Friday, January 19, 2018

Are we coming or going in Parshat BO and I am going to #ARJE18 in Seattle Jan 22-24, 2018

From BIM-BAM, a great recap of the weekly Torah Portion!
In this week's Torah portion, Bo meaning either come or go in Hebrew, we see Moses and Aaron dealing with the last 3 of the 10 plagues (locusts, darkness and the killing of the first born male child).  We know from the text that Pharaoh's heart has been hardened.  The idea of a heart being hardened has always intrigued me.  When your heart is hardened it is set in stone and no one can convince you to change your mind. Again from the text we know that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Why did God hardened his heart?  Did God want Pharaoh to keep the children of Israel in Egypt?  Did God know that the children of Israel would ONLY leave Egypt if they had been spared losing their first born and the Egyptians would want them out of their midst?  This is the text of our Pesach Haggadah and it is a intriguing tale.

Another point of deliberation is the name of this Torah portion.  BO, which in modern Hebrew means to come towards.  Why would this Torah portion have a Hebrew word that means to come when the children of Israel are LEAVING Egypt.  One interpretation is that Moses, Aaron, Miriam and company were being welcomed INTO the Eretz Yisrael.  This is confusing.  Are they being welcomed?  Are they being told to leave?  All these interpretations I believe are correct.  I also think that in the day and age of intentional speech and writing we need to take care with how we talk and how we are perceived.  I can also add that we must make sure our heart is not hardened and we take time to look at everything we a clean slate/a clean heart.

This week I am GOING to the Annual Gathering of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, ARJE, and look forward to welcoming and meeting new colleagues from all over the states.  Want to take a look at our daily schedule feel free to check it out! This is an opportunity for me and other educators to learn, experience and network about Religious school, Jewish institutions who have participants of all ages.  We can take a look at new approaches and make sure that our heart is not hardened and that we give all of the new ideas and methods we are learning a chance especially when we come home to our institutions.

As I COME back home I will be able to begin integrating and sharing what I learned in Seattle.  It is important to always keep learning and renewing yourself so that you keep on top of current trends.  I hope that you will enjoy my twitter/facebook feed as I share in real time next week what is going on in Seattle.  I always look forward to having something to say on social media and an ARJE Annual gathering gives me what to say.  Have a good week as I look forward to Beyond the Box, our ARJE gathering in Seattle.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Vacation, Value and Visualization: Cartagena, Columbia December 2017

I was very lucky to vacation with my extended family in Cartagena, Colombia during part of the cold snap happening in Chicago. It was a wonderful 8 days of warm weather, family bonding and an opportunity to unplug, (OK not TOTALLY unplug but for the most part unplug). It is so important to spend time together as a family and just hang out. Our family realizes how fortunate we are to have this opportunity to take advantage of the time to have conversations.  

Why Cartagena?  No, it is not dangerous, (anymore) and no there were no drugs present at anytime.  We did take advantage of happy hour on the beach a few times and one or two times by the pool.   We picked Cartagena because it was warm, NOT too far away and an old city for us to explore.  

The city of Cartagena, known in the colonial era as Cartagena de Indias is a major port founded in 1533, located on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Regio.  The people are very friendly and we had 2 guides to take us on walking tours both of whom were very knowledgeable about the city and history.  I always compare everything to an Israel trip and just like in Israel Guides in Columbia are licensed and very knowledgeable.   We enjoyed learning about the walled city in Cartagena (my family members were nonplussed when I announced that they could celebrate Purim for 2 days in the old city because of the wall) and seeing the The Palace of Inquisition which is was finished around 1770, and currently serves as a museum showcasing historical artifacts from the Inquisition was very interesting. It does mention Jews who of course were notoriously tortured in Spain but during these times and anywhere the Spaniards were in control. They also persecuted the indigenous population and anyone who was not a practicing Catholic. 

We also had 4 days at a resort on an island which was a 2 hour boat ride from the mainland.  It was lovely to relax, swim, snorkel, scuba dive by the sea.  Coming home to about a 100 degree change in the thermometer was not an easy transition.  I am thankful for time with my immediate family and my extended family. We were blessed to go away with 3 generations and not just come back in one piece but also having had fun just hanging out.  You don't have to go to Columbia to have fun with your family but I highly recommend that you put aside intentional time with your family; in the end it will be a value which I KNOW you can visualize!