Friday, December 24, 2010


Torah Portion:  Exodus 1 thru 6:1

This week is all about Moses:  his birth and rescue from the river by Pharoah's daughter.  As a grown man, Moses kills an Egyptian and runs from Pharoah's kingdom, fearing his own life, leaving everything he has ever known behind.

Years later, Moses returns to Egypt with his wife and children, in obedience to God.  Following God's directions, Moses and his brother Aaron approach Pharoah with a request:  let the Israelites go so they can make a sacrifice to God.

Pharoah has a response to that request!  He orders the taskmasters and officers in charge of the Israelites, "Don't give the people any more straw for making bricks.  However, don't reduce their production quotas by a single brick, for they obviously don't have enough to do or else they wouldn't be talking about going out into the wilderness and sacrificing to their God. Load them with work and make them sweat; that will teach them to listen to Moses' and Aaron's lies!"

Given an impossible workload, the people are angry with Moses and Aaron. It is more that they can bear.

 This week we are in a 'camp' up on Mount Carmel and working as part of a Christian community.  My tasks have included housekeeping, washing & drying dishes, and painting.  It reminds me of my first summer job as a waitress.  I was 16. At the end of each shift, it was my job to clean the restrooms.  The work was challenging and pretty gross, really, but I learned!

It struck me as I was mopping with an 'Israeli broom' (a cloth wound round a squeegee) that perhaps I've come full circle.  Yes, the master's degree and 15 years as a school counselor are good resume builders, but in God's kingdom I'm in for tougher training!

One day after washing breakfast dishes, a few hours later, I was assigned lunch dishes as well.  There were perhaps 30 prep containers, including pans and mixing bowls, along with a HUGE pot of 3-day old lentil soup that was burned on the bottom....

The work was discouraging, and there was a moment when I thought it was all tooo much!  The next day, I listened to the story from an Asian woman who worked 12-hour days in the kitchen during a conference here last November.  Previous to coming to Israel to volunteer, she was a university teacher in New Zealand. She has an advanced degree from Boston University.

The work was exhausting (at almost 70 years old!) but she laughed in retrospect realizing God had used the kitchen as a training ground.  She was able to see how the experience had made her stronger and more humble.

The Israelites were unhappy with the increased work heaped on them. God, in His wisdom, was preparing them for the road ahead.  The portion ends with God promising to Moses, "Now you will see what I shall do to Pharoah!"

God is my taskmaster.  Toilets, sinks, pots & pans aside -

Today we had a small celebration for the women and children who live here in the shelter.  Many 'nations' heard the Christmas story and received presents.  Tomorrow is Shabbat and it is Christmas.  Regardless of how He is celebrated, God is King.

Shalom and thank you for reading Saturday Chores.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

carry my bones

Genesis 47:28 to 50:26

At age 147, Israel knew he would soon die.  He made his son Joseph promise to 'carry him out of Egypt' and to bury him with his ancestors in the promised land. 

Years later, when Joseph was 110, he asked his brothers to carry his bones up from Egypt when he died. 

Why would it matter?

During the early weeks of our travels, my husband and I talked about what we would do if either of us died on our trip.  Of course, this was a humorous rather cavalier conversation. Then, in Athens I stepped in front of a bus and as traffic screeched to a halt in front me, we revisited the question.

Last Friday in Tunisia, my husband had fish for lunch.  All of a sudden his eyes were watering and I asked, "Are you ok?" He could barely eek out, in a whisper, "I need water." 

I know the Heimlich, however, the rule I remembered from Red Cross training directs to use the maneuver only IF the person cannot talk or cough.  At least that's what went through my mind at the time.  The choking incident was super scary, and the most traumatic moment of our trip so far.  It crossed my mind that my husband might die right there in the restaurant.  The minutes went by very slowly and it seemed to take forever before he recovered.

Thankfully we are alive and well!  Now we have been in Tel Aviv/Jaffa for a week.  Tomorrow we'll go to Haifa and up to Mount Carmel. 
Today at a Shabbat service, we met a Norwegian tour guide who lives in Tel Aviv.  She described how she first visited Israel in 1976 and continued to visit until finally moving here permanently, years later.   Apparently this a a common phenonemon.  She predicted we will return home - and not long after being back in the U.S.,we will want to return to Israel.

Israel gets a hold of people.  This week's Torah portion describes two old men who wanted to return to their family's tiny plot of land after death. 

We have experienced this mysterious magnetic attraction to God's Promised land.  My father, a Scandinavian Lutheran, wanted to come here; he visited at age 85.  Who can explain this? 
He doesn't even particularily like to travel! 

Monday begins our 2nd week in Israel.  Mount Carmel has  long been on my 'wish' list - we are heading there tomorrow!

Shalom to you.

Thanks for reading Saturday Chores.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Swedes and Turks

Genesis 44:18 thru 47:27

It's been a sunny week in Hammamet, Tunisia. 

I've been homesick, to copy the word describing lackluster campers who've spent several weeks on a bunk far from home...

Gives me insight into Joseph's and Jacob's great joy in their reunion.

Did you ever attend a family reunion?
Seems to me, apart from the food (of course) the best part is belonging and feeling a part of 'my people'.

My people come from Scandanavia.
Three separate occasions this week I was asked by a Tunisian,
"Are you from Sweden?"

"Yes", I answered them all with a smile, glad my DNA was shining through several generations.

Back in Turkey, my husband was asked by more than one Turk, "Are you from Turkey?"

While he is not from Turkey, as far as we know, it is interesting how people want to fit others into a group-
into a family.

Wherever we go we carry our family with us. 
Joseph leaped enormous emotional baggage to reclaim his.

So this morning I was reading from the book of John and found a connection to the Torah portion.  Jesus is quoted in John 12:24:

"I tell you the truth:  If a seed of grain is not put in the ground to die, it will be only a seed.  But if it dies, it will bear many seeds."

Joseph went into the ground.
He was reborn in his father's arms.

I love the story.  It can be a personal one for each of us.

Thank you for reading Saturday Chores!


Friday, December 3, 2010

betrayed by a sister

Genesis 41 thru 44:17

"What would you do if you saw her on the bus this afternoon?" I asked my husband as we left the U.S. Consulate in Rome.  Wednesday afternoon, he was the victim of a pickpocket (dressed as a nun!) on an overcrowded bus during rush hour.  At the time, our destination was the Great Synogogue along the Tiber River, to watch the first day of Hanukkah candle lighting.   Instead we headed to the carbonari to make a report to the polizia.

Thursday, after replacing the passport, complete with new photos, we counted our blessings and attended the 2nd night of candlelighting.  Seems Rome is the city where Jews have lived continuously for the longest time!  There was a very long period of living in the ghetto, subjection to discriminatory laws, deportation during WWII, and a terrorist attack in the '80's.  Guards watch every corner of the city block surrounding the synogogue.  Tonight we plan to attend a Hanukkah celebration in the Jewish Ghetto area.  

Early in the week when we studied the Torah Portion, we debated the way Joseph reacted to his brothers when they came to bow down and ask for food.  Imagine the grief Joseph experienced losing his entire family and way of life as a young man.  Now married, he has two sons, lives in another country, and his old life suddenly resurfaces!  

Would Joseph need time to process what was happening?  Would he have immediate forgiveness? 

Our experience this week gave an opportunity to practice forgiveness.  I wonder if our betrayer has children or a husband.  Where did she grow up?  How did she get the nun costume?  How did she bocome SOOOO gutsy?  Does she know how much stress she caused and the hours we spent undoing her moment of thievery?

Those questions will never be answered.  We are free to choose our response.   Personally, it seems better to be grateful for a quick resolve at the Embassy and for answered prayer.  Our journey continues as planned, to Tunisia tomorrow morning.  The weather forecast next week in  Tunis  ---- SUNNY!

I hope you are enjoying Saturday Chores!  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

what happens in the hole?

Torah portion
Genesis 37:1 thru 40:23
(Joseph the dreamer finds himself in an empty cistern)

One week ago we checked into a lovely villa deep in the country of Umbria, Italy.  Most challenging was renting a car, reading the signs in the roundabouts, then navigating via Auto Stratia 45 minutes on back roads.

That night, we had our first 5 course Italian dinner.  My my mamamia!!!

Seated next to us at the long table, two Italian couples on weekend holiday from northern Italy..who spoke English, thankfully.  (Our Italian has progressed to skooosi, chao, bonjourno, and banyo, with a few other useful handmotions thrown in.)

At dinner, we heard about the proposed plan for one couple to move to New York city, where, years previous, the man had a couple of Italian restaurants.  He loves NYC and is navigating the possibility of returning.

Enter commentary from my traveling partner.....who asked, sort of out of nowhere, "do you pray?"    His answer, "only when I am in trouble!"

Torah portion correlation?  OH YES, of course:

My husband shared a short story about our arrival in Sorrento the previous Sunday.  November is off season, and the bus we took from the train station was 2 hours later than we expected.  Our backpacks become VERY heavy as we stood waiting in what became CHILLY fall weather, and the bus arrived in a nearby town at 9 pm.  Hungry, not sure what to do in the deserted town, and discovering busses were done running for the night, we asked at dinner for help calling a taxi.

No answer at the taxi station.

All is dark and quiet in this little village on the coast of Italy.

Frankly, we are in the well, as Joseph was.....


Joseph is portrayed as a cocky younger brother, known to tattle on his older brother and to brag of his dreams....he finds himself in the cistern,  and I imagine he prayed.

Which is exactly what we did.

Trying to be optimistic, I said, "God could send a taxi cab as soon as we walk to the taxi stand, if He wanted!"

We walked across the street, down to the deserted bus station and area marked taxi....

not a soul in sight.

There was a phone number at the stand, and an empty van.

But the restaurant had already called for us and there was no answer.

Out of nowhere a car appeared, and the driver rolled his window down and said, "do you need a taxi?"

The car was plain, no sign, no meter.  Tour books said ONLY ride in taxi cabs....

To make a long story short, we glady accepted a (bargain!) offer to take us to the monastery where we had reservations.  The driver said 80 euros, about 112 U.S.   Our other option would be to find a place to sleep in this sleepy town on a Sunday night....

The Amalfi coast of Italy is famous for sheer cliffs and hairpin turns.  We trusted our driver even when he dialed his cell phone a few times, even when he had to call the Sisters a few times to ask WHERE the monastery was...

Sister Josephina smiled graciously as we arrived with our heavy backpacks around midnight.  We were out of the well and had a new story to share about answered prayer.

Empty cisterns are ok, especially when they cause us to pray.

God is so able to answer our needs.  We are very grateful.

Thank you for reading Saturday Chores.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I have enough

Parshah Vayishlach -  Genesis 32:4-36:43

This week Jacob meets up with Esau for the first time in over 20 years and is relieved to discover  God has also cared for his brother.  Although Isaac's blessing came first to Jacob,  Essau was also blessed. Esau assures his brother, 

"I have enough."


After our arrival in southern Italy last Saturday, we spent 3 nights in a Franciscan monastery with wonderful nuns.  Their committed life and evidence of a vow taken was beautiful and inspiring.  Jesus is their first love.  Our stay was peaceful and rejuvenating. 

Wednesday we arrived in Florence via train.  Who knew of the presence great artists created here?  Even my best humanities teacher couldn't paint the Renassaince in my head - I needed to walk the Uffizi and Duomo and see Botticelli  and Raphael myself. 

Seems when humans took a break from conquering each another magnificent creativity happened!  Our legs still ache after hundreds of steps on 15th century marble.


OH, and the food!  cappucino, pizza, homemade noodles with tomatoes & basil...gastronomical satisfaction.

Then, to top off a truly satisfying week, the great boot find happened!

 Seems it was rainy most of the week, which meant if we wanted to see Pompeii, we'd be wet.  We were. 
It was worth it.

Cycling 4 pairs of smartwool socks wasn't a problem.  But summer is over & sandals have limits. The 'great find' was in a second-hand shop near our hotel yesterday.  Comfortable boots of Italian leather & style at a  very Midwest price of 40 euros.

VERY satisfying.

We will think of you on Thursday, as we all give thanks for family and friends and our many blessings. 

 We're off on the train to Orvieto...

Shalom and Blessings.
Be satisfied.
Thanks for reading Saturday Chores

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Can't stop thinking about Rachel & her idols

Torah portion this week:  Genesis 28:10 to 32:82

We are closing in on our last week in Greece.  This afternoon, an overnight ferry to 
Brindisi, Italy!

I can't explain it, as we are ready to see Italy, but it IS hard to leave this place on the Sea!  

Beautiful and relaxing.  

The Portion this week includes familiar stories of Jacob's dream (a ladder to heaven) and his experience wrestling in the night.  During his 20 years working for his father-in-law, Laban, Jacob marries Leah and Rachel, has 11 sons and a daughter, then decides to go back to his family home.

Rachel leaves with her father's idols.  She steals them.  Was it her lack of faith in Jacob's God?  Did she need something from her family home as a memory?  Genesis 31 gives Rachel's reason: she was angry at her father and took the idols as a  sort of inheritance, owed her.
We have seen alot of stone idols in museum and tourist shops.  They are small, and it's easy to see how Rachel could hide several on her camel.   She must have eventually told Jacob what she's done.  I wonder if she came to regret taking them.

  I can understand Rachel hanging on, wanting what is familiar.  Although I LOVE change, when it comes to the moment, it seems it's hard to take a bold step in to the unknown.

This week we spent some time planning for Italy - confirmed two Monastery stays (Sorrento and Rome).  In-between it's a week in Orvieto, near Tuscany.  

Adventure ahead!  

Guess what's in our packs?  

The same clothes we left Philadelphia with, along with new T-shirts from Athens.  OH! and a 
Greek Fisherman's Hat!

We pray together at dinner each night, for continued health and safety.  We also lift up our family and friends in Yeshua's name.

He is faithful.
We are grateful.

Thank you for reading Saturday Chores!  
Shabbat Shalom.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Torah Portion for Saturday, November 6, 2010:

Genesis 25:19 - 28:9

Generations are listed at the start of the portion this week.  Isaac & Rebekah are parenting twin boys, a 3rd generation.

Did I mention in an earlier post that our laptop, intended for the trip, did not make it out of Philadelphia?  Seems it 'black-lined' and we mailed it to our favorite repair guy back home.  Along with the computer, away went the Torah portions I had carefully saved for the trip.  We download the portion each week, this week from the JPS Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1985).

Recent stops in Greek bookstores for an English Bible have been unsuccessful.  Funny thing is, the hotel we are staying at this week had Good News for the World in worldwide English, translated by Miss A. Cressman, on the 'share' shelf.

The 1969 edition, published in Bombay, may have been Miss Cressman's life work.  It certainly reads easily enough.

So I opened to Matthew, and guess what?  The chapter, like today's portion, begins with genealogy.  Usually Hebrew names are a blur, however, I noticed in particular a few women's names.

Sarah & Rebekah aren't listed, but Mary, the mother of Jesus, is. Just five women are mentioned among the 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus, and Mary is a Virgin.  Technically, Joseph, who Abraham's ancestor, does not contribute genetic material. He was an earthly father but not biologically related.


We cannot chose our family.  Rebekah manipulated the blessing for her youngest son and made history.  Don't you think Isaac & Rebekah had a huge fight when the truth came to light?

Last week I shared what great travel partners my husband and I are.  Yesterday we had our first big argument.  The portion this week also records an argument, about wells dug by Isaac's servants.

Rehoboth was the 3rd well.  The locals did not quarrel with them over this well so they named it Rehoboth -  "Now at last the Lord has granted us ample space to increase in the land."  (Genesis 27: 22)

As we look for guidance from the portion, my husband and I trust we can walk away, dig another well, and that God will bring resolution.

Shalom to you on the Sabboth.

There is insight in the portion each week!

Thank you for taking time for Saturday Chores.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

marriage & a snail

Saturday's Torah portion is:  Genesis 23:1 thru 25:18

We access the portion via computer these days.  We pray for insight related to the portion.

One of the funniest things my husband has said during this first month of travel together, a question with the upmost awe and sincerity,

"Have you ever watched a snail move?"

I laughed out loud.

NO, I have never watched a snail move.

seriously, have you?

Many of you may smile when you read this - you know what I mean!  I admittedly, am sort of type A(?) and,
well, my husband a very type B.....

I often wonder if he might outlive me,
despite our age differences, because of the pace he chooses.

back to the snail
Later in the week, on a sunnier day, I took it upon myself to photograph a snail moving.  If my borrowed computer allowed, I'd post the photos for your enjoyment.

For now, just imagine the speed and steady forward motion of a one-inch snail. 

So, the point of sharing the snail observation is to rejoice in how our marriage is thriving in the first month of travel.  As I admitted to my daughter in an email, there aren't too many people I could go 1:1 with 24/7 for weeks on end.

Instead of my way being the right way, I am considering my husband's pace equally valid.

Sarah and  Abraham were 90 and 100 before they had a child; they left parents behind and shared their lives exclusively with
one another.

Best friends.

In the portion, Sarah dies and Abraham negotiates the purchase of the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron for 400 silver shekels for her burial. He honors his wife by purchasing land; later Isaac and Ishmael visit the grave together when Abraham dies and is buried there, honoring their parents together.

What a legacy! 
 It began by leaving everything behind and honoring the call God gave them, promising to make a great nation from their offspring.

Honestly, as some of you know, the goal of this 'big adventure' for me?  I want to really, really love my husband.  I am grateful to report that our love is steady and deepening.

God is answering our prayers faithfully.

Shalom family & friends.

Friday, October 22, 2010

view from Kusadasi Turkey

This week the Torah Portion is Genesis 18-22

Abraham hears of destruction coming upon his nephew Lot.

Lot is visited and warned to leave Sodom.

 Lot gets out but his wife turns to a pillar of salt because she looked back at Sodom's destruction.

Early in the week we had doubts about our travels sick and run down

admittedly discouraged - 

we questioned our plans out loud.

Today we toured the city of Ephesus

listening with Dutch German and French tourists 
as our Turkish guide
showed us the stadium where Apostle Paul's teaching was drowned out by citizens chanting 

'GREAT is Artemis of the Ephesians!'  

We saw the ancient remains of the 
temple of Artemis. 

(one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world)

Statues of Artemis are still sold in Ephesus shops.

We are learning so much.  

There will be no turning back!

How has your week been?  Did you hear about the Chilean miner who conducted Bible studies twice a day during the 69-day trial underground?  The miners thought they would die but God provided hope through Jose Henriquez.

Jose was quoted in the London Times -

'When a man screams to God then He will answer the prayer'

He has answered ours. 

Next? Crete!

thank you for reading

Peace to you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Go Forth!

The Torah Portion Genesıs 12 - 17 describes Abraham leaving hıs parental home which coincidentally was in southeastern Turkey (at that time the cıty was technıcally ın Iraq)

We enjoyed a delicıous lunch at an İzmer restaurant on Tuesday and met the owner who grew up ın Haram (same as Abraham!)

The hotel we chose ın Izmer was not exactly as enticıng as the photos when we booked onlıne.  One of the spookier features?  Hallways are dark - my travel partner equates the atmosphere to a prison.  Each evenıng when we return from our daıly adventures we climb 2 flıghts of stairs then walk down a long hallway to our room.  Presumably to save energy the lights only come on AFTER one begins walkıng.  We must bravely GO FORTH ın the dark then our way ıs iıllumınated.

We hıred a tour guıde to vısıt Bergama (Pergamum) referenced ın Revelatıon 2 whıch wıll ınclude a full day of hıstory ıncludıng the ancıent Acropolıs. 

Abraham left Haram ın faıth. God blessed hım.  We are prayıng to have our path ıllumınated.

Let us bravely go ın faıth antıcıpatıng the blessıngs God has ın store for all who seek Hım.

Thank you for readıng.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Who makes up those manners rules, anyway?"

Read the Torah Portion: Genesis 6:9-11:32 - Noah
Five times a day, beginning at dawn here in Istanbul, a muezzin summon faithful Islams
"Hasten to Prayer!"
Yesterday, over lentil soup, we discussed
the polite way to eat it
with the over sized spoon we were given.
Mom always said,
"hold the spoon sideways."  

So my husband puts the entire spoon in his mouth and asks,   
"Who comes up with the manner rules, anyway?"  
Good question.

Competing voices in various languages come from every direction.

"Get into the ark" 
boomed in my head the morning of September 11, 2001.
The words burned in my heart.

Our prayers are for family & friends, and for continued safe travel.  Grateful prayers.  Requests for direction and wisdom.

Shalom to you. 
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 1, 2010


"You will never be the same,"

words spoken by a pragmatic teacher friend recently about our upcoming trip.

She's traveled & I believe her.

Her words marinate in my soul.

Today's Torah portion is Genesis 1:1 - 6:8.

"...then God formed a person....and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life... (Gen. 2)

24 hours before leaving we couldn't sleep.   Magnificent, creative God gave curiosity.   We are gypsies, seekers, lovers.

God knows we could change for the better.
Lock the door, inhale Autumn air, we begin. God come along with us!                    

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vaccuuming and Torah study

Mom was a teacher who had systems and organization in place long before birthing 5 daughters.  Saturday was chore day:  we drew straws & the winner chose -  vacuuming, washing, dusting, or polishing Dad's shoes. Fair, huh?  Often I polished Dad's shoes.  He had lots of them, and at his job they got dirty. They needed to shine in the Lutheran church, where my family filled half a pew on Sunday morning.

As an adult, I've come to love the Torah.

Martin Luther would concur it's good to study the Old Testament.  Perhaps God is conducting His orchestra using tunes from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy. Christians have a cycle of readings that rotate through-out the Christian calendar.

Jews have their weekly 'Torah Portion, which is the topic of my blog.  I hope my readers will adopt a weekly chore of reading my Saturday posts, once they begin October 1st.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In the beginning..... Genesis

I'm busy packing to trek & blog Istanbul--Israel September 29th, God-willing.

Saturday, October 2nd, (coincidentally?) coincides with Simhat Torah, the beginning of the annual Torah cycle.

We'll start at the very beginning:  Genesis 1:1 - Philadelphia! (wishing the National Museum of American Jewish History had their big GRAND opening before we arrive).

Please check back on October 2nd. Would you consider subscribing so blog updates come to your email?