Monday, November 9, 2020

Shades of Grey

From Rabbi Larry Bach...
Parents know the difference between divvying up the last piece of cake and apportioning their love. The former requires children to compromise their desires in the face of scarce resources; the latter requires no such compromise, since there is plenty of love to go around.

In Parashat Toldot, the twins Jacob and Esau struggle to obtain material wealth through the birthright and spiritual wellbeing through the parental blessing. Through guile and deception, Jacob gains both, though the conventions of the time entitle him to neither. He purchases the birthright for a bowl of lentil soup, and acquires the blessing of the firstborn by taking advantage of his father's blindness.

A straightforward reading of the biblical text leads the reader to see Jacob as trickster and Esau as innocent victim. Esau's anguished cry, "Have you but one blessing, father?" (Gen 27:38) might well arouse pity in our hearts, but for the fact that we have been taught that Esau deserved to be supplanted by his younger brother.

Jewish tradition goes to great lengths to paint Jacob as the hero and Esau as the villain, stretching the plain meaning of the story through inventive midrashim. This "spin-doctoring" is already evident in the haftarah the Rabbis paired with Toldot, from the Book of Malachi. As an example of God's love for Israel, Malachi prophesizes that God loved Jacob and rejected Esau (Mal 1:2-3), portrayed here as the ancestor of the warlike Edomites, who are "damned forever of the Lord" (v. 4).
The Rabbis took the exegesis a step further by identifying Edom with Rome. With Rome's adoption of Christianity as the religion of the Empire, the transformation of Esau into a symbol of Christianity was complete. A persecuted minority within Christendom, the Jews were able to see their persecutors through the lens of the midrash and take comfort in the promise of ultimate victory (An excellent catalogue of this transformation is found in James Kugel's Bible as it Was, pp. 199-214).

Many Jews are aware of the anti-Jewish passages in the Christian Bible, and we expect well-meaning Christian teachers to place them in a historical context and expound upon them in ways that foster appreciation for Judaism rather than contempt. The last 40 years have seen a great deal of progress in this arena. Increasingly, the teaching of supersessionism (the doctrine that Christianity renders Judaism obsolete) is being replaced by an appreciation of the ongoing Jewish relationship with the Eternal One. We are rightly concerned by those who would undo those efforts.

The history of Jewish interpretation of Jacob and Esau shows that polemical portraits of the Other are found not only in the Christian Bible. What we expect of well-meaning Christians we must demand of ourselves as well. We don't need to erase the midrashim that transform Esau into villain and Jacob into saint, but we do need to understand where they come from and why they first appeared. That understanding can form the basis of a new appreciation for our Christian brothers and sisters – one that does not compromise our beliefs and practices, yet honors their path to God.

More and more, Jews and Christians recognize that God's favor has little to do with the last piece of cake, and much to do with love and blessing. There is plenty for all, and we need not take from our brother to lift ourselves up in God's eyes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A promsie

It has been far too long since I published a post.  I admit that life has gotten away with me. 
I went back to the blog today because I was looking for a tallit and who else had found such amazing pieces of art but ME!  I want a tallit to wear at my son's bar mitzvah which is but a few weeks away (Shabbat Vayeshev). 
My promise to you dear readers that after the bar mitzvah I will come back to blogging.  Not daily and likely not weekly, but I will come back to this.
Best to you all and wish me luck as I find the perfect tallit!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Do you Zentangle?

I love the word zentangle.  I just like how it rolls off the tongue.  My understanding is the creators of zentangles think of it as doodling a a meditation.  When I tried it, I was thinking too hard and the meditation was lost on me. 
Veronique Cheney is a French born artist living in the USA who has taken to zentangles as well as other two dimensional art.  Here is her SHIN zentangle. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A little bit of spice, is nice.

I love antiques and vintage pieces. I enjoy them more when they are someone else's cast-off's and I am the one who finds them beautiful and worthy of living with me in my home.
Someone understands the worth of this silver besamim or spice box from Russia... About 150 years old, it appears modern. You can own this piece if you go to Douglas Rosin's antique shop in Chicago.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Waste not

As I get older (nearer 50 these days than 40), I find myself looking for new challenges, as well as new ways to multitask. Sitting to watch a movie is a waste of time. Watching a movie AND needlepointing is NOT a waste of time. I have not needlepointed in YEARS but recently got the bug. I think it is because I want to make my son's tallit bag for his November 2013 bar mitzvah. So now I have a new JJ blog goal- find a gorgeous canvas for him. Here is one from Bracha Lavee, whose art enhances many synagogues through the world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What does their future hold for them?

As many of you know, as liberal Jew, I get very frustrated with the right's dictating who is a Jew and who is not a Jew. This is going on again in China, where a community 100s of years old is fighting for its identity. Take a minute to read about what is happening to these people whose roots date back about a thousand years.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Repairing/recycling the world

Any reader faithful to this blog (disappointed as s/he may be with recent lack of posts) will know that I am extremely interested in the reuse of objects to create Judaica. Despite the economic downturn here in the United States, we remain an extremely materialistic society, quick to dispose of things which may still be of use to someone else. For this reason, I cannot help but feature the art of these alchemists who turn one person's junk into a Judaic treasure!

The menorah above is the creation of French Canadian artist Jacques Rivard and is made from recycled glass.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

לשון הרע Lashon Hara- Not here, baby!

The sin of idle gossip... it is considered to be serious sin. The harm done by speech is believed to be worse than the harm done by stealing or by cheating someone financially, because amends can be made for monetary harms, but the harm done by speech can never be repaired.
I bring it up only because in this world where people's dirty laundry is aired everywhere I think it is appropriate to sing someone's praises. That is what this blog is about. It is a place where we can see the beauty of someone's work and someone's attempts to make the world an even lovelier place.

Cheryl Lynch is a quilter- one who has combined her Judaism with her artistry. They are made from silk dupioni and each of them tells a story. The beauty of using silk is that it glistens under the lights illuminating the ark. Her work with these Torah covers are a story I want to share.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Longest day of the year

Today is the Summer Solstice... that does not mean much for many of us, but we can rejoice in all the hours of sunshine which are streaming down at us. I have been horribly neglectful with respect to the blog and I apoligize for my absence.

I am in a wedding mood, perhaps because I will be attending some nuptials this weekend. I found this extremely lovely chuppah on The fiber artist is from Croatia.

Did you know there have been Jews in Croatia since the third century? Prior to the Shoah, they numbered 20 thousand or more, but since the close of the second World War there numbers shrank to an eighth of that. Today there may be less than a thousand Jews in Croatia, the majority are from Zagreb.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This week on ebay... a beautiful Huppah for your wedding.

This Huppah, by the late artist Kopel Gurwin is up for sale on ebay... So for anyone of you with a spare $4000...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beauty of Creation

I "discovered" a new artist (actually two) today- RITUAL THREADS. It is an exciting artistic venture featuring the fabulous talents of Leah Sosewitz, a Ketubah and paper-cut artist, and Marsha Kasanov, a fabric artist. I know that coveting is one of the no-no's in the top 10 but I can't help myself in the case of this tallit.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ebay rocks... so does Elijah!

This weeks treasures on Ebay include this Elijah's cup. It is listed as a Chalice for someone who likes to collect such things. Me? At $14.99 I think it is just wating for a place on someone's seder table.

And these half dozen kiddush cups come from Temple Sinai in New Orleans . They are not very old (about 20 years or so) but they deserve a home just like any other kiddush cup! They are asking $99 at the moment.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wandering through Ebay...More Judaica needs a home

I am continuing to find more and more items which are in desperate need of a good home.This is such a great way for someone to start or continue a collection... and not spend too much money.

Item number one- Jewish Glass Serving Platter Plate Tray Star Hebrew What is it really? It is a crystal Seder plate. In the picture, you will note that it has been photographed upside down.

And the second item is this VINTAGE HEBREW WINE GOBLET/CHALICE . You and I know full well it is a Kiddush cup.I like the rather primitive font that is used on the cup...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Found in cyberspace

Actually, the artist Geoff Smith is in Toronto, Canada but I found him this morning while I was perusing google. I was specifically looking for siddur covers (which Geoff designs) but some of his other work is what stopped me in my search. I contacted Geoff's company and quickly heard back from them (thank you Carole). I learned that Geoff paints each and every canvas himself and that all canvases can be personalized. Geoff is more of a 20th century man and prefers the telephone to email so you can call him to discuss a customized design.
Here are a pair of canvases that I think are really wonderful.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Put your yad in my yad!

This is such a lovely, such a feminine yad.
This would be a beautiful present for any girl (or woman)
celebrating her bat mitzvah.
From the shop of BJ Crytsal Gifts on etsy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just another Ebay Monday!!!

I warned my readers that I would not share ALL my finds with them. Here is something I bid on- and won- last week. I wish I could tell you how exactly I happened upon it. Iam not really sure. The listing was entitled: Souveneir Decorative Throw Pillow- Israel. I looked at the photograph closely and determined this was NOT a pillow, but it was an embroidered matzah cover! I hate to tell you what I bid on it... you would be angry at me.
Don't forget the wonderful stained glass Magen David window I showed you last week. Bidding on that ends in about 12 hours.

On our right is an inexpensive bit of modern Jewish history. Five different cloth calendars. I certainly remember these hanging around my home while growing up. Maybe you want a touch of nostalgia for your home.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

And all of it's supporters are Happy!

Chag Sameach once again. It is hard to believe that another year has passed and we are about to begin to read the torah again. While we are not turning the pages, it is a routine. I love rituals. There is something so refreshing and calming about knowing how something will turn out. And even though I know that G'd will not Abraham sacrafice his son or that Moses will once again climb up the mountain to receive the ten commandments the stories are command my attention. What is your favorite Torah story?

Today's art is from Israeli Artist

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Something new: Jewish Ebay Day!!!

I have been inspired to add something to JJ... a best of Jewish ebay. I will try to do a weekly posting of Judaica for sale on ebay. Not just any piece but something special and different, something that deserves a home with one of my readers. I will confess...if I am bidding on it I won't post it until after it is over (I don't need any undue competition). Please let me know what you think of htis addition to Judaica Journal!

Don't start salivating, but this sold today.
Isn't it precious? I can so imagine someone's bubbe wearing this as she serves Shabbat dinner to her family.

And how about a table cloth of the Seven Species. I wish I had found this prior to Sukkot.

These lovely rosewood rimmonim are well outside
my wallet's abilities but perhaps one of you have
a collection that wants to grow.
These are sephardic in origin, complete with
Ladino inscription.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pomegranates, Pointers and Torah- OH MY!

While my mother taught me it was impolite to point, I think if this were in my hand (and I was reading Torah) she would forgive me!

From the hands of Vladamir and Helena- formerly of Russia, now of New Jersey- a line of lovely Judaica in enamel!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting a clean start

The High Holidays are all about getting a clean start... asking G'd and those we hurt for forgiveness and then promising to do better in the future.
Looking for a small gift for your hostess during the holidays? How about some soap- especially handmade apple or honey soap?

How about some Goat's Milk and Honey soap from Lake House Soap Works in Wisconsin?
Or some Apple Spice Soap from Batty's bath...

Monday, September 6, 2010

So sweet

In the USA today, is Labor Day, the day when we honor those who have built this country with their hands, hearts and minds.

Let's enjoy the fruits of April Grunspan's labors! This wonderful ceramic apple and honey dish.

This one may no longer be available, but she has a stunning red one on her etsy site right now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A light unto the people...

I have been looking at vintge lamps for my bedroom... trying to find something I like, that is not expensive... you know the drill. That got me thinking about the Shabbat Lamp that I was left my paternal grandmother... A piece of her, a piece of history. I don't have a picture of that one, but here is one that is nearly identical. I saw several lovely lamps (although I think they all had been electrified) at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in Utica, MS.

Shabbat Shalom!!!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Akedah from the eyes of an Artist.

Abstract art is one of those areas where three Jews can have four opinions. There are times that the paint on the canvas was haphazardly placed and other times when it is obvious that there is much symbolic value in the placement of line and color. I like to see what artists' do with a common theme- in this case the binding of Isaac.

Marlen Burns is a classically trained artist who has been inspired by the words of Genesis: This image is an expression of the High Holy Day Torah portion that is chanted, telling the story of the binding of Isaac ( the Akedah.)
The Akedah was the tenth and final trial that G-d presented to Abraham. The first trials are shown as imperfect orbs, with the red orb representing the Akedah.
The column of black that runs through the center represents the moment of silence between the two words when the angels call out " Avraham...Avraham!"
During this moment, Abraham transitioned from having blind faith in G-d, to having perfect faith....from lack of understanding of G-d's will and request, to understanding.
The contrast of mind set is represented by the opposing sides of the black column...the left side is filled with trials; the right side shows perfect faith, as shown by the silver, perfectly round orb. The twisted lines of the ram's horn, the shofar, leads the viewer to this image of perfect faith as it refers the sacrifice used instead of Isaac.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Make it a happy day for him...

Gilad Shalit has been held captive by Hamas for four long years. For more than 1,500 days, he has been denied visits by the Red Cross and cut off from all contact with his family. Tell Gilad he is not alone as he marks his 24th birthday on August 28th and his fifth Rosh Hashanah in captivity. Send him a card for his birthday and/or the Jewish New Year.

Mannah from heaven????

Okay, I might be mixing up my books of the Bible, but when an artist discovers me before I discover him or her I consider it a gift... especially when the person's work includes the fruit of the week- the Pomegranate!

Such was the case on Thursday morning when I received a message (on my Facebook... how'd she do that????) from Rony Weiss regarding her work as an Embroidery Artist.

Regarding this particular work, Rony says the following:

“I am to my beloved, and my beloved is mine” – The Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim) 6 (3).

The beautiful verse taken from the Song of Songs scroll is a promise of love and faithfulness and suits loving couples of all ages.

According to the Kabala, the Jewish secretive faith, the acronyms of each word in this verse form the word ‘Elul’ which is the month of repentance and forgiveness and symbolize the renewal of Promise and faithfulness between the people of Israel and God.

The verse is decorated as a magnificent jewel, embroidered with silk thread and interlaced with pearls and crystal beads.

Thank you made my Shabbes a bit more peaceful!!! Shabbat Shalom to you all!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Making a promise to make the world more beautiful

Chanan Mazal who once lived "in the shadow of the George washington Bridge" (as did my father) now creates with light and shadows in the ancient city of lights, Jerusalem.
The pomegranate has been the focus of many artists' work. The Song of Solomon compares the cheeks of a bride behind her veil to the two halves of a pomegranate. They decorated the pillars of King Solomon's temple and the robes and regalia of Jewish kings and priests.
Collecting Jewish Art is a mitzvah...Not only will the collector announce to the visitor that homeowner is proud to be Jewish, but the collection supports artists and artisans whose handiwork praises our one G'd. Why not make it one of your promises for the coming year to begin or continue collecting Judaic art?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So very, very elegant

I usually don't find many chuppot to oggle on Flickr or my other haunts. But this one (as well as others in her set) from the studio of GrayDove has me drooling!It is elegant in it's simplicity.
I am also linking to what appears to be a great recipe for an end of summer fruit tart... Pomegranate and Nectarines. Yum.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Crowning Glory.

Rimonim... a Hebrew word for two things. First, our fruit of the week... the pomegranate. Second, for the handles of the torah scroll. The crown of the pomegranate is crown-shaped, and it has been told that Solomon designed his crown based on it.

This lovely necklace is meant to adorn the neck of some woman during the high holidays- Maybe you? It is from the artist Rony who works in many different media including polymer clay, ceramic, Stained Glass, fiber and jewelry design.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Abundant Blessings...

For those of you who regularly have read my blog over the years, you know that I have a "thing" for pomegranates. Not only are they delicious and healthy, but they are filled with much lore. I recently learned that it is considered especially auspicious to eat pomegranates during the new year. I am hoping the same holds true when one features pomegranate ART around the new year.

The colorful pomegranate above is the work of Two Hands Studio in Karkur, Israel.