Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Make sure you dance on Simchat Torah

Bringing back one of RABBI MICHAEL STAVSKY's favorite posts:

Judaism is filled with joyous holidays. The Torah commands us to “be happy on your holidays” (Deuteronomy 16:14), and we fulfill this commandment by refraining from work, spending the days praying to HaShem and eating good food.

But when one thinks of the most joyous of all holidays, what comes to mind? Many might say Purim, with its many beautiful practices, such as reading the megillah and exchanging mishloach manot. But during only one nine-day holiday period do we refer to the days as Zman Simchateinu (the time of our happiness). These are the holidays of...

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What do you pay most for at Sukkot?

@WeJew picked up on this informative video from infolivetv on the "Four Species Sukkot Market" in Jerusalem. Hear about the varieties of etrogim, lulavim, and the myrtle branches; what each of the four species symbolizes, and how much people in Israel are willing to spend in certain instances. Many make it an all out (money becomes no object) celebration of the chag.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sukkah: An unusual Mitzvah

Rabbi Michael Stavsky will illustrate the meanings behind and wrapped up in the customs and practices of the Chag of Sukkot:

We’ve just completed the high holiday period known as the Yamim Noraim. We’ve spent countless hours praying, fasting and beseeching Hashem to bless us with a sweet, healthy and happy New Year. Now that it’s behind us, we are blessed with the most joyous of our holidays, Sukkot. Yet this festival (which the Torah and Talmud simply refer to as Chag, and is the only festival where we are specifically commanded to rejoice) requires us to leave the comforts of our homes and sit in a temporary hut called a sukkah. In this article, we’ll explore this most unusual of mitzvot....

Read the full article online now from The Canadian Jewish News.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ask Ella - Situational Faith

Dear Ella, This past year has been a hard one. I lost my mother, who was also my best friend, after going through a rough period with my youngest son who was diagnosed with ADHD.

My marriage has taken a big hit as well. We’re not quite separated, but we might as well be. We are living like strangers in the same house.

I’m not a religious person at all, but I found myself praying to G-d on more than one occasion, seeking help to get through this. I actually went to the synagogue near my house last week and bought myself a High Holiday ticket. Now I feel like the biggest hypocrite. I’m struggling with all kinds of emotions and feeling a bit ridiculous. Did I think it would solve all my problems?

Turning to Faith

Dear Turning to Faith

Faith is a very individual concept. There’s no right or wrong. There’s only what’s right for you as an individual. Some people are born into an observant lifestyle, and they practice their beliefs from Day 1. Others come to religion for different reasons, such as marriage, spiritual fulfillment, tradition, search for peace etc. Whatever the reason, it makes no difference. In your case, it may be the pursuit of hope. What you’ve been through is too much for you to handle on your own, so you’re searching for help. Praying is a sort of meditation. It gives you the time and permission you need to think and dig down deep into your soul for answers, for peace and for strength. You’re turning to religion to find that, as so many people do. There’s no need to question your motives.

Rosh Hashanah is an excellent time to start being introspective. It’s the “beginning,” the start of a new year, as well as new thoughts, ideas and changes. It’s a time to look back and see what we could have done differently and bring those positive changes with you into the future so that you can make a better life for you, your family and those around you.

Spirituality isn’t ridiculous. It’s a way of accessing your inner being. Don’t fight it, I think it’s a journey you won’t be sorry you took.

I would like to wish all my readers a very happy and healthy New Year. L’Shanah Tovah Tikateivu V’Taichatemu.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Shatner in top form at Toronto's Fan Expo

A delicate, magical mystical thing is a laugh according to star of stage and screen, icon William (Bill) Shatner. That's right Shmooze readers the man who made famous Captain James Tiberias Kirk, officer T.J. Hooker and most recently legendary fictional litigator Denny Crane descended upon Toronto, to the delight of many at this year's Fan Expo.

From this jovial Canadian treasure, you would never believe he considers getting a laugh to be brain-surgery. Shatner drew each belly laugh out of the crowd with ease at the Spotlight conducted by Space channel's Innerspace hosts Teddy Wilson and Ajay Frye. Vocal on all sorts of topics, we metaphorically travelled into Shatner's past along the road connecting Toronto to his childhood home in Montreal, (now labelled the Highway of Heroes) through the stories he recounted.

We then came back to present day with even more amusing anecdotes that had recently happened to him. Chief among the stories was the fiasco's that transpired at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Gretzky's delay in lighting the Olympic torch at the opening ceremonies and what preceded his ascent to the closing ceremony stage.

Shatner's comedic timing and delivery has been well recognized over the last ten years thanks to his brilliant portrayal as staunch conservative Republican and founding partner of Crane, Poole and Schmidt, Denny Crane on ABC's Boston Legal. In 2004 Shatner won an Emmy for the role David E. Kelly first introduced on "The Practice", before he spun off the characters of Denny Crane and James Spader's Alan Shore, to the all new Boston Legal spinoff . In 2005 Shatner won the Golden Globe and yet another Prime Time Emmy for the much loved Crane. He was subsequently nominated each year on from 2006 until the end of Boston Legal's run in 2009

Here he talks about what it was like bringing part of himself to the role and the freedom playing Denny Crane bestowed upon him.

With four projects currently on the go he is anything but slowing down. Shatner returns to situation comedy this fall on CBS's $#*! My Dad Says, in Shatner's Raw Nerve on the Bio channel, hosting "William Shatner's Weird or What" and in his behind the scenes series "Aftermath with William Shatner".