Israel Nail Art

I’m late to the nail art party but making up for lost time. Till now, it never captured my imagination. Dotty flowers and flourishes aren’t my style. But recently, I’ve come across manicure masterpieces! These 10 baby canvases can provide a portable place of expression.

Israel Nail Art JoyishSo given my upcoming trip to Israel, I wanted to indulge my latest curiosity. I’m not the first to try this theme. For my take, I tried not to be too literal.

I went with blue nails, featured some silver sparkles, and for the accent nail, dark blue stripes over white, as a nautical nod to the Mediterranean. The Magen David gives a flag effect and the heart on the other hand says, “I ♥ Israel.” Israel nail art: a stylish way to wear Zion Pride.

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Jerusalem: There’s No Place Like Home

yom yerushalayim joyish

I’m headed to Israel this weekend. Eeeeee! I can hardly think about anything else. My countdown has begun.

I start my trip in Jerusalem, a city I was privileged to live in several years ago. Although spiritual, I’m not the most religious person you’ve ever met, particularly by Jerusalem standards. And honestly, when I imagined myself in Israel, I always thought I’d be in Tel Aviv with my tush in the Mediterranean as much as possible! But when it came time to go, I asked those who’d gone before me: what’s it like?

“Tel Aviv is amaaaaaaazing!” they’d gush, clearly rooting for that choice. “The beaches, the nightlife—it’s like the best of New York meets the best of Los Angeles.”

“Wow,” I’d reply, not really needing to be sold. “And Jerusalem? What’s it like?”

“Well…,” they’d ponder. “There’s no place like Jerusalem.”

I’d lived in New York. I’d lived in LA. So, much to my own surprise, I wound up in Jerusalem of gold.

Being in Jerusalem is like being in Hashem’s living room. You’re so close to Him, you can feel His heartbeat and along with it, the heartbeat of the Jewish people. It’s unexplainable, irrational, and exemplified by this story: A few years ago, I was a madricha (counselor) on a Birthright trip. I brought twenty-or-so 20-somethings to Israel for the first time. Though Jewish by birth, most of them were otherwise disconnected and non-practicing. The tour delighted them of course, who doesn’t love to travel? But then Friday night rolled around.

We were at the Kotel (the Wailing Wall or Western Wall) for Kabbalat Shabbat. As the sun set, Jews from around the world gathered to pray and sing and dance. They didn’t know each other or each other’s languages, but they knew the same songs and sang them together, arms around one another, stranger beside sabra, soldiers beside religious, Jews beside Jews. The reverence of the day combined with the passion of the songs and the thunder of the dance reached high and deep and beyond. The holiness was palpable.

Too soon, it was time to go. I stood at the back waiting for my group. One after another, the participants returned, their eyes brimming with tears. “I don’t know why I’m crying,” they said. “I just, I was there, and suddenly this!” For a surprisingly large number of them, that evening was the highlight of their trip and the most powerful experience of their lives to date. And it wasn’t because they had strong religious upbringings.

Israel speaks to our souls, and our souls respond.

Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim or Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the reunification of the capital of Israel. Before the Six Day War, Jerusalem was split, and Jews were forbidden to access their holiest sites. Now under Israeli sovereignty all religions’ holy sites are protected and visitors of all denominations can visit and pray in peace. Incredible moments, like the one above, happen regularly. That’s the power of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is at the heart of Zionism, after all, Zion is the ancient name for Jerusalem. What is Zionism without Zion? What is the Torah without Jerusalem?  Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the Tanach (Hebrew bible), we pray facing Jerusalem, next year in Jerusalem! We break the glass on our wedding days to remember the temple in Jerusalem, and if I forget you, O’ Jerusalem, תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי…may my right hand lose its skill!

“Without Jerusalem, the land of Israel is as a body without a soul.”
— Elhanan Leib Lewinsky, Hebrew writer & Zionist leader

I am so grateful to have lived in and to be returning to Yerushalayim where the stones that witnessed history’s most epic events shine gold under its people Israel’s flags; to return to the heart of the Jewish people, and to spend time with Hashem in His home, our home. What’s better than going home?

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LA’s Celebrate Israel Festival Rewind

main_israelfestivalYom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s independence day, is my favorite holiday and the inspiration for the best thing that happens in Los Angeles all year long: the Celebrate Israel Festival! Annually, the Israeli American Council (IAC) teams with other Jewish organizations and sponsors to throw a massive celebration of all things Israel.

This year, 20,000 (!) people came together to celebrate Israel. The organizers’ creativity never ceases to amaze. Camels and carnivals and gaga, oh my! Feel free to vicariously attend through me.

“The Celebrate Israel Walk” kicked off the day. So many people came out to sing and dance down LA’s streets, clothed in blue-and-white wear and Israeli flags.

walk for israel 2014Never one to pass up an opportunity to dress in themed attire, especially when it comes to Israel, my friend Miri and I expertly demonstrate Israel Swag Style.

israel swag
Get the look! (Clockwise) Miri giddily grabs “I Heart Israel” sunglasses and bracelets, and plenty of flags to wave and share. I glamorize with blue and white eye makeup.
(**Important: Go heavy on the blue and silver glitter. You’ll know you’re wearing enough when a trail of sparkles follows you wherever you go and sticks to everyone you hug.)
Miri and I show off our “I Heart Israel” temporary tattoos…totally kosher!

Rinat, the star of a popular Israeli children’s show, performed to an enthusiastic group of yeladim (kiddos).

Rinat performsHuge roller coasters and moon bounces, tons of carnival games and artists, Jewish organizations representing the whole of Jewish life, Israeli food and ice cream, drum circles, Israeli scouts, arts and crafts, and sooooo much more. I spent the entire day in the sunshine exploring and celebrating Israel.

(Clockwise) An airshow just for us(!); Gaga, a popular Israeli game
you might remember from summer camp; a camel contentedly smiling between rides;
a sea salt box replaced your ordinary sandbox to teach kids about the Dead Sea;
and the Moroccan tent provided a shady place to rest.

For the grand finale, The Idan Raichel Project performed. Famous for fusing all the sounds of Israel, thousands danced and waved Israeli flags, creating a blue-and-white sea for as far as the eye could see.

The Idan Raichel Project. The last time I saw Idan, he had dreadlocks and the band was performing in the desert somewhere in Israel. It was an epic setting for his earthy music.

Big kudos to all the organizers, some of whom I know and who inspire me with their enormous generosity and true love for Israel. What a gorgeous day! The best! I’m bustin’ with Jewish love and pride.

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Blue Ombre Birthday Cake for Israel

Happy Birthday, Israel! And…happy birthday to me. I am so excited and honored that this year my birthday coincides with Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s independence day. So obviously, I made us a blue and white cake.

To Israelify this white cake, I applied a blue ombre treatment, adding food coloring to the batter so that each layer grew incrementally darker.

baking 1_joyishAs a garnish, I made Zionberries­–white chocolate covered strawberries with Israeli flags drawn on top in sparkly blue icing.

zionberry_joyishA row of blueberries at the base and blue-and-silver edible sprinkles completed the cake. Yom Huledet Sameach, Happy Birthday, Israel! You make us proud, and we’re so lucky to have you.

photo 1-2photo 2-2♥ Dedicated to Magda Esther bat Shmuel, z”l who was an incredible cook, sweeter than this cake and a true Zionist.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day: A 3G Recap

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. –Edmund Burke

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day inspired many strong images this year.
These especially spoke to me.

I am the grandchild of survivors. We’re called ‘3Gs,’ third-generation survivors. My grandparents’ heroic stories live on in me.

My grandmother survived the death camps of Auschwitz & Bergen-Belsen.

iac yizcor photo
My grandfather was a partisan, that means he was part of the resistance movement. The Partisans fought back, sabotaged the Nazis, and rescued Jews. Yes, we fought back.

barbedwire -tefillin
Can you count to 6,000,000? It’s a big number. 6 million people. 6 million names. 6 million souls lost.

israeli yhshoah candles
In Israel, Yom HaShoah Memorial Candles bear the names of
victims to humanize the 6 million.
This candle is dedicated to Gerard, a student from Algeria who was killed at 8 years old.

But we’re still here. We survived.

No, forget survived…thrived. From the doorstep of death, we returned with passion. We are innovation, technology, humor, culture, philanthropy, medicine, agriculture, humanity—we are life.

israelis stand2
A 2-minute siren blares on Yom HaShoah in Israel. Everyone stops, no matter where they are, and stands to honor the 6 million murdered. Watch here.

I am the granddaughter of survivors. My existence is a miracle, my Joyish life a triumph.  In awe, I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Lazlo and Magda Mittelman, my grandparents, my heroes.

If you are a Jew today, congratulations, you beat the odds.

We survived to deliver the promise, Never Again.

hungarian march of living1
March of this year marked 70 years since the accelerated extermination of Hungarian Jews like my family in 1944, spearheaded by Adolf Eichmann. In this “March of the Living,” 12,000 people from numerous countries walked from Auschwitz to Birkenau dressed in blue rain jackets and Israeli flags.

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3 Holidays Tell A Love Story

“The Ultimate Sacrifice” by Meetal, my favorite artist.

First Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Next Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day.
Then Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.

The order and proximity of these events to one another isn’t just stam, per chance or random. One informs the next, showing us the dark so that we can see light.

Yom HaShoah, celebrated today, memorializes the Holocaust, one of the most horrific expressions of human cruelty in the history of mankind where 6 million Jews were systematically murdered, eradicating 2/3 of European Jewry.

Anti-Semitism, the irrational hatred of Jews, persists as a bloody stain on the consciousness of humanity. While the Holocaust is the most dramatic example of this hostility in modern history—pogroms, crusades, inquisitions, massacres, and expulsions targeting Jews existed for centuries before World War II. Even now, Iran denies the Holocaust while simultaneously plotting a second one. Anti-Semitism runs rampant, unhidden and unashamed, throughout the Arab world. And European anti-Semitism plays possum, pretending to be dead only to jump up quite alive and bite, as we’ve seen in Hungary, France and the Ukraine in recent months.

Jews’ historical, moral and religious claim to the land of Israel cannot be disputed (unless one wants to contest archeological science and rewrite history, and some try). But, the atrocities of the Holocaust helped the rest of the world to “get up to speed,” and concede that the time had come for international, legal recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland. Millenia of displacement were quite enough. Jews needed to a safe place to call home and defend themselves, because the rest of the world could not be depended upon to behave morally and save them. After all, the perpetrators of the worst attacks on Jews in history were committed by the most “enlightened” and powerful societies of their day—the Hellenists, the Romans, the Germans, etc.

Yom HaShoah, we remember the horrors of the Holocaust, the danger of the diaspora, our homeless past.

But we are a different generation. Next Year in Jerusalem is us. We have a home. But it came with—and continues to come with—a price.

Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day comes a week after Yom HaShoah. To Americans who live far away from the realities of war, Memorial Day means BBQs and pool parties. But Israel’s compulsory military service means every Israeli knows a fallen soldier or victim of terror. The kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit rocked the country because he could have been anyone’s brother or son.

Freedom is not free, and Israelis understand this paradox intimately. Then, before we step on the glass and celebrate the marriage of the Jews to their beshert, Israel, we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to create that precious reality.

moment of silenceOn both Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron sirens blare across Israel. Everyone stops their car, stands at attention, and gives a moment of silence to honor and remember.

But then we celebrate. The day after Yom HaZikaron is Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day. Solemnity shifts to joy, as the entire country takes to the streets to sing and dance.

Jewish couples marry under a wedding canopy or chuppah. A tallit, or prayer shawl, supported by poles creates this holy space. The traditional blue-and-white tallit inspired the design of the Israeli flag. How fitting then that across Israel, this flag flies, supported by poles over the heads of Jews and their beloved land.

Today we see how far we’ve come.

Yom HaShoah: We remember the 6 million victims and rebuke complacency, eyes open, lessons learned.
Yom HaZikaron: We remember those who paid the ultimate price to establish and protect our home, and ensure we are victims never again.
Yom HaAtzmaut: We celebrate the reunion of the Jewish people with their true love, Israel—the ultimate love story of a people who never gave up on their home, and the home that blossomed at its beloved’s return.

The reuniting of soulmates can take years, decades, lifetimes, or hundreds of lifetimes. We are the generation living the dream, and we are the generation charged with protecting it.

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A Jewish Definition of Freedom

Image courtesy of Light Matters Studio
Image courtesy of Light Matters Studio

A contemporary definition of freedom, according to magazines and ads might be chocolate without consequences, bungee jumping, or abandoning work responsibilities for a trip to Mykonos.

If you ask the Kardashians, they would say true freedom is the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want with whomever we want.

Pesach inspired a lot of “freedom” talk, but Judaism relates to freedom as an inside job. True freedom is the ability to choose who you will be in any situation. It’s the ability to behave differently from animals who have no choice but to react instinctively and to instead rise above impulsivity to live deliberately, consciously.

All of us have habits, beliefs and behaviors that happen automatically. Whether it’s blaming others, negative thinking, reaching for a cigarette, checking out, or procrastinating, these reactions or ways of interacting with life can feel beyond our control.

“This is the way I always do it.”
“I must be the best.”
“I must control everything and not be controlled by anything.”
“I must do it all myself.”
“I can’t help it, this is how I am.”

We put ourselves in bondage. We limit ourselves and shut ourselves off from the enormous abundance Hashem wants for us. Freedom is the ability to get out of the way and let Hashem in. It means rising above our impulses so that we are not slaves to animalistic desires, habits, impatience, the past, or fear.

This real freedom lives in the balance between initiative and partnership with Hashem. It empowers us to turn off the autopilot and steer, to lead our own lives. To choose:

“No, I won’t raise my voice.”
“Yes, I will ask for help.”
“Yes, I can change.”
“Now, I will begin.”
“I’m not alone. Hashem is my partner.”

Freedom does not only depend on external circumstances. Free is the man who is master of himself.

Watch out for the self-limiting story you or others have told you that keep you a slave. Freedom starts the moment you truly believe you can be free, the moment you walk into the unknown with faith, the moment you decide who you will be.

And this is holy work. It’s a great mitzvah for each of us to feel that we ourselves have personally left Egypt.

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The Untold Story of Passover

nachshon-joyish.gifNo one ever taught me the “behind the scenes” story of Passover at my Sunday school. The main theme of the Pesach tale was always freedom from slavery—as in, escaping from Pharaoh. But as explained in last week’s post, “Passover Made Personal,” relating to Pesach as a mere history lesson wastes our present day opportunity.

The energy of freedom used by our ancestors to escape slavery remains alive and available to us every year during Pesach. Leveraged properly, we can each escape our own Mitzrayims (Egypts)—aka: our own limiting beliefs and behaviors.

But perfunctory participation won’t render results. Earning the energy of freedom requires emunah, faith. Faith that once the Seder ends, we have all the strength and resources we need to realize our new selves. We learn this Passover lesson from the often-untold story of a fella named Nachshon.

See, thanks to Cecil B. DeMille, most of us imagine Moses raising his staff before the sea, and the water splitting obediently. But, that’s Hollywood magic. In truth, the hero of that part of our history was Nachshon.

The actual scene: The Israelites stood dead ended and terrified on the bank of the sea with the Egyptians hot on their tails. Doubts overwhelmed them. Maybe they couldn’t break free after all! But one among them, Nachshon had no doubts. He had emunah (faith) despite the circumstances, such emunah that he began walking straight into the water.

The water reached his knees, the others looked on. The waves lapped at his navel, he determinedly moved forward. Salt water got into his mouth, nevertheless he persisted. Only when the water passed his nostrils did the water part, allowing the Israelites to hurry through the sea and seal their free future. Nachshon’s faith in Hashem split the sea.

Once we say “Next Year in Jerusalem” at the conclusion of our Seder tonight, we too will be free. But whether or not slavery captures us again depends on our emunah. So, hold your nose and move it, friends! May we each become the hero of our own exodus story and walk forward into our lives with total emunah, forcing our seas to part, enabling miracles and forever securing our freedom. Chag Pesach Sameach!

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6 Suggestions for a more Spiritual Seder

Because my family and I live in different states, others have generously extended their Pesach tables to me over the years. In this way, I’ve gotten the chance to see lots of Seder styles. Some have been fun and fast, others dry and boring. But I can attest that meaningful Seders take the afikomen.

Elevating Ideas:

Set an Intention. At the start of the night, focus everyone on the purpose of the Seder.

Though a reminder of the past, the Seder also serves as a spiritual tool to plug us into the very same power the Israelites used to escape slavery. That mega-wattage can be accessed through the Seder, so that we can break free from our own modern-day limitations.

At some tables, everyone takes a turn sharing their focus, revealing their “pharaoh” per se, that they intend to leave behind.

Different Haggadot. Rather than have everyone use the same Haggadah, collect different ones so no two people have the same one. There are so many cool choices out there: illustrated Haggadot, kabbalistic Haggadot, children’s Haggadot, Sephardi Haggadot, Ashkenazi Haggadot, Haggadot from different synagogues, schools and rabbis! Let each person choose the one they fancy.

The main text of each Haggadah will be relatively the same, allowing round robin reading to continue. But, the footnotes, stories and tidbits will be different. Encourage each participant to share ideas s/he finds interesting. Because no two people share the same Haggadah, this is an easy way for everyone, even newbies, to contribute something unique to the Seder.

Lice, tzfardeah, action! Act out the story. Interactive, kid friendly and memorable, performing a mini-play helps everyone embody and internalize the story.

One family I know assigns roles to each person at the table. Of course, the Dad plays the pharaoh and the kids argue over (but decide in advance) who will play the heroes, Moses and Aaron. They throw on some costumes and bring the story to life through their practiced scene.

Plagues and corresponding props are assigned to everyone else at the table so that when we reach “tzfardeah!”(frogs/crocodiles) a bunch of mini-jelly frogs go flying into the air.

Gamify your Horseradish. Buy the horseradish root fresh. Cut it just before the Seder and make ‘em weep. Eating truly bitter horseradish serves an important purpose (beyond cleaning your sinuses).

Rather than swallowing as fast as possible to get it over with, try chewing and chewing the fresh stuff until the bitterness becomes sweet. Challenge yourself to stick it out. It will happen. It will. But not before smoke comes out of your ears, your neck turns bright red, and tears stream down your face! That’s ok. That’s part of it. No one said converting bitter to sweet was easy.

Bring it home. Have something specific in mind and convert your personal bitterness to sweetness. Sweat it out.

(A word to the wise: Have tissues on hand. Noses may run amuck.)

Make an Entrance: Open the door for Eliyahu, open the door to miracles. The ideal moment for prayers arrives along with Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the prophet). At this point in the Seder, Hashem is all ears. The gates are open to your biggest dreams! So, put it out there.

One family I know has a beautiful tradition. Each person takes a tea light and kindles it from the holiday candles. They go to the front door together and welcome Eliyahu inside with verbal greetings, “Bruchim HaBaim! Welcome!”

Then, they step outside with their tea lights and take a private moment to themselves to focus on their intention. Everyone shuts their eyes, meditates, silently talks to Hashem, and dreams under the stars. After taking this time, everyone comes back in, leaving the tea lights outside.

Packed with kavanah (intention), those 10 minutes or so add a lot.

Get into the Hebrew. Look, let’s be frank—English translations don’t cut it.

I assume I’m not the only one for whom the term “Passover” conjures up images of that creepy green “Angel of Death” smoke from The 10 Commandments that passed over the Jewish homes, sparing their first born sons. (That smoke terrified me so much as a kid that I would crawl into bed with my brother at night. Not to save him, let’s be clear. I’m the first born, you see, and…I guess I figured the Angel of Death was hip to the women’s lib movement.) How did Pesach become creepy-green-smoke-evoking Passover?
Tsk. Tsk. A poor translation.

Pesach literally means “a talking mouth.” (peh=”mouth,” sach=”is talking”) Right away, the Hebrew reflects the mitzvah of Passover which is to read the Haggadah and communicate the story ourselves.

Curiously, the word Haggadah comes from the Hebrew root higgid, which means “to tell.” We use the Haggadah to tell the story during the seder.

Seder translates to “order.”

Aha! The Hebrew itself shows us that on Pesach, we use our mouths to tell the story with the Haggadah and in so doing, we create Seder, order.

Order from what, you ask? Well, Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, which means “narrow straights, limitation.” (mi = from,” tzar= narrow/tight) There’s the answer: the Seder restores balance, order and freedom from dire straights and limitation.

Hebrew words hold secrets. Just by looking at a few key words, the holiday’s core essence begins to emerge.

Whether trying these traditions or creating your own, the only thing we should pass over during Passover are our limitations. A spiritual Seder can part the sea.

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Passover Made Personal

Pesach: The Power to Break Free from Limitation

I’d venture to say that everyone from Martha Stewart to Target to Glamour Magazine all jumped on the annual Spring Cleaning craze thanks to us Jews. For millennia, we’ve been scrub-a-dub-dubbing around this time of year in preparation for Pesach (Passover) to completely rid our homes of every last spec of chametz (Passover unfriendly foods like bread, rice, most carbs essentially).

Still, getting the credit doesn’t convert the chore to a cinch…but, perspective does.

Zoom out: Passover gives us the opportunity to break free from our own personal Mitzrayim, the Hebrew word for Egypt. This insight hides within the word itself: Mitzrayim מצרים comes from the word m‘tzarim meaning, “narrow straits.” (mi = from,” tzar= narrow/tight).

When we left Egypt, we didn’t just leave a country—we left our limitations. Every generation is commanded to recount the story and feel they too left Mitzrayim, and this is possible because we each have a Mitzrayim to escape.

Zoom in: Whether a slave to doubt, fears, insecurity, the scale, your account balance, habits, addictions or other people’s opinions, that reality is not a sentence. The opportunity to break free exists during Pesach. That’s why we clean.

The external cleaning process facilitates an internal one. The cleaning serves as a meditation during which we take a personal inventory, identifying crumbs of old behaviors we feel reluctant to or powerless to change. (You won’t find this soul-ular exfoliating scrub at Sephora—lather up!)

Without this important cleaning process, the Passover seder could easily devolve into mere ritual! But with a personal purpose identified, the spiritual technology of the seder סדר, which literally translates to “order” can do just that: transform inner-and-outer limitation to order and light.

This awesome opportunity to exit Egypt ourselves is what we’re preparing for as we clean. By doing this work, we set ourselves up to leave our own Mitzrayim, split our own red sea, and boldly walk through it to freedom.

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7 Sounds to Bring the Cinema to the Megillah


What qualifies an event as epic? High stakes, heroes and villains, close calls, a rise or fall from grace, a journey? Based on any of these criteria, the Purim story (summarized here) qualifies. So, I picked out 7 cinematic, sound effects (below) that I think will bring some humor and drama to the Megillah reading. Pull these sound effects up on your phone to become the most popular person at your Purim party.

Traditionally, adults and children alike listen to Megillat Esther (the Purim story) poised, ready to spin their groggers and pound their feet upon hearing the vile name Haman. Why do we make such a ruckus? A common reason given is that we want to erase Haman’s name and memory. Frankly, that explanation alone doesn’t do much for me. I need meatier ideas. So take a bite out of this: Gematria, an ancient system that assigns numerical values to the Hebrew letters plays a reoccurring role in Jewish mysticism. Though a bit complex to explain here, the gematria of the Purim story reveals that Haman represents the idea of doubt. A fierce foe, doubt fights dirty, sabotaging plans and weakening the strong. Maybe there are examples in your own life where doubts turned you into your own worst enemy.

Furthermore, Haman who hated the Jews and wanted to eliminate them, descends from the King of Amalek whom many consider the founder of anti-Semitism, biblically speaking.

Then by spinning our groggers and pounding our feet, we actually intend to stomp out doubt and hatred! By actively and verbally renouncing what Haman stands for over and over again, we recommit ourselves to the achievement of our potential on both a personal and global scale. On Purim, we identify our inner and outer enemies, and drown them out with noise, confidence, happiness and dancing.

Each of us has challenges that feel epic at times. But we can overcome them. And should doubt tell you otherwise, play one of these sound effects to put that nasty instigator in its place.

7 Haman-Muting Sound Effects

1. A classic BOOoooOOooooOOOoooooOOO. (5 seconds)

2. A Cuckoo. (3 seconds)

3. Dr. Evil’s theme music from Austin Powers. (7 seconds)

4. A slap across the face. (2 seconds)

5. A fabulous and appropriate insult from The Princess Bride. (2 seconds)

6. A sports air horn. (2 seconds)

7. A fitting Haman description from the movie Dumb & Dumber. (1 second)

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5 Ways to Let your Inner Queen Reign

Keep Calm and Esther On _ Joyish_Let queen reign_ Lara Dvora_ Berman_PurimYou rule. You know you do. But you don’t always feel that way. I get it—I’m talking to myself as I talk to you. Lucky for us, we’re in good company. Queen Esther herself didn’t feel like she ruled all of the time either.

Beautiful, sweet and ferociously intelligent (I know so many women who fit this description), her husband’s advisor Haman was dangerously close to enacting a plan to annihilate the Jewish people. Secretly a Jew herself, Esther was perfectly positioned to speak up and save her people! If she failed however, she faced certain death.

Esther’s potential to do great, important things shone to everyone around her. But internally, she felt doubtful and afraid. Fortunately, her dear Uncle Mordechai believed in her, and urged her to trust her abilities.

“Listen, you’ve got this! ” Uncle Mordi said, without a trace of guilt or coercion. “But, if you don’t do anything…well, the Jews will survive some other way.”*

We know what happens next: Esther faces her fears, heroically rises to fulfill her destiny, and Haman hangs on the very gallows he built for the Jews.

Esther was a queen, a hero and a human.

5 Ways to Let Your Inner Queen Reign:

  1. Trust Yourself. The root of the word “Esther” relates to the Hebrew word “hester,” which means “hidden.” Just because you haven’t done it before, doesn’t mean you can’t. I have doubts, you have doubts, every leader has doubts. So what? If your inner voice says, “yes,” if it nags and persists, listen. This is your hidden potential seeking to be revealed.
  2. Believe. I bet each of us has an “Uncle Mordi” in our life, someone who truly sees us. They believe in us and push us, but we dismiss them. Don’t they have to say those things? Well, no, they don’t. And actually, they can see what we can’t sometimes. Try believing them.
  3. Stand up for what you believe. Queens exercise their spines. They’re passionate and willingly stand for truth, even when it’s unpopular. That’s one reason they make and change history.
  4. Act Now. Do it now, whatever it is, because if you don’t, someone else will. Rather than cause panic (well maybe a little panic), I see Mordechai’s message to Esther as humbling and motivational. The world isn’t waiting for our grand arrival, but that doesn’t change the fact that we each have a unique role, a unique contribution to make right now. Someone else could do it, but not like you.
  5. Wear a Crown, Really!…or at least a sparkly headband. Socially acceptable forms of dress up—like headbands—add fun and playfulness. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m royalty every time I wear one. But I do feel fancier, and it can cue some queenly consciousness each time I catch sight of it in a mirror or window.

Rule, reign, rock that crown. You got this.


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