Monday 22 July 2024

Twenty Three

It took me a bit longer than I anticipated to share the birthday card I made for my eldest son's 23rd birthday. My blogging schedule is a little off and I only shared his 22nd birthday card in January (his 23rd birthday was the previous November). I am sharing his birthday card now, before his next birthday comes around!
Nadav is a big Arsenal fan. I have mentioned it many times before. His birthday cards since the age of five have all somehow featured football, or more specifically, Arsenal.
This year I showed Nadav and his girlfriend, Hila, wearing Arsenal shirts. They flew to the UK last September to visit our family there and of course managed to squeeze in a couple of games too! My card is loosely based on a photo of the two of them taken at the Emirates Stadium, where they went to see Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur. The final score was 2-2, for those of you who are interested!
You can see the stadium in the background, along with a little aeroplane and a big number 23 to mark Nadav's age. Nadav and Hila were supposed to start several months of post army travel in October, but the war began and they both ended up back in the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) instead. The little plane was to remind Nadav that he would one day get to travel, which I'm pleased to say happened in the end.
As with all birthdays in our home, there was a homemade cake as well.

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Monday 15 July 2024

Atara's Album

Atara celebrated her Bat Mitzvah back in April and her mum asked me to create a customized album for the occasion. Atara likes music and dancing, dogs, roller skating, emojis, tacos and Coca-Cola, she told me. 
Atara knew exactly how she wanted to look on the album cover. It was important to her that I show her side bangs (I am not sure what you call them in British English!) and to show her wearing her denim jacket and with lots of bracelets on her wrists. She wanted it to say Atara in English on top and then בת המצווה של עטרה (Atara's Bat Mitzvah) in Hebrew at the bottom. She also requested a cute white dog (like her next door neighbours have) and music notes.
I made sure she got everything that she wanted.
Atara's album opens the Hebrew way, from right to left. I have shown her wearing her favourite denim jacket, with some roller skates slung over her shoulder and a can of Coca-Cola in her other hand. Her hair is loose, with the side bangs shown as requested. Behind Atara is a little white dog, her favourite emojis and a plate with some tacos on it. Truthfully I thought there was already quite enough on the cover, but Atara wanted music notes in the background too. It looks a little busy but it made the Bat Mitzvah girl happy!
I made the background light purple, as Atara requested, and added some music notes in two corners of the album cover. The lettering is silver.
I decorated five pages inside the album as well. The first page has music notes on it, to illustrate Atara's love of dance and music. Next, I made another version of her neighbour's cute white dog, below. This was followed by a page showing a pair of white roller skates, just like Atara's own skates. Another page has emojis on it, then finally, one of the last pages in the album has some tiny tacos and a can of Coca-Cola on it. They are Atara's favourites.
It seems that Atara was delighted with her album. "It's so cute! We love it!" her mum wrote to me.
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Monday 8 July 2024

Mem, Shin and the Vulcan Hand Salute

A local customer was looking for gifts to take to family members in the US. She learnt about my papercuts and contacted me about some Hebrew letters, ultimately ordering a letter "מ" and two letters "ש".  The pieces, backed in grey and navy blue, were very well received, my customer writing "Total success! Everyone loved their gifts! Thank you!".
I have written about the Hebrew letter מ, or Mem, before. Mem is the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and has the sound of "m" as in "mum".
The letter ש, or Shin (pronounced "sheen"), is the twenty-first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and has the sound of "sh" as in "shy". It is shaped like a crooked English W. In gematria, which is a mystical tradition that assigns a numerological value to Hebrew letters, Shin represents the number 300.
The sole difference between the letter shin and the letter sin (pronounced "seen") is the presence or absence of a dot. If a dot appears to the upper right of the letter, pronounce "sh"; if it appears to the left, pronounce "s".
The letter Shin appears engraved on both sides of the head tefillin. On the right side, the Shin has three heads, while on the left it possesses four. The two different Shins represent the two ways the Torah was written: in stone and upon parchment.
The Shin is also the letter printed on the Mezuzah, a small box placed on the right doorpost of Jewish homes which contains a parchment scroll with verses from the Torah inscribed on it. On the Mezuzah the letter Shin stands for the word Shaddai, a name for G-d. When Jewish people leave their home, they touch the letter that represents the name of G-d and kiss their fingertips as a sign of reverence to G-d and His word.
kohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites the Priestly Blessing. In the mid-1960s, actor Leonard Nimoy used a single-handed version of this gesture to create the Vulcan hand salute for his character, Mr. Spock, on Star Trek. Apparently the directors told him to come up with some type of hand sign to use in the film. Being Jewish, this was the first thing Spock thought of, and they just went with it.
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In the Hebrew language Shin as a prefix carries similar meaning to "that", "which" and "who".
The Shin-Bet was an old acronym for the Israeli Department of Internal General Security, and the name of the service is still usually translated as such in English. In Israeli Hebrew and Palestinian Arabic, the security service is known as the "Shabak".
A Shin-Shin is the Hebrew acronym for Shenat Sherut, meaning "year of service". In addition, a Shin-Shin clash is Israeli military jargon for a battle between two tank divisions.
Sh'at haShin (the Shin hour) is the last possible moment for any action, usually military. This corresponds to the English expression the eleventh hour.

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The letter Shin mimics the structure of a human heart, above. The lower, larger left ventricle (which supplies the full body) and the smaller right ventricle (which supplies the lungs) are positioned like the lines of the letter Shin. This is said to remind us that we are to love the Lord our G-d with all of our heart.
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When you look at a topographical map of Jerusalem, above, you can see that the three valleys that comprise the city's geography - the Hinom Valley, Tyropoeon Valley and Kidron Valley - all converge to form the shape of the letter Shin. G-d said he would put His name in Jerusalem, and from an aerial view, here it is!
Finally, according to Judges 12:6, the tribe of Ephraim could not differentiate between Shin and Samekh, the fifteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. When the tribe was at war with the Gileadites, the Gileadites would ask suspected Ephraimites to say the word shibolet; an Ephraimite would say sibolet and thus be exposed. From this episode we get the English word shibboleth.
* Jewish people do not write G‑d's name in a place where it may be discarded or erased. Treating G‑d's name with reverence is a way to give respect to G‑d.

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs