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Philip Setnik
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Philip Setnik

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I may get in trouble for saying so, but I think Laurence is struggling with his identity a bit.... 
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You are so awesome, you broke their algorithm.
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They had one of these in Cleveland, and I didn't hear about it?? Not that I'm the target audience, of course, but maybe they needed a teaching assistant?
Before Passover begins, some rabbis host events tailored to guys; it isn’t a Super Bowl party
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We need one here!!!
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A finding from Amnesty International in Israel's favor?

Someone at AI is gonna get fired over this one!
Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militant groups during last summer's conflict in Gaza amounted to war crimes, Amnesty International says.
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yeah, I saw this earlier and was like: good morning, Amnesty International, nice of you to wake up :-)
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I posted this picture as part of another post, but wanted to take a second and explain what it is you're seeing.

Judaism for G+ - A quick look at the mitzvah (commandment) of mezuza .

What you are seeing here is regarded by some as the largest Mezuza in the world.  It is located at one of the exits from the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  But what exactly is a mezuza?

If you walk through a Jewish neighborhood, you may notice that the front doors have something attached to the right doorpost.  In Orthodox neighborhoods, you'll also spot them on garage doors.  These appurtenances are referred to as "mezuzot" - plural of "mezuza."

There is a positive commandment in the Torah, found in several places, that says "...you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates, that you may remember and do all of my commandments and be holy to your G-d."  The Hebrew word for "doorpost" is "mezuza" and that name has become synonymous with the device we use to implement the commandment.

Inside what you see here (clearly visible as a white scroll) is a piece of parchment (from the skin of a kosher animal, usually cow or deer) on which is hand-written the passages in the Torah where this commandment is found.  This is the actual mezuza - the case is a carrier for the scroll.  The scroll is considered a holy object - it can only be disposed of by burying in a clay vessel in the ground.  It needs to be treated with respect.

In most Orthodox homes, there will be a mezuza affixed to one of the doorposts of every door in the house, with some exceptions.  Rooms that are below a certain size are exempt, as are bathrooms.  Walk-in closets, interestingly, require a mezuza.  Usually, when someone moves into a new home, they will do a "walkthrough" with a sofer - a rabbi well-versed in the laws of written objects - Torah scrolls, mezuzot, and tefillin (phylacteries).  He will identify which doorways need a mezuza, and help you obtain them.

It is customary to touch the mezuza and kiss the fingertips as one passes through the doorway, in acknowledgement of the mitzvah.  

As I mentioned, the parchment is the important part.  Cases for mezuzot can be as simple as a plastic bag (although that's less than ideal, it is permissable), all the way up to hand-carved works of art. 

So next time you are in a Jewish neighborhood, take a look - see if you can spot mezuzot on the doorways!
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I know, right?  I think that one must have come from a giraffe!
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Israel Travelogue - a series of indefinite length, with some thoughts and pictures from our recently concluded trip to The Holy Land.

Fifth of the series.

One of the most beloved holidays on the Jewish calendar is Purim.  This is the celebration of the redemption of the Jews from the evil plot of Haman - vizier to the king of Persia - who wanted to destroy all of the Jews.  This was during the 70 year exile in Babylonia, after the destruction of the First Temple (around 586 BCE). Purim was in the headlines a great deal this year, because it was on Purim this year when Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to Congress.  The Foreign Minister of Iran even tried to use the Book of Esther (where the Purim story is recorded) against the Prime Minister - to the amusement of Torah scholars everywhere.

In any case, the holiday is celebrated with much revelry - there is even a commandment to get somewhat drunk on the festival.  We are also commanded to have a festive meal, hear the reading of the Megilla (Hebrew for the Book of Esther) twice, give charity to the poor, and send gifts of food to friends.

As you might expect, Purim in Israel is especially joyous and raucous.  We were privileged to be there during the Holiday.

However, what many people don’t know is that Purim is celebrated on different days in different cities - primarily it is on 14 Adar (on the Jewish calendar).  But in cities that were walled in the days of Joshua, it is celebrated on the 15th.  We, of course, were in Jerusalem, so we celebrated a day later than our friends  back in America.  (Note that some people - mostly students younger than us - celebrated both days, by making sure to be outside of Jerusalem on the 14th and in Jerusalem on the 15th.)

The 14th in Jerusalem is pretty much a regular day - so we took a tour.  

It was our day to see the Tunnels that have been excavated along the Western Wall.  This was a truly remarkable trip back in time.

As mentioned previously in this series, the Western Wall is part of the supporting structure of the vast platform built on top of the Temple Mount by Herod the Great, the King of Israel during the Roman conquest.  He wanted the Temple in Jerusalem to be the finest religious site in the world, but to make that happen he needed more room.  So he built the walls around the Mount and built on the resulting platform.

We descended into the excavation and followed our guide through ancient roads along the wall.  He showed us the enormous stones that Herod used to construct the wall.  One of these stones was the size of a school bus - but weighing 600 tons!  Each stone was so precisely cut that no mortar was needed to hold them in perfect alignment.  The guide showed us towering arches that once supported a ramp that went up to the top of the Mount.  We worked our way north along the base of the wall, the ground sloping upward as we went north.  We came to a small alcove that was directly beneath the site of the Holy of Holies on the Mount, now occupied by the Dome of the Rock.  In this alcove is a tiny synagogue reserved for women.  We quietly paused to absorb the magnitude of where we were, and moved north.  We passed through more tunnels and eventually came to the end of the Roman road - huge stones were partially cut through as though the workers left for the day, and the next day the Visigoths arrived and interrupted their work.  Or something.  We went past what had been shops - places to buy a lamb for the Passover sacrifice, so the archaeologists surmise.  Finally, we came to the spot where the Wall meets the bedrock - the first course of stone placed by Herod over 2000 years ago.  North of that, a more recent excavation took us through an aqueduct cut into the mountain by the Hasmoneans of Chanuka fame.  Forty feet high and about two feet wide, when it was found it was full of water and sediment.  The explorer who found it had to float along in complete blackness on top of doors that he had found nearby.

The whole tour was incredibly interesting and moving.  There were points along there that came straight out of the Old Testament and the Talmud.  The age was palpable.

From the Old City we made our way north to Machaneh Yehudah - the Jewish Market Place.  More on that later.

After the Market we had a great dinner - I had chicken livers, which I haven’t had in fifteen years (they are very hard to find kosher in America).  And then we joined in for a time with the Purim celebration.  

Next up: Purim into Shabbos!  

Pictures: The Tunnels
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I sit corrected. Thank you for chipping away at my ignorance a bit more :) The Hebrew Wikipedia entry refers to this common error among Israelis, where we incorrectly call it the Omar Mosque when it actually isn't a mosque at all. Yay for learning stuff.
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Good Shabbos, everyone! 
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Israel Travelogue - a series of indefinite length, with some thoughts and pictures from our recently concluded trip to The Holy Land.

Sixth of the series.

(I don’t have much time today, because Shabbos, although later than it has been, is still fast approaching and there is much to do.)

When we left off, we had just emerged from the tunnels beneath the Western Wall and the Old City.  It was Purim Katan - “Little Purim” - in Jerusalem, where Purim is celebrated on Shushan Purim - a day later than in other places.  (In cities that were walled at the time of Joshua, Purim is put off a day.)

Our Purim was preceded by a quick visit to Machaneh Yehudah - the Jewish Shuq (open-air market).  It’s an amazing, sensory-soaking, overwhelmingly crowded, exciting place.  So many sights, sounds, smells, tastes… we saw food there that you just can’t get in Cleveland, I’ll tell ya.  We didn’t buy much that day, just some bread for Shabbos - and we had plans to come back.  That’s a later adventure.

That night was the Purim celebration.  We went to the Synagogue to hear the reading of the Megillah, the Book of Esther, then it was off to Ben Yehudah street to watch and absorb the festivities there.  We stayed for a time, basking in the revelry of kids way younger than we are.  It was jammed and fun and frenetic.  We walked around with felafel laffas, we took pictures, we enjoyed the music… it was awesome.  

Unfortunately, we were also exhausted, so we didn’t stay out all that late.

The next day, Purim continued with another reading of the Megilla.  We realized that we had not gotten food for Shabbos yet - we had been assured that the stores would be open even though it was Purim.  We planned to get prepared food and heat it in our apartment.

Well, it turned out that most of the places we went to were closed!  We wandered for over a mile to find a place that had what we needed - and did we ever strike gold!  The food we found at this store was just the best. We loaded up, and then tried to find a bus - we had been walking downhill for the most part.  My Moovit app kind of led us down the wrong path, but hey - Google Maps to the rescue!  We decided to walk, and the return trip was about 15 minutes - because we didn’t take any wrong turns.

Then it was off to our Purim Seudah - the festive meal we eat as part of the celebration.  We were fortunate to be hosted at the apartment of a young family, children of very dear friends from Cleveland.  It was delightful and the food and wine were just fantastic.  We were surrounded by little children - the ideal way to celebrate Purim, in my opinion.

We had to cut our seudah off a bit early, and we had our only cab ride while in the Holy Land, back to our apartment.  We quickly got things set up for Shabbos - hot water urn, warming tray, showers, get dressed - and it was time for Shul and candle lighting.

Shabbos in the neighborhood we were in was unbelievably serene and lovely - many people on Friday night had just continued their Purim seudah right into Shabbos dinner!  The singing, the ambiance, the utter absence of traffic… it was a truly blessed and spiritual experience.

That’s all for now - more adventures after Shabbos!
Pictures:  The Shuq, and Purim!
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+Jodi Kaplan I though that's what you meant. Supposedly they sell them by the case in stores like Cosco. They are usually available in the winter.
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Alrighty, then.... 
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Uh.."their" too stu-- nvm
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Great stuff, this.  

H/T and thanks to +Mz Maau who put it in my stream.
 
the best gift... ever received...

or better yet, given.

what is it?

admitting you don't truly know another person.
leaving room for them to be more than the bits you know.
recognizing they have a past more varied and vast than a snippet of label can encompass.
knowing they may not even know themselves all that well.

knowing that the best gift ever is openness to exploring who that person is.

whether it be a stranger, your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your children, your coworker, the server in a restaurant, the person busking on the street, the person living on the street, the person ministering to the homeless, the volunteer, the worker, the boss...

simply the other human in your sphere of notice at the moment.  

be open to all they are, and let them tell it to you.

it's the best gift.  ever.



#budlightpublic   #budlight  

image found at http://www.maurilioamorim.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Your-best-gift-ever.jpg
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I have a shtender - a lectern - at home where I recite some of my prayers.

As I was standing at my shtender this morning, reciting the preliminaries to the morning prayers, I got a yell from my wife (Happy Anniversary, my dear, by the way).

Nothing will destroy the solemn mood of contemplation of prayer than the words "The dog just threw up!"  I rushed into the bedroom, where the dog (perched on my side of the bed, of course), proceeded to copiously vomit yet again.  Thank goodness for sealed hardwood floors.

Happy anniversary, indeed.  >.<
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The Lord has interesting ways of reminding us not to get too self-satisfied. 
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+Marvin Clements +Lindsey Clements The patch of a local Jewish motorcycle club... a good friend of mine is a member.
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Cool name. 
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This past Shabbos (Sabbath), during the weekly Torah reading, we learned about the sacrifices that took place in the time of the Temple.

The Rabbi, in discussing this in his sermon, commented that "you can't exactly take a lamb to Jerusalem these days.  They won't let you take it on the plane."

I told him "If you cut up the lamb, and let it rot a little, you can take it on the plane as carrion."

#punday  

...because +Eileen Gluth inspired me.
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=)

You're sweet! You just made my day
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Eastern Time Zone until we are all on GMT.
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I'm a technology professional with a mind on the needs of the business.  I believe that computer systems should work like utilities:  you turn on a switch, and a light comes on - you turn on your computer, and you are productive!

I am dedicated to helping others be more successful.

I also teach - and I love to be in front of a class helping them learn.

I believe that IT management, like the best consulting, requires a relationship - to know what the client needs, you first have to know the client and his or her business.
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  • Kent State University
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