Invited Inside: Parashat Vayaq’hel-P’qudei/Shabbat Ha-Chodesh

hand_tentParashat Vayaq’hel-P’qudei/Shabbat Ha-Hodesh
Exodus 35:1-40:38

The national effort to build a sanctuary for God has concluded. The Divine Dwelling Place (mishkan) is finished and put together. Each piece of it had been meticulously and lovingly fashioned by the men and women of Israel. How they must have yearned to walk through the finished structure in its completed state! Yet, what they had once handled and manipulated they were now prevented from touching. The end result of their magnificent accomplishment was to create a space so filled with Divine energy that it made their entry into that space both legally and physically impossible. Not even Moses, God’s most intimate interlocutor, could step inside the Tabernacle: “And Moses could not enter into the Tent of Meeting because the Cloud was dwelling upon it and the Glory of the Eternally Present One was filling the mishkan.” (Ex. 40:35)
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Strong Women

March 11 women nadellMarch is a very busy month with Passover coming up shortly. However,  Women’s history month and the celebration of brave, strong, accomplished women can’t be glossed over.

Think back to the women of the Bible who led, who were warriors, who spoke up for their rights and who were often unsung.

Strong women have also been a part of Jewish fiction, often appearing as matriarchs who buoyed up their menfolk. And it’s a truism that fiction may not be “real”  but it can certainly be “true.”

Enjoy the following books for both children and adults. And, remember, if you’ve never heard of her, often a book for younger readers is an excellent way to learn about an unfamiliar person. Continue reading

Four Questions

questions.inddWhere does it say that brisket is the dish of choice on Passover? Where does it say that gefilte fish is de rigueur? Where does it day that sweet wine is a must? And where does it say that one is obligated to replicate everyday food rather than going with natural food that can be eaten anytime?

The Lampert Library’s staff (me) has researched the questions: there are no rules. Much of what’s served- other than ritual foods- is just custom and what was available or what could be adapted. Even among the ritual foods there is a lot of choice. Continue reading

Putting Seder (Order) in Our Yoga Practice

Editor’s note: Elisa gave this drash (commentary) at the yoga practice for Passover Splash on Sunday March 7, 2021

ElisaauthorsphotoUsually I don’t begin a Jewish yoga practice discussing yoga, but instead, start with a drash or commentary on the parsha or theme of the morning.

Today, I’m discussing yoga.

Decades ago when I first began practicing, I started with Ashtanga Yoga, a very precise form of yoga that is composed of six series, each of which has a set order of prescribed poses. The first series (I never made it much beyond the first, and not sure I ever really “nailed it”–more on that phrase in a moment–even at that) has about 40 poses.      Continue reading

Being Counted: Parashat Ki Tissa/Shabbat Parah



Parashat Ki Tissa/Shabbat Parah
Exodus 30:11-34:35

The Israelites are commanded to each give a half-shekel. This tax serves two purposes: it is a means of counting everyone, creating a census, and it is also the way the annual budget for the upkeep of the new Sanctuary will be met. But the Torah is not content to leave it at that. This levy is characterized in a very special way. It is called “money of atonements (kippurim).” (Ex. 30:16) This is the same word used for the Day of Atonement – Yom ha-kippurim.  The Torah demands that “each person shall give the atonement of his self/soul.” (v. 12) And a few verses later we read: “The wealthy shall not increase nor the poor decrease from half a shekel, to give the gift of the Eternal, in order to atone for your selves/souls.” (v.15)

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The Between Space: Parashat T’tzaveh/ Shushan Purim


Parashat T’tzaveh/ Shushan Purim
Exodus 27:20-30:10

The focus of this Torah portion is the investment and initiation ceremonies for the Tabernacle functionaries, the priests. Special costumes must be created for them, by master artisans who are “wise of heart, who have been filled with [the Divine] spirit of wisdom.” (Ex. 28:3) They are to take some of the gold and special fabrics and dyes and turn them into the specified articles of clothing that the priests must wear when they are serving in the sanctuary.
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It’s Cauliflower Time


Cauliflower has come into its own. It’s become the vegetable of the moment. It’s healthy, versatile, and usually available. You can rice it, dice it, roast it, puree it… and hide it.

Enjoy some of these cauliflower discoveries that are certainly not like the way my mother made cauliflower.

Here’s a cauliflower menu from appetizer through main course. I haven’t tried it in a dessert yet, but I know there must be recipes out there. And most of these are also suitable for Passover which will be here before we know it. Continue reading

The Space Between: Parashat T’rumah/Zakhor 


Parashat T’rumah/Zakhor
Exodus 25:1-27:19

A new House of Meeting, a meeting place between God and the Children of Israel, is introduced in this Torah reading. Many elements – its structural components and its furniture – are described here.

The most awesome element is the Ark of the Covenant, to be ensconced in the Holy of Holies. That ark is composed of a box, in which the Tablets of the Testimony are placed, and a covering lid. The lid is made of gold and is shaped to present the forms of two angels – cherubs – who stand facing one another, their wings outstretched over the box. And their placement thus creates an open space between them that hovers above the box. Continue reading