Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement”

Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement,” is said to be the holiest day of the Jewish year. Falling ten days after Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur is the culmination of the Jewish High Holy Days and begins this year at sunset on Tuesday, September 25, and ends 25 hours later, after nightfall on Wednesday, September 26.
The period is one of solemnity, fasting, abstaining from work, and praying at special synagogue or temple services.


Beginning an hour before sunset, when Yom Kippur commences, and ending an hour after nightfall, when Yom Kippur concludes, strict observance of the Torah commands that no food or liquid be consumed. The focus should not be on physical needs but rather spiritual ones. Some exceptions are made, however, for the elderly, the infirmed, pregnant women, new mothers, or if there are other major health concerns.

 Repentance (Teshuvah) and Charity (Tzedakah)

According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah, each person’s fate for the coming year is inscribed by God into the Book of Life, and that the final verdict is sealed on Yom Kippur. During the ten days leading to Yom Kippur, Jews are encouraged to seek forgiveness from anyone they may have offended during the year, to give charity, and to pray. This period of repentance, generosity, and introspection is meaningful and important to Jews all over the world.


A special prayer book called a Machzor is used for all the unique prayers chanted on Yom Kippur. These include Kol Nidrei, an Aramaic plea for God to forgive any vows made that were not honored during the past year. It is recited at the start of the holiday, and Al Chet, a listing of and a request for forgiveness for many types of transgressions one may have committed throughout the year is also chanted. Services are held during most of the day until Neilah, the closing prayer, at which time a shofar (ram’s horn) blasts and signals the end of Yom Kippur.

You can honor the traditions and celebration of this Holy Day by sending a Yom Kippur card to someone who will surely appreciate your thoughtful gesture and respectful good wishes.



In Celebration of Jim Henson! (9/24/12)

Since the day Jim Henson brought Kermit the Frog to life, we’ve all been getting a better understanding of what it means to be green. Kermit set his own rainbow in the sky
and we saw a new promise of joy in the world.

It’s an honor to celebrate the life of Jim Henson, whom we miss even to this day, for his extraordinary talents and fascinating character. If you’ve ever wondered whether
a person can truly be drawn to their life’s work at an early age, you only have to look at Jim as a teenager in high school to see how his passion for puppetry began. Of course, it was later—after his college years and his collaboration with Frank Oz and others—that he became known as the greatest tenant that ever moved to Sesame Street.

Because of him, some of us had relationships with Big Bird and Bert and Ernie well before we realized there was another world apart from our TV sets. We learned what it meant
to be a friend, what it meant to be different, and even what it meant to be an adult. We learned to appreciate and acknowledge each other in new ways.

Jim Henson was one of the first puppeteers to give precise mouth movements to his characters so that they could become more human. He wasted no time designing appealing and fun characters for every age group. Soon, Miss Piggy was born to be Kermit’s “girlfriend,” Fozzie Bear joined the team of friends and numerous other personalities emerged, all of whom helped to make the Muppets a household name.

Henson, who was born in 1936, built a legacy that few can rival and certainly we are all
the better for it. When he stepped out on the stage of the Ed Sullivan show in the 50’s a new kind of star was born and it shone brightly.

Today that star lives on in the work that Jim Henson’s children continue to build, bringing a new generation of viewers a reason to look at life with renewed joy each day. It may not be easy being “green,” but it’s easy for all of us to embrace the work of this innovative puppet creator.

On September 24th, we sing Happy Birthday to Jim Henson and are grateful for the role he played in giving all of us a beautiful rainbow connection.



September 21, 2012: International Day of Peace and Gratitude

September 21, 2012 is notable because two organizations have ordained it as a date to celebrate the things that give rise to the best in humanity—our mission for world peace, and our sense of gratitude for all we have.

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly.  Its hope is to see the world set aside its weapons of discontent and hostility and let peace reign, even if it’s just for a day.  An annual day of non-violence, a day of true peace is intended as an ideal—a way of reminding us to seek better solutions to the problems that confront us on every side, from environmental issues to those of human justice.

This year a meeting in Rio de Janeiro will bring renewed commitment from all individuals and nations involved to increase their efforts to find sustainable peace for everyone on this planet, setting the stage for a secure future for all.

As Harry S. Truman once wrote, “It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace.  When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”

Concurrent to The International Day of Peace is World Gratitude Day.  World Gratitude Day was actually started in 1965 with the intention that we should become more aware of those things that inspire us to be grateful.  Its goal is to remind us of the importance of feeling and showing gratitude toward the people we love, the work we do, and the opportunities we have to fulfill our destinies.

It’s good for us, states M. D. Babcock (noted 19th century American minister and writer),  to “be on the lookout for mercies.  The more we look for them, the more of them we will see…Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles.”

Let us count our blessings in all things then and let us come to the 21st of September with new intentions, with a desire to appreciate the people we love, to work for the good of all humankind, to seek peace and to give honest thanks for the things in life that make such a difference in the world. Let us come to the 21st of September and give thanks for the peace in our own neighborhoods…for our homes, our friends, and our families.



eCard of the week: How You Bean?

The amazing thing about catching up with old friends is that when you do, you feel like you haven’t missed a beat…you just pick up right where you left off! Do you know someone like that…someone you’d really like to just sit down and share a cup of coffee with and enjoy a nice long chat? This adorable talking ecard, How You Bean? could be just the thing to help get that conversation going.

Blue Mountain has a great selection of talking ecards that are fun for any reason or any occasion. You can write whatever you’d like and then choose from several different voices to deliver your message…or you can choose one of our messages, if you’d prefer. Either way, these cards are a great way to connect and keep in touch!



Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15

Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated September 15th through October 15th, honors the rich culture and multifaceted traditions of Hispanic-Americans whose ancestors hail from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America. Recognizing their countless achievements and essential roles that helped shape America into what it is today, it is a time of great festivity and joyful ceremony.

Beginning in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, Hispanic Heritage Month originated as Hispanic Heritage Week. September 15th was chosen as the inaugural date as a way to commemorate five countries’ day of independence: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It later grew into a month-long celebration in 1988 when President Ronald Reagan, signed it into law on August 17, 1988. The Latin American observance of Columbus Day, called Dia de la Raza (“day of the race”), occurs on October 12, within the celebration period.

Given the wealth and variety of cultures participating, there is much to embrace during this festive time. Latino art is exhibited, films are screened, music is performed, crafts are featured, regional food is indulged, and key figures from history are memorialized for their pivotal roles in the American narrative, including:

  • Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic female astronaut
  • Oscar Hijuelos, awarded the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction—The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
  • Roberto Clemente, baseball player inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973
  • Bill Richardson, Governor and former congressman, Cabinet member, Ambassador and U.S. Presidential candidate
  • Sonia Sotomayor, first female Supreme Court Associate Justice

…and many, many others.

With so much culture worth celebrating and historical role models to admire and emulate, Hispanic Heritage Month offers the opportunity for Hispanic Americans to take pride in their past as they continue to help sculpt the present and dream of even brighter futures.

The colorful postcard above is perfect for posting or sending to someone special who is celebrating their rich heritage this coming month.



This September 11: Honor, Remember, Reunite

 “May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance.”

These words are part of the mission statement of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center in New York City. As the nation and world mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we share the sentiments of the 9/11 Memorial, making today a day of commemoration.

Some of the ways we can commemorate this day is to observe a moment of silence to remember and honor the nearly three thousand men, women and children who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. We can thank our local first responders and other everyday heroes for their dedication to protecting our lives and communities. We can remember and thank the many Americans who have served or who are currently serving in our nation’s military–many of whom enlisted as a response to the 9/11 attack.

We can attend remembrance services and other appropriate ceremeonies and activities, and we can fly our flags at half-staff, as directed by Presidential proclomation (Patriot Day, 2002.) Just as importantly, we can be diligent in keeping each other safe–holding our families and friends a little closer and answering the call to help others in time of need. In this way, we will honor the memories of all those who lost their lives and will continue moving into the future as a stronger, kinder and more aware nation.





Happy September Birthday, You Radiant Stars!

A wish for a wonderfully Happy Birthday to all our friends born during the month of September. We’re re-posting our special September birthday blog so you can read about all their shining qualities!

September Flower

You’ll have a star-studded birthday!  September finds you walking in the midst of enchanting fall flowers in a wide variety of colorful asters.  Your birth flower, the aster,  means star, so it adds to the special quality of your birthday month.

September Birthstone

oct birthstone

Of course, along with the asters, comes your birthstone which is the Star-Sapphire in its vibrant blue colors.
Demonstrating its powers of wisdom and purity, the sapphire was the choice of ancient Kings.  It was said to protect its wearers from slipping into the grips of envy, or from being poisoned by snakes.  Second only to diamonds for its lasting beauty and hardness, it brings the gifts of sincerity and faithfulness to your birthday sign.

Yes, you’re a star!  You lead with your heart, think clearly about the matters at hand, and reign with kindness over all your relationships.  You are patient and practical, refined and gracious, and have a touch of aristocratic reserve.  Your powers of observation are also outstanding and people come to you, seeking your guidance and wisdom.  In other words, you rock!

Like the star that you are, you know the best ways to make an impression and to keep your light shining.  You have many talents and it’s not surprising to see you do incredibly beautiful things with your hands.  You love to display handmade treasures to remind others of the gifts that come from nature and from the heart.  That being said, you’re not exactly ready for the farm life and to live off the land.  No, you are fond of being one of the trend setters, one of the people in the know, so you’re more comfortable in a thriving community.

As you celebrate your birthday month, hold your head high, walk joyfully into the days ahead and let your considerable light beam into the lives of others.  The stars will come out to applaud your day.  Shine on and have a Happy Birthday!