Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I make hats for guys named Sean

So I knit hats for guys named Sean.
The hat I knit for Sean Astin has garnered some attention. Seriously an amazing turn of events.
It has the Vox Fox for his Vox Populi podcast. This was pretty awesome. Hobbit hearts are happy.




But There is another Sean I knit hats for.


Sean Trank has been a family friend and some one my children have grown up with as a camp counselor.
A few months ago he was diagnosed with Stage 3b, inoperable Lung Cancer,at the age of 27 and because lung cancer is connected with smoking, it is sad to even need to say it, NO he never smoked. 
Sean is a runner, diver and all around awesome guy. 
He and his wife of 2 years, Sarah,  have been going through extreme chemotherapy, and intense pain.

Sean's Video on his cancer

There are 12 days left to help Sean raise money to cover costs that his insurance does not cover.
You can buy a rockin' shirt like the one he is wearing or make a donation just because you are a mensch!
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sean-trank-versus-lung-cancer


Please pray for Sean, Sarah and their whole family.
And maybe knit a hat. Halos of Hope will be collecting hats next month at Stitches West in San Mateo, Ca. Maybe you want to knit a hat and donate it in Sean Trank's name. Maybe you want to run for some one you can't right now. Run for Sean Trank. Sean Astin has a #Run3rd group to run and dedicate races to others.
http://run3rd.com/


Our world is a better place because Sean is in it, and we want to keep it that way!

Knitting Auschwitz

In 2010, I went on my first trip to Poland to work on a reconciliation project, A Tour of Roses.
I have written about this organization  previously in Knitting Traditions and the Lizkor/remembrance socks from the trip to Sobibor.
On the first trip however, my friend Marie and I took a day trip from Krakow to Auschwitz-Birkenau (the others from my team had already gone on a previous trip). Marie is German. She had been there previously as she does work with catholic youth and projects that work between Jews and Catholics. I was so thankful for her willingness to take me. I could never have navigated the bus and trip in Polish by myself!

It was a cold and rainy day. There were very few people there. Our tour took us on a journey, we went in and out of buildings, walked into the gas chambers and stood in front of ovens. Stood in the barracks looking at the tiny spaces for sleeping, the degradation and striping away of the humanity a piece at a time.


After the official tour, Marie and I walked the grounds and the rain increased with the heaviness. We sought shelter in the empty bath house. The bath house has a plexi-glass floor so you hover over the ground. The wear and tear of visitors and time is having an effect on the building, so this "glass" floor is to preserve the witness of the past.
Marie and I sat on that floor, we had a small Bible and recited Psalms aloud. Marie, who speaks hebrew so beautifully from her time in Israel and her love for the Jews, said the kaddish with me. After we walked through the bath house. Each station removed a little more from the Jews who passed through. Here you are stripped of clothes, this one shaves your hair, the mass cold showers, the rags given to wear...your name is taken from you and a number is tattooed into your flesh. As you walk through, it just got worse and worse. At the end, the last room, the exhibitors have displays of photographs. Each photograph has a name. It is really powerful, they try to bring back the names to the nameless and show their faces as they were before Auschwitz. If you have seen Mattisyahu's Jerusalem video, you can see how the imagery of this room is captured in the video.

While we were there, in one of the display cases in Block 5, were some baby sweaters.


After several years, I pulled out the photo's, talked with Interweave's Editors at Piecework Magazine and began recreating the sweater from the above photograph.


In the Jan/Feb 2014 Historical Knitting Issue of Piecework, along with some amazing knitters like Nancy Bush, is my project.

This was such a difficult project for me. The knitting was simple and staright forward, knits & purls. But it was so emotional.











My version of the sweater:


It is not perfect. The original was not either. We have no historical data on who this sweater was made by or who it was intended for or worn by. There are an estimated 1.5 Million children who were murdered in the Holocaust. This could have been a sweater for any one of them.




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tree of Life

I love Tu B'Shvat. This is one of my favourite holidays. Did you know that there was a new year for trees?

On Tu B’Shvat, we can do more than appreciate and celebrate the natural cycles of trees and the changing seasons. We can lend a hand to help sustain and restore forests, both in Israel and at home.

Do:Plant trees in Israel. Rockets launched at Israel land in fields and forests, cause forest fires. Replenish the forests.

Do:Plant trees on school/synagogue property. Start a community garden.

Do: Learn about forest management issues in your area



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A book to review





Theodor Herzl :A New Reading by Georges Yitzhak Weisz

Definition, definition, definition... 

At the heart of the arguments on Herzl is really definition of specific words and terminology used. What is zionism? Who is a Jew? Why a Jewish state? We assume that we share the same definitions so when we debate the issue and the words are used, some how there is shock at the amount of disagreement. Our beliefs define our words.

"Who is Theodor Herzl?" is one of these questions that have been defined and redefined. Herzl's lack of observance and degrees of assimilation have been used to call into question his "Jewishness." That would be another question waiting to be defined, "How observant should one be?" This issue is in constant debate whether you are in HaEretz or the Diaspora. Which rabbi performed your son's bris? your daughter's wedding? Where you Bar Mitzvah'd? and the age old "How Jewish are you?" are question that circle round and round. These basic questions divide our communities, even to the point of being able share a cup of tea together or say brachahs.

In an interview with Haaretz, Dr. Yitzhak Weisz, stated the he believes that Herzl is more relevant than ever today, and that the discourse should go back to focusing on Jewish identity, as he conceived it. “We must return to Herzl,” he declares. Herzl’s approach, asserts Weisz, provides the basis for redefining the religious debate: “We need to uproot the Jewish terminology of religious-and-secular and start to talk about Jewish identity.”
While on vacation with his wife, he happened to read Herzl’s book “Altneuland” ‏(“Old-New Land”‏) Reading the book gave me a shock, because I grasped intuitively that there was a fraud, a distortion under way here, which unites segments of society otherwise divided by an abyss: the Haredim on the one hand and the post-Zionists on the other,” he says. “When I got back to Jerusalem, I started to read Herzl systematically. Suddenly I understood how symptomatic Herzl is of the identity crisis that is wracking Israeli society.”
“Herzl thought that a Jew remains a Jew even if he discards all the precepts. But that never happens, because observing the precepts is a collective act.” Herzl’s approach, asserts Weisz, provides the basis for redefining the religious debate: “We need to uproot the Jewish terminology of religious-and-secular and start to talk about Jewish identity.”


The news lately has reported on the return to faith of 60-70 kibutz communities that are practicing a Reformed Judaism rather than Haredi. Many lesser observant or secular Israelis leave their own country in order to get married as there are so many difficulties placed in getting a legal marriage in Israel. An Inquiry is being made into the Aliyah process, as to how it is being/has been handled.

Dov Newmark, Nefesh B'Nefesh UK Director: “So really Aliyah is the process of emigrating to Israel. It’s a fairly straightforward process - under Israel’s immigration law, which is the Law of Return, if you, if you qualify then Israel has very much an open door policy. As far as the government basket of benefits it ranges from free ulpan - which is learning the language, there’s also health benefits as well, and there is a monetary gift depending on size of family that is also awarded to you, on behalf of the Israeli government”.

Depending on which Rabbi signed your papers....

This is why this book is relevant. Beginning with the infamous Dreyfus Affair, mentioning the legendary link between George Eliot's Daniel Deronda and Herzl, the need for a common tongue and resurrecting spoken Hebrew, Weisz seeks to create a whole picture of Herzl. Looking back from this place in time, with an established Israel, post Holocaust, with Hebrew being spoken and written in, it is hard to believe that there was a time when the Encyclopedia Britannica reported things to be as unlikely as Hebrew ever being a spoken language.

Besides history, there is a faith that enters into the equation of zionism and Israel. This book is an excellent resource to the great debate.

‘A return to Jewishness is an absolute condition for a return to the Land of Israel.’ - Herzl

Now that we have a book redefining Herzl, maybe we can find a common ground in our "Jewishness" ...if we can agree on a definition.


This book was provided to me at no cost, for review purposes. I receive no compensation and the opinions are my own. And all the legal stuff that tells you I am only biased by my own opinions.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Blogging from Bed

So I am sick. I was trying to just push through the morning, but here I am in bed.
I do not rest well. I can't knit. It keeps making me nauseous.
So I have been googling planning stuff for the new year.

With so many projects and the kids, and the one going off to college, this year looks challenging and we are at Day 2 of the Solar Year.

How are you doing? Feeling overwhelmed or charged with a fresh start?
I love organizers and calendars. I always start off the year with a new one, and I waste money b/c I do not actually use it thru the year. Am I the only one?
I hate the waste of it.
This is what I found so far. I think I may need to create my own so I can list yarn dyers and teachers, craftsy classes.....

Free Goal Setting pdf

Goals 2014

Free Goal Setting Kit pdf

Blog Planner Free PDF  and the Weekly version

Free 5 yr plan pdf

Goals and Dreams Free pdf
 
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