L’Shanah Tovah!

September 15, 2020

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year marks the beginning of The High Holy Days which include Yom Kippur, the annual Day of Atonement. These are days full of ancient meaning and heartfelt traditions where symbolism and family celebrations meld together to create deep bonds linking Jews all over the world.

The sounding of the shofar—a trumpet made from a ram’s horn—is an essential and emblematic part of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The ancient instrument’s plaintive cry serves as a call to repentance and a reminder to Jews that God is their king.

“A New Year Dawns”, watercolour, 3.5″ x 5″ by Lance Weisser

After religious services are over, many Jews return home for a festive meal which typically begins with the ceremonial lighting of two candles and eating apple slices dipped in honey. Ancient Jews believed apples had healing properties, and the honey signifies the hope that the new year will be sweet. Rosh Hashanah meals usually include an assortment of sweet treats for the same reason.

Round challah: On Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) and other holidays, Jews eat loaves of the traditional braided bread known as challah. On Rosh Hashanah, the challah is often baked in a round shape to symbolize either the cyclical nature of life or the crown of God. Raisins are sometimes added to the dough for a sweet new year.

“L’shana tovah”: Jews greet each other on Rosh Hashanah with the Hebrew phrase “L’shana tovah,” which translates to “for a good year.”

[source: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/rosh-hashanah-history%5D

Western Wall

January 31, 2020

I’m not much of a traveller. Outside of Canada and 45 U.S. States, I’ve visited Taiwan, The Philippines, and Israel. In 1990, the regional tensions were at an uneasy rest and we were able to go all through areas like The West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights.

It is geographically and culturally stunning. Some places are visited for their beaches, their ability to bring an almost somnambulant quality, where rest and relaxation are a given. Israel offers endless contrasts, confrontation, challenge and comparison. I doubt anyone can go and have their presuppositions confirmed. I am quite sure everyone who leaves, leaves changed.

I have never been so moved by a place and a people as I was in Israel.

“Morning Prayer”
watercolour on Arches Cold Press 140# Paper
by Lance Weisser
12″ x 16″
SOLD

In January of 1990 I had the privilege of going on a tour of Israel conducted by an outstanding Orthodox guide named Joe, who was so completely well-versed in history and biblical understanding that archaeological sites acquired lively, humanized detail under his well-studied knowledge of what we believe took place there.

Though he was conducting about a dozen clergy, he was able to draw comparison between traditions which were tied to ha aretz (הארץ), to the land, helping us see the visceral, physical connections we’d only tried to understand through having read the ancient texts and stories.

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 ‘Western Wall Shacharit’

watercolour on Arches Hot Press 140# Paper, 10″ x 15″, sold

The Western Wall is almost certainly the most revered of all sites in Israel, as it physically connects worshipers to those before them who also had to struggle to build a homeland–who also had to appeal to that higher power to protect and defend them.

I felt privileged to have been able to see Israel at a time when the intifada was at a standstill and veritably every location in the country was accessible and security was more relaxed.  We could travel the Golan Heights as well as the West Bank, stand at the Lebanese border and visit the historic cities and towns throughout the land.

…this is a repost from an entry several years ago

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