anything or check out the “about us.” It was a great hotel and very swanky, I loved it.

A grave in the Kidron Valley.

Just another Old City Street scene.

This photo above is from The Garden Tomb. I loved it there – so peaceful.

This is the Red Sea. It would not part for me. The water was amazing. In the distance you see Jordan. The same beach stretches and the Jordanian border was only 5 km away. You may see that in a few days if I post more about this.

This was great – a tour underneath the Kotel – also known as the Western Wall.