Sunday, June 30, 2013

Totally Amazing Challah Shaping Tutorial

I found this on facebook.  It's making the rounds.  I hope this works for all of you.

I learned a lot watching it and didn't even put on my earphones.

Perfectly Pickled

It's really amazing how easy it was to make these pickles.  Contrary to what's written in other places, I discovered that the cucumbers don't have to be perfect.  When I got up from sitting shiva for my mother last week I found that we had too many cucumbers in the fridge, and even worse was that some were frozen.  I kvetched about it on facebook and a friend suggested pickling them. I did some Google searches for easy pickles and eventually came up with this method.  I boiled them, because I was afraid of spoilage.  The whole business didn't take long.  Here, "watch."

I rinsed off the cucumbers.  The dark color is from the iciness.  They were otherwise fresh and had no smell.  As per instruction I saw on the internet.  I cut off the ends.  Then I sliced them the long way and placed them in a pot.
I added, coarse (aka kosher) salt, white sugar, peppercorns, dehydrated dill and garlic.
I cooked the cucumbers and spices up with some plain vinegar and water until the color changed.  Then I left it to cool a bit until it was safe to put them in glass (from instant coffee) jars.

My husband and I both like the flavor.  Normally I don't like pickles.  But these are good.  The hardest thing is now remembering to eat them, since I never buy any; they're not on our regular menu.  Next time I pickle,  I'd like to add some different veggies, such as carrots.  Yes, I'm planning a next time.  It's really easy and a good way of using vegetables before they "go bad."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Easy, Homemade Lox

I had mentioned on my facebook page that I had too many cucumbers, so someone suggested that I pickle them.  Somehow that discussion developed into other homemade tricks, foods you can make easily and another friend sent me this, her daughter's recipe, and I got her permission to post it:

easy homemade lox - in case anyone is interested. basically - you take frozen salmon and soak it in salt and it turns into lox. even though lox is called "smoked salmon" it is "cold smoked" after being brined. the smoking step is actually optional. so just soaking the salmon in salt for a few days in the refrigerator turns it into lox.

in fact - it's best (safest) to use frozen salmon for this purpose. you can buy a whole frozen salmon fillet when it's on sale; make all (or part) of it into lox; and then freeze the lox in smaller packages, to take out as needed. the reason it is ok to thaw the salmon and then refreeze as lox, is because the brining kills the bacteria. just as you could thaw frozen food and then refreeze after cooking. but you wouldn't thaw frozen food and refreeze without cooking or brining.

so here are the instructions as I received them:

It is called "gravlax" and you can look up instructions online. Here is an easy version.

Buy a whole fillet of salmon and let it thaw out. Don't buy anything with bones because they'll be impossible to remove later. Also it's possible to do with pre-cut fish, but they're small and therefore harder to manage.

Take a bowl or preferably rectangular plastic box and start cutting the fish to size. Stack the fish as you do - first slice with the skin down, cover it all with kosher salt, then the next slice skin up. You can spread some more salt on it before turning it over, but I'm not sure how much that's necessary. If you still have more fish, continue stacking. At the end I put the last slice skin down too, and spread some more salt just to be sure.

You can also put dill or sugar or pepper between the slices. I don't usually do so.

You can put a weight on it, but it's not necessary. The stacked fish itself is heavy enough.

Leave it in the fridge for three days. Technically you need to drain it every day, but I only bother after the first day when the most liquid comes out. It should also be technically ready to eat after the first day if you're rushing or if you like rawer fish. (I once tasted it like that and it was ok.)

After three days: wash the salt off, and cut the fish - use a sharp knife and slice as thinly as you can. If you find the right angle, it shouldn't be too difficult, but sometimes it takes a while and it is the part with the most work in this recipe. You can cut it all up and freeze most of it in sandwich bags. The fish is still very salty, so when thawed, it will still keep for a while.

To serve - wash it thoroughly in water. Then leave it to soak in water. The more you soak (and possibly change the water), the less salty it will be, and also the faster it will go bad. But even then it can last a few days in the fridge. If you want to serve it immediately, you can soak it for just a few minutes before eating. You can also leave it in the fridge still soaking, and finish it off in the next few days.

It doesn't have the smoked flavor of store-bought lox, but it's close enough.

Friday, June 28, 2013

One Person's Cultter is Another's Treasure

When my sister moved our parents from their first "old age home," where they had a nice big one bedroom apartment to a more caring facility where they had a large "L" shaped room, there were lots of things they no longer needed.  Some things we divided and others were brought to one of the enormous Good Will stores/centers in the Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale area.  Books none of us wanted were donated to the public library, which has receptacles in various convenient places.

I described Good Will to friends in Israel as a "goyish g'mach."  That's what it is.  I wouldn't be surprised if the people who first established Good Will had gotten the idea from what the Jewish community did in the various "g'machim."  A  g'mach is a very necessary sort of charity, that can give/sell/rent services and things to others in need.  The services or things can be anything from money to cars to diapers, pacifiers, clothing, furniture, wedding gowns, decorated pillow cases for a Brit Milah, books, talents and more.  There is no end to the possibilities.

Many people (including myself) I know donate perfectly good, but personally useless, clothing to a g'mach.  It's much easier to clean out unnecessary clutter when you know the items will be used and treasured by other people.  As hard as we try, we still end up with unneeded stuff in our homes and closets.

When I was flying into New York for my mother's funeral, I noticed that the zipper on my good backpack, the one I'd been using the past couple of years to take my books etc when studying in Matan, wouldn't stay closed.  That backpack had been from my son's closet.  He gave it to me when I sent out an alert to the kids asking if they had one they weren't going to use again.  I think it was one of the freebies he had been given when in the army.  There were ads on it; tzanchanim, paratroopers got quite a few of these sorts of sponsored freebies.  It was pretty obvious that the bag hadn't been in use for awhile by all the dust.  I enjoyed it; it was well-made and orthopedic.  But what's the point of a backpack that doesn't stay closed?

A rushed visit to anyplace for a funeral doesn't include time for shopping, so I asked a friend I'd be seeing at the funeral who had offered to help in whatever I needed, to buy me a new one.  She said that she'd first go through her closets.  And she discovered this bag.

It had been her son's.  He's now married and neither needs nor wants it.  It's in too good condition to give away and the g'machim  in her area wouldn't be interested in it.  For me it's perfect, B"H, thank G-d.  And she's overjoyed that it's finally out of her closet.  She knew it was worth saving.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A New Type of Nosh

I didn't even get to post all the posts I had planned from my last visit to Phoenix, before my mother died.

When I was in Phoenix, we bought a new for me type of nosh, the type of thing you can eat instead of pretzels or potato chips.

They are maki rolls, seaweed wrapped rice crackers.  They do taste a bit like seaweed and "ocean".  I decided to get them, because I thought it would "balance" me, since I would be traveling twice almost half way across the world, in barely a week.  That's from Israel to Phoenix and back.   They have the OU, so they are kosher.  I've never seen them in Israel.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trying to Get Back on Track

As many of you know, I just got up from sitting shiva, the weeklong Jewish mourning practice, for my mother yesterday.

After getting up from shiva, which is literally how shiva ends, it was very hard to dive into the household tasks, do an inventory of the food in the fridge, freezer, closets and piled all over the place.  In all honesty, it wasn't because I was miserable, it was physical.  First of all it was a fast day yesterday, the 17th of Tammuz, and my energy levels are always very low without starting the day drinking lots of water and coffee.  I have to flush out my system.

Why was there food piled up, ok, mostly juices and soda?  I received a "shiva package" from work.  I guess it pays to be associated with a major supermarket chain.  I have to figure out what to do with the leftovers.  If I had sat all the shiva at home, much more would have gone.  My kids, neighbors and other visitors were also very generous, bringing lots of food and stuff.

Another reason, I'm having trouble doing everything is that those four long airplane trips in recent weeks sure made me feel like a cripple.  The good part about the flying was the long walks I took in the airport.

There will be a new "normal" now.

One of the very last pictures taken of me and my mother together less than a week before she died.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Get Up" From Shiva קומי Kumi

קומי Kumi, Get up

That's what's said to the female mourner to her up from shiva.  Then you're supposed to literally get up and leave the house, at least to walk around the corner.

My mother is now with her old friends and neighbors of the Oakland Jewish Center, Bayside, NY.  My ripped shirt is in the trash.  I've showered and put on clean clothes.  There's a wash in the machine.  Life is sort of returning to "normal."

Why "sort of?"  Well, it's a new "normal."

Mourning a parent doesn't end at the cemetery, nor at the end of shiva, the Jewish ritual of seven days of mourning.

Jewish Law takes mourning very seriously, and mourning a parent is the most extensive mourning period.  It's supposed to last a year.  Other close relatives, a child, sibling or spouse are only halachikly (by Jewish Law) mourned a month.

During the first month for a parent, there are many restrictions, such as no swimming.  After the first month there are fewer.  I'm not an expert.  No doubt I will blog more. Today is doubly difficult because it's the fast of the 17th of Tamuz and I don't functions well without drinking water and coffee.

My eyes keep closing....

Monday, June 24, 2013

Like an Epidemic of Deaths, Another Eulogy for My Mother

In on of the Matan courses I've been taking, the one about ספר במדבר, Sefer Bamidbar, The Book of Numbers taught by Atara Snowbell, we've mentioned the subject of how/when the generation of the Exodus died out.  A punishment for their sins, for supporting the ten tribal heads who discouraged the immediate entering of the Land of Israel after G-d performed the great miracle of freeing them from Egyptian slavery, was that their generation would have to die out before the Jewish People could finally enter.  There's a question I remember her asking or talking about.  Did everyone die about the same time, or was it spread out over the forty, or more exactly about thirty-eight years?

The Chumash, the first Five Books of the Bible which recounts the beginnings of Jewish and World History, from Creation until the death of Moshe, Moses.
Deuteronomy Chapter 34 דְּבָרִים
ד  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלָיו, זֹאת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר, לְזַרְעֲךָ, אֶתְּנֶנָּה; הֶרְאִיתִיךָ בְעֵינֶיךָ, וְשָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲבֹר. 4 And the LORD said unto him: 'This is the land which I swore unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying: I will give it unto thy seed; I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.'
ה  וַיָּמָת שָׁם מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָה, בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב--עַל-פִּי יְהוָה. 5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
There has been something strange going on among neighbors in Shiloh and among even other friends of mine.  For the past couple of months, it seems there always seems to be someone sitting shiva, sometimes even more than one at a time.  All of the people I know of who have died, died of natural death.  They didn't die in accidents or terror attacks.  There was no great drama involved with their deaths.  Their deaths had been expected.  All were ill, suffering.  When people ask me about my mother's death and I describe old age and physical deterioration, the accumulated cholesterol (like sludge) in the circulatory system and not waking up from sleep, so many people have similar stories about the recent death of their parents.

Yes, G-d controls coincidence the timing of life and death. Doesn't G-d have reasons?  Coincidence isn't random.

My mother lived longer than anyone in her family.  To reach the age of eighty-eight in her family, her parents and siblings, it's like living until one hundred and twenty one (121.)  Her younger sister by five years, my Aunt Natalie Rosenberg, died just a few months ago.  Only one other of their seven other siblings had passed her eightieth birthday, and if I'm not mistaken only one other even made it past seventy.

One thing many mentioned was that my mother was concerned about the importance of eating healthy food, whole wheat, fruits and vegetables and raw salads long before anyone else they knew.  It obviously made a big difference.  My mother had a very active life well into her eighties, but there's a limit how much we can improve our genetic make up.  My mother's long active life was a triumph over nature.

She loved museums and volunteered as a docent in the Nassau County Art Museum.  She had a special cane which could be opened into a chair, and that's how she got around when she needed to walk a lot.  She stuffed everything she could into her life until she could no longer control her mind and body.

One thing for sure.  She was a tough act to follow.

My parents and I at the NCSY
Ben Zakkai Honor Society Dinner when
I was inducted into the society.
Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet
Shirley Spiegelman
שפרה בת אברהם וחיה ריזיה
Shifra bat Avraham and Chaya Raisia
לעילוי נשמתה
Li'ilu'i Nishmata
May her Soul be Elevated

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pictures from the funeral and cemetery

As usual, I had my trusty old camera with me at my mother's funeral.  I may have taken some of the pictures, for sure those before the actual funeral.  Then I'm pretty sure I handed it to a friend.  My mother is buried in the New Montefiore  Cemetery out on Long Island.  We got off at Exit 49 on the LIE and drove south.

My parents had bought their burial plots there in the Oakland Jewish Center section in about 1959. 

I'm pretty sure they lived next to us when we
were in the five room duplex in Bell Park Gardens.
They were founding members of the shul, Oakland Jewish Center, Bayside NY.  I was hoping to see lots of people I knew, I mean their names on tombstones.  No doubt I'll be back, and then I'll find their old friends.

My father has a lot of relatives in the Neshelsk (a city in Poland that once had a very large active Jewish community) section of a different cemetery.  A cousin was there visiting her parents and grandparents in between my mother's death and funeral.  She told them the news about my mother.

My mother's grave is near one of the outside walls.  It was pretty noisy, but that shouldn't bother her now.

Covering the grave was a group effort.  Due to a shoulder injury I was pretty useless with the shovel.  But I did drop a stone from Shiloh into the grave.  I had brought it with me to make sure my mother had something special from ארץ ישראל Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel.  Most of my mother's grandchildren and all of her great-grandchildren are in Israel.

I was surprised at how much deeper she's buried than we do here in Israel.  There are other differences, the American legally required coffin versus just the shrouds wrapped in a Tallit.  No, I didn't take up the offer to check/see the body.  My brother was pleased at how the shroud covered her.  She was in the simple coffin as all traditional Jews request.  There are many more "traditional Jews" when it comes to burials than living and breathing Jews.

In my community, Shiloh, Israel, actual "kri'ah," ripping of the clothes is the accepted standard.  My high school friend, with whom I had become religious almost fifty years ago,  did the first cut with a knife and Rabbi Dale Polakoff of the Great Neck Synagogue supervised, making sure that the rip was long enough.

Rabbi Polakoff made sure that my mother was well covered.  When the family and friends were gathering to leave, we could still he him heaving the earth onto my mother.  He was overheard telling the cemetery workers that he would take care of it himself.  I'd say that the Great Neck Synagogue is in good hands.

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet
Shirley Spiegelman
שפרה בת אברהם וחיה ריזיה
Shifra bat Avraham and Chaya Raisia
לעילוי נשמתה
Li'ilu'i Nishmata
May her Soul be Elevated

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Blessing of a Full Shiva

"Shiva" is actually the Hebrew word for seven 7 שבע sheva.  The same linguistic root for week שבוע shavu'a and oath שְׁבוְּעָה shvu'ah. And just to make things more interesting, the letter שְׁ the "sh" sound has a little dot on the top right.  If you move it to the left, the sound is like an "s." Then the Hebrew שבע sava  means satisfied.

So since my mother died on the 7th of Tamuz, and there's no Jewish Holiday to cancel shiva I get the full seven days, including a Shabbat and time to have been at the funeral, sat with family, was comforted by friends in New York, then flew to Israel to be home in Shiloh, and I still have a full two days of shiva left.

I'm back in my "shiva uniform," ripped shirt and all.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Taking a break from sitting shiva

We're not supposed to do overt public mourning on Shabbat.  So after landing  in Israel and getting home and sitting a couple of hours and being comforted by neighbors, I was finally able to take a shower and put on clean clothes and wear shoes.

After Shabbat I will take off my clean Shabbat clothes and put back on the clothes I wore to the funeral and had been wearing also on the plane.

My kids are taking good care of me.

I was picked up at the airport and bought coffee so I wouldn't fall asleep too early or too late.  When I got home, I could see that the house has been scrubbed and the livingroom rearranged.  We'll be eating a combination of the food brought in by neighbors and cooked by my kids.

I am not interfering.  Yes, I admit that not interfering is tough for me.

I really am sincerely grateful.

I have a super wonderful family and community.

Shabbat Shalom to all

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Amazing Funeral, Great Tribute

cross-posted on Shiloh Musings


Yesterday was my mother's funeral at the Oakland Jewish Center section of the New Montifiore Cemetery.  It was conducted by a Rabbi  ?Klein and with the participation of Rabbi Dale Polakoff of the Great Neck Synagogue. My many cousins plus some friends and other family members attended.  My brother, sister and I really appreciate it.  I was told that it was considered a large group.  I guess it was, because Rabbi Klein had asked if there would be a minyon of men, and we certainly had that.

The cousins, from both sides (to tell the truth, a stranger would not have been able to tell if they were my father's or mother's nieces and nephews) really enjoyed Rabbi Polakoff's description of my mother as "feisty."  This was a great tribute to their Aunt Shirley whom they obviously adored.

Observing my absolutely wonderful cousins in action together, I have no doubt that they all are a tribute to my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents who produced this wonderful family I am privileged to be one of.
There aren't many families as amazing as mine.

My Cousin Howard opened his home to us for the post-funeral shiva.  He set it up as a proper shiva home, covered the mirrors and had water for ritual hand-washing outside the door.  One is supposed to wash one's hands when leaving a cemetery, but since he knew that we'd be going into the cars straight from the gravesite, he was prepared.  My sister-in-law brought low chairs from her Young Israel of Scarsdale, and my friend Rose made sure there was the traditional "seudat havra'ah" for the mourners to eat.  There was also kosher food for all, since many traveled long distances and we were all mourning.

It was truly a celebration of who and what my mother was and no doubt my mother would have greatly enjoyed the "party."

Afterwards I got back to my sister-in-law's and on old friend from Great Neck came over to "linachem."  His parents had been very generous to me in the years I had needed a place for Shabbat and holiday meals.  We hadn't seen each other for over forty years, but have had occasional email contact.  The Jewish World is amazing.

The day before, on Tuesday, there was a funeral ceremony for my mother in Phoenix Arizona, which my father was able to attend.  My NY daughter was there, too and stayed with my father after my sister and her husband traveled to New York for the burial.  Some of my mother's former caregivers joined the friends my parents had made in a Conservative Scottsdale Synagogue my parents have joined since their move from New York.  Also attending were many friends of my sister, her family and more.

Today the shiva continues at my sister and brother in law's home, then to JFK and my flight home to Shiloh where I will continue sitting until I get up on Tuesday morning, G-d willing.

li'ilu'i nishmata
May her soul be elevated...
Shifra bat Avraham and Chaya Raisia
Shirley Shankman Spiegelman

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Mother's Funeral Today

Shirley Shankman Spiegelman, 1925-2013
Shifra bat Avraham and Chaya Raisia
Brooklyn, Bayside, Great Neck, all in New York and finally Arizona
last surviving of nine children
wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend to many

Volunteers don't take days off.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Mother's Obituary

Now I'm an "onennet," the term for a mourner who hasn't yet started the "shiva" period.  Today I'll be traveling to New York for my mother's funeral and the beginning of the "shiva."  I'm lucky that there's a full seven day "shiva." No Jewish holiday reduces or cancels it.

What's really strange is that I "get up" from "shiva" on "Shiva Assar b'Tammuz," the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz, and then I end the "Shloshim," thirty day mourning period around "Tisha B'Av," the most intense day of national mourning on the Jewish Calendar.

My mother's mother died sixty-one 61 years ago on the day before Passover.  There is no real shiva in such cases, and I think that my mother suffered that loss of being together with her siblings at such a traumatic time.  She was only just short of her twenty-seventh birthday and in about her eighth month  pregnant with my brother, her second child.

Here's the obituary my brother-in-law wrote:

Spiegelman, Shirley
Shirley passed away at age 88 Saturday June 15, 2013, in Tempe, AZ. Born in Brooklyn in 1925, she moved from Great Neck, NY, to Arizona in 2010. Devoted to her family and community, Shirley had a lifelong passion for dance, theater and the arts, making the most of the cultural offerings in New York and wherever she traveled. She put her experienced eye and mind to work for many years as a docent at the Nassau County Museum of Art, on Long Island. She was pre-deceased by her parents and eight brothers and sisters.  She is survived by her adoring husband of 65 years, Sidney, her loving children, Vivian, Hal Thomas Spiegelman and Batya Medad, seven grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. All will treasure her spirited love, beauty, warmth, fairness and good cooking. A service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 18th, at Sinai Mortuary, 4538 North 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ. A graveside ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday June 19th at the New Montefiore Cemetery, 1180 Wellwood Avenue, West Babylon, NY.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm not good at waiting

I'm in a strange halachik-Jewish Law- status.  According to our LOR*, I can't start the official pre-funeral mourning or onan, because I'm not part of the funeral planning crew for my mother.  That status will start for me once I'm off to the funeral, to which I'm going alone from here.

my parents a few years ago here in Israel
I've never been good at waiting, nor letting other people make my plans, but now I'm in a "just waiting for orders" situation.  Almost everything has fallen on my sister, part of the package she got when she agreed to have our parents move to Arizona, and she is being assisted in New York, where the funeral will be, by my NY daughter and a cousin, who will host the first stage/night of shiva after the burial.

Today our family is spread out all over the world, doing all sorts of things, but we were once your typical New York Jewish family.  Both of my parents were the first generation to be born in America.  They (and I) were born in Brooklyn, New York.  Then we lived in Bayside, NY and after that Great Neck, just over the City Line. 

Now my sister is in Arizona, and I'm in Israel.  Our brother is still on Long Island.  We have cousins and their children much further afield.

Many of the cousins from both sides and some old friends  will be making every effort to be together at my mother's funeral.  That will be a comfort.

*local Orthodox rabbi

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet, "it's no real surprise, though always is"

My mother passed away on Shabbat in her new "home" in Arizona.  I had just visited and left there less than a week ago.

Funeral and Shiva arrangements to be announced.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Food on The Plane, Good Menu on El Al

This last trip to the USA was the first I had flown El Al for a number of years.  For various reasons, recent trips to and from the states had been British Airways, Delta, United Continental and US Air.

I must admit that El Al has the least comfortable seats, most crowded and so soft that the slightest touch on my seat by other passengers makes me jump and worse.

But there is one thing I missed on all those other flights, even when being more comfortable and enjoying the sometimes better free entertainment, the MENU

El Al's regular and special kosher meals include salads, vegetables and sometimes fruit, too.  You also have a choice of kosher meals on El Al.  On other airlines, it's either kosher or not.  You can't choose between a kosher meat/poultry, fish, vegetarian or fruit option. 

Here are some pictures I took of the food served on my way to from "natbag" aka Ben Gurion International Airport to JFK International Airport.  I must admit that the food was one of the only good things about that flight.  It wasn't pleasant.  Actually, the fault wasn't El Al's...


Friday, June 14, 2013

Sans Jetlag?

I'm afraid to say it, but here I am just three days after returning from Phoenix/Tempe, Arizona, a week's visit there, and I don't think I'm suffering from jetlag.

While there and now that I'm home, I'm just too busy to rest.  I've jumped straight into routine.  I had a short visit there, only a week, but there is a ten hour time difference.  My body didn't fully adjust to Arizona time.  I generally needed a cup of strong coffee each afternoon and didn't always sleep through the night.  But I did get up on time and pretty much functioned during the day.  I never napped, just dozed a tiny bit on Shabbat/Saturday afternoon.

Now I'm home and studied and worked as usual. I did take a sleeping pill the first two nights home.  But that's it.

I think I'm ok, bli eyin haraa.

Nobody Believed It, So, Here's The Picture

When I flew out of "natbag," aka Ben Gurion International Airport last week, all of the departure boards said the same thing:


People love to complain about airport delays and flight cancellations, but that Monday morning the planes were leaving on time and the airport was running very efficiently. It certainly wasn't like that at JFK or even at the Phoenix airport.

There are more delays on Jerusalem roads when American officials, like Secretary of State Kerry or their President Obama comes calling nudging, butting into our business.  And then our roads from Jerusalem to Beit El are also closed for long periods of time... ok, but that's another story.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

First the "Shiva" Calls, then the Mazal Tovs

It hasn't been dull here in Shiloh while I was away in Arizona doing my Kibbud av v'em, honoring my father and mother.  During the short week I was gone, two neighbors began sitting shiva, the week of mourning, and neighbors' children got engaged to each other.

The day I returned I went out to pay shiva calls, comfort the mourners. 

And then the following day, I went to my neighbor to say "mazaltov."

Life's never very dull.  Is it?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Belated Kosher Cooking Carnival, Tammuz, 5773

My apologies for this late posting of the Tammuz, 5773, edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival.  I was busy with personal family business on Rosh Chodesh. 

I'd like to remind you that it's a good practice to submit via blog carnival kosher food posts, whether recipes, reviews, customs, kosher food news or halachik (Jewish Law) posts as soon as posted, or if you're like me  you'll forget. Also, hosts are always needed for this monthly kosher cooking carnival. For information either contact me, shilohmuse at gmail dot com, or check out our facebook pageTo tell you the truth, even I submit my posts using blog carnival including when I'm hosting.  That's why I'm referred to in the third person.  BC provides an easy to use "instacarnival" so hosting isn't difficult.  You may have to edit the spam out and you may certainly add more posts to the ones that had been submitted.

Next month's Kosher Cooking Carnival will be hosted by Cooking Outside the Box .

No more chatting; on with the show:


Batya presents me-ander: Cheesecake Recipe, I Made a Deal! posted at me-ander.

Mrs. S. presents Freshly Baked Goods Friday: French Coffee Cake Edition posted at Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress, saying, "Thanks for doing this, and Shabbat Shalom!"

Try Hannah's homemade ice cream at Hannah's Nook.

any time dishes

Batya presents me-ander: And More Vegetable Treats posted at me-ander.

anything kosher!

Batya presents me-ander: Shuk/Shuq Shopping, Annoyances posted at me-ander.

Batya presents me-ander: Kashrut is Good Business posted at me-ander.

Every day meals

Chaviva's Vegan Loaf looks good.

Batya presents me-ander: Having Fun With Vegetables posted at me-ander.

Jewish Shabbat and Holiday food

Ben-Yehudah presents Esser Agaroth: South Park Shavu'os! posted at Esser Agaroth.

traditional food

Yisrael Medad presents My Right Word: Eastern European Food - The Academic Approach posted at My Right Word, saying, "from out of the kitchen into the ... classroom"

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of kosher cooking carnival-kcc using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

and PS, please send in Jewish and Israeli picture posts to JPIX

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My Parents' New Home

Clare Bridge, Tempe, AZ

My sister found them a place where they could still live together.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What's Up? Rather "Punny"

High up in the air, I took advantage of this:

It sure helped me maneuver in and out of my seats in the various planes I few in.  I'm glad that I was in an aisle seat which had an arm that could be raised.  I suggested to other people that they raise theirs instead of disturbing me while leaning on my seat.  Yes, that's one of my pet peeves.  I'm terribly hypersensitive, so when people push, squish etc my seat or chair, I'm terribly uncomfortable.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Proudly Coffeed

There was a time I thought coffee something to be avoided, sort of like chewing gum and chocolate.  I'd proudly drink my fake coffee, counting on my youthful good health to keep my brain sharp and my body energized.

Nowadays over and over articles appear in the news praising the wonders and health benefits of drinking coffee, a few cups a day.  

Other recent studies have linked moderate coffee drinking — the equivalent of three or four 5-ounce cups of coffee a day or a single venti-size Starbucks — with more specific advantages: a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, basal cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer), prostate canceroral cancer and breast cancer recurrence.
Perhaps most consequential, animal experiments show that caffeine may reshape the biochemical environment inside our brains in ways that could stave off dementia. In a 2012 experiment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, mice were briefly starved of oxygen, causing them to lose the ability to form memories. Half of the mice received a dose of caffeine that was the equivalent of several cups of coffee. After they were reoxygenated, the caffeinated mice regained their ability to form new memories 33 percent faster than the uncaffeinated. Close examination of the animals’ brain tissue showed that the caffeine disrupted the action of adenosine, a substance inside cells that usually provides energy, but can become destructive if it leaks out when the cells are injured or under stress. The escaped adenosine can jump-start a biochemical cascade leading to inflammation, which can disrupt the function of neurons, and potentially contribute to neurodegeneration or, in other words, dementia.
In a 2012 study of humans, researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami tested the blood levels of caffeine in older adults with mild cognitive impairment, or the first glimmer of serious forgetfulness, a common precursor of Alzheimer’s disease, and then re-evaluated them two to four years later. Participants with little or no caffeine circulating in their bloodstreams were far more likely to have progressed to full-blown Alzheimer’s than those whose blood indicated they’d had about three cups’ worth of caffeine.

At my advanced age that's definitely good news. I like coffee and I like the energy burst I get from it.  Normally I only drink coffee in the morning, unless I'm jetlagged.  And when I drink coffee, I drink a lot.

From what's written in this article I wonder if some people suffering dementia would do well drinking real coffee.  In most cases when people enter assisted living or nursing care, their coffee loses its punch, being decaffinated.   Maybe they need the realthing...

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Honoring the Dead, Jewish Style

I've been following the blog "Adventures of a Chief Rabbi" the past few months, ever since it began.  His latest post is about doing "tahara" the cleansing, cleaning of a dead body.   The Jewish laws for how to prepare a body for burial are different from other religions.  I've never been involved in this great mitzvah, but I think it's a very special one.

I recommend that you read the post.

A Jewish body is prepared to rejoin the earth by being thoroughly and gently cleaned.  It's then covered with soft clothing before wrapped for burial.  In Israel there is no coffin.  In countries that mandate a box, the box must have holes on the bottom so the decomposition will not be delayed.

Once the body is prepared, no one is to see the body.  There are no preservations, dressing in party clothes and covering the face with stage make-up.

Lihavdil, to differentiate, I'm very impressed as to how the staff in the "memory facility" where my elderly parents are treat them.  Sometimes the job is neither simple nor pleasant.  I could never do it.  I'm glad they treat my parents with dignity and gentleness.

Jetlag, Gevalt

This visit to the states has been more jetlagged than most of my recent ones.

I'm tired at the wrong times and now, close to midnight I have an energy spurt.

I brought some sleeping pills, which I had gotten for the previous visit, so now I must find them.  I took them the first night.  And I had a good night's sleep.  Since thenI didn't take any.  I kept alternating between good and short nights of sleep.

I usually get very tired early evening.  I even dozed off at the table when my sister and her husband had guests, not very charming or sociable of me.  Soon I perked up and rejoined the conversation.  No doubt they have all experienced something similar.  At least I hope so.

It's not worth getting aggravated over what we can't control.  No doubt I'll feel better tomorrow, the day before I go home...

Friday, June 07, 2013

There's Never Enough Time

I thought that I had planned a long enough visit to AZ to help/support my sister in her great chessed care she gives our parents who are still alive.  The days just aren't long enough.  There's just so much to do.  I'm amazed that she has managed so well on her own, working full-time and with the help of her husband.

This sort of "job" responsibility was something neither of our parents ever had to do.  Our paternal grandfather died young, taken care of by our grandmother.  And she then lived with our aunt, her daughter who took full responsibility . Our father and his brother did visit, it wasn't far, every week or so.  I had been told that they'd come with pictures of their children and grandchildren to keep showing her, so she wouldn't forget us. But dementia can't really be stopped and reversed.

Our mother was a young mother in her twenties when her parents died within less than a year of each other.  Her elder siblings were in charge.

This is a whole new ballgame for us.  And my sister is doing a great job.  

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Living Out of Suitcases

For someone like me who's a slob by nature, living out of a suitcase is an extra challenge.

Neat people return everything, folding neatly. My stuff is thrown all over the place, while I'm camped out in my nephew's room for a few days.  He's away.

During the day it seems a tornado has hit my stuff, and it's unbelievable that so few things have taken over so much space.  Of course before going to bed, I clear it and make room for myself.  Even I don't share a bed with my clothes and other stuff.

I really didn't bring all that much.  And since the cleaners didn't finish laundering my skirt on time, I'll have to buy a new one.  Yes, instead of yelling and complaining and making a fuss over the fact that my skirt wasn't  ready I just said that "I now have a good excuse to go shopping."

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Getting old, or is it "Old Age isn't for Sissies," Nor is Watching It

That's true, but even harder than growing old, feeble, incapable and demented is watching someone else in the process.

At my age, it's pretty rare to still have two living parents.  And both of my parents are alive, but I can't say alive and well.  They haven't been on their own totally independent for years.

At one point my mother seemed perfectly well, and she was my father's caregiver.  Now, she's in much worse shape, mentally and physically than my father.  The differences in order and speed of deterioration are more varied than the wondrous development of a tiny baby  into a crawling infant, walking toddler, curious preschooler and eventually, G-d willing, an independent adult.  As a mother of five, and also a grandmother, I have a very good grasp of how children grow and develop.

Dr. Yael Zeigler, my Bible teacher at Matan loves to show the chiastic structure of Biblical verses and history.  I see the chiastic structure also in life.  I can compare my parents' decline with my grandchildren's growth and development.

Many people say they'd rather die than find themselves senile and dependent, but what happens is that among the things many demented people forget is that very sentiment.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Home is a Dream Away

By the time you read this, I should be far from home. 

Yes, I'm traveling yet again.  There are family obligations.  Even at my age, I have two parents, may they live and be well.  My sister is in charge of their care, which isn't easy.

So, my views of home will be distorted for a short (hopefully) while.

Monday, June 03, 2013

And More Vegetable Treats

IMHO nothing is more delicious than veggies, really.  OK mint hagan daz ice cream is a close second.

Have you noticed my new ingredient, beets?  It's really like eating candy.  I bake all this.  It's pretty and healthy. Underneath the round squash, pumpkin and beets there are onions, eggplant and sweet potato.

Very easy, just bake and serve.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

So 21st Century, OU's Invitation to Today's Salute to Israel Parade

The OU's invitation to join them marching in the Salute to Israel Parade is nothing like the invitations I remember from the earliest parades, which I had marched in with NCSY.

Support Israel: March with the OU in NY on Sunday, June 2

Gather at 10:45a on Fifth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets.

OU T-shirts, hats and sunglasses available while supplies last. We'll also supply the float, music and good company. You bring water and the sunscreen.

See you Sunday!

In those days we didn't bring water and sunscreen was pretty much an unknown.

We not only survived but we loved every last minute; at least I did.

What Could This Be? I Haven't a Clue

When I came home the other day, there was this thingy parked near my house.  I couldn't figure out what it could be.  So I took its picture. 

It's now gone.  I have no idea to where.  What do you think it is?

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Strange Looking Topography...

That's what I thought when I first noticed this:

Without my distance glasses, I'd say they looked like dirty sand dunes or something like that.  But Shiloh isn't in the sand.  I took these pictures at the Shiloh Junction when waiting for a ride.

Considering what else is in the pictures, it's pretty easy to guess.  Those are special covers to protect fruit trees from "predators."