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Let’s delve into the beauty and significance of Shavuot! In 2024, Shavuot begins at sundown on Tuesday, June 11 and ends at nightfall on Thursday, June 13. Here’s your guide to celebrating the Jewish holiday filled with unity, Torah wisdom and cherished customs. Join us as we explore the lighting of holiday candles, synagogue visits for the Ten Commandments reading, relishing a delectable dairy meal and immersing ourselves in the joyous tradition of night-long Torah study. Plus, discover the anticipation built during the counting period since Passover. Let’s embark on this enlightening journey together.

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

Unity: Insights from the Lubavitcher Rebbe: The Lubavitcher Rebbe, one of the world’s most influential Jewish leaders, stressed the importance of unity within the Jewish community. He believed that unity not only brings blessings to the world but also serves as a foundation for spiritual growth. When we are truly unified as one people with one heart, then this is a fitting preparation for receiving the one Torah from the one God.

Lighting Holiday Candles: Illuminating the Path: As Shavuot commences, we light holiday candles, symbolizing the spiritual light that emanated from Mount Sinai during the Giving of the Torah. The warm glow serves as a reminder of the divine teachings that guide our lives and bring sanctity to our homes.

Let’s Talk About Shavuot: A Guide to Celebrating the Jewish Holiday!

Synagogue: The Ten Commandments Reading: A central element of Shavuot is the community’s gathering at the synagogue to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. This powerful moment allows us to relive the awe-inspiring experience of our ancestors standing at Mount Sinai, ready to receive the precious gift of the Torah. Through this communal observance, we connect with our heritage and strengthen our bond with the Divine.

Festive Dairy Meal: Nourishing the Body and Soul: Shavuot traditions include indulging in a delightful festive dairy meal. There are various explanations for this custom, including our ancestors’ hesitancy to consume meat immediately after receiving the dietary laws of kosher meat consumption, until they were properly prepared for doing so. Moreover, the Torah is often associated with “milk and honey,” highlighting its nourishing and sweet attributes. As we gather with loved ones, we savor dairy delicacies, celebrating the richness of our heritage.

Night-Long Torah Study: Immersion in Wisdom: Another unique aspect of Shavuot is the tradition of staying up all night engaged in Torah study. This practice reflects our deep commitment to the Torah and our eagerness to explore its profound wisdom. Communities organize inspiring lectures, study sessions and discussions, fostering an atmosphere of intellectual growth and connection throughout the night.

Will you be a guest this holiday? Bring your host a great gift from the Rebbetzin Unplugged ChaiStyle Shop!

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Counting Anticipation: From Passover to Shavuot: Since the conclusion of Passover, we have been counting the Omer, a period of anticipation spanning seven weeks. This counting represents the journey from physical liberation to spiritual revelation, preparing us for the momentous occasion of receiving the Torah on Shavuot. Each day brings us closer to this joyous celebration, infusing it with a sense of eager expectation.

Embracing the Essence: Shavuot is a cherished Jewish holiday that celebrates unity, the Giving of the Torah, and the joys of communal observance. From kindling the holiday candles to hearing the Ten Commandments at the synagogue, indulging in a festive dairy meal to engaging in night-long Torah study, every aspect of Shavuot serves to deepen our connection to our heritage and strengthen our spiritual bonds.

As we reflect on the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe regarding unity and the anticipation built during the counting period, let us embrace the true essence of Shavuot. Together, we can create a ripple effect of blessings that extends far beyond ourselves.

Wishing you a meaningful and joyous Shavuot celebration filled with unity, Torah study, and divine inspiration. Chag Sameach!

Do you have a question about Shavuot or just want to send holiday wishes? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Are you looking for a nice Passover message to share at your seder table? Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew) begins before sundown Monday, April 22, 2024 and ends after nightfall Tuesday, April 30. As you prepare for the upcoming Jewish holiday, here are 10 memorable Passover thoughts to think about and incorporate into your daily life, now and throughout the year:

1. Passover reminds us that freedom is worth fighting for, even when the odds are against us. #Freedom

2. Passover is a time for family, tradition, and gratitude. Do something during the holiday that brings you joy, love and a renewed appreciation for the blessings in your life. #Gratitude

3. Passover isn’t just about matzah and maror, but the meaningful moments with friends and family. Look around the table and appreciate the precious time you have together. #Tradition

4. Passover reminds us of the power of hope and faith in the face of adversity. We can find the strength to overcome our challenges and break away from the things that limit us. We can emerge stronger than ever. #Hope

5. Passover is a time to reflect on our past and look towards our future. Let the holiday inspire you to live with purpose, kindness and compassion. #Reflection

What memorable Passover thoughts will you share at your seder table?

6. As we gather around the seder table, let’s be grateful for the blessings of freedom, family, and community. #Unity

7. Passover celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over oppression and tyranny. Let us never forget the courage and resilience of those before us, and strive to carry on their legacy. #Resilience

8. Passover is a time to reconnect with our roots, our faith and our values. Let the holiday bring you closer to what matters most. #Faith

9. Passover reminds us of the power of perseverance and the triumph of faith over fear. #Strength

10. The Passover story teaches us that even in the darkest of times, we can find hope and redemption. We can all strive to be agents of change and bring light to the world. #PassoverThoughts


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I hope you enjoy these inspiring Passover insights to share at your seder table. And even better, may they add meaning that will uplift and inspire you throughout the entire year. From my family to you and yours, we wish you a kosher, freilichen Pesach, a kosher, fun Passover!

Which of these 10 memorable Passover thoughts is your favorite? What are some others you would add? I’d love to hear!

You May Also Like: 📥 Free Passover Downloads!

Purim 2024 begins Saturday at sundown, March 23 and ends Sunday night, March 24, and you can create some of the fun right at home with these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas. Do you remember the sights and sounds of a carnival when you were a kid? Read on to see how you can create that for those you care about.

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

What is Purim and how is it celebrated? 

Purim is usually a community wide event celebrated with food, fun, games and entertainment. Whether in local synagogues or at other venues, you can hear joyous music, see creative costumes and hear the traditional greeting, “Chag Purim Sa’me’ach!”

Listen to the pronunciation of the Purim greeting here.

Why is Purim So Important?

Purim commemorates a 14-year dark saga for the Jews of Ancient Persia.  Queen Esther saved her people from the evil royal official, Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people.  

What Happens on Purim?

To remember the series of hidden miracles of Purim, we have four mitzvahs (commandments).  You can read more about the four mitzvahs of Purim here.

Host Your Own Purim Celebration!

You can make your own Purim Carnival.  Whether you actually have a backyard or not isn’t important.  These carnival ideas can even be done inside a small apartment like mine. (Keep a mop handy! JK 😃). 

The typical Purim festivities may not be happening as they usually would be.  But, the essential parts of the holiday (the mitzvahs) are happening and we all can create a wonderful Purim for ourselves.  

Young and Young at Heart Will Love These Purim Carnival Ideas

You can make the carnival games as simple or as detailed as you wish.  You don’t need to break the bank.  With a little bit of planning and some inexpensive supplies, you’ll be good to go!  

1. Sack Race

All you need is a starting point, a finish line and some large garbage bags.  This is probably one of my favorites.  It’s quite hysterical watching people of all ages jump, jump, jump their way to the finish line.

2. Bean Bag Toss

Place 3 colored bowls (they can be different sizes) in a line, each worth different points, with the bowl worth the most points furthest from the player.  Each player gets 3 tries to toss a ball into a bowl to accumulate points.  Player receives one ticket per point received or one ticket for each successful toss.

3. Three in A Row

Draw a tic tac toe pattern on a large poster board.  Using 5 bean bags, the player needs to get three in a row in any direction.

 

4. Pin the Hat on Haman

This is a take on the traditional Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but Purim style! Draw Haman on a large poster board and cut out some triangles for his hat.  Write each player’s name on a hat and add a piece of masking tape to the back so it will adhere to the posterboard.  Blindfold the player, give him a few gentle spins and watch the dizzy fun begin as he aims to put the hat on Haman’s head!  

5. Egg and Spoon Race

Just like the Sack Race, all you need is a starting point, a finish line, eggs and spoons.  Holding the egg in the spoon, each player races the other to the finish line.  It’s funniest if the eggs are raw.  If it’s too messy, use hard boiled eggs.

6. Ring Toss

Place 12 full water bottles standing in three rows of four.  The player tosses the rings trying to land them on the bottle spout. Or, you can use this cone and rings set.

7. Ladder Toss

Open a ladder.  Decorate with some streamers.  Mark each step with an amount of points.  The higher the step, the greater the amount of points. The player uses tennis balls to accumulate points by tossing them through the corresponding steps.

8. Flying Ducks

On a large poster board, cut out 5 circles that a rubber duckie will fit through.  Assign each hole a different point value: 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100.  Each player gets three throws.

9. Skee Ball

Cut 4 large poster boards of different colors into strips and staple them together to form circles.  Each colored circle should nest within the others, just like a skee ball game.  Each ring has progressively increasing point values.  Instead of rolling, the player tosses ping pong balls into the rings to accumulate points.

10. Ping Pong Toss

Place large disposable cups, each with a different hidden value written on the bottom, in random order.  The player tries to toss ping pong balls into the cups.  When he is finished with the balls, the points are added up. Mix up the order of the cups (and their point values) between players.

(Here’s An Extra Carnival Game)! Knock ‘Em Down

Using more of the large disposable cups, stack them face-down in the shape of a triangle (in a 1-2-3-4 pattern). Using tennis balls or something of similar weight, the player tries to knock all the cups over.


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Added Fun For Your Purim Carnival

Set up a photo booth! Use an easily made backdrop or one that is ready-made like this photo frame complete with a variety of party photo props.

A little decorating goes a long way.  Some colorful balloons and crepe paper streamers really can set the tone.  It’s super easy with this balloon pump set, complete with an electric air balloon blower pump.  And, I love these carnival style tickets that can be used for raffles and for the carnival games winnings.  Then, everyone can trade in their tickets for prizes.  Perhaps most important, don’t forget some delicious Hamantaschen on your prize table.  They are easy and fun to make.  Click here for my GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant Hamantaschen recipe!

Have Fun and Make Memories

Purim will come and go, and hopefully these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas will help you add some happiness to your holiday. We can take a lesson from Queen Esther.  Even under dire circumstances, she kept her Jewish traditions.  This gave her the strength to get through the challenges, even during some of her loneliest times.  As it is written in the Megillah, “For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy and honor.” So may it be for each of us!

If you need help arranging a Megillah reading or have any other Purim questions, please let me know at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com. What’s your favorite of these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas? Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below! 🎉 

Purim 2024 is coming right up (beginning Saturday evening, March 23 and ending Sunday evening, March 24) and you can recreate some of the fun right at home with these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas. Do you remember the sights and sounds of a carnival when you were a kid? Read on to see how you can create that for those you care about.

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

What is Purim and how is it celebrated? 

Purim is usually a community wide event celebrated with food, fun, games and entertainment. Whether in local synagogues or at other venues, you can hear joyous music, see creative costumes and hear the traditional greeting, “Chag Purim Sa’me’ach!”

Listen to the pronunciation of the Purim greeting here.

Why is Purim So Important?

Purim commemorates a 14-year dark saga for the Jews of Ancient Persia.  Queen Esther saved her people from the evil royal official, Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people.  

What Happens on Purim?

To remember the series of hidden miracles of Purim, we have four mitzvahs (commandments).  You can read more about the four mitzvahs of Purim here.

You Can Host the Purim Activities!

Make your own Purim Carnival!  Whether you actually have a backyard or not isn’t important.  These carnival ideas can even be done inside a small apartment like mine. (Keep a mop handy! JK 😃). 

Young and Young at Heart Will Love These Purim Carnival Ideas

You can make the carnival games as simple or as detailed as you wish.  You don’t need to break the bank.  With a little bit of planning and some inexpensive supplies, you’ll be good to go!  

1. Sack Race

All you need is a starting point, a finish line and some large garbage bags.  This is probably one of my favorites.  It’s quite hysterical watching people of all ages jump, jump, jump their way to the finish line.

2. Bean Bag Toss

Place 3 colored bowls (they can be different sizes) in a line, each worth different points, with the bowl worth the most points furthest from the player.  Each player gets 3 tries to toss a ball into a bowl to accumulate points.  Player receives one ticket per point received or one ticket for each successful toss.

3. Three in A Row

Draw a tic tac toe pattern on a large poster board.  Using 5 bean bags, the player needs to get three in a row in any direction.

 

4. Pin the Hat on Haman

This is a take on the traditional Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but Purim style! Draw Haman on a large poster board and cut out some triangles for his hat.  Write each player’s name on a hat and add a piece of masking tape to the back so it will adhere to the posterboard.  Blindfold the player, give him a few gentle spins and watch the dizzy fun begin as he aims to put the hat on Haman’s head!  

5. Egg and Spoon Race

Just like the Sack Race, all you need is a starting point, a finish line, eggs and spoons.  Holding the egg in the spoon, each player races the other to the finish line.  It’s funniest if the eggs are raw.  If it’s too messy, use hard boiled eggs.

6. Ring Toss

Place 12 full water bottles standing in three rows of four.  The player tosses the rings trying to land them on the bottle spout. Or, you can use this cone and rings set.

7. Ladder Toss

Open a ladder.  Decorate with some streamers.  Mark each step with an amount of points.  The higher the step, the greater the amount of points. The player uses tennis balls to accumulate points by tossing them through the corresponding steps.

8. Flying Ducks

On a large poster board, cut out 5 circles that a rubber duckie will fit through.  Assign each hole a different point value: 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100.  Each player gets three throws.

9. Skee Ball

Cut 4 large poster boards of different colors into strips and staple them together to form circles.  Each colored circle should nest within the others, just like a skee ball game.  Each ring has progressively increasing point values.  Instead of rolling, the player tosses ping pong balls into the rings to accumulate points.

10. Ping Pong Toss

Place large disposable cups, each with a different hidden value written on the bottom, in random order.  The player tries to toss ping pong balls into the cups.  When he is finished with the balls, the points are added up. Mix up the order of the cups (and their point values) between players.

(Here’s An Extra Carnival Game)! Knock ‘Em Down

Using more of the large disposable cups, stack them face-down in the shape of a triangle (in a 1-2-3-4 pattern). Using tennis balls or something of similar weight, the player tries to knock all the cups over.


LIKE THIS BLOG POST? I’D LOVE FOR YOU TO FOLLOW ME ON PINTEREST AND PIN IT FOR LATER!

Added Fun For Your Purim Carnival

Set up a photo booth! Use an easily made backdrop or one that is ready-made like this photo frame complete with a variety of party photo props.

A little decorating goes a long way.  Some colorful balloons and crepe paper streamers really can set the tone.  It’s super easy with this balloon pump set, complete with an electric air balloon blower pump.  And, I love these carnival style tickets that can be used for raffles and for the carnival games winnings.  Then, everyone can trade in their tickets for prizes.  Perhaps most important, don’t forget some delicious Hamantaschen on your prize table.  They are easy and fun to make.  Click here for my GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant Hamantaschen recipe!

Have Fun and Make Memories

Purim will come and go, and hopefully these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas will help you add some happiness to your holiday. We can take a lesson from Queen Esther.  Even under dire circumstances, she kept her Jewish traditions.  This gave her the strength to get through the challenges, even during some of her loneliest times.  As it is written in the Megillah, “For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy and honor.” So may it be for each of us!

If you need help arranging a Megillah reading or have any other Purim questions, please let me know at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com. What’s your favorite of these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas? Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below! 🎉 

What are the 4 mitzvahs of Purim? It is customary to learn and review about a holiday 30 days before it begins.  Purim 2024 begins Saturday evening, March 23 and continues through Sunday evening, March 24. As the miraculous holiday of Purim is fast approaching, let’s go over some details.  Not only does reviewing the ins and outs of the holiday keep us knowledgeable, it also can get you in the mood for the festivities.

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

Being that the Jewish world is still going through the challenges that began October 7th, Purim may feel a bit different than we have enjoyed it in years past.  However, the most important parts of the holiday remain the same, and that is where our focus should be.  By concentrating on the aspects that are truly the most significant, we each can experience a wonderful Purim.

Kabbalah explains that when a Jewish holiday occurs, it isn’t just an auspicious date on the calendar.  Nor is it just a time of remembrance of our history.  Rather, the actual spiritual power that was present at that time, comes down and is again present with us today. This is, in part, why we add the special prayer, Al HaNissim (For the Miracles), to our daily prayers and grace after meals on Purim. 

Prayer book open to the special Al Hanissim prayer added to the daily prayers and grace after meals during Purim (and Hanukkah).
Prayer Book – Al Hanissim Prayer

Let’s take a closer look inside the prayer book.  It says:

Al hanissim v’al hapurkan

V’al hagvurot V’al hat’shuot

V’al hanifla’ot she’asita la’avoteinu

Bayamim hahem bizman hazeh.

And (we thank You) for the miracles, for the redemption, 

for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, 

and for the wonders which You have wrought for our ancestors

in those days, at this time.

Miracles Before & During Purim

Before we jump into the 4 mitzvahs of Purim, let’s take a quick look at what got us here in the first place. The Babylonian King Nebuchadnetzar destroyed the Beit HaMikdash, the First Temple in Jerusalem, in 3338 (423BCE).  His son Meradoch took over the throne, followed by his grandson, Balshezzar (Balthazar). 

In his arrogance, Balshezzar drank from the vessels of the Beit HaMikdash, plundered by his grandfather.  This is when the well-known “Writing on the Wall” occurred. The Jewish Prophet Daniel interpreted the divine message, explaining Balshezzar’s reign and the Babylonian Empire would end. They were soon defeated by the Persians, led by Darius.

Daniel is Appointed Top Minister

For the Jews, King Darius was a great improvement over the previous rulers.  But, his officials were jealous of Daniel’s position. He was a pious man who prayed three times a day, facing Jerusalem. They convinced King Darius to enact a law that no one could pray for one month.  Daniel continued to pray and as punishment, was thrown into the lion’s den.  We learn in the Book of Daniel, he miraculously emerged unharmed. 

Darius’ rule was short-lived and Cyrus the Great took his place at the throne in 3390.  He allowed the Jews to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, 52 years after its destruction.  

Construction is Brought to a Halt 

“By whom?,” you ask.  I’ll give you a hint.  Every year we read about him in the Megillah of Esther.  It was none other than the anti-semitic Persian king Achashverosh, who ruled during the 14-year Purim saga in the city of Shushan. 

In the Megillah, it says that King Achashverosh ruled over 127 lands.  After doing away with Queen Vashti for her refusal to obey his command, the king held a beauty contest to find a new wife. Against her wishes, Esther is forced to participate and becomes queen.  At the counsel of her wise cousin Mordechai, Esther keeps her Judaism a secret.  

Meanwhile, the king’s evil advisor, Haman became infuriated with Mordechai for not bowing to him.  Haman, with the king’s approval, plots to have the Jews killed.  To save her people, Esther reveals her identity to the king, but it’s too late. Once Achashverosh makes a decree, it can’t be nullified.  But, the king recalls that Mordechai once saved his life and decides to allow the Jews to defend themselves.

Mordechai and Esther Make a Plan

They gather all the Jews to fast and pray for three days.  Hidden miracles abound throughout the Purim saga, and the Jews are saved.  Each year since, we celebrate the miraculous events with four mitzvahs. 

Breakdown of the 4 Mitzvahs of Purim

  • Hear the Megillah by night and by day
  • Send food gifts to friends 
  • Give gifts to the needy
  • Celebrate with a feast

1. Hear the Megillah by night and by day.

Hand-written Megillah Scroll (The Book of Esther)
Hand-Written Megillah Scroll (The Book of Esther – One of the Five Megillahs of the Torah)

It is important to hear every word of the Megillah, and it must be in person.  Listening to a recording or over the phone may be good if you are studying before the holiday, but it does not satisfy the mitzvah requirement.  In these particular times during the health challenges of covid, there will be outdoor readings available.  And for those who can not go outside, home visits can be arranged to listen through a window.  

2. Send food gifts to friends.

The mitzvah is to give Mishloach Manot (also called Shalach Manos), a gift of two ready-to-eat foods to one friend.  Sending to two friends is said to be praiseworthy. When possible, it’s best to send it through a third person. Although all Jewish holidays begin in the evening, we wait until Purim day to do this mitzvah, so that we can do it after hearing the blessing of “Shehechiyanu” on the Megillah.  When we listen to this blessing, in addition to the reading of the Megillah, we also keep in mind all the other mitzvahs of the day.

Haman tried to convince King Achashverosh that he should be concerned about the Jews, because as is written in the Megillah, the Jews were “scattered and divided amongst the nations,” yet they worked hard to maintain their Jewish customs. The mitzvah of Mishloach Manot is therefore done to show the unity and friendship amongst the Jewish people.  

3. Give gifts to the needy. 

Tzedakah (Charity) Box – The Hebrew word “tzedakah” literally means righteousness.

Now it’s easier than ever to give tzedakah (charity) through an online charitable fund.  Ask your local rabbi or rebbetzin, who will have something set up specifically for the mitzvah of Matanot Levyonim, or be able to guide you otherwise. The mitzva is to give tzedakah to two people.

4. Celebrate with a feast.

In remembrance of the victory against the evil Haman, Mordechai declared Purim to be an annual celebration, marked by a feast.


Purim Background with party costume and hamantasch

Enjoy this delicious Hamantaschen recipe!


Special Things Before Purim Begins

There are some significant things we do in preparation of the holiday.  They include:

  • The reading of Zachor
  • The Fast of Esther – Her greatness and a role model for all
  • Giving of a Half Shekel (Machatzit HaShekel)

Ask your local rabbi or rebbetzin for details.  

Dressed Up for Purim!

Purim is known as the most joyous Jewish holiday of the year. 

And, we can always add in joy, so now is the perfect time to prepare to do just that!  Do the 4 mitzvahs of Purim. Bake some delicious Hamantaschen (recipe here) for your Mishloach Manot and make your arrangements to hear both readings of the Megillah. Dress up and make a special meal! Most importantly, celebrate that we were not only saved more than 2000 years ago in Shushan, but by uniting in friendship and charity, we will continue moving forward.

If you need any assistance making arrangements for Purim, let me know! Which is your favorite of the 4 mitzvahs of Purim? Scroll down and let me know in the comments.

Get ready….. get set….. go! Soup season is here and have I got something delicious in store for you. This is Winter’s best vegetable soup recipe and it will fill the house with a warm cozy feeling of protection from the cold outdoors.

That’s Amore!

Here in Italy, we call this soup Zuppa con Orzo, Farro e Legumi. Everything sounds so exotic in Italian, doesn’t it? Barley, Spelt and Legume Soup is one of my absolute favorites! Orzo is barley, farro is spelt and the obvious legumi is legumes. I love barley. It can be used in so many different types of dishes. It is a filling type of food that reduces hunger and keeps you satisfied. Eating barley as part of a meal balanced with colorful vegetables is great.

Barley is also high in protein and other nutrients like potassium and magnesium. It’s low in fat, will fill you with energy and give you a good amount of fiber. It’s a perfect addition to many soups. 

Next in the soup, we have spelt, spelt is a type of wheat, known for it’s quality of being easy to digest. Also high in potassium and fiber, spelt also adds a good amount of iron to your daily needs. Finally, we have legumes. 

Mix It Up A Bit

For soups, I love a mix such as black eyed peas, split peas and fava beans. I also add a variety of red and green lentils. Did you know that there are different kinds of green lentils? They are name according to their size. The large ones are called Laird lentils. The small ones that you see most Often are Eston lentils, There are a few varieties of the mid-size ones.

There is so much to know about these incredible food staples that have been cultivated for millenia. We live in an amazing world.

mason ball jars filled with beans and legumes on a kitchen counter

Enjoy your cooking space with these great deals on everything for your Home & Kitchen!

A Well-Stocked Pantry Makes It Easy

Now let’s get to the soup! I love to keep my pantry stocked with mason jars filled with a variety of cereal grains and legumes. That way, I always have something on hand as a side dish or a soup, There are also many pre-mixed packages of cereal grains and legumes that you can find in most supermarkets.

Whether you choose to make your own mix, or use one that is packaged, the magic quantity to remember is 1/4 cup (55 grams) per person. It may seem like a small amount, but many cereal grains more than double in size once they are cooked. Plus, we’ll be adding some colorful and delicious fresh vegetables as well.

It’s All in the Family

Now, we’ve all noticed that fresh vegetables can greatly differ in taste, one from the other.  For this reason, the amount of seasonings you add will depend on the vegetable and on your family’s personal taste. 

Speaking of family, my mother always told me that soup is better the second day. For that reason (and many more), don’t hesitate to make some extra. Soups stored in an air-tight container will keep well in the refridgerator for a few days, although they likely will get devoured sooner. That way, your lunch for the next day will already be made.

Or, you’ll have something nice and warm to offer an unexpected guest or someone with sudden hunger pangs. Here’s some helpful kitchen tips: I often freeze soups into individual servings, which makes it easier to heat up the exact amount you need. And, by storing portions in ziploc freezer bags, they can be laid flat, taking up less of your precious freezer space. You’ll be able to have Winter’s best vegetable soup any time you like.

From Meal Planning to Gift Ideas

A mug of soup is a great healthy idea to replace unhealthy snacks. There are so many good reasons to make soups part of your Winter meal plans. They even make great gifts. Put all the dry ingedients together in a mason jar. Write the cooking instructions on a little tag. You can tie the tag around the jar with some raffia, yarn or a ribbon. This is sure to bring some joy to a friend or neighbor. 

Winter’s Best Vegetable Soup

5 from 30 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 244
Stay warm and healthy with this delicious soup that is sure to become one of your favorites!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Barley, Spelt, Legumes such as red and green lentils, black-eyed peas, split peas, fava beans
  • 2 or 3 Carrots
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 or 3 ribs Celery
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions 

  • Measure out your dry cereal grains 1/4 cup per person
  • Rinse very well until the water runs clear.
  • Place grains and legumes in a pot and fill with enough water to be 2 inches above the grains.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Peel and cut carrots, onion and celery.
  • Add the fresh vegetables to the soup.
  • Season to taste with salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Cook for approximately 30 minutes.

Notes

Tip: You can always add, but you can’t take away. When adding seasonings, keep in mind that the soup flavor will get stronger as it cooks, so less is more. Toward the end of cook time, adjust seasonings if necessary.
Calories: 244kcal
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: barley, carrots, celery, healthy, legumes, onions, root vegetables, side dishes, soup, soup recipes, spelt, Winter

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 99mg | Potassium: 622mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 12963IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg

What foods conjure up those memories from when you were younger? What’s your favorite kind of soup? I look forward to reading your comments below about this Winter’s Best Vegetable Soup!

This real life story about Yom Kippur in Venice was featured as a highlight at the International Conference of Chabad Lubavitch Emissaries Gala.

Here’s something else you may enjoy! Unveiling Light & Secrets: A Journey of Illumination for the Jewish New Year

I wish you and yours a sweet, healthy, happy year. Tell me……what’s something you wish for yourself this new year? Scroll down and let me know in the comments below. Can’t wait to read what you wrote! 💛

A Beautiful Custom

As is known in communities all around the world, there is a beautiful custom that Baal Shem Tov initiated of saying extra chapters of King David’s Book of Psalms, Tehillim, each day, from the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul through Yom Kippur.  Let’s take a closer look at one of today’s extra chapters:

Chapter 77 verse 4 says: “I remember G-d and I stir; I speak and my spirit becomes faint, forever”.

Rashi, the Torah’s foremost commentator, explains that the first part of the phrase : “I remember G-d” refers to The kindness that He used to do for me. And, the second part beginning: “I speak” is talking about the acts of kindness and the favors. The verse finishes with: “and my spirit becomes faint,”  meaning to faint from extreme emotion.

The World is Catching Up

It’s interesting.  In recent years, the world has spoken much about the concept of gratitude and how beneficial it is spiritually and even physically.  On Google, there are nearly 300 million results for being grateful.  Well, King David, the King of Israel, whose son King Solomon built the holy Temple in Jerusalem where it’s outer wall, the Western Wall, still stands today, already supplied us with this crucial information more than 2,000 years ago.

When we think back and remember all the good G-d has done for us, when we recall the many kindnesses He has done for us and for our ancestors, we can’t help but feel grateful.

The King Has Faith in You, So You Should Too

But, in these special days of introspection before Rosh Hashanah, when we take the time to look back on our past deeds and try to improve ourselves, we have to be careful.  Yes, we must dedicate ourselves to sincere teshuva, to returning and strengthening our relationship with G-d by committing to improve ourselves and our lives, but we should not become dejected in the process.  We can, and must, stay positive knowing that G-d has faith in us to be His partners in making the world a better place.  And the proof is…… we are here!  Like we say in the morning prayer Modeh Ani upon awakening, You G-d have returned my soul to me and have faith in me to use it in the best way possible today.  

So my friends, stay strong, stay focused and make each day the best it can truly be. 

The King is in the Field

Since we are now in the Hebrew month of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, I’ve been talking and writing about the concept of the King is in the Field.  We know that we can pray anywhere, anytime, in whatever language is comfortable for us.  The basic idea of the King is in the Field is that even though G-d is always available to listen to us, He is closer than usual during this time.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains something very special in a chassidic discourse, a maamar.  The first Hebrew letters of the beautiful phrase from King Solomon’s Song of Songs, Ani L’Dodi v’dodi li, I am my beloved’s and my Beloved is mine, spell out the name of the month Elul.  This is not by chance, so we have to understand the connection between the two.

The Rebbe breaks down the phrase into two parts to teach us a lesson to elevate our spiritual endeavors during Elul, this unique time of year.  

“I am my Beloved’s”

First we have: “I am my Beloved’s.” This refers to our spiritual service during the month of Elul.  We call this an arousal from below.  It refers to when we ourselves take initaitive to become closer to G-d.

In fact, we hear the blowing of the shofar each day of the month of Elul to awaken our soul, and to move us to focus on our past, so that we can better our future.

Then after Elul, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur come along in the month of Tishrei. Now let’s look at the second part of King Solomon’s words. “My Beloved is Mine.” 

What’s Happening?

Here, by contrast, the arousal begins from G-d.  G‑dliness is drawn down from Above in the month of Tishrei in the days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur.  But what is actually happening here?  Our relationship with G-d is so precious, that we actually can cause a closeness in our relationship with Him.

It’s not happening on it’s own.  It’s a cause and effect. 

What we do now to get close to G-d, causes G-d to reciprocate.  

It’s Not Just What Happens in the Synagogue

The spirituality that we are infused with during the High Holidays actually comes about as a result of what we do, not only in the synagogue during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but with what we do as preparation during Elul.  It means that we can get a head start right now.

Our preparations each and every day during Elul help us draw down those special feelings of attachment and closeness during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  It’s not just by chance that we all feel such a deep connection during these holidays.  It’s not just the familiar prayers and the beautiful singing of Avinu Malkeinu, our Father our King.

On Healthy Relationships

It is that special feeling one gets when they work on a relationship and see and feel that relationship growing and moving in a positive direction.  It’s the strengthening of the bond, unlike anything else, that will continue to give us the needed spiritual nourishment throughout the year.

When we take care of our spirituality, we feel balanced and more secure.  And this will undoubtedly have a direct affect on our physicality and our approach to our lives each day.  

honey roasted chicken recipe for rosh hashanah

Easy Unforgettable Honey Chicken for Rosh Hashanah

3.94 from 50 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
This delicious recipe brings me right back to my childhood dining room table.
Three generations sat around a table whose length seemed to grow with each passing year. The younger generation listened intently to the wisdom of the older generation, and the grandparents kvelled (Yiddish for feeling happy & prideful) at the site of the children excitement of life and dreams of what was yet to come.
I distinctly remember that during each and every holiday, I would look around the dinner table and say my own little prayer: “Please G-d, please let all whom are with us tonight around the holiday table, be with us next year too.”
What an opportune time to mention my little childhood prayer, as it is on the holiday of Rosh Hashana itself, the Day of Judgement, that all is decided by the One Above. “On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed”.
This awe-inspiring phrase comes from the iconic High Holiday prayer “Unesaneh Tokef” in the Machzor, the special prayer book used during the Yomim Noraim, the 10 Days from Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur.In the synagogue, we pray that we will be judged favorably and in the kitchen, we hope the same.
There is no doubt that this classic honey chicken dish will be judged favorably and will garner the highest accolades. Your prize will be the empty dinner dishes when everyone is done enjoying this holiday main course. It’s so delicious, you’ll hope there will be leftovers for a snack the next day.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken (3-4 pounds cut into 8 pieces)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Rinse chicken and pat completely dry.
  • Line a shallow baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
  • Peel and cut carrots into quarters.
  • Peel and cut onion into eights.
  • Add them to the baking dish.
  • Add chicken on the vegetables.

Honey Mixture

  • Peel and cut garlic cloves in half.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, honey, soy sauce, water, salt and pepper.
  • Pour honey mixture over the chicken.
  • Cook around 40 minutes. The inside temperature of the chicken should be 165F. Here is a great thermometer.
  • Halfway through cooking, baste the chicken and then continue cooking.
  • Optional: When the chicken is completely cooked, pour any remaining liquid into a saucepan. Reduce to thicken and pour over chicken.

Notes

When it comes to cooking chicken quarters, the recipe possiblities are endless. Come up with your own chicken recipes using seasonings that you love. And cooking the chicken with bones helps retain its moisture making it juicy and delicious. It is also less expensive than deboned chicken, making it a more frugal dinner recipe and better for those who want to budget food costs. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Jewish, Kosher
Keyword: easy, frugal, honey chicken, honey chicken for Rosh Hashanah, honey chicken recipe for Rosh Hashanah, honey chicken recipe rosh hashanah, honey chicken rosh hashanah, Rosh Hashanah

🍎🍯 As Rosh Hashanah approaches, let’s take a moment to reflect on the beautiful memories that have shaped our journeys. 🌟✨ What’s a cherished Rosh Hashanah memory of yours? I truly believe sharing it can be meaningful and inspiring for both yourself and those who read it. 🤗💬

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