Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring has arrived! Well...sort of.  Here in the mid-west, we're still somewhere between 70 degrees and snow flurries in a matter of  a couple of days, but one can hope, right?

Springtime brings three significant Jewish feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits.  Passover is celebrated in the home with family and friends, and everyone from agnostic Jewish people to Orthodox celebrate it.  For those of us who are fulfilled Jews, it is a rich picture of Yeshua (Jesus) as the sacrificial lamb of Israel.

I will be posting more on these three Feasts in the coming weeks, but for now I thought it would be appropriate to begin this season with a healthy, inexpensive detox drink that goes with the theme of "Spring cleaning".  We clean out our closets and refrigerators, but our bodies could use a Spring cleaning too!

Part of the preparation of Passover is removing the leaven (which represents sin) from our houses.  This detox drink removes the toxins from our body, and cleanses us.

A friend of mine who is a personal trainer shared a version of this drink with me, and I love it!  It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, antibacterial properties, and is refreshing to drink, unlike some detox concoctions out there.  Several different fruits can be substituted for the cucumber, and it can also be done with lime instead of lemon, so let the creative juices (literally) flow when you mix up your own!  The one I love is a simple mixture: 1 cucumber, 2 lemons, and 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh mint.

First, place the mint in the bottom of a pitcher.  Slice the cucumber and lemons in half, and drop in.  Fill with purified water.  Let sit overnight and wake up to a refreshing water that brings tons of health benefits!

You can refill the water two or three more times, while the mint is still fresh.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Got Chutzpah?

A Jewish orphan girl who rises to be queen of the Persian empire, evil conspirators, political intrigue, destructive decrees, divine intervention, and plot twists right up until the end...whew! The story of Esther saving her people has to be one of the most dramatic, "edge of your seat" stories ever recorded, and yet, sadly it has often been widely ignored by the Church as irrelevant to today's Christian.

But, what does an antiquated story of a Jewish, orphan girl living in ancient Persia have to do with the modern Christian?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hold onto your hat...this post is LOADED with fun!

Everyone loves a party! Who doesn't like costumes, candy, games, music and dancing? For over 2,500 years Jewish people have been throwing a party like this at the end of Winter to celebrate the salvation of their people from the wicked Haman.  Purim, which means the casting of lots, is a Jewish holiday which usually falls in early March, and is a beloved favorite of Jewish children throughout the world. (See here for a list of ten ways to celebrate Purim with your family!) 

Ten Ways To Celebrate Purim

1) Find a local Synagogue that's hosting a Purim Carnival or Purim Schpiel (play).  Don't forget to wear your costumes!

2) Make Grogger crafts like this one for the kids to use during the reading of the story when Haman's name is said.

3) Write your own Purim Schpiel and have the kids perform it for family and friends.  (There are many excellent ideas for funny, parody-style Purim plays you can find on the web).

4) Make Hamantaschen Cookies with this delicious date-filled recipe.

5) Design and Decorate your own Megillah (scroll of the story of Esther), complete with illustrations of each scene. Read it aloud and use the Groggers every time Haman's name is read.  (Parchment paper works great for this project).

6) Fast and Pray together for Israel and the Jewish people.

7) Make Mishloach Menot baskets and fill with Hamantaschen, candy, nuts and Groggers.  Distribute to friends.

8) Host a Purim party at your house, and invite friends to dress up and bring a dish to share.

9) Watch a video on Purim.  Two excellent ones are The Animated Bible Story of Esther that you can purchase here and One Night With The King (for older teens and adult) available here.

10) Call and visit a Jewish Elderly home and hand deliver homemade or store-bought Purim cards.  You might even make a new friend that you can continue to visit!

Happy Purim!!

For more on Purim click  here 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Delicious Date-filled Hamantaschen

Hamantaschen (Haman's Hat)
Servings: 16 cookies
  • For the dough
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour, plus more as needed
  • For the egg wash
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • Date Filling:
         1/2 to 1 C. chopped dates
         2 Tbs. orange juice
         1 tsp. cinnamon
         2 Tbsp water
          Cream first five ingredients together in a large bowl.  Gradually add flour until the dough is soft, but not sticky.  Chill overnight or several hours.  Mix ingredients for filling in blender or food processor. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and cut 3 inch circles. Place a teaspoon of mixture on center of the circle and fold up sides as shown below to form a triangle.  Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Note: It is very important to tuck the bottom fold under on the left and over on the right (the last step) or else the cookies will burst open in the oven.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Fun Project With Kids- Clay Coil Pots

Art has always been one of my favorite past times. Getting to do art with my kids in the name of education makes homeschooling all the more sweeter. And the best part? We aren't restricted by having to stay on a tight schedule. We can spend as much time on a project as we like.  Ahh,... the freedom!

Over the past two weeks, we have been working with my absolute favorite medium: clay.  I love the process of taking a lump of squishy, grey stuff and turning it into a beautiful piece. Since we're in the middle of a unit study on ancient Egypt, we decided to make clay coil pots.  Working with the clay brought back memories of art class projects from when I was in grade school (which sometimes feels as long ago as ancient Egypt...o.k. well, it wasn't quite that long ago :) )  

Using air-dry modeling clay and some tips from  we began our pottery making journey. First, we had to work the balls of clay until they were pliable, which took a little water and A LOT of kneading, but if offered a great opportunity to discuss how G-d molds us and shapes us into his image.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Joyful Living

I've been thinking a lot about joy lately.  I guess that's not surprising since the title of this blog is "A Joyful Jewish Journey." I've also been thinking a lot about my grandmother's Mandel bread recipe (food is always on my mind!).  

When I started this blog, I envisioned a place where others could find something to encourage them on their own journey, whether it's a great recipe, homeschool tip, or a simple nugget of truth to remind us why we're doing what we're doing (in the midst of the chaos!).

My own personal journey has oftentimes been bittersweet.  There have been many losses and trials along the way and everything I believe in has been shaken, but one thing I am finding more and more...when we turn our sorrows over to G-d (especially the ones that don't make any sense), joy is the gift he offers back to us and there is an indescribable kind of joy awaiting us at the end of this journey. 

So, in keeping with the Joyful theme, I thought we could go on another kind of journey to discover what the bible says about joy and what it means in Hebrew thought. But, first I want to tell you a little about why the word "Joy" is kind of special to me...   

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

It has arrived!  The once-in-a-lifetime convergence of two holidays that celebrate religious freedom from tyranny and oppressive rule:  Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!  In honor of this rare ocassion, I have written an article explaining the significance of this event for Jewish and Christian Americans.  

So, hop on over to to find out more about Thanksgivukkah. But first, grab a Potato Latke recipe for your holiday meal. I've included the traditional version and a special Thanksgivukkah recipe too. So, skip the mashed potatoes this year and try something new!