Check out this Haggadah I made for couples.

I made this Haggadah to highlight lessons from the Passover seder that can create thoughtful conversation about personal growth as well as growth in a relationship.


Passover Haggadah for Honeymoon Israel

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Washington Post: To wear, or not to wear? French Jews wrestle with the yarmulke amid growing fears

By Elizabeth Bryant | Religion News Service January 13 at 3:59 PM
PARIS — Claude Chiche doesn’t wear a skullcap, but he has strong opinions about them.

“There are some here want to take off their kippah because they’re afraid,” said Tunisian-born Chiche, referring to the Hebrew word for yarmulke or skullcap. “But they shouldn’t accept this; they shouldn’t give in to fear.”

Chiche’s comments, spoken in a Paris neighborhood that is home to many Orthodox Jews, add to a growing debate among France’s half-a-million-strong Jewish community after a skullcap-wearing Jewish schoolteacher in Marseille was attacked Monday (Jan. 11) by a Kurdish teenager claiming allegiance to the Islamic State.

After the attack, the head of Marseille’s Israelite Consistory, Zvi Ammar, suggested Jewish men and boys should stop wearing the skullcap “until better days.”

“As soon as we are identified as Jewish, we can be assaulted and even risk death,” he added.

Coming just after the one-year anniversary of January’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 17 people — including four Jews — the latest aggression has intensified fears among Jews of more violence to come.

Already thousands have left the country in recent years — with a large number heading to Israel.

Still, top Jewish leaders are urging male faithful to remain true to their religious identity and to keep their skullcaps on.

“We should not give an inch,” said France’s chief rabbi, Haim Korsia.

Roger Cukierman, head of the national Jewish umbrella association CRIF, agreed, saying that removing the kippah in public amounted to a “defeatist attitude.”

Sociologist Martine Cohen of the Paris-based CNRS research institute said many French Jews today battle conflicting sentiments. They want to live their faith openly, but at the same time they fear reprisals for doing so.

“Many French Jews feel completely integrated in France,” she said, “even as they are more vigilant than ever against anti-Semitism.”

Israel Nessim, who stood outside a small synagogue in northeastern Paris, briefly removed his bowler hat to show his kippah underneath.

“As Jews, we have obligations towards our religion,” he said. “We have to stick to our traditions. Even if we don’t wear one, we’ll always be attacked,” Nessim added. “We’ll always be recognized as Jews.”

Wearing a kippah or yarmulke is seen as obligatory among Orthodox Jewish men and boys, especially when studying Torah or entering a synagogue.

France is not the only country where the skullcap has become a lightning rod. In neighboring Germany last year, Jewish leader Joseph Schuster advised Jewish men to forgo the kippah in areas with high Muslim populations, over fears of anti-Semitism.

Separately on Tuesday (Jan. 12), a French Jewish politician was found dead in his home outside Paris, in what reports suggest appears to be a homicide.

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Coloring isn’t a Jewish issue but creativity, relaxation, and decreasing negative thoughts definitely are Jewish thoughts.

Coloring isn’t a Jewish issue but creativity, relaxation, and decreasing negative thoughts definitely are Jewish thoughts.
This aritcle from Higher Perspective shares 7 benefits.

1. You improve your concentration.

We live in a hectic world these days. Our concentration is often incredibly split between work, home, electronics, and other stimuli. When you sit down and focus on one thing, like coloring, it improves your ability to focus elsewhere.

2. You unleash your inner creativity.

Coloring inside or outside the lines does wonders to unleash your inner creativity. Adults who color are more likely to approach problems more creatively and find better solutions.

3. Your brain treats it like meditation.

When you color, the same things happen inside of your brain as when you meditate.

4. You can chill out anywhere any time.

Bored on a plane? Color. Feeling stressed at work? Color (on your break). Nothing to do at home? Color. It’s awesome. You can do it wherever.

5. You improve your motor skills.

All that coloring inside of the lines improves hand-eye coordination and your overall motor skills.

6. You release negative thoughts.

It’s like with meditation. When you color, you focus on what you’re doing and you just sort of naturally release a lot of tension and negative thinking.

7. You’ll decrease your anxiety and stress.

Coloring is the ultimate anxiety and stress relief. Spending a half hour coloring does wonders.

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Why are rabbis encouraging family estrangement and why are parents listening?

Having personally witnessed this, my feeling is that it never helps and always damages.

A great piece by Sharon Shapiro.

One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. This seems to be the philosophy behind why some rabbis advise parents to kick out a deviant child, cutting off all contact, except for the most delicate thread of connection that might inspire them to return to the right path.

The child parent bond is the most primal form of relationship. I never fully understood the innate connection between parent and child until I became a parent myself. Yes, as the child of parents, I felt a love and dependence upon my mother and father. However, it wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I felt the immediate magnetic bond, that “mamma bear mode” protective instinct, that I knew that my babies will always be my babies even when I have to crane my neck to look them in the eye.

Therefore, I can’t imagine coming to a bump in the road with my teenage or adult children, where I would seek rabbinic counsel and be told that the only solution is to cut off my child so that they don’t taint the rest of my kids. I can’t imagine this because I don’t believe that the rabbinic counselors I would choose would offer this advice. However, I also can’t imagine, no matter how great my respect for the rabbinic authority offering this counsel, placing my reverence for that person over my love and responsibility for my child. I personally don’t believe a good rabbi would ever force a parent to make such a choice.

Some of us seeking the advice of our rabbis concerning a family crisis, know that the choice to follow that advice is still ultimately left to our own discretion. However, in some communities, the rabbi’s counsel is never simply advice, but a mandate. Going against the decision of the rav is akin to breaking a commandment. In those communities, rabbis have a tremendous responsibility to their followers. Their word is irrefutable, and as such, they have the power to hold families together or tear them apart.

I often wonder, when I hear stories about parents who shun their children because – they no longer want to be religious, they come out as having a same sex preference, they identify as a different gender than their God given biology conferred upon them, or any other number of other revelations that are incompatible with the path laid before them by the Torah, the rebbe, the parents, and the community – how could they abandon their child?

Maybe in my heart I can understand. Their child must be the sacrificial lamb. Perhaps they can justify their actions by feeling that they made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of the whole family unit. This child will reflect poorly upon the entire family. Their younger children will be ostracized at school and their older children won’t get good shidduchim. They themselves will be viewed by their neighbors with suspicion as having failed as parents and possibly inspiring the devious ways of the wayward child.

How many times have I heard people clucking about families who have kids who went off the derech – “I always knew this would happen. When the kids were younger the parents would always say negative things about the rabbaim. They would complain about the teachers and criticize their shul rabbi in front of the children. It has an impact. You always want to speak positively about religious figures in front of your kids. Now, not one of their kids is frum!”?

It’s the parent’s fault. They didn’t have the proper respect for rabbinic authority and that’s why their kids are no longer religious. By shunning the errant children, the parents show their allegiance to authority, both by respecting the rav’s psak and by making the ultimate sacrifice of their children.

The parents see their actions as selfless, while outsiders see it as selfish. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. However, the one thing that remains is the broken child, who not only is embarking upon a new and sometimes frightening path outside of the only world they’ve ever known, but embarking upon that journey without the support of their family. More than that, the child embarks upon their journey knowing that their family harbors hope and confidence in their failure, which they pray will send their wayward offspring back home with their tail between their legs.

What parents don’t grasp is that the chance of failure is very high when your entire support system vanishes in rubble. Without their love, their child has little chance of a happy existence no matter how successful they are in their educational or career goals. What parents need to understand is that sometimes failing in the outside world doesn’t result in a return to the home, but a return to their maker. The ultimate price could be life of their child.

Parents don’t understand the real gamble they are taking by shunning a child. They aren’t merely risking their child being lured into a secular existence versus returning to the orthodox enclave, they are risking their child’s emotional and mental well-being, and ultimately their lives. The parents might not understand the high stakes they are playing with, the question is, do the rabbis advising them to cut off their children understand that risk?

Killing off non-believers and non-conformists is a heck of a lot easier than bearing the burden of having them in our midst. You don’t even have the pull the trigger, give them enough time, they’ll do it themselves. Assisted suicide.

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9 months after the Gaza War, a baby boom hits Israel. Experts disagree if it’s from soldiers returning from war or from people being forced to spend time together during missile attacks.

Interesting article from The Forward.
When Jessica Zimet gave birth to her daughter Aviah in April, the Tel Aviv hospital was so crowded, she said, that she was rushed out of the delivery room to make space for the next expectant mother.

Born nine months after the start of Operation Protective Edge, Aviah was part of what some are calling a post-war baby boom in Israel.

“The stress of the fight means more deliveries after the war,” said Avivit Karni, head midwife at Kaplan Medical Center, in Rehovot.

The Israeli Ministry of Health has yet to compile data on birthrates over the past few months. But according to anecdotal reports, some Israeli delivery rooms were working overtime in April, May and June. At Kaplan, Karni’s staff facilitated 100 additional births per month (around 650 versus the typical 550).

Karni suspected that many of the births at her hospital were to couples that conceived when the husband was home from reserve duty during the war.

Soldiers returning home had “missed their wives,” Karni said.

But Leanne Kaye, a consultant who helps new immigrants and others navigate the Israeli birth system, had a different explanation for the baby boom: boredom. As Hamas fired rockets — many of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system — on major Israeli cities, Tel Aviv’s famously active nightlife ground to a halt. Stuck indoors, bored Israelis got busy.

“People’s lives slowed down to the point where they just stayed at home,” Kaye said. “Those trips to the beach during the day or the evening weren’t happening for quite a chunk of the summer.”

Nine months later, Kaye said, many of her clients encountered manic delivery room scenarios.

“You arrive at the labor ward, and every ward is full. Someone leaves a room, and you go in that room. It was a proper conveyor belt,” she said.

Calls to other maternity wards yielded mixed information on just how widespread the uptick in births was nine months after last year’s war. Some reported no increase, while others echoed the experience at Kaplan Medical Center.

But to the extent that there was a postwar “boomlet,” it would certainly not be Israel’s first. According to Karni, Kaplan’s delivery room saw similar upticks in births after Israel’s previous two operations in Gaza: Operation Cast Lead in 2008–2009 and Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. There was also a baby boom nine months after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah was fought on the Lebanese border. And Israel had prolonged periods of increased birth rates after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1967 Six Day War.

Zimet, who works in marketing, conceived with her husband shortly after the first warning sirens sounded in Tel Aviv, at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge. She said she’d wanted a child but had been adamant about waiting.

“I didn’t want to get pregnant during the war, because I thought it would be stressful and bad for the pregnancy,” she said.

By the time Zimet learned that she was carrying a daughter, the war had already ended.

“I think if I had known I was pregnant, it would have been a lot more stressful,” she said.

Sandy Heffez Milrad conceived a few months before the war began, but her 6-month-old son is in a sense part of the baby boom. That’s because his name is Eitan, a popular Israeli name that means “powerful” or “strong.” In Hebrew, Operation Protective Edge was called Mivtza Tzuk Eitan, or Operation Strong Cliff.

When Milrad registered her son with the Ministry of Interior after his birth, she learned from officials that many parents had chosen the name Eitan precisely because of their wartime pregnancies. This phenomenon is not unique to Israel’s most recent war. A popular name for Israeli women born in the mid-’70s is Maya, an acronym of Milhemet Yom HaKippurim, the Yom Kippur War.

But Milrad said that she and her husband had picked out the name Eitan long before last summer’s Gaza operation. She bristles at the notion that she named her son after the war, which she believes Israel lost.

“For me, it is a memorial of dead soldiers,” she said.

She is resigned to the fact that her son will be one of many Eitans when he begins attending school in a few years: “It is going to be Eitan A, Eitan B and Eitan C.”

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at z or on Twitter, @naomizeveloff

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