Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Signs of Winter in the Holy Land

The result of the first good rain.

I saw this in Ofra.  It's big and already dying.  It's the Crocus hyemalis, Winter Crocus, כרכום חורפי ,زعفران I haven't seen any here in Shiloh yet, but I haven't taken too many walks during daylight or at all.

But my husband has joined my next door neighbor harvesting our olives. 

The neighbor has a few olive trees and he will take the olives to a press for olive oil.  They always give us some.

This tree was planted before we chose this spot to live and build on.  Our house is next to a public path.  It has grown enormous in the thirty years it's here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Easy Entertaining of Sorts, The Visiting Christians

I must admit that it wasn't real "entertaining" with food or anything like that in my house or whatever.  What I did was to speak to a Christian group that volunteers for Jewish farmers in Judea/Samaria. 

The person who leads this group has been after me for more "understanding" since  my Shiloh Musings has Jewish Israel posting, and I sometimes remind my readers to beware of Trojan horses and worse from Christian groups posing as Jewish or pro-Jewish.

Especially with Christian groups, I'm wary of their true agendas.

Yesterday, in the fitness park across from my house, I spoke to them very honestly and bluntly.  Yes, that's the only way I know how to speak.  For me being too diplomatic is just a fancy word for lying.

I admitted that my interpretation of Christianity is that they aim to replace Judaism and that they worship a person, which is forbidden by Jewish Law.  I also told them that I do not like the fact that there are Christians who adopt Jewish ritual objects.  And I also said that although we use some of the same terms/words, they mean very different things.  Their god isn't the Jewish G-d.

Since they say they are pro-Israel and asked what they can do, I told them. 
  • I told them that their role is to inundate the media, politicians and academics wherever they live and tell them that the only People who have a historic right to be here in the Holy Land is the Jewish People. 
  • They must keep on repeating that there never was a Palestinian sic People, nor a Jordanian one.
  • They must report the true situation in Israel, the tolerance and the terror.
I should have also told them to support Israel financially by buying as many Israeli products as possible.  What else should I have said?

PS After I had finished talking, some of them helped me by dragging our old washing machine out of the house, so I could prepare the spot for a new one, G-d willing.  What's interesting is the the on/off button fell off of it as it spun its last spin...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Challah Baking sans Mixer

I don't have a mixer, so I make my challah by hand.  All that kneading is manual.

The last time, or times, I've made challah there had been criticism about the texture.  Taste was fine, but you can't slice the leftovers to make sandwiches.  They crumble, so I'm always trying to tweak the recipe. 

I write it as I make it/add ingredients.  Here's the last one.  The only thing I left off was the pinch of salt, coarse aka koshering salt:
1 c sugar (dark brown)
2 T dehydrated yeast
3 c warm water
1 c oil
4 eggs (medium or smallish by American standards)
and 2 kilo or so of wholewheat flour

As I worked I added more yeast, because mine isn't all that fresh.  The yeast, sugar, water, some of the flour mixture didn't bubble much.  It barely simmered.  The dough didn't rise much either.  I took advice I had read on the internet and started with the yeast, sugar, water, some of the flour and left it covered to ferment. 

I was on the computer while preparing it and a facebook friend suggested covering with plastic rather than my old towels.

After the mush showed some life I added the rest of the liquids, eggs and oil and then started adding the rest of the flour plus the pinch of salt.  And I kneaded and kneaded.  Then I left it covered (try plastic) to rise.  Eventually it grew, sort of like a kid with an endocrine disorder.

Then I "punched it down," then "took challah" and because it was pretty late already I decided to make the shapes and paint them with raw egg.

Then, again I let them rise, which they actually did a bit.  And then, because of the weak yeast, I baked them at a lower heat than usual.

I was amazed that they ended up looking fine. Tasting great was never in doubt.

 It isn't all that hard to make challah, even if you have neither a mixer nor a breadmaker machine.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Never Dull in the JBlogging World, HH and More

For those of you who don't normally read my other blog, Shiloh Musings, I'd like to plug an important post on it about how easy it is to be hoodwinked by christians posing as Jews.

And for something more on the lighter and more positive side, there's the latest Havel Havelim at Marina's Letter From Israel.

I'm in a big rush today, so I don't have time to post all of the contact information for HH, KCC and JPIX. You can find them here click.

Enjoy the week.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ohel Shiloh Elementary School, WOW!

Just over thirty-one years ago, Sept. 1, 1981, the local elementary school opened its doors, yes doors for the first time.  There were three classes in three little buildings.  Eighteen students, boys and girls, studied there.

Today there are two schools, both to the 8th grade, one for boys and one for girls.  There are a lot more than 18 classes between the two schools.  Students come from about a dozen communities from nearby and far, from the Shomron to the Jordan Valley.

Here are a couple of pictures I took the other day from the entrance to one of the schools:

I'm glad to see how much it has grown.  I've been told fantastic things about the school.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Slight "Emergency," Please Help

In a case of blogging incompetence, I ended up deleting my blogroll.  A blogroll  is a list of blogs I like to read and have listed on the sidebar of my blog, this blog to be precise.

As you can see, this is not a medical or financial or security emergency, but as a blogger, this is a very serious problem.

I keep a separate blogroll on Shiloh Musings and don't like to duplicate blogs.  So, I'm asking you to please send me links of blogs I used to have on my blogroll here which aren't on Shiloh Musings.  And of course if you think I've left out blogs that should be on my list, then please add those too.  And G-d willing I'll reconstruct the list, with your help thanks.

In the meantime I've started with the help of Risa's blogroll, which is similar to mine.  We have a lot of blog-friends in common.

This was not the post I had planned on writing this morning, but...

As they say, life gets in the way...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

So Much To Blog About, So Let's Go to The Museum

Last night I couldn't think straight.  I had a lot of new pictures in my camera but didn't have the energy to upload them into the computer.  If I had, I would have blogged about some of them instead of my "lemonade" post.

I don't come from a family of Zionists, nor religious or even traditional Jews.  Most of my relatives are nominally involved in Jewish Life at most.  Many are intermarried, although some of those are very strongly identified as Jews and are active members of Reform Jewish communities.  It's rare for any of my relatives to visit Israel, and if they do come, it's a one-time deal.

So I was overjoyed when my father's youngest first-cousin, who is close to my age came for a second visit with her elderly husband.  I met up with them at the Israel Museum and hope to see them again before they return to the states.  She's the same age as some of my first cousins on my mother's side and I usually see her when I go to New York.  They were very happy to discover that the Israel Museum is now easier to maneuver about, since there are now more ramps and less steps.

Their guide told them a beautiful story about the wooden German Synagogue on display.  He had been on a tour of it.  An old man in the group began to cry.  Afterwards the man was asked what happened.
"I know every picture here by heart.  When I was a little boy and my father took me to shul, I was bored stiff and would just stare at the painted ceiling."

Yes, this was the man's childhood synagogue.

PS It's now permitted to photograph in the museum if you don't use a flash, so I've learned how to control the flash on my camera.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lemons to Lemonade

I'm sure you've all heard the saying about the lemons and lemonade:
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

It's one of the most important lessons we can ever learn.

I'll never forget my Cousin Mickey with whom I exchanged emails for a number of years.  He told me that he thanked G-d every morning when he woke up.  I told him that it's a Jewish custom.  There's a prayer to be said as we awake.

Modeh Ani Le’fanecha
Melech Chai V ’Kayam,
Shehechezarta Bi Nish’mati B ’Chem’lah
Rabah Emunatecha.

"I Gratefully Thank You,
living and eternal King,
for You have returned my soul within me with compassion -
abundant is your faithfulness!”
Most people probably couldn't understand why Mickey loved waking up every morning.  He had CP Cerebral Palsy and spent  most of his life in a home for the handicapped.  I doubt if it was the sort of life most would wish for.  That is unless you couldn't get around independently in your old wheelchair, or couldn't talk or hear or tell jokes.  Because of his great personality, Micky had a lot of friends.  The staff at the place where he spent his final decade plus would tell me that he was the most popular person there.  I had no doubt. 

I only knew Mickey the last few years of his life.  I hope I've managed to internalize his lessons.  It's so easy, too easy to just kvetch and complain and give up. I must  admit that at times I do that.  I have trouble shaking off insults and unpleasant things that happen.  Sometimes it takes me days to calm down.  That's not good, not at all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

HH Election Fun at Esser Agaroth

This week's, better late than never, excellent Havel Havelim is hosted by Esser Agaroth. and it's theme is the elections, Israeli and American.  Read the wide variety of posts Ya'aqov has found for us.

Marina Shemesh will be hosting next week's edition on her A Letter From Israel blog.  Click with HH as subject to submit your post.

Please join our Facebook Group to keep up on the latest ins and outs of Jewish and Israel-related blogging, and to find out how to submit your posts (every host prefers a different method) and how you, too, can host!

And please don't forget that there are two more Jewish blog carnivals, Kosher Cooking Carnival and JPIX. To submit your links for JPIX, here's the form, and for KCC click this.

These blog carnivals are safe ways of surfing the web, since the links have been checked out by the hosts.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Real Life, Nothing Lives Forever

Ode to a washing machine....

Yesterday I posted this announcement aka status update on facebook:
Our washing machine is "gossessing," as I use a the Hebrew verb for on its last breath or brain-dead.
Yes, you can say it has Alzheimer's. It's like some senile old guy peeing in the fridge, so I finally called the repairman.

When he heard my description-not the peeing just the sounds and dirt coming out during spin-, and considering that although it was a cheap machine bought 11 years ago. Not
hing broke that wasn't the fault of a human, and I hadn't called him in for over 10 years... he recommended a new machine. It would cost me over ns300 just for him to come and no promise he can rejuvenate it.

He said that he sells new machines, that are considered scratched or whatever and they come with 3 year service. And he delivers, so I decided to go for it.

Not everyone delivers or services to Shiloh.

Am I crazy?

I was very fond of that machine.  I had bought it in time for my younger son's being drafted into the army.  I wanted a machine that would allow me to launder the army uniforms for two in prewash with cold water.  I knew there would be at least two years with two of them in the army, different sorts of units and different types of grime.  The paratrooper brought in muddy uniforms and the tankist had machine oil.

After much searching I found a simple inexpensive machine. Of course the salesperson claimed that they delivered to Shiloh and would provide service, which wasn't entirely true. 

The previous washing machine had been bought before that son was born. I needed a machine that could handle diapers for two.   It was known as a sturdy machine, the legendary Crystal Super Lord, and facebook friends commented that they are still using theirs. 

This repairman, sales agent, was discovered when Crystal told me to call him since they wouldn't install or repair my new machine eleven years ago.  I was pleased with his service then but hadn't been in touch for over ten years.  The last time was when "someone" broke the security lock on the handle and he fixed it. 

Just recently a neighbor mentioned that he had had his machine repaired by a funny guy, and I just knew he was the same one.  So when the phone number on the sticker he left wasn't good, I called my neighbor who gave me the newer one.  And now I'm waiting to hear about the options.  I figure that he wouldn't recommend my buying a machine that needs much service or he'd have to drive out here a lot.

People tell me that eleven years is now considered a good life span for a washing machine, especially a cheap one.  And considering that I never paid for a service contract or repair for over ten years...  Let's say goodbye to:

And we'll hope that its replacement lasts at least as long.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Family that Hikes Together...

We seem to have established a new custom.  On Friday we had our second "family hike."  Living "in the country" there's no need to go very far.  First we hiked in Nachal Shiloh and this time we hiked even closer, my favorite place, Tel Shiloh.

OK, as distance goes, we didn't walk far at all, so some purists may claim that it wasn't a real "hike."  But it was far enough for the kids, for sure.  They had a wonderful time, and you know about the aim:
"Always leave them wanting more."

I'm sure that the youngest of the clan had lots of fun climbing and jumping and running and being admired and praised for their prowess.

Even though there are nice picnic areas at Tel Shiloh, Shiloh HaKeduma, my family preferred late lunch at home where I served them my quasi-homemade bourekas.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quasi-Homemade Mushroom Bourekas

This is a very easy recipe.  All you need are four and a half 4 1/2 ingredients.  Yes, that's right:
  • 2 large onions
  • at least 3 cups mushrooms (or any other vegetable, or combination)
  • oil for sauteing
  • ready-made frozen puff pastry dough (in Hebrew בצק עלים batzek allim) 1 kilo (2 lbs) pkg
  • optional raw egg to "paint" them before baking
I'm not going to claim that this is a very healthy food, because it isn't.  The dough is heavy, oily and delicious.

  1. thaw the dough
  2. cut up the onions and and mushrooms
  3. saute in vegetable oil
  4. cut off pieces about 3" or 7cm from the roll of dough, and stretch it out, either with a rolling pin or your hands
  5. place some of the vegetables on one side
  6. fold over, pinch seal the edges and place on lined baking pan
  7. paint with raw egg for that shiny professional look
  8. bake in medium-plus oven, a bit hotter than for a cake.  (sorry, I don't have numbers on my oven, but I know where the dial should be pointing)
Sorry that I never shot a picture of the finished product.  I was so busy that I forgot. 
I got great reviews from the family.  The only complaint was that I should have made at least double the amount.

Friday, October 19, 2012

News From Other JBlogs

A big MAZAL TOV to the "coach's wife," Ruti and family on the birth of a granddaughter.

A soldier's mother goes hiking.

Risa gives us a different perspective.

Seraphic Secrets has some interesting information about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton about Judaism.

And in all honesty I have a very busy day planned so I really don't have time to blog any more this morning, so I hope you'll visit my blog friends.

Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach

Thursday, October 18, 2012

JBlog News: KCC and Chaviva's Aliyah!

Let's have an adventure in kosher cooking land! The very latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is in Mama-Land.

She has done a fantastic job.  There's a great variety of posts, just like there should be.  Visit, comment and share.  Next month's KCC will be at This American Bite.  To contribute a post please send via blog carnival (sign up with them first.)  And if you'd like to host one of our monthly Kosher Cooking Carnivals, which appears on Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of every Jewish month, or have any questions, please contact me.

The biggest news this week in the jblogging world is that the very popular blogger, Chaviva has just made aliyah.

Good luck, Chaviva!  We're looking forward to seeing you here in holy Shiloh!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Self-Portrait at Tel Shiloh

Chodesh Tov!
Have a Wonderful Month!

Yesterday, I went to Tel Shiloh, Shiloh  HaKedumah.  I do that every Rosh Chodesh, just about.  It has been quite a few years since I started going there to pray with other women. 

Yes, this is the Biblical Shiloh, where so many important events took place.  I live in Shiloh.  I can feel the presence of the Kohanim, priests and the pilgrims who used to come to pray in the Mishkan, Tabernacle.  Chana is real to me, her praying for a son to lead the Jewish People out of the mess they had gotten themselves into, and then as she visited annually to visit her son who had been apprenticed to Eli haKohen.

Next Rosh Chodesh will be Rosh Chodesh Kislev.

Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Kislev
Thursday, November 15, 2012
 1 Kislev 5773 8:30am
Tour of Tel & Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors
תפילת נשים
ראש חודש כסלו בתל שילה

יום א' 15-11 ל' תשרי תשע"ג 8:30
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
נא לבוא, לפרסם ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

Tel Shiloh is open for visitors every day except Shabbat. Call 02-994-4019.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lunch To Go

Here's one of the "lunches" I take to work:

It's one of my "fancier" versions of my simple lunch.  I always take a vegetarian meal with me.  One of the reasons is that I don't eat much dairy, besides the milk in my morning coffee and a very occasional plain yogurt.

I rarely eat cheese.  As far as I'm concerned it's one of the most artificial manufactured things one can buy.  Read the ingredients of cheese and also of yogurt.  Besides regular milk (don't buy any with added vitamins and minerals) and plain sweet (no salt) butter, all the dairy products have been adulterated beyond recognition.

My usual meal to go, which considering that most of my work is "night shift" is actually dinner.  When that's the case, I eat a meat/poultry meal at home for lunch.  I need food at work that can be eaten easily and quickly.  So what's in this vegetable "stew?"
  • onions
  • carrots
  • squash
  • oil for sauteing
  • ginger (fresh ginger root, grated, store in freezer)
  • tofu (I cut the block into serving size pieces and store bagged in the freezer until needed)
  • ketchup
  • a bit of water, so it won't stick
I start with the first five ingredients.  I saute them in a covered frying pan.  Then I add the ketchup and some water and cook a bit longer.  I turn off the flame just before it's ready and cover the pan with a towel, to let it continue cooking.

This gives me lots of energy for a long night at work.  And, yes, of course you can always make a family-size version and eat it at home, too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Havel Havelim Prays...

Ima 2 Seven is this week's Havel Havelim host and she has dedicated the edition as a prayer for the refuah shleimah, complete recovery of her friend Tzuriya Kochevet Bat Sarah who is fighting cancer.  Tzuriya's aka Stella's battle is being waged and chronicled on a blog Crossing the Yarden by her husband Yarden and many, many friends.

"Cancer blogs" aren't new.  But each is very different and special.

Many of us remember RivkA's very public battle for health, on Coffee and Chemo, which she sadly lost.

More recently, I've been checking in on Superman Sam, a blog about the Bima Ima's six year old son who is fighting leukemia.

And just to get back to the main topic here.  Please visit, comment and share this week's Havel Havelim and the great variety of posts included.  I am happy that there are some new to me blogs, which should give us all some great reading and new friends.

Next week's host is Esser Agaroth.  You can send your links via blog carnival.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is it Smart to have a Smart Phone?

OK, I have dumb phone.  It does have an option for internet etc which isn't in use, but all I want is a telephone that goes around with me. 

Sometimes I get and send messages on it, but all I need is a "mobile telephone,"  a telephone as mobile as I am.

Yes, it does have a camera, but I don't use that either.  I have a  real camera.  It even has a view finder, just like the old box, brownie camera on which  I learned to shoot pictures.

If I had a cell phone that I used as a computer, then I'd find it dominating my life.  I'd be responding to emails and facebook messages all of the time.  The more you respond, the more you get.  I enjoy those quiet hours.  People really close to me have my cell phone number, so I can be reached in an emergency.

I always mix up macrocosm and microcosm, so one is the other, large and small...

In a way it's like keeping Shabbat as different from the rest of the week.  On Shabbat, even in the privacy and quiet of my home, we don't use the telephone or computer or the camera.  Our life is on a very different scale.  Communication is close, personal and spiritual.

I hope to continue with a dumb phone as long as possible. Just like having a strict Torah observant Shabbat keeps me sane for the week, having a dumb phone keeps me sane during the day.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Chose Tuesday

Let's see who can guess what the choice was about...

For those who live according to the Jewish Calendar, both this coming Tuesday and Wednesday are considered Rosh Chodesh (the first day/days of the Jewish Month of) Cheshvan.  When we have a two-day Rosh Chodesh, the first is actually the last day of the previous month, in our case Tishrei, and the second one is the first of the new month.

According to Jewish Custom, Rosh Chodesh is the WOMEN'S HOLIDAY.  And to celebrate, I like to visit a very nearby, very holy spot, Tel Shiloh the location of the Biblical Tabernacle, Mishkan,  the forerunner of the Beit HaMikdash, Holy Temple in Jerusalem. 

Even though the Mishkan  was constructed to be temporary, it was in use for about four hundred years.  At first it was built to be portable.  The Jewish People transported it while wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  But to be perfectly honest, most of those forty years were pretty sedentary...

After entering the Promised Land and conquering it, Joshua established shiloh as the religious, spiritual and administrative capital of the Jewish Nation.  The Mishkan  was set up on a large flat piece of land, overlooking the Derech Avot, Path of Our Patriarchs, which stretches north-south, from Shechem to Beersheva.

I'm part of a group of women who come to that spot, here in Shiloh where  live, to pray every Rosh Chodesh.

Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
30 Tishrei 5773 8:30am
Tour of Tel  Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors
תפילת נשים
ראש חודש חשון בתל שילה
יום ג' 16-10 ל' תשרי תשע"ג 8:30
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
נא לבוא, לפרסם ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

Please publicize this and join us if you can.  The Tel, Shiloh HaKeduma, is open for tourists and groups.  Call 02-994-4019.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Only in Israel, The Prime Minister Teaches Us The Bible

If there hadn't been so much interesting political news, I may have posted this on Shiloh Musings.

In the United States, if I got it right, there's said to be needed six people to connect to anyone.  In Israel, we're much closer, probably two or a maximum of three.  That's because we're a Jewish country, and between work and neighbors and the army, university, sports etc it doesn't take long to be connected to everyone, including the Prime Minister.

As readers of Shiloh Musings know, I do have my complaints against Bibi Netanyahu, but I also have admitted that I do admire some aspects of his personality, and certainly his knowledge.

Even though today's secular Zionist try to ignore the fact, Zionism is based on the Bible.  You can't be a Zionist without some sort of connection to the Bible.  Where else does Judaism come from and why else would we be here instead of trying to be sovereign in Brooklyn, Alaska or wherever?

Quite a few of our greatest leaders, politicians etc have been Bible lovers.  When Menachem Begin had been Prime Minister he held Bible study sessions, so when Netanyahu decided to memorialize his late father-in-law, Bible scholar Shmuel Ben-Artzi, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center was entrusted with the task of organizing them.

Photo-Jerusalem Post
You'd think that Bibi had nothing else to do the other day, with Iran's nuclear development, Arab terrorists terrorizing the Negev, elections in the very near future etc... but after inspecting the damage in the south, he was quickly flown in to study this week's Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week, Bereishit, In the Beginning.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spent two-and-a-half hours Thursday afternoon studying the Cain and Abel story, telling some 17 rabbis and academics gathered at his residence that the jealousy in the tale is a “powerful engine” that he has come across once or twice in his own profession.

No doubt Netanyahu was being a bit sarcastic saying that he only came across jealousy "once or twice in his own profession," since we know that political intrigue is fueled by jealousy, or competitiveness, which is a close cousin.

They brought up an interesting point:
One of the questions Netanyahu posed was why the punishment God meted out to Cain for the murder of his brother was lenient, and why he was not punished with death himself.

One of the participants responded that lesson to be learned was that repairing the world – Cain went on to build a city and beget offspring that enriched the world in various ways – was more important than vengeance.

There are times when a certain pragmatism must rule over law. The "big picture" is the most important one.  Here we see, in the very beginning of the world, G-d had to compromise.  If He had executed Cain, giving him the punishment a murderer deserves, the progress of humans on the earth would have had been delayed.  G-d would have had to have started all over again.

Many of us have children who aren't living their lives exactly as we had expected. L'havdil, they aren't murderers, like Cain, but they have chosen different lives and we shouldn't break off contact.  G-d allowed Cain to live, and we are all his descendants.  May G-d give us the strength to deal wisely with all of our challenges.