Sunday, March 31, 2013

And What's Your Favorite Passover Food?

Vote via comments, thanks.
  • matzah
  • matzah brei
  • savta brei, see recipe
  • geffilte fish
  • kneidelach
  • charoset- please specify how you make it, since there are many versions
  • chrain- horseradish
  • wine
  • something else, if possible please include the recipe, thanks

Saturday, March 30, 2013

There's Nothing Like Jerusalem

In downtown Jerusalem there are many old buildings from the earliest neighborhoods built outside the walls.  And there are signs on buildings telling what happened in the area, the building itself and about historic people who lived in the buildings.

Just wander around, especially the Nachalat Shiva and Nachla'ot neighborhoods.  Nachalat Shiva is near Zion Square.  The main streets there are Yoel Solomon and Rivlin.  Nachla'ot is near (or includes) Machaneh Yehuda, the open market, Agrippas Street, Betzalel Street and all of the connecting ones. 

It's like a maze.  But if you read what's written on the buildings, you'll learn an awful lot about Jerusalem and its history.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Easy to Make Vegetable Kugel by Pictures

This vegetable kugel has evolved from classic raw potato kugel.  I now use mostly low starch/carbohydrate veggies, because neither my husband nor myself eat a lot of potatoes.  I pretty much cut them out entirely.

Here are the vegetables I used in this year's kugel, an onion, a couple of potatoes, squash and carrots. 
I pre-cut the vegetables for the blender.
The onion, a couple of potatoes, squash and carrots were blended up with a few eggs in my Passover blender.  If you're using a blender, like it did, use as many eggs as needed so that all of the veggties will be pulverized.  If you're using a food processor or hand grating, then add about two or three large eggs, or more smaller ones to the grated vegetables.

Then add your salt, pepper and any other spices or herbs you like.  Mix well, then add matzah meal, so it won't be watery.  You need the matzah meal, or the final product will be mushy.

Pour the mixture into baking dishes and add some olive oil, or whatever cooking oil you use, on top of each.  Lightly mix the oil into the top of the kugel.

I always bake my kugels in disposable pans so I can freeze and then reheat them.  Yes, I make more than I need.  They freeze very well.  This quantity, about half my usual, filled three long loaf pans.

I baked in medium plus heat (hotter than a cake) and lowered the heat a bit after the top looked ready.

Don't obsess over quantities and timing.  To check if it's ready, cut into it to make sure it's really baked.  If the top is crispy and the inside mushy, lower the heat and cook longer.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Two Very Different Jerusalem Museums

About a month ago, I went to the Israel Museum with a friend.  I try to get there every couple of months, because there's always something new.  It's a large museum, at least by Israeli standards and is ranked among the best in the world.  The Archeology and Judaica departments are amazing, and it also has lots of classic, impressionist and modern art from all over the world.  It has been recently renovated and enlarged.  Here are a few pictures I took at that recent visit:


Yesterday I visited a much smaller more intimate museum Conegliano Veneto Synagogue and The  Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art, 27 Hillel  Street.  It's in downtown Jerusalem, barely a block from the Ben-Yehuda Midrachov and the popular Mamilla Mall.  It's easy to get there by public transportation, both bus or train, and there is parking not far for those who come by car.
The outstanding highlight of the Museum is the synagogue, which is now used by Italian Jews in Jerusalem: it was originally the synagogue of Conegliano Veneto, a village located between Padua and Venice.

We met relatives in Jerusalem and wanted something a bit different to do on Passover.  When our kids were little, we'd visit each other for a meal, but now the kids are grown up and do their "own things."  The Italian Synagogue seemed like the perfect place to visit, because it combines Jewish History, art and convenience.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Two Passover Classics or Necessities, Kneidelach and Geffilte Fish

I'm the Ashkenaz (from European stock) grandmother; my son-in-law is from Tunisian parents.  The Jewish world is world wide, and even here in Shiloh, you can find families from almost every place in the world.  That means that there are lots of culinary customs.  We went to our now Tunisian daughter for the Passover seder.  I was asked to bring the kneidelach (matzah balls) and the geffilte fish (boiled fish balls.)

The little pieces of paper with the recipe, which for decades had been on the inside of the kitchen cabinet got lost, fell off, so even I had to check my blog.  By popular demand, here's my very easy, TNT kneidelach aka matzah ball recipe.

I usually double or triple it. This is enough for 4-6 bowls of soup.

1/2 cup of matzah meal
a pinch of salt and some pepper
other spices, like paprika, parsley etc optional
3 eggs
1 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoons of oil (soy or olive or any other)
Mix together and leave for at least 40 minutes.
It's a good idea to prepare the soup at this point, while waiting, so the soup will be boiling when it's time...  If you're not cooking them in soup, then boil slightly salted water for cooking the kneidelach.

Then put either spoonfuls (use the two spoon method like in drop cookies) or roll balls in your hands, into the boiling soup or lightly salted boiling water.

After it returns to a boil, cover the pot and lower the flame to simmer for another 40 minutes.

They can be eaten all year and in any soup. I love them in vegetarian vegetable soup!
 It's also very easy to make geffilte fish.

For basic quantities, may be doubled, tripled etc.:

per half kilo or one pound ground fish (whatever is available, combine a couple of types; I have a friend who uses canned tuna)
  • a grated medium onion
  • an egg or two, depending on size
  • enough matzah meal, so it sticks together, not runny
  • salt, pepper and sugar "to taste"
For the "stock," the liquid used for boiling the fish
  • a sliced onion
  • a sliced carrot
  • salt, pepper and sugar "to taste"
Mix the ground fish with the first set of ingredients.  Make sure the matzah meal is mixed into the "mush."  Then slice your onion and boil it up with water, no more than a third way up the pot, and spices.  When the water is boiling strongly, add the fish, using the "two spoon" method.  Crown them with sliced carrots and let it all simmer in a covered pot for close to an hour.

OK, some people use their hands to make fish balls, rinsing their hands in a bowl of water when too much sticks to their hands.  I'm just not that sort of cook.  I also got married in 1970 when all sorts of warnings about the dangers of raw food were well-publicized.

Both the kneidelach and the geffilte fish may be frozen if you've made too much.  We serve our geffilte fish with homemade horseradish, ground or grated with the addition of vinegar.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why is This Passover Different From All Others?

There's a clue in the pictures.  I wonder who knows enough about us to guess...


Please send in your guesses via the comments, thanks.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Round and Round, Life Circle

Take a spin and enjoy life.

Chag Pesach Sameach!
Have a wonderful, joyful and kosher Passover Holiday!

#402, the Pre-Passover Havel Havelim News

Yocheved is the hostess with the mostest this week of Havel Havelim.  I don't know how she found the time.  And I don't know how I volunteered for the post-Passover edition.  Actually, I do know.  I just filled my name where it seemed very empty and never checked the calendar.

There are some fantastic posts in this week's edition, and it's nicely laid out.  Thanks, Yocheved!  So read the posts and share.

And if you'd like to contribute to the next one, in two weeks, just send me (shilohmuse at gmail dot com) your link, preferably with a link from another person's blog.  Even better if you explain why you chose those links.  Havel Havelim is the weekly (ok, not every week--we try) Jewish-Israeli blog carnival.  It floats from blog to blog.  We coordinate and communicate on our facebook page.  So, you can find out more there.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: Getting Laughs From Being a BT

I haven't written any of my humorous "Baile Rochel" articles for a very long time.  I had first written them for the Counterpoint newspaper, which had been edited by Rachel Katzman and my husband. That was decades ago.  I was known as the "Erma Bombeck of Judea/Samaria."  I wrote about many topics, such as laundry, teaching, women's Purim Parties, Passover cleaning and more. 

But one topic I shied away from.  Maybe it was just too close to heart and not something it had ever occurred to me to joke about.  That's the fact that I'm a "BT," Ba'alat Teshuva, a Jew who has mastered "repentance," someone who although not raised in a Torah observant home made my way on the rocky road to frumkeit, full Torah Observance aka Orthodox Judaism.

Even now, almost fifty years, half a century since I was first introduced to Torah observance by the OU's NCSY National Conference of Synagogue Youth, and over forty-five years since I enthusiastically took on G-d's commandments, I still feel insecure.  Maybe I'm not doing it right.  I never got up the guts to publically laugh at myself the way Nicole Nathan, the author of Let My RV Go! does in her wonderfully entertaining book.

Let My RV Go! can be purchased in both eformat and as a "real book."  It was sent to me for review.  I had no idea what to expect.  It opened up a whole new world for me.  I thought that I was the only one who felt "different" even though outsiders don't see it.  As readers of my blog know, I study Bible and even give classes and lead tours of Tel Shiloh.  But the real me will always be a bit different.  In recent years I've requested that those giving our local women's Shabbat shiur never ever use the phrase:
כמו שכולנו למדנו בגן....
Kimo sheculanu lamadnu bagan... 
Like we all learned in pre-school...
I and others who are either converts or BT's never learned in such pre-schools and it makes me feel very left out and rejected to hear such a phrase.

Let My RV Go! is about the bonding of two BT families and their adventures and misadventures on the way to spending a rather unconventional Passover.  Adding to their Passover challenge and time limitations, they had been given an important package to deliver before the Holiday to a "mystery person."  Neither full name nor address, just a vague description of who he is and where he lives. 

You need not know much about Judaism and Pesach to enjoy reading the book.  I have no doubt that anyone who has attempted a family vacation in an RV, whether Jewish or not, will identify with some of the problems the families encounter.  This is more than just a Jewish book.

By adding humor to all situations, whether between husband and wife, parents and children or navigating new roads, this is a book people will enjoy reading.  Yes, I do recommend the book!

The message is that "it all works out in the end."  Yes, it's an upbeat book with a happy ending, just the sort of book I needed to read.  And maybe I'll try my hand at the BT topic for Baile Rochel....

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Kitchen- Passover-Pesach Has Invaded

Here are the proof, the pictures:

Fill in the commentary yourselves, please.  Tomorrow I cook, G-d willing.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pesach aka Passover Means....

... that summer is coming soon! 

Here in Shiloh we see that the swimming pool is being repaired.  The Health Ministry announced major changes in the regulations for a "healthy pool."  So piping, filters etc are being changed.



I need that pool open and filled and ready for water exercise.  I'm not a swimmer to be honest.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reflecting on Over Thirty Years in Shiloh

A "self-portrait" shot at Tel Shiloh
Shiloh isn't just any old town in the world.  It's not just any location, piece of land with amazing views, clean air and relatively mild weather.

Today's Shiloh is the actual location of the Biblical Shiloh.  Shiloh is where Joshua took the Jewish People when it was time to establish a capitol city and more permanent location for the Mishkan, Tabernacle, the forerunner of the Beit HaMikdash, Holy Temple. 

Shiloh was "waiting" for Joshua.  It is one of the ancient cities that did not need to be conquered.  Most of the book of Joshua is a report of the progress the Jewish People made in conquering the Land.  Quite a number of the battles didn't go all that well and easily until the Jewish People and their leaders understood that victory only came with G-d's help, by following G-d's instructions.

Shiloh is in the center of the Land of Israel, on a high mountain.  It's convenient and is surrounded by excellent agricultural land.  Today biblical fruits, such as grapes, figs and olives grow easily here.  If my husband and I can enjoy the grape and olive harvest, then it means that the Land must be especially suitable for those crops.

Chazal, our sages, tell us that the Shechina, Holy Spirit never completely deserts a location where it had been for hundreds of years.  The Mishkan and Shechina  were here for almost four hundred years.

I'm not the same person I was before I moved with my family to Shiloh.  Living in Shiloh has connected me to the Tanach,  Bible in a way I could never have been before.  I feel the presence of Chana, Hannah and I sense the pilgrims who once came to pray here.  Their prayers and subsequent miracles haven't left here at all.

That's why I've been organizing Women's Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the Jewish Month) Prayers at Tel Shiloh the past few years.  I also try to publicize other events.  This Passover, during the Intermediate Days, Wednesday and Thursday, March 27 & 28, 2013, 9am- 5pm, there will be activities for the entire family, tours, crafts, shows and more.  For more information check the Shiloh Hakeduma site or contact us.

Next Rosh Chodesh, Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, will be soon after Passover is over.  So please mark it in your calendar already.

Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Iyyar
Thursday, April 11, 2013
1 Iyyar 5773 8:30am
Tour of Tel & Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson

Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors

תפילת נשים
ראש חודש אייר בתל שילה

יום ה' 11-4 א' אייר תשע"ג 8:30
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
נא לבוא, לפרסם ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

And don't forget that the Tel Shiloh, aka Shiloh HaKedumah is open for visitors six days a week. For information call 02-994-4019.  Please join our facebook group/page.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Helpful, Free Sefira Counting Reminders

One of the most challenging mitzvot for many of us is remembering to count sefira.  No doubt that some of you have no idea of what I'm referring to.  The Jewish Calendar is very crucial to the observance of Judaism, and our holidays are related to each other.  That's why Passover is supposed to be month after Purim, so even if we're in a Jewish Leap Year, with an extra month of Adar, we celebrate Purim in the second Adar and not the first.

The holidays of Passover and Shavuot are even more connected.  They are just over seven weeks apart.  The Omer is a count of forty-nine 49, seven weeks, 7 X 7 = 49.  We begin counting on the second night of Passover.
The count goes for 49 days. The 50th night begins the holiday of Shavuos; Shavuos means "weeks," referring to these 7 weeks of counting. Shavuos is the day G-d gave the Torah, and thus the entire counting period becomes one of continuous elevation and preparation - from the status of an Egyptian slave to one ready to receive the Torah.
The mitzvah is to count both days and weeks. Therefore, on the eighth day, we say, "today is eight days, which are one week and one day in the omer." The Omer may be counted in any language, as long as it is understood by the counter.The Jewish days begin at sundown, and we wait until full dark to count the Omer.
For the first few decades, and yes I do mean decades, after I had become Torah observant (in the mid-1960's) I never managed to remember to count more than a few days.  My evenings are busy, and I could never get it into my nightly routine.  That also meant that I was negligent in educating my children to remember.  It didn't matter how many cute reminders we'd hang on the walls, who could remember?  Certainly not I.

Finally, only eleven years ago I counted the full Omer for the first time.  Our son-in-law, who was then working for a cellphone company signed us up for free cellphone reminders.  The only remaining challenges were Shabbat and the last day of Passover, when the phone is kept off.  Even today, those are my most difficult nights to remember to count.

Since then I've also signed up for email reminders, considering that besides Shabbat and Jewish Holidays I check my mail every day.  And for the years I don't get cellphone reminders from a "service," I've set my phone up for reminders all by myself.  Use your "appointment book" for a daily sefira reminder.

If you have any other useful and workable and free hints, please comment, thanks.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Signs of Spring in Israel

Yes, we're an agricultural society and People and Land:

Nu, do you know what these are?
Please comment, thanks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dinner to Go...

Here's the dinner I took with me last week when I went to work morning shift and had a class to attend at Matan in the evening.

It's all in the planning.  The night before I had also cooked my work lunch.  I had to cook it the night before, or it would have spoiled being transported "warm."  Chilling it well gave me a few safe hours, or I would have had needed to buy myself a thermal food bag.  Actually, the thermal bags are best for cold food.

This meal consists of a container with raw salad, a small jar of homemade techina and sauteed vegetables with quinoa.

I always take food with me when I go to work.  Actually, unless I'm meeting a friend for a meal, I try to always bring along enough food so I won't be tempted to buy something I shouldn't eat.  The trick is not to get hungry and not to take that first bite  of forbidden food.  There's no way to stop...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Passover Preparations Don't Stop Havel Havelim!

This week Bat Aliyah is hosting Havel Havelim.  Drop by and visit.  Show you appreciate that she took time off of cleaning and posted the premier Jewish blog carnival davka this week.

Yes, this week as all dedicated Torah observant, and even some not usually considered religious, housewives and men, too, are trying to get their homes ready for Pesach.  Not everybody takes apart their windows, toy boxes couches to clean for Pesach, but I don't think anyone ignores the fridge, stove and kitchen sink.

Remember!  We all deserve a break.  And what could be better than reading the posts in this week's Havel Havelim. For more updates, news about who's hosting and even sign up to host, please check out our facebook page/group.

Pre-Passover Inventory Check

It's getting harder and harder to finish what must be finished before Pesach.  My husband and I are only two people, and we're both on diets.  Yes, I know that I don't call it a diet, but we've both lost weight and want to keep it off.

There's just too much food in the house.  Some things will just be given away.

At least the freezer emptying is going ok.  It's actually emptier than it seems, because the top shelf has Kosher for Passover food already.

When the kids lived at home, I didn't have to think about inventory until after Purim.  I've been trying to cut down and calculate exactly what's needed since before Chanukah.

And I'm happy to say that closet #1 to be cleaned and lined for Passover is filling. Take a look!