I’m feeling very peaceful today. I went to the mikvah this morning. I was a little nervous, just because official rites of passage can be a little scary. But I knew everyone was going to be super nice and supportive (and they were!).
My grandmother once told me about her father's family, and we bonded over learning about one of our most famous ancestors, Mary, Queen of Scots. Years later, I did some genealogical research while on maternity leave to keep my mind sharp and give me something to focus on outside the realm of taking care of a newborn.
A camel carrying a load. A golden pair of balanced scales. An open heart and an open mind. These are three of more than two dozen artists' visions of justice and righteousness featured in the invitational exhibition, "Tzedek Boxes: Justice Shall You Pursue."
As Jews, we have the opportunity to celebrate the New Year not once, but several times. The Jewish year has four different New Year celebrations: Rosh HaShanah, Passover, Tu BiShvat, and Elul. Many Jews also celebrate the Gregorian New Year in January. That means we get five opportunities every year to do an accounting of our soul (cheshbon hanefesh) and make resolutions for growth and betterment.
Our tradition teaches that once someone has converted to Judaism, they are as Jewish as a Jew by birth and we are not to speak of it again with them, or with anyone else. It should be as if they have always been Jewish. To not speak of it is to fully honor the person who chose Judaism by not making any distinctions between them and the born-Jewish members of our communities.
As I stood at the top of the steps of the pool of warm water, I could feel my feet tingle with anticipation. The feeling slowly enveloped my body, moving steadily up my legs, to my core, my heart and my mind. The feeling did not agitate or annoy, it was like a blanket of calmness and serenity. I stood at the top of the steps looking down into the mikvah. I took a breath and descended slowly until I stood fully in the water.
Whether it is a lucky bracelet or a hamsa keychain amulet, superstitions believed to bring good fortune or ward off the bad are almost universal. They are the inspirations for a provocative new art exhibition: Magical Thinking: Superstitions and Other Persistent Notions.
Rabbi Leora Kaye, director of partnerships and collaboration for the Union for Reform Judaism, details the background, symbolism, and importance of the key Seder elements, from the four cups of wine to the welcoming of Elijah.