Need A Break From The End Of The World?

Encouragement for Living in the End of Days

HaShem is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Rescue;, My G-d, my Rock in whom I will take shelter; my Shield, and the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold.  With praises I call unto HaShem, and I am saved from my enemies.  The pains of death encircled me, and torrents of godless men would frighten me.  The pains of the grave surrounded me, the snares of death confronted me.  In my distress, I would call upon HaShem, and to my G-d I would cry.  From His abode He would hear my voice, my cry to Him would reach His ears.
Psalms 18:3-7

Who needs a calendar to know we're in Big Trouble?

Who needs a calendar to know we’re in Big Trouble?

 “This world is going to hell in a hand basket”.  It was almost 30 years ago, but I remember my mother speaking those words to me as if it were yesterday.  She was standing over a sink full of dirty dishes in the outdated and hopelessly cluttered kitchen of her old fashioned house, located on the railroad tracks in a little town in Georgia.  The words were not spoken in anger, or even in self-pity, but more as a bewildered lament that the once tightly-woven fabric of her personal world had begun to unravel at Mach I.

Her mother, who had always been the rock of her existence, had recently died a lingering and painful death in a nearby nursing home.  Her eldest sister was fighting a losing battle with breast cancer, her beloved older brother had just been diagnosed with lung cancer, and at that moment, my father had recently relapsed back into alcoholism after a two-year rehab-induced sobriety.  I was too young and too inexperienced with personal tragedy at that time to be able to offer any effective words of comfort or wisdom, or to truly empathize with what she was feeling.  As I look back on it now, having since then experienced grief and loss personally, I’m sure it must have seemed to her that she had been left on her own to deal with the end of the world as she knew it.

Nowadays, in addition to the devastating personal problems to which none of us are immune, we don’t need the Maya Calendar to end to tell us that the world is in deep, deep trouble.  The stock market is having heart palpitations that could be symptomatic of a worldwide economical myocardial infarction.  Human menace threatens from every direction in the form of the Bildebergers, the Trilateral Commission, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Queda, violent and highly organized street gangs, freeway snipers, serial killers, mailbox bombers, enraged postal workers, homicidal high school students and a nuclear-armed Iran.  Supernatural forces are gathering against us, at least for those unlucky enough to have been witness to UFO sightings, alien abductions, cattle mutilation, chupacabras, crop circles, phone-in psychics, outright demons posing as rock stars and Satanic Ritual abuse.  Scary new diseases surface every so often which prove to be immune to any known type cure; flesh-eating bacteria, hemorrhagic fevers, and new strains of viruses, including the Avian Flu, which threatens within the next few years to cause a global pandemic which could conceivably wipe out a third of the earth’s population and a major portion of our food source.  Even the weather has gone haywire, wreaking tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, floods and firestorms with ever-increasing regularity.  Acid rain, snow in June, hailstones the size of softballs – it’s as if the pattern of weather we have come to know and count on over the centuries has ceased to exist, and there is no way to predict where these changes may lead or how they could effect the global economy, food supplies or our basic way of life.

Even if you have no personal awareness of the aforementioned current events, don’t ascribe to Conspiracy Theories, and don’t find yourself in need of end times encouragement in the global sense, you have certainly faced some type of personal tribulation or tragedy during your life.  If you are dealing with grief and loss, relationship difficulties, inner child issues, infertility, infidelity, lack of self- acceptance, rejection, aging, fears and phobias, emotional problems, or just difficulty keeping the faith in this pagan society, these everyday life issues can often seem like the end of the world.

When I think about where this world is headed, sometimes I want to pull the covers up over my head and ignore the Booger Man that I’m afraid is hiding right under my bed.  Maybe once in a while, you, too need a break from the end of the world – a place where you can go and hide out from reality, ignore your problems, and pretend like the world is a safe place and that all people are basically good at heart.  Well, this blog probably won’t be that place. If an ostrich could talk, he would probably tell you that hiding your head in the sand just places your backside right where your enemy wants it.  Plus, you get sand in your eyes.

Hiding won't help!

Hiding won’t help!

You have probably heard it said that true courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to face what you are afraid of and deal with it in the best way you can.  Just so, I believe that true encouragement does not come from empty platitudes or pretending that problems don’t exist, but from acknowledging that we live in a sinful world in which heartache and fear are often our daily companions.  How we deal with these issues is what makes the difference between despair and hope, and I know from personal experience that there is hope to be found in the promises of our Creator to be with us during our times of trial, in submitted and expectant prayer, fasting and personal  warfare against the forces of darkness, as well as in knowing that we are not alone in our sorrow.  I can’t offer you any easy outs or quick fixes or even the promise of a perfectly said prayer which will reverse your circumstances if you just have enough faith and can figure out the right “Spiritual Mantra” which will coerce the Creator into blessing you and giving you what you want.  Some problems have no easy solutions, and there are questions in this life for which there are just no pat answers.  And quite frankly, suffering does not denote a lack of faith in your life.  The Prophets themselves were men who experienced much sorrow, hardship and persecution in their lives, and yet their words still speak to us today from the pages of the Tanak, offering us comfort, hope and encouragement in our times of greatest need.

Whoever you are, whatever difficult circumstances you find yourself in, I know one thing about you, and that is that HaShem loves you dearly and wants the best for your life.  I am by faith a Jew.  I believe in the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya’akov and that we are to demonstrate our love and gratitude to Him by obedience to His commandments.  However, if Judaism in not your faith, whatever your personal beliefs, you are welcome here, and I hope that you will find something in this blog that eases your burden and gives you hope in the midst of a difficult time, and makes this world a brighter place for you.

HaShem, how numerous are my tormentors.  The great rise up against me!  The great say of my soul, “There is no salvation for him from G-d. Selah.”  But You, HaShem, are a Shield for me, for my soul, and the One Who raises my head.  With my voice I call out to HaShem, and He answers me from His Holy Mountain, Selah.  I lay down, and slept, yet I awoke, for HaShem supports me.  I fear not the myriads of people deployed against me all around.  Rise up, HaShem, save me, my G-d, for You struck all my enemies on the cheek.  You broke the teeth of the wicked.  Salvation is HaShem’s, upon Your people is Your blessing, Selah.
Psalms 3:2-9



The End is just The Beginning!

The End is just The Beginning!

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Whatever! Learning How To Obey The King Of Our Lives


Obedience and Self-Sacrifice

Adventures in the Spiritual Life

The Ultimate Battle of Wills

I have a tendency to be a little too laid back.  It’s not that I’m calm by nature.  It’s just that I have a limited reserve of emotional energy.  I have heard it said that the Path of Least Resistance is not the Road to Glory, but that has never concerned me too much.  I just want to press the “Easy” button.  Don’t Rock My Boat, don’t Ruffle My Feathers and don’t make a Ripple in My Pond, and we will get along just fine.

My Wished for Life
Don't Rock my Boat My Ruffled Feathers

My friends all tease me that my favorite word is “Whatever”, and they are right.  It’s like a verbal force field that fights off unwelcome disturbances in my universe.  “Oh, there’s unexpected company for dinner?  Whatever.”   “I wore one blue shoe and one black shoe to work again?  Whatever”.  “I burned your toast and ironed a scorch in your favorite shirt?  What. Ever.”

I can whip that word out faster than a gunslinger in a “B” Western can draw his trusty six-shooter.


Unfortunately for the likes of me, complacency isn’t one of HaShem’s favorite character qualities.  So what do I say to Him when He comes along One Fine Day and says to me, “Get up and go where I am sending you, to a Land you do not know.  Leave behind you all that is familiar, secure, cherished and beloved.  Take only what you need for the journey, and wait there for My instructions.  No one will understand what you are doing, and many will misinterpret your motives.  Some will even think you have lost your mind.”

So, what do I say to my Elohim when He asks of me the seemingly impossible?  I say, “Master, you have Capsized My Boat, Plucked Out All My Feathers, and Dropped a Boulder the Size of Mount Hermon into My Pond.  There is a crack in the foundation of my universe.  I cannot possibly do that which You have asked of me.”

But in the silence of my sleepless nights, when a million unseen tears fall to my pillow from my weary eyes, I know what I must do.  I must pray for the courage and strength to do just as He asks.  All that I fear to leave behind, He has given me.  There would be no beloved home, family, friends or comforts if He had not provided them.  He is the Rock of my existence, and the fortress of my life, the Provider Who both gives and takes away, as He sees fit.

And so I wipe away the tears, lift up my heart in supplication, and whip out my favorite word one last time.  Lord, I will do, even if it kills me, everything You ask of me.  I really mean it.



During this coming New Year, may we all find ourselves exactly where He wants us to be.

Shannah Tova v’Chag Sameach!!


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Be’er Sheva, Israel – My New Home Town In An Ancient City

My Personal Perspective of Beersheba, Israel
an Ancient City With a Modern Flavor

Background of the Ancient City of Be’er Sheva

Some of ancient Beersheba's archeological ruins

Some of Be’er Sheva’s archeological ruins

The city I live in, Be’er Sheva (or Beersheba as it is sometimes called) is more than 4,000 years old.  Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imenu, the Patriarch and Matriarch of the Jewish Nation once lived here.  Their son Yitzhak Avinu (Isaac) lived and married his wife Rivka Imenu (Rebecca) in Be’er Sheva also, as did his son Ya’akov (Jacob) whose name was eventually changed to Yisrael (Israel) by the Almighty Himself.  Israel Avinu was living in Be’er Sheva when he discovered that his son Yoseph was alive – and the vice-roy of Egypt –and he moved from here with his remeaning 11 sons and their families to escape the famine.

The Modern City of Be’er Sheva

Beersheba is An Ancient City With a Modern Flavor

Beersheba, Israel.  Hannah’s New Beautiful Home Town

Although the Be’er Sheva of today is bustling and modern, albeit small metropolis, there are still many ancient sites, archeological discoveries and historic landmarks to see, such as the original well dug by Avraham himself, which still has water.   There are aquaducts, an old mosque, a Turkish train station and a cemetery for many British soldiers who died here fighting the Ottoman Empire during WWI.

When Avraham and Sarah lived here, the city was called Gerar, and the population was mostly Philistines, living under the rule of King Abimelech, and in those times there were still Nephilim (giants) in the surroundings of the city. Today, Be’er Sheva boasts a population of approximately 194,300 people from all over the world, and no giants to speak of.

The Population of Beersheva

Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab countries

The greater proportion of immigrants here are Jewish people from Morocco, Tunisia, Algiers, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and other countries in North Africa and the Arabic Peninsula who settled here after hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from those areas in 1948 by the Muslim Arabs in retaliation for re-creation of the State of Israel.  There are many others here from Russia, Ukraine, Belarusia, Uzbekistan, Hungary, Romania, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Canada, America, England, Ethiopia, China and India, and also there is a large population of non-Jews, such as Arabs and Bedouins.

Although the main (and rightly so) and most widely spoken language here is Hebrew, while walking down the street or drinking coffee in a cafe, it is normal to hear conversations in a multitude of languages.  Arabic and Russian are the most common after Hebrew, but people also speak Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Hindi, Chinese and Ankharic, among other tongues, and sometimes, a mixture of several in the same conversation.

Restaurants and Shopping in Be’er Sheva
Aventures at the Shuk

Ah, the delicious adventures at the Shuk !

Due to the cultural diversity, there are many fine restaurants featuring international cuisine of all types.  However; some are kosher and some are not, so you will need to ask about that before you choose one if you observe kashrut.

Be’er Sheva has a number of different types of places in which to shop.  There are several malls, and a shuk, or outdoor market for fruit, vegetables, spices, some household items and clothing.  The Old City has a bazaar or flea market on Fridays in the morning, and the Bedouins also have a Flea Market on Thursdays.  In the outdoor markets and bazaars especially, you should be prepared to bargain for what you want to buy, because if you settle for the first price offered, you can get “taken to the cleaners” in Middle Easternstyle.  The shopping centers and bazaars are busy and filled with people most of the time,a a testament to the strength of the Israeli economy.

Economic Situation in Be’er Sheva

Economic Situation in Be'er Sheva

As evidence of the economic stability of Israel, there is quite a lot of construction of buildings, sidewalks and roads in almost all areas of the city, which is a good sign, although it can be noisy and inconvenient at times.  Due to the fact that the economy is flourishing right now, most shops, stores and cafes can afford an abundance of workers.  I once actually counted ten salesladies in the cosmetic section of the pharmacy where I shop, which is probably about 1/3 smaller than the average CVS or Walgreen’s pharmacy in the Southern US!  There is normally work available in the city, but for those whose Hebrew is less than proficient, the normal jobs available are factory work, construction, cleaning, companion for the elderly, child care or language tutor.  Those who are less than fluent in Hebrew and have no special degree or training should be prepared to earn minimum wage, which is about 23 shekels per hour.  The normal work week is 12 hours per day from Sunday through Thursday and four or five hours on Friday.  Most people do not work on Shabbat, except essential tasks such as police, fire and medical personnel.

Friendly Feral Cats in Beersheba

The Feral Cats in Beersheba Are Very Happy to be Alive

Like most towns in Israel, Be’er Sheva is home to thousands, if not tens of thousands of feral cats.  The story is that the British brought the cats here after World War I to take care of a rat problem.  Well, the rats are long gone, and so are the British, but the cats are still here, en force.    The Middle Eastern opinion regarding animal shelters seems to be that a cat is much happier alive and feral than he would be if he were rescued and “put to sleep”.  Many people do care for the cats, and it is normal to find containers of food and water around the places where they congregate.  Whatever ones opinion on the presence of a feral animal population, to me the cats add a nice ambience and character to the city.

Be’er Sheva is located in the heart of the Negev desert, about 45 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The climate is extremely dry, and there is no rain at all, except between the Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles – September/October) and Pesach (Passover – March/April). It is quite hot here in the summertime, averaging 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more during the day. From the middle of November through the middle of March, it is usually cold, averaging in the 30’s and 40’s day and night, and often rainy. In addition to the cold and rain, most winters can bring several sand storms, which can be an impressive experience and somewhat scary for “greenhorns.”

Gaza Rocket Attacks Against Beersheba
Arab Rocket Attack Against Be'er Sheva

By an Arab rocket attack in my neighborhood in 2011

Be’er Sheva is located just 23 miles north of the Gaza Strip, home of some of the most notorious Muslim Arab terrorists in the Middle East.  Not infrequently, they shoot rockets and missles toward surrounding towns and cities, ALWAYS aimed at the civilian population.  When this happens, the air-raid siren sounds, and it is time to scramble for cover.  Almost all public buildings, as well as apartment complexes have an underground  “miklat”, or bomb shelter.  As well, it is important to designate a safe room or secure space in your home, in case the alarm comes in the middle of the night, or at a time when you can’t make it downstairs to the bomb shelter in time.  At the beginning, this can be a somewhat nerve-wracking experience, but Be’er Sheva is protected, first of all by the Almighty, blessed be He, and second of all by a defense system called Iron Dome, which explodes a great number of these flying weapons harmlessly in the atmosphere.  Considering the number of rockets and missles fired at us, there has been to date very minimal injury or property damage.  Although a few lives have been lost from time to time, the most common injuries treated are caused by people falling while running for shelter,  shock, and people being hit by shrapnel or debris due to looking out the window rather than seeking the appropriate shelter.  This is truly proof that, even to this day, HaShem is in the business of protecting his people, (just as He did in Avraham’s day) for which we are grateful beyond measure.

I don’t wish to make light of a serious situation, but sometimes I think that these Arab terrorists must feel like Wile E. Coyote trying to kill the Roadrunner.  Beep. Beep.  We Jews are still here!

Daily Life in Beersheba

Be’er Sheva is an interesting and picturesque city.  On a morning’s walk, it is not unusual to pass three our four Bedouin women, dressed in black from head to toe, riding on donkies, a group of teenaged soldiers, machine guns at their sides,  standing in a circle, wearing kippas, prayer shawls, tefillim and phylacteries, saying their morning prayers, or a rabbi and several of his Yeshiva students, wearing black coats and hats, long beards and payot (side curls) walking down the street, deep in discussion.

In spite of the raging homesickness and loneliness for my friends and family that I have had to endure, I have truly enjoyed living in this different world.  Slowly but surely, the once-strange sights, sounds and culture of the Middle East have grown on me, and the City of Be’er Sheva has become my new home town.



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The Vagabond Always Returns – Learning to Accept Torah’s Rules

Memories of an Early Rebellion

Even my closest friends don’t know this:  I was once a homeless person, a hobo, a vagabond, a lost and lonely wanderer with no place to lay my weary head.  I was five years old, and it lasted for about… ten minutes.

Relatively speaking, my childhood was a happy one.  From the time I was two until I was seven, I lived on a little farm in a small town in Georgia.  The lifestyle was a wee bit isolated for an extroverted child such as myself, but I passed my days pleasantly enough.  I had all the cats and dogs I wanted.  I could capture and interrogate small creatures to my heart’s content.  My younger sister Becky was an excellent guinea pig for my Human Behavior and Knot Tying experiments, and when all else lost its flavor, I could spend the day pretending to be Zorro.  Life was interesting, entertaining, and quite frankly, pretty sweet.  Except for one little thing:  The Rules.

It seemed to me that somebody (usually my mother) was always trying to wreck my day with senseless, humorless and restrictive regulations and requirements.  “Don’t jump on the bed with a pencil in your hand!”  “Don’t eat things you find on the floor!”  “Don’t stick your hand in the mouse hole!”  “Don’t try to pet the mule!”  “Don’t go outside with your clothes off… anymore.”

On and on went the list, ad nauseum, until I felt that it had become a serious hindrance to my freedom of self expression and my right to the pursuit of happiness.  I therefore made the announcement one day that I would shortly be striking out on my own.  Right after lunch.

Adventerous Little Hannah

Wise woman that she was, my mom offered no resistance.  She accepted my decision to move on with equanimity, and offered to pack for me.   Within the hour, I was heading off down the path to the big, dirt road in front of our house, carrying a stick with a bandana tied to the end of it.  Inside the bandana was my teddy bear, a clean pair of socks, and a cheese sandwich.  “Where will you stay when the night comes?” asked my mom.  “Well, I guess I’ll just keep traveling on.” I said over my shoulder, and away I went, down the path to the World Beyond and the Great Unknown.  But as I reached the main road, I turned to bid my former life a fond farewell, and as I looked around, I saw my mom and my sister, standing in the doorway of our cozy little farmhouse, sadly waving goodbye.  I burst into tears, and ran back home as fast as as two skinny legs and a worn out pair of PF Flyers could carry me.  I never, ever even thought of running away from home from that day on.

In the waning years of  my life, I have accepted a difficult task.  I have received an invitation from my Creator to join the Nation He has chosen to represent Him to the rest of the world.  There is so much to learn and experience that my days past interestingly enough, and I truly feel that I have been given the ultimate honor.  There is just one problem:  The Rules!  We’re not talking “Ought-To’s” or “Should-Do’s” here.  We’re talking “Have-To’s” and “Can’t Do’s”.  Galore!

Believe me when I say that it is not an easy matter to change lifelong habits when you are a Senor Citizen.  It can pretty much turn your world upside down.  While the Almighty gives us always the strength we need for the task at hand, I confess with deepest regret that every once in a while, my eye is on the door and at least mentally, I am wrapping my teddy bear, my socks and my cheese sandwich in that old bandana, getting ready to set off for Parts Unknown.

But just as I imagine myself taking that first step onto that long, dusty road, I look back over my shoulder, and I remember that my life is my Creator’s.  Wherever He sends me, whatever He asks of me, no matter what His requirements of my life might be, as long as He is with me, I am Home.

So no matter how many times I reach my limit, pack my bags, put on my walking shoes and head out down the lane and out to the open road…the vagabond always returns.



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My Name is Hannah – My Conversion to Judaism

My name is Hannah.  It’s a pretty nice name, I suppose.  Gentle, unassuming, harmless.  You wouldn’t expect anyone named Hannah to be too much trouble.  I mean, there has probably never been a “Hannah the Horrible” or “Hannah the Hun”.  In the on-line dictionary of names, which I consulted, Hannah means “Gracious”, which is by far not a derogatory character quality.  The sound and meaning of the name Hannah are fine and dandy with me.  The only problem I have with my name is that I’m not used to it.  You see, I haven’t been Hannah for very long.  Up until recently, and for quite a number of years, I might add, I have been known as “Jenny”.  I was used to being Jenny, and I kind of like it; so what, you may ask, led me to change a name I was used to and fond of?

The answer is – I have been Converted.  I say it that way because it happened that way.  It was not I who chose, performed, or even welcomed the Conversion.  It was not initially my idea, or even my choice.  I was happy the way I was.  I was on familiar territory, and it felt good to me to be there.  I knew the jargon, and I could handle whatever was thrown at me, because I had ‘Experience’.  I had a routine, a lifestyle, a self-image and a personal identity that I was comfortable with, and maybe even a little smug.  You see, I thought I was right.  How little did I know!

Throughout the course of several years of difficult introspection, study and shocking discoveries, I learned that the G-d of Israel is not Who I thought He was, and that I was not who I thought I was, either, and that in almost everything I thought I knew, I was so deeply wrong that it crushed my spirit and broke my heart into a thousand little pieces.

There was a ceremony of Conversion on June 1, 2008.  It seemed I woke up the next morning feeling the same as I was the day before.  Nothing felt different.  Things were pretty much the same, but not for long.  Within a few weeks, I began to feel the doubts and fears creeping in.  I had thought I knew Who G-d was.  I thought I knew for sure that He loved me and accepted me as I was.  If I was wrong about that, maybe I didn’t really know anything at all.  The sky fell on me that day, and the ground opened up and swallowed me whole; and as He so often does when we think we have it all together, my Creator saw fit to grind me into powder, and grind away He did until I felt even my bones dry up and blow away.

Hannah's Metamorphosis

Hannah’s Metamorphosis

Mine was a Conversion not at the social level, the mental level, or even at the emotional level.  It was to the bone, gut-wrenching, sob-inducing, life-altering, “Dear-God-What-Have-You-Done-To-Me?” level.  The metamorphosis was much deeper than the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly.  I have been to the deepest night of the soul, and have returned a completely different being.

I do not intend to say that Jenny has died, or even gone away.  She is still here inside me, and in many ways, the better part of me.  It was Jenny who gave permission to the Almighty to change her however He chose; Hannah is the consequence of that change.

Almost all that was dear to me before my conversion is still with me.  I see the faces of those I love and am far away from constantly before me.  The pain of separation is sometimes more than I can bear.  But HaShem gives me the strength to carry on, and the comfort of knowing that He is with them as He is with me.

Yes, I have been Converted, and by some great miracle, I am living in God’s Promised Land among His Chosen People – my people.

Shalom.  My name is Hannah, and I am a Jew.  And this is my life.




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Shalom and Baruch HaBah!

Shalom, and welcome to my blog.  We are currently under construction, but hope you will visit often once we are up and running.  As some of you may know, I am a convert to Judaism and made Aliyah to Israel in 2011 with 11 other members of my family.  The purpose of this blog is to share with others the incredible experience of living in the Holy Land, and the lumps, bumps, sacrifices and obstacles I have run into along the way.  I look forward to hearing from some of you who may have had similar experiences, and hope you will share what you have learned as well.



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