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How should I fast?

Each person determines that. Some drink only water, juice, veggie juices etc...some can't because of health so they can give up something like TV, news etc

It's the idea that you're consciously doing something or removing something to keep you focused on the purpose of the fast...

Great Resources for Learning at Home

AlephBeta, a treasury of Jewish learning, is offering a free 1-month basic account at

ArtScroll is offering a free download of any digital volume at

Shabbat Service Elements

A continuing series about why we do what we do at City on the Hill every Shabbat. Watch this space for more...

so, what's so special about the torah scroll?

(and what's the deal about kissing all these holy objects?)

Each week we celebrate the giving of the Torah (HaShem’s Divine instructions, His will, His Word) with a joyful “Torah Walk” around the sanctuary.

As it passes, we kiss the Torah mantle with our shawl or bible out of veneration for His word and our loyalty to Adonai. In Judaism there's a lot of kissing of holy objects! :)

• The tefillin are kissed when taken out and returned to their bag.

• The tzitzit (fringes) are kissed at the end of Baruch she-Amar and during the recitation of the Shema.

• The curtain of the ark (parochet) is kissed before opening and after closing (when the Torah is taken out and then returned).

• The Torah mantle is kissed when it passes by in procession in the synagogue.

• The Torah scroll is kissed before one recites the blessings over it, either with the intermediary of the edge of the tallit or the sash used to tie the scroll together, but never with the bare hand.

• A siddur (prayer book) and Chumash are kissed before putting them away; they also are kissed if accidentally dropped on the floor. 

• The mezuzah on the doorpost is kissed when entering or leaving a house. 

In fact, when our men are carrying the Torah and marching around the sanctuary, it means that the leaders of our homes are committing to follow G-d's word, Yeshua, and the Shekinah (Divine Presence/Glory) of G-d. We are committing to taking the burden of carrying Torah and Yeshua to our homes, our congregation, our areas of influence and to the nations. 

In Judaism, the word of G-d is far more than mere words. And the Torah scroll itself is far, far more than mere ink written on paper.

No, the moment the Divine name was inscribed upon it, it became a holy object. Not a “god” to be sure, but holy nonetheless. As a result, Torah scrolls (or any publication with the written Word and Divine Name), are treated differently than a common book. The Torah is a holy object which has inscribed upon it the very essence of G-d is as He revealed Himself to mankind. It is in fact, according to the Apostles, the Living Word. The Torah procession is reminiscent of the Ark coming up to Jerusalem. Do you recall the scene of David dancing before the Ark as it was being brought to Jerusalem? The King (the man that G-d said was a man after his own heart) ordered the blowing of shofars, the Levites to play instruments and sing and the multitude of sacrifices. Do you recall the extravagant worship? This was a celebration that was apparently so joyful and free that it embarrassed the King's wife... and she became barren...unable to be fruitful and bear children.

When the Ark would travel, Moses would say ‘Arise Adonai!’. But think about what Moses said….Arise Adonai???....about a box? About wood and gold? About an object made with human hands? To Moses, the Ark (which equals covenant and Torah) spoke of HaShem, His glory, His covenant and His essence. It was figurative and yet holy.  So it is with us. This is why we celebrate with such joy every Sabbath when we remove the Torah from the Ark. and circle the sanctuary. And because the written Word IS the Living Word, and Yeshua IS the Word made flesh, we say "behold the Torah, behold Yeshua!"

what's a parsha, anyway?

You may have noticed the Torah Portion (or Parsha/ Parshat/ Parasha) schedule, on the first page of the City newsletter and on this website, Have you ever wondered what it is? Did you know that in Synagogues everywhere the same Torah Portions are studied on the same day?

First, some basics: The Torah is the Five Books of Moses, or the Pentateuch or Chumash. The Torah is part of the Tanach, or Hebrew Bible, known in Christianity as the Old Testament. Tanach is an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).

History: The first mention of a scheduled Torah-reading cycle appears in the Bible, in Deuteronomy, where Moses instructs the tribe of Levi and the elders of Israel to gather all the people for a public reading from portions of the Torah once every seven years. The need to read the Torah publicly intensified after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE; Jews were dispersed into other parts of the Middle East, into North Africa, and into Europe; and their earlier religious and cultural world became decentralized. By the beginning of the 7th century CE the Jews of Babylon established the custom of completing the entire cycle each year, which they did by dividing the Torah into 54 weekly portions. In Hebrew, the word for portion is parsha (plural, parshiyot).


Today: The weekly Torah portion, parshat hashavuah, serves as the focal point for much Jewish learning, from individual study to informal discussion groups to rabbis’ sermons. Each portion is named for the first word or words of the passage — and each linked to a specific week. The weekly portion is read aloud, or chanted, from the Torah scroll as part of the Torah service in synagogue on Shabbat (Saturday) morning. It is also usually the focus of our afternoon Yeshivas.


At City on the Hill, we get our Torah portions from the First Fruits of Zion website, and Ahavat Ammi Pearls of Torah,


adapted from


How do we celebrate the major and minor holidays? Why?

Passover and Non-Jews: A Universal Exodus

By Toby Janicki, a teacher and writer for First Fruits of Zion

If there are aspects of the Passover Seder from which all people can learn, how much more so is this true for believers in Messiah?...

Must Gentile Christians Observe the Jewish Feasts?

By Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Professor of Ancient Cultures at Israel Bible Center

There are several reasons why this topic is making a powerful comeback. The primary reason is that in the past 20 years Christian Churches around the globe, represented by almost every major Christian denomination, have become much more aware of the Jewish identity of their Savior and King. This, of course, is a wonderful thing.

The question is usually framed in a very simple way: “Must Christians observe the Jewish feasts?” I would submit to you that there are several problems with how the question is formed...


Counting the Omer

“From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf [omer] of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks [Sabbaths].”  (Leviticus 23:15)

Therefore, the counting of the Omer for seven weeks of seven days (49 days) represents the expectation of completion, the age of a universal “rest,” which is the coming of Messiah, and the Messianic age. This counting links Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, with Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Law. Counting the Omer today reminds the Jewish People that their redemption from slavery in Egypt was not complete until they received the Torah. Similarly, we are to be counting the days in blessed anticipation until Yeshua returns and establishes His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and justice on this earth.

Today, these 49 days are counted aloud every evening after sundown.  Before counting, a special blessing is recited:

“Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning counting the Omer.”

“Today is __ days, which is __ week(s) and __ days of the Omer.”

Celebrating Rosh HaShanah as a Family

Tashlich, the ritual ceremony that takes place in the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is a powerful opportunity for families to have a concrete experience of repentance. The actual ceremony involves casting breadcrumbs, which symbolize a person’s sins, into a moving body of water, symbolically repenting for those sins and casting them away for a fresh start in the new year. Children enjoy this ritual, and they can understand the idea that even though they have made mistakes, they can learn from their errors, ask forgiveness, repent and try not to repeat them in the new year. Bring the spirit of tashlich into your home by using bathtub crayons or markers to re-enact the ritual at tub time. If your child can write, they can write brief descriptions of their mistakes (“forgot to share,” “was unkind to David”) on the bathtub or the bottom edge of the tile wall. 


Drawings of the playground where Alyssa pushed a friend, or the dinner table where Jon threw spaghetti, can also be used to depict the mistakes kids have made. Have your child swirl a washcloth around in the water to mimic the moving waters of traditional tashlich, and invite them to wash their mistakes away. Point out how fresh and clean the tub looks, and remind them that Rosh Hashanah is a chance for a similar fresh start.


See more ideas at:

High Holidays - Days of Awe (Yamin Nora’im) -

Days of Repentance (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah)

Starting with Rosh HaShanah, the Feast of Trumpets, and culminating ten days later with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, in Jewish tradition man is given ten days to repent of his past year’s sins before G-d. 

Preparation: During Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, observant Jews prepare their hearts for repentance. Just as Friday is the day of preparation for the Sabbath each week, the sixth month (Elul) is to be spent in preparation for the seventh month (Tishri). Elul is also a time to begin the process of asking forgiveness for wrongs done to other people.

Atonement: The Day of Atonement teaches us about the distance between man and G-d. A person thinks, “I’m generally a pretty decent person. God isn’t really that upset with my sin.”

The bible teaches that G-d cannot abide sin. All men are sinners, and therefore, all men are forced out of the presence of G-d. Just like Adam and Eve, who were forced out of the Garden of Eden, we are all separated from G-d. On Yom Kippur, the high priest sacrificed a bull and a goat for sin offerings and carried their blood into the holy of holies. He sprinkled the blood of the sin offerings on the ark, on the veil and on the altar of incense. He did this to atone for the Tabernacle because of the sins, transgressions and ritual unfitness of the people.

Our sin is as filth before the Almighty. Shame and disgrace ought to cover us every time we open our bibles. We have sullied the very parchment of Torah with our sins and trodden on the shed blood of Messiah. Our worthy deeds are utterly eclipsed by our transgressions and sins. Yom Kippur reminds us that this is a real problem. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that “in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year” (Hebrews 10:3).

Salvation and relationship with G-d depend on a person acknowledging that he cannot make the distance. A man needs atonement. He needs a sacrifice for purification.

Forgiveness: Sometimes believers are reluctant to participate in the confessions, prayers, and petitions of the Day of Atonement because they feel that they have already received forgiveness as an accomplished fact and to ask for forgiveness somehow fails to acknowledge the work of Yeshua. It is true that we find the forgiveness of sins through the grace of Messiah, but that does not absolve us from repentance and contrition. Believers should not object to repenting, fasting, and offering prayers for mercy and forgiveness as if our forgiveness is a foregone conclusion. The Master teaches us to fast, to pray, to confess sin, to forgive others, and to beseech G-d for forgiveness. Even though our salvation is assured in Messiah, we still face consequences for sin both in this world and in the World to Come. The Brit Hadashah (New Testament) is filled with admonitions to repent, confess sin, and pray for forgiveness.

Yom Kippur is a fast day, a day for confessing sins, repenting and asking G-d for forgiveness. In the days of the Tabernacle and Temple, it was a day of solemn sacrificial rituals for purification and atonement. It was the only day of the year when the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies.

The Day of Atonement is a day for humbling one's soul. It is the day for confession, supplication, fasting and weeping. Yom Kippur is about coming near to G-d.

On the Day of Atonement, we rehearse Yeshua's work on our behalf as we concern ourselves with the cleansing, atoning work of Messiah that has wrought for us forgiveness, pardon and right standing with G-d.

George Washington's Letter

to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport

In her Fresh Bread segment on Shabbat, July 6, Rozalie mentioned the letter George Washington sent to the synagogue in Rhode Island. In part:


"For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."


Read the rest here, and history here

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