September 25, 2016

Let the Jewish New Year and its blessings start | תָּחֵל שָׁנָה וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ

In Jerusalem's Makhne Yehuda shuk/market
honey for sale adds sweetness to the New Year

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, falls on Tishrei 1 and 2 in the Hebrew calendar. In 2016, it begins Sunday evening, October 2 and ends Tuesday evening, October 4. I first published this post September 12, 2007.

Dear Tamar, 

Let the New Year and its blessings start | תָּחֵל שָׁנָה וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ | Takhel shana u-virkhote-ha. * 

The Hebrew word Shana comes from the word li-shnot (to repeat) but it also sounds like le-shanot (to change). I think that's the main idea every Rosh Hashanah: it's our chance to repeat our mistakes or harness our thoughts and steer our actions to change. I hope your New Year will be filled with good choices. 
Shana Tova 5768

*  Shimon cites the concluding one-line chorus in the 13th century piyyut, Jewish liturgical poem, by Abraham Hazzan of Gerona (Girondi), Spain. The chorus replaces this chorus in preceding verses:

Let the year end with all its curses | תִּכְלֶה שָׁנָה וְקִלְלוֹתֶיהָ | Tikhleh shana ve-killeloteha! 

Listen to the exquisite Syrian melody in the recording (Hebrew) of this piyyut,  Little Sister | אָחוֹת קְטַנָּה | Akhot Ktana.

Related posts

September 19, 2016

In Gaza: Young scholar-leaders doing well while doing good

I am so proud of my good friend Msallam Mohammed AbuKhalil, a medical student in Gaza. Listen to him and his fabulous fellow young leaders — working against all odds contributing their massive talents and dedication to healing and empowering communities, locally and globally.

Msallam reports:

My second video participation for the Social Good Summit 2016: Connecting Today, Creating Tomorrow with other fakhoora.org former and current students including engineers and doctors-in-making. Everybody has shared their personal vision about what they hope to become as potential leaders in their fields and how they see themselves as global citizens connecting with the outside world in this age of huge technological advances. 


September 04, 2016

London: Ismaili Center

Posing with Nymeth at the London Ismaili Center

The calligraphy conveys the Quran's opening phrase in Arabic, "Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim" ("In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the most compassionate"). Muslims recite it on beginning a task to receive the Creator’s strength and blessing, among other reasons. The phrase faces the entrance to this religious, social, and cultural meeting place for the Shia Ismaili Muslim community in the United Kingdom. Nymeth Ali guided me through the center, pointing out examples of the relationship between the architecture and design details and the traditions, symbols, history and values of her faith community. For example, the building exterior materials and colors are compatible with surrounding buildings while the interior features traditional Islamic colors — whites, light grays, and blues.

In our rapid-fire give-and-take Q&A, my new friend helped me understand more of Islam and its ethics, and of Muslim peoples and their values, among them humility, charity, and hospitality. And, I endeavored to answer her wide-ranging questions on aspects of Judaism and Jewish people. Together, we traveled the globe across centuries till and including our own lives, roots, passages, and journeys. Thank you, Ryan Makhani, for the introduction! You hinted, “I have a feeling you both will have some incredible conversations.” You did not exaggerate!

September 01, 2016

London Tate Britain: Sketching Mr. Turner

It was Valerie's idea to sketch a J.M.W. Turner masterpiece

Tate Britain’s Clore Gallery houses the world’s largest collection of works by J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851), the master landscape and seascape painter of light. On my visit to the Gallery, I came upon Valerie. Unselfconscious and focused, the nine -year-old was studying a single Turner creation, pausing intermittently to paint, scrawl, and scribble using colored pencils to render her own.

Visitors engage with Turner's masterpieces

While Turner, at the end of his life, became increasingly eccentric and isolated, he never stopped loving children. How delightful to meet Miss Valerie sketching one of Mr. Turner’s masterpieces.

The finished sketch

J.M.W. Turner will become the first artist to appear on a British banknote following a nationwide vote to chose a deceased cultural figure to be the face of the new £20 note. The note will feature Turner’s 1799 self-portrait and The Fighting Temeraire, his tribute to the ship that played a key role in Nelson’s victory at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

August 30, 2016

In London: The Threepenny Opera at the National Theater

Selfie with Kidane Isaac Tikue and
a Threepenny Opera poster

“This is an opera for a city that has gone beyond morality. A cheap opera. A threepenny opera.”

With these spoken lines, opens London's National Theater production of Bertolt Brecht's and Kurt Weill's dark masterpiece (1928), "The Threepenny Opera" (TPO), a play with songs about the devastating consequences of naked self interest, bourgeois decadence, rampant corruption, and the pernicious effects of poverty. The German duo's adaption of John Gay’s 18th century "Beggar’s Opera" hasn’t dated at all. Sadly.

I was thrilled to sit beside Kidane Isaac Tikue at his maiden experience of the great tunes and wordy lyrics, mini-dramas in their own right. We dissected the work over lousy cappuccino in the Theater cafe and later at Whole Foods (amazing cappuccino!).

Outside the theater at Southbank Centre — sunny, cheerful, people, pets, food, art, and Modified Social Benches.


On the ground, a plaque about Festival of Love 2016
 and the Danish artist's winning entry 

On this Modified Social Bench, a boy climbs
while a woman sits reading a book

London: Burqa and bra strap tranquility

Hyde Park Serpentine Lake
A Muslim woman wearing a burqa and a Jewish woman whose bra strap is showing. Easy, chill, gracious London.