Hi there, near and far.
All I can open this post with is…what strange times we are in!
I think everyone believed back in April and May that by late summer things would start shaping up. My parents were supposed to fly in this week to be with us for the kid’s August vacation. They wanted to finally meet baby Leah Esther, who was born back in February. Now it could be another year until we see them. The kids grow so fast. Ovadia is starting first grade in September. How will this big transition look like for him?
Uncertainty seems to be the new normal.
One thing that has been comforting for me over the last few months are the ever popular “Zoom/FB/Instagram” live conversations that dive deep into Jewish topics relevant and important to me, such as the ones outlined in the title of the post. Shabbat, Mikveh, and Teshuva (Repentance). How fragile or strong is our faith when tested in uncertain times?
I wanted to share with you three conversations that touched me over the last few months.
Ruth Banai (Wife of Singer Eviatar Banai)
Foremost, this was a very lovely concert right before Shavuot with Evyatar Banai and Idan Amedi, who are some of my favorite Israeli artists (which you already might know from this post on Israeli Singer-Songwriters).
Unexpectedly, the most beautiful part of the evening was the discussion with Eviatar’s wife, Danish-born Ruth Banai, who so beautifully and softly talks about how she met Eviatar in New York City at one of his concerts about 16 years ago, her connection and conversion to Judaism and eventually moving to Israel.
This interview is in Hebrew only, so I apologize to the English-only speakers. It starts at minute 22 in the video below. (I didn’t want to edit her specific interview out myself for copyright reasons.)
(*Eviatar and Ruth Banai currently reside in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem).
The Eden Center: 7 Women and 7 Perspectives on Mikveh.
This live-recorded Zoom conversation was hosted by the Eden Center, a “Jerusalem based non-profit with the goal of creating a state-of-the-art mikveh-spa and women’s center with educational workshops, health and halakhic resources in a welcoming and respectful environment.”
It is quite long, so you might need to watch it over a few days if you have young kids like me. Mikveh is such a private topic and one we don’t usually discuss, even with our closest friends. This zoom conversation was both informative, eye-opening, and reassuring. It was so wonderful to hear many of my deep thoughts about this topic come up in ways I never thought of approaching them. I will let you dive into this at your own pace.
Dr. Ruth Kabbesa Abramzon talks with Former Senator Joe Lieberman
I happen to know Dr. Ruth Kabbesa Abramzon personally, as she studied at the Hebrew University with my husband and we used to live very close to each other. Seeing each other around at parks, gan pick-up and Tipat Chalav over the years, we have definitely had sometime to talk about our individual journeys and motherhood (she also has 4 young kids!).
Ruth founded an organization in 2016 called Shabbat Unplugged which provides programs and resources to encourages families in Israel from all walks of life to connect to Shabbat and strengthen their family bond. They also recognize Shababt as an opportunity to strengthen Israeli society and Jewish identity.
Most of her programming and content is in Hebrew, so I was pleased to see that she was having a conversation in English specifically about Shabbat with former Senator Joe Lieberman at a conference run by the newspaper Mekor Rishon. Ruth did an amazing job interviewing him, not delving too much into politics, and providing a warm and honest conversation about what Shabbat means to him.
There is also one really special part (for me)! Senator Lieberman shares how he would have kept Shabbat in the White House if he would have made it to the presidency with former Vice President Al Gore back in 2000. This nostalgic remembrance of what could have been really warmed my heart.
I hope you will enjoy and benefit from these talks as much as I did, at your own pace.
Wishing you all a safe, healthy and hopefully semi-enjoyable August vacation. 🙂
With love from Jerusalem,