Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Last Havdalah (of 2017)

One of the most beautiful rituals in Judaism is the celebration of Havdalah, bidding farewell to Shabbos at the end of the day with a feeling of longing and anticipation for the next one to occur in seven days. The ritual objects are simple: a braided candle, a cup of wine, and some spices. It's usually performed in the home with family and friends gathered around to see by the light of the candle and smell the aroma of the spices.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hanukkah 2017 - Part 3

At the Chabad World Headquarters, 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. A time for kids.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hanukkah 2017 - Part 2

One of the great innovations of the Chabad movement was to encourage public displays of Jewish pride and celebration. Hanukkah menorahs abound all over New York and in the suburbs. The largest menorah in the world (Guinness Book of Records) is set up every year at the intersection of Fifth ave and 59th street in Manhattan, just in front of the Plaza Hotel. On a more modest scale is my Chabad community's menorah sponsored by the Chai Center of Short Hills and the Chai Judaica store.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hanukkah 2017 - part 1

The first Hanukkah party of the year (although the holiday doesn't begin until this Tuesday evening). It's time for the kids to make a menorah at Home Depot. A big thanks to the Home Depot in Union, New Jersey for hosting the event.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

David Grisman & Tommy Emmanuel

I had the good fortune to visit with my old friend David Grisman last evening before he performed at a local venue with Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. The concert was wonderful, but the best part for me was hanging out at the jam session before the performance and taking informal shots of the guys just having fun.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Random shots

I haven't been out for a while to shoot, so I went through my recent catalog.

Much talk lately about DxO Labs buying up the license for NIK software plugins from Google. Hopefully DxO won't change too much in their next update in 2018. It works fine now, but to justify charging for the package, they'll have to make some kind of changes.

Toasted marshmallows. Yummm....

Watching the eclipse.

Bar Mitzvah boy.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sukat with the kids

Sukat is the festival of joy. These faces say it all. The big mitzvah is shaking the Lulav and Esrog, and kids love to do it.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sukat and Simchat Torah

After all the soul searching and repentance, and the pleas for forgiveness of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, unbounded joy highlights the celebration of Sukat and Simchat Torah. The rituals of Sukat are centered around the structure of the Sukat and the symbolism of the 'four species' - the esrog and three types of foliage that comprise the lulav. Jews strive for all the components of the four species to be the most perfect in form and texture. The Sukat market in Borough Park, Brooklyn is the largest in the New York area, and it caters to a broad spectrum of religious Jews who meticulously inspect each component for the most minute flaws.

Even cowboys celebrate Sukat:

And some are just out to have a good time:

Not everyone was happy that afternoon:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Kaparot 5778 Part 2

After I posted the previous set of photos about the ritual of Kaparot, and in spite of the link which I provided that explained the practice and its roots, I received several indignant comments. The ritual is not biblically mandated. It developed during the early Talmudic period as a practice which found its roots in the oral law.

During the late period of the Second Temple a group called the Sadducees became ascendant. Its practices were based on denial of relevance of the oral Judaic law which evolved into the Talmudic Mishna and later the Gemara. The group faded into oblivion as did several other bizarre sects, never to be heard from again. Until recently, that is - with all the self-indulgent chest-beating expressed by animal rights activists.

Here's another chance for them bow off some moral indignation. Kaporos in Crown Heights, the morning of Erev Yom Kippur.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Kaparot 5778

The ritual of Kaparot precedes the observance of Yom Kippur. Any questions about the ritual can be answered here more authoritatively than I could ever hope to do. So, here's the photos.