Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Bar / Bat Mitzvah in Israel?

July 18, 2007

Destination Weddings and Now…

Many people have heard of destination weddings. Now, imagine a destination Bar / Bat Mitzvah!

St. Thomas Synogogue

( source: OnePaper)

Some are even going as far as having a religious service in the Caribbean in the famed St. Thomas Synagogue. It’s a beautiful looking place, but allow me to introduce Israel as the best place for your milestone life-cycle celebration!

Many people come to Israel to have their Bar / Bat Mitzvah at the Western Wall: Western Wall

What is a Bar / Bat Mitzvah?

For those of you that don’t already know, here is the different between a Bar and Bat Mitzvah:

A boy attains his religious maturity and becomes responsible to fulfill all Torah commandments at the age of 13. A girl becomes equally responsible one full year earlier, at the age of 12, corresponding to her earlier maturation.


Tips for After a Bar / Bat Mitzvah

Here are some ways for the new Bar / Bat Mitzvah to “give back” to the community:

1. Participate in a charitable project.

We are very much concerned that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process reflects the ethical and communal responsibility incumbent on a Jewish adult. To this end, we require each Bar/Bat Mitzvah student to design and complete a Tzedakah project during the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year. The Rabbi will discuss this project with the student at the initial meeting one year in advance of the ceremony and at intervals over the course of the year.

(Source: Beth Shalom of San Francisco)

2. Reject materialism

Sources such as the Washington Post have described how elaborate and expensive a Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration can be here in the States. A trip to Israel for this major family event for some families could actually be scaling down the trip!

3. Continue to participate. The religious journey of a Jew doesn’t end at Bar / Bat Mitzvah age! In fact, it should serve as a springboard to further mitzvot (religious observance).

Here’s a great brief video of a Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall:


Synagogue rejected and the lights went out

July 4, 2007

and then the lights went out

Chabad of Canarsie, located in Brooklyn, New York, was about to get voted out of their proposed new facility. Then, just moments before the greater community board had a chance to vote no (a unanimous NO, as it turns out), the lights went out. This did not stop the board from advising the zoning committee against granting a variance permitting the erection of a new synagogue near the existing 2 synagogues already present.

Rabbi Yehudah Friedman, rabbi of the Canarsie Chabad House was understandably disappointed with the ruling, saying that it would be better to have all of the synagogues on one block. A yes vote would have advised the zoning committee to permit the construction.

(photo and article source: Courier-Life Publications)

Here is a picture of the proposed Chabad House:

Proposed Chabad House at Mill Basin

(photo source:

I’m a native New Yorker, and considering that Chabad of Canarsie purchased the property outright in 2004, this vote is absolutely absurd. This new style and architecture clearly shows a concern for the existing look of the neighborhood.

Free dating site in Israel

June 15, 2007

Came across an interesting Jewish dating site today. Its nothing new to have Jewish dating online: JDate and many other small sites have been around for years.

The new one on the scene that I’m talking about is

Dosi Date

What is interesting about them is that they are in Israel and market to the Orthodox crowd only. Frumster used to be set up as Orthodox only too. has already matched up 200 shidduchim – way to go!

happily married Jewish couple

Our special shabbos guests

June 10, 2007

We were happy to host our 2 special shabbos guests from Israel this past Friday night.  One was from Pardas Chanah, the other right outside Tel Aviv.

What’s even better is that one was quite a professional baal koreh but was Yemenite.  I had never heard anything like this before, it was truly awesome.

Hearing them both sing made me really want to go to Israel soon. G-d willing, I will be over there soon.

I don’t feel like blogging today

June 6, 2007

Our baby died on this day 5 years ago. 😦

I’m still speechless.

Back on track: a break from the holidays

June 5, 2007

First it was Passover.  Then Counting the Omer.  Then Shavous.  Then Memorial Day.

It feels like it has been a marathon of holidays…not enough time in the week to get everything done that I need to.  Then its Shabbos.

Believe me, not that I mind it.  Its a fantastic time of year to get in touch with one’s spiritual side.  But it certainly does lay the pressure on.

But from here on in (at least, until Tisha B’Av), it looks like things are back to normal.  For now.

I’m an Orthodox Jew, my brother-in-law is a Fundamentalist Christian – Shawarma brought us together

June 3, 2007

So back when I lived in an ultra-Orthodox suburb of New York City, my brother-in-law, a devout Fundamentalist Christian from upstate New York came to live with us. As you could imagine, these are two very different backgrounds. Even so, they aren’t as different as you might think. No group is so closely politically aligned as Fundamentalists, and they have a love of Israel as the Orthodox as well.

My brother-in-law was just finishing college at the time when I started chatting with him about working for my technology team as a designer. We started chatting about it on a Tuesday – by Thursday his bags were packed and he was at my front door!

As he was more used to the pace that upstate New York allows, he found a whole world of difference at this fast paced startup. We were both pretty well stressed out, and needed to unwind from time to time, playing ping pong or whatever time would allow. Good times…

So, what really brought us together the most? Shawarma.

(Yes, I’m still ranting about Shawarma, touted the Middle East’s version of the taco a whole day after the last post.) There was an outstanding place near our house that served the best shawarma in town, with very generous portions. In fact, there was actually a point that he said that he was going to convert just that he could eat it every day! I told him that he could eat it anyway and that probably wouldn’t go very far with his parents 🙂

Alas, he’s moved on. But I’ll save him some shawarma for his next visit.

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