Monday, 31 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 16-Pray

"In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart."~Mahatma Gandhi

I pray with full heart and full voice, but I continually question; what is the point of my prayer? Is it for me or is it about me? I worry that my sincerity has gone missing.

Keeping The Faith (2000)
Directed by: Edward Norton
Written by: Stuart Blumberg

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 
**We should always pray with joy like this. Music is the portal through which our prayers travel. For me..without music, prayer is meaningless.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 15-Change

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."~George Bernard Shaw

Growth is impossible without change.

Groundhog Day (1993)
Directed by: Harold Ramis
Written by: Danny Rubin, Harold Ramis

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 14-Learn

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."~Pablo Picasso

Learning can never penetrate a closed-off mind.

The American President (1995)
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: Aaron Sorkin

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 
** I just had to include the amazing writing of Aaron Sorkin. How I wish politics on either side of the border was as eloquent as he makes it out to be.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 13-Remember

"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."~Margaret Mead

Our memories are acute and define our realities. Every smell, every taste, every sound; they return us to another time, another place...and we remember.

Mostly Martha (2001)
Directed by: Sandra Nettlebeck
Written by: Sandra Nettlebeck

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 
**Non-English language films are amongst the most original and the most engaging. The English remakes are seldom as good. Open your minds to the cinema of the world. There is life outside your apartments. (yes..I stole that from Avenue Q!)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 12-Forgive

"Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave."~Indira Gandhi

It takes true strength of character to apologize for our misdeeds. It takes an even greater will to forgive someone else's.

The Big Easy (1986)
Directed by: Jim McBride
Written by: Daniel Petrie Jr.

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 
**This is one of my all-time favourite films. It has many weaknesses, but the chemistry between Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin is sizzling and the music and setting of New Orleans is captivating. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Blogging Elul Day 11-Trust

"Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement."~Golda Meir

Our life's path is dependent on the trust we have in ourselves. The most difficult decisions are often the most rewarding.

The Truman Show (1998)
Directed by: Peter Weir
Written by: Andrew Niccol

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 10-Count

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."~Abraham Lincoln

Every day finds us in the deep end of the pool. Leap in with both feet and start swimming.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Directed by: John Hughes
Written by: John Hughes

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 9-See

"My fascination with letting images repeat and repeat-or in film's case 'run on'-manifests my belief that we spend much of our lives seeing without observing."~Andy Warhol

What we see is only the surface. What we observe is the full formation and depth of the matter.

Rear Window (1954)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: John Michael Hayes (based on the short story by Cornell Woolwich)

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 8-Hear

"The voice of intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing."~Sigmund Freud

We hear, we listen, we pay attention, we understand.

The Court Jester (1955)
Directed by: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama
Written by: Norman Panama, Melvin Frank

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 
**Danny Kaye was a genius and one of my all-time favourites. Just watch and hear his comedic grace.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 7-Be

"Freedom lies in being bold."~Robert Frost

Our forward path towards self-satisfaction is dependent on us being who we were meant to be. We are the masters of our own fate.

On The Waterfront (1954)
Directed by: Elia Kazan
Written by: Budd Schulberg

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 6-Know

"The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing"~Socrates

Our greatest arrogance arises when we are convinced we know everything.

To Have and Have Not (1944)
Directed by: Howard Hawkes
Written by: Jules Furthman based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 5-Accept

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."~Aristotle

Our growth into fully-formed human beings is dependant upon the acceptance of thoughts and philosophies contrary to our own.

12 Angry Men (1957)
Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Written by: Reginald Rose

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 4-Understand

"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."~Albert Einstein

We may celebrate the teaching, but we should never assume the understanding. It is only at that point where a truthful exchange of ideas might be held.

Charade (1963)
Directed by: Stanley Donen
Written by: Peter Stone and Marc Behm

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 
** This film was a favourite of my Aunt Marlene's. Watching it again brought back sweet memories. This blogging exercise is touching me in ways that I didn't expect. Truly a month of introspection.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 3-Search

"Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party."~Jimmy Buffett

Searching leads us to the best parts of life and also to the totally unexpected. We only stagnate when we cease looking.

Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Directed by: Irvin Kershner
Written by: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at

Monday, 17 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 2-Act

"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps."~Confucius

We are celebrated for our ideas, but we are judged by our actions.

Frozen (2013)
Directed by: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Written by: Jennifer Lee (Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen)

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Blog Elul Day 1-Prepare

"To be prepared is half the victory."~Miguel de Cervantes

We move throughout our lives with preparedness so that we might freely celebrate all that is good and holy, and yet steel ourselves for that which is heart-wrenching.

The Princess Bride (1987)
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written  by: William Goldman

**Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Her blog and various links can be found at

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Why I Am Choosing to Blog Elul.....Again.

I am generally not a fan of those positive affirmation messages that litter my social media. I'm certainly not criticizing those who post them, nor am I suggesting that the people who do post them aren't genuine believers in that which they are posting. It's just that the spiritual cynic in me can't abide self-help via Facebook.

For me, (and this is a strictly personal belief so please don't send me emails, posts, and comments calling me a defeatist bitch!) soul-searching and personal growth require a far more intensive thought process than can be gleaned from a photoshopped nature scene complete with an inspirational quote from the Dali Lama. I need to delve deeper into my psyche and creativity in order to discover that certain level of introspection, rejuvenation, and inspiration necessary for intimate growth. In short, I need to put in the work.

Belief in God is a tremendously personal experience. It is impossible to explain in any single blog post or conversation as to how or why The Divine Presence impacts an individual. I would never claim that I myself have a personal conversation with God. I honestly believe that espousing such a thing tends to come off as somewhat egocentric. (Hello Mike Huckabee!) My personal search for The Divine Spirit has led me on a path that is unearthed less through prayer and ritual, and more through discovering everyday brilliance, genius, and natural wonder. I am in awe of the painter who can perfectly capture a moment in time through her brushstrokes. I revel in the musician who can manipulate emotions through just the right chord patterns. I gaze with wonder upon the the dancer whose whole being is engulfed with fervour as he leaps for the stars. I marvel at the writer who can tell a story that is infused with both pain and passion. I see God in these moments and through their creativity I find meaning.

The month of Elul affords me the time I require for that personal introspection and reflection. It is my warm-up for the New Year that is rapidly approaching. It allows me to revel in those brilliances that I believe to be divinely-inspired, and it brings the philosophy of t'shuva, t'fillah, U'tzedakah, repentance, prayer, and charity into a clearer perspective. This is why I am once again choosing to participate in the daily exercise of blogging for the month.

Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. (aka Ima on the Bimah) It is her way of engaging the social media world in introspective conversation for the month. Each day is assigned a specific prompting word that is a theme for the upcoming Yamim Noraim, High Holy Days. In past years, I have used the genius of Broadway musicals as my vehicle of expression. This year, I have decided to use what I consider brilliant film works to articulate each day's theme. It is surely a challenge, but it makes for a more intentional personal involvement and it allows me to revisit some of my all-time favourite films. The combination of pop culture with increased spiritual awakening feels very much me.

I hope that you will join me for the journey. The month of Elul begins this Sunday August 16th (we are not quibbling with the two day Rosh Chodesh-new month) and thus my first posting will appear then.

A quick caveat about spoiler alerts.

It is possible that you may not have seen the films from which I will be excising my clips and therefore you may wish not to be spoiled. (Some of the clips I have chosen come from climactic or final scenes.) That is your choice, but this is my one and only Spoiler Alert. Now it's up to you the reader. Let's call it personal responsibility, shall we? It is very in keeping with the time of year.

You can also follow my posts through my newly minted Facebook page. Just follow the link and like the page at the top. The updates will appear in your Facebook feeds. As well you can follow me and other Elul-involved bloggers on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #blogelul or #elulgram

See you Sunday.

Friday, 7 August 2015

My Friday "Think-Fest"

A few more random thoughts from an obviously cluttered mind.
  • For the first time in a very long while, I am feeling my age. That's what a week filled with doctor's appointments, pharmacy runs, funerals, shivas, and a winding down summer will do to a person. But all of that doesn't come close to the experience of having a complete stranger compliment your canine companion on his shiny hair. What's the matter? I'm not lovely?
  • We are slowly recovering from the f***ing squirrel damage (see previous post) only to discover that now there is a very bold juvenile raccoon using our backyard beds as his own personal loo. Yesterday he was sitting by the edge of the pool until The Husband turned the hose on him, and this morning he was hanging out on the deck thumbing his nose at us in a very "nya nya you can't catch me" fashion. I've said it before and I will say it again...the critters will not be satisfied until they have complete domination of the house.
  • The first week of campaigning is almost in the books for this interminable federal election and I have come to the conclusion that all in all I'd rather watch the Blue Jays. 
  • Still more about the fiction-fest deigning to call itself a national conversation. I had an interesting discussion with friends last weekend about this campaign whereupon I challenged them to find me one single Canadian, other than the candidates themselves or their families, who are actually voting based on those running in individual ridings rather than the party leaders. If you ask anybody who they are voting for, they will most assuredly say "Harper, Trudeau, or Mulcair." Case in point? I still don't know who the Liberal or NDP contenders are in my riding, and I am a tuned-in voter. Try it. See if you don't get the same response. This election is most certainly a referendum on Mr. Harper and his policies. The riding candidates simply do not matter one whit.
  • One of the more ridiculous campaign promises that has been floated by the opposition leaders is the resumption of home-delivery by Canada Post. (Ridiculous because it will never happen no matter who is elected.) As a homeowner who will soon be losing my long-cherished at the door service to an impersonal super mailbox, I can honestly say...yawn. We haven't received a single piece of relevant mail all week. The box has instead been cluttered with dental ads, real estate notices, handbills for shetyl enhancement, car detailing flyers, and a yellow pages. (Yup..they still waste paper on such things.) Who needs a postal service that basically has as its mandate to deliver junk? Worse still is the crap that is finding its way into the mail simply because Canada Post needs to feed the beast. In the immortal words of Queen Elsa, I say "Let it Go". The postal service is of a bygone era. Let's move on and spend our money more wisely.
  • I watched about 1/2 an hour of the GOP debate last night before I was physically unable to handle it. There is something about the circus that has always made me queasy. Without delving too far into the politics, I am left wondering how a woman could seriously consider voting for any one of those guys. The misogyny on display was simply appalling.
And that (in a squirrel-sized nutshell) is the week that was.

Shabbat Shalom to all whom observe.