Thursday, February 26, 2015

Only in Israel, Prayers in the Shuq

The other day, while walking in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda Market, I wasn't quite sure what I heard. It ended up being the Mincha (afternoon) prayer nice and loud on a loud speaker. The small synagogue was overflowing.

As I walked by I noticed men following and answering "Amen" in the right spots as they worked nearby. Some weren't even wearing kippot or head-coverings.

Only in Israel...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Was it The Last Snow of The Season?

I know that the media and international politicians etc have been spouting about "global warming," but we've been seeing snowier winters than ever before. It's rare for Israeli cities, the hilly/mountainous regions to have snow more than once a year and/or consecutive years. We've had both.

Will this be the last snow for awhile, meaning the next few years? Or is the climate getting colder?

Here are some photos from the recent snow.

snow tire chains, first I've seen on a private vehicle in Israel
snow on almond blossoms

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Beef in Beer, Great Success!

I admit that I haven't been posting many recipes of late. That's because I cook the same foods with little innovation. Most of the new things I've eaten have been in restaurants. It would be better for my budget if I cooked more and ate out less frequently.

As part of my pre-Passover "finishing what's in the freezer," I discovered a nice piece of beef. I must admit that I buy the "specials," the cheapest beef Rami Levy sells. I look carefully to find one with the least fat, and I'm pretty pleased with my cooking experiments.

Last Friday I tried something new.

After thawing and braising the beef in the usual soy oil, onion and garlic I quartered the softest tomato in the refrigerator and placed it on top. To that I added the last few drops of a sparkling wine that had lost its sparkle.

Then I searched the fridge for more goodies and discovered the beer, which had been sitting there unopened for months. To be perfectly honest, I had bought it in the summer, as part of a "six pack" when relatives were going to have dinner at my daughters. I took the unopened bottles home, brought them back to my daughter's for our Chanukah party and again returned (fewer) bottles to my refrigerator. This was the last one. Just to be safe, I googled "beef beer" to make sure I wasn't crazy. Yes, people do cook them together.

After that liquid addition, I added peppercorns and carrots and then covered it for a couple of hours of low heat cooking. I served it on Friday night. My husband and our guest were very happy with the flavor and texture. My husband who normally does not drink never drinks beer was only told of its addition after he had given is praise of the dish.

This Beef in Beer is easy to prepare and totally delicious.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Magic of Photo Cropping

My participation in 52Frames has not only made me work harder as a photographer, but it has forced me to edit photos, especially crop them.

Here's this week's photo in the original.

And here's what I submitted.

It's a totally different image, isn't it?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

And Now for The Kosher Cooking Carnival

What a wonderful way to start the week. Earlier I posted that Havel Havelim was live, and now for the Kosher Cooking Carnival at Tzivia's Advenures in Breadland!

Check it out. Lots of delicious kosher food news!!

Ima 2 Eight's Havel Havelim! And Other JBlogging News

This is the perfect way to start the week. Read Ima 2 Eight's Havel Havelim which is jam-packed with interesting blog posts from all over the world. Visit the posts, read, comment and share, of course. And of course share this edition of Havel Havelim, which hasn't been produced just for bloggers.

A blog carnival is an online magazine made up of blog posts as articles. HH floats from blog to blog every week. Next week's host is multi-blogger Tzivia, (or will it be here?) who also writes books. Not only is she active in the Havel Havelim International Community of Bloggers (facebook,) but any time now she'll be posting the Adar  Kosher Cooking Carnival, another international Jewish blog carnival (fb.)

Remember:You don't have to be a blogger to read, comment and share the Jewish Blog Carnivals!!

Shavua Tov, Have a Wonderful Week

Saturday, February 21, 2015

John Lennon and The Jews, A Philosophical Rampage

John Lennon and The Jews, A Philosophical Rampage  by Ze'ev Maghen, Toby Press, is a unique book, and "rampage" is a very good word to describe it.
A chance encounter at LAX introduces Maghen to a trio of Hare Krishna missionaries who turn out to be Israeli émigrés. They insist that Judaism is archaic, irrational, immoral and just downright stupid; that affiliating with the Jewish people in our modern, globalizing day and age is pointless and passé. Their adamant universalism and “everything is everything” rejection of their Jewish identity put the author in mind of his favorite Beatle’s famous lyric, “Imagine there’s no countries…and no religion too.”
John Lennon and the Jews is Maghen’s confrontation with Lennon’s vision of one-worldism and other in vogue beliefs that threaten Jewish continuity today. This work is a journey through centuries, countries, sitcoms, and ideas that will leave no thinking, feeling person unaffected. “You have never had so much fun cogitating,” writes one reader. “It’s like sitting in a yeshiva in front of a highly erudite rabbi – on mushrooms.”

When Maghen is explaining the uniqueness and importance of Judaism and being Jews, the book is excellent. I was planning on giving it to someone I know who needs to learn these things, but then Maghen gets distracted from that philosophic lesson and goes on a rampage against Judaism, making fun of halacha, Jewish Law. The things Maghen mocks would make no sense to those in most need of the first and even some of the last section of the book. It would turn them off Judaism and distracts from the very good and necessary parts of the book. The "rampage" section may undo the good of the first and last parts for those readers who are really in need of Maghen's wisdom.

Maghen's choice of John Lennon's "Imagine" as a symbol of modern Western values, or lack of values, is perfect. He brings up points I've written about, too.  "When you have nothing to die for, you really don't have anything to live for."

From what Maghen writes about himself, there's an enigma. I would like to know how and why he ended up in Israel. I'm sure his story is very interesting.

John Lennon and The Jews, A Philosophical Rampage is a good book for those with a grounding in Judaism and Jewish Life. They'll be able to handle the mocking and take it with humor it was meant to show. For those of us who eat "gebrochts," soaked and cooked matzah on Passover can sympathize with Maghen's disappointment and shock when given "matzah bags" instead of kneidlach. And certainly those who are just "traditional" rather than strictly Torah observant do find Shatnes and shaving regulations picayune and confusing.

Some people will really like John Lennon and The Jews, A Philosophical Rampage; I have no doubt. But I'd like Maghen to use his intelligence and skills to write the book he started, without the rampage, for those Jews raised in the one-dimensional John Lennon/Hare Krishna philosophy, because they need him. As he says in the last part of the book, Jews remain Jews no matter how they live and what they believe.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Filling in The Details of My Upcoming Trip

I'll be flying to the states again. It has been a year plus a drop since my last visit. I still have a father there in Arizona, and we must do my mother's unveiling in New York.

last year's visit
Working out timing and logistics with my sister and all of the holidays and our commitments gets complicated. At least I'm no longer teaching. There was a year when our parents were still in New York, and between both of our vacation schedules we ended up with a barely twelve 12 hour overlap, and that was because she picked me up at the airport, or it would have had been even shorter!

Now our father is in AZ near her, but our mother is buried on Long Island with her old buddies from the Oakland Jewish Center. Way back when in the 1950's and very early 1960's she ran its Sisterhood and Hebrew School PTA. Many of those in OJC also were neighbors in Bell Park Gardens, where my mother was also very active and helped run the day camp and other projects. I like the idea that she's back in the "old neighborhood." When my father is ready, he'll join them there.

So this year due to the timing of the visit, I'm going to be in New York for Purim and two Shabbatot. I'm even going to do some public speaking at the Jericho-Syosset Chabbad, details click. I'm also planning on seeing a friend I haven't seen for close to half a century. We went to dancing school together when we were pre-schoolers and were neighbors not only in BPG but in Great Neck, too. I'll be based with family and another Great Neck friend in New York after the AZ leg of the visit. And of course I'll be rushing back to Israel to vote in the elections and then jump into the pre-Passover madness at work and home.

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snowing, Later Than Predicted, but White and Sticking

Here are some pictures:

Let everyone be safe and healthy, and may the electricity stay on, G-d willing.

Tomorrow there should be more...

Chodesh Tov, no, I don't think it's possible to go down to Tel Shiloh to pray, at least not from my house.

Shabbat, Enjoyed by Ivanka Trump and Family

In an interview in Vogue Magazine, the glamorous, heiress and businesswoman Ivanka Trump Kushner praises Shabbat observance.

Trump converted to Judaism, traditional Orthodox, before her marriage to Jared Kushner.

Ivanka Trump with her husband Jared Kushner and daughter Arabella. The couple use Shabbat to spend time together as a family. Photo: Instagram.

After almost half a century of Shabbat observance, I personally can't imagine how I'd survive without it. Shabbat is one day I can't be rushed. I go no further than to synagoue and neighbors here in Shiloh. No telephone! No email and even no blogging!!!  I don't cook either. All the food is prepared in advance. All I have to do is cut salad and serve. When necessary, the cooked food is heated up on the electric platta hotplate.

I have no doubt that my health would be much worse if I was on the run 24/7. G-d sure knows best!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

52Frames Rule of Odds and the Jerusalem International Book Fair

This week's them/challenge for 52Frames was The Rule of Odds, and I took my photo at the Jerusalem International Book Fair.

Please "like it" if you do, thanks.

Here are some other photos from the fair. PS I was there twice.

I was going to crop this one to just show the three at the stand, for 52Frames.

I had also planned this one for "odds."

Lots of food buy no one was buying.

another odd

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A New Passover Hagaddah!!

First of all, I must admit, that although Darkness to Destiny: The Haggadah Experience by Immanuel Bernstein, Mosaica Press, Feldheim, is my new Hagaddah, it came out about a year ago. I didn't get it until after last Passover, because of a mailing snafu. It has been sitting, all wrapped and sealed, and waiting for me to take a serious look for about ten months.

To summarize, it was well worth the wait!

Darkness to Destiny is just the Hagaddah I need. For the past, who knows how long already, the CARLEBACH HAGGADAH: Seder Night With Reb Shlomo has been my Pesach Seder companion. And I needed something new to read to myself.
Once a year, it is a mitzvah for us to tell a story... The recounting of the Exodus from Egypt forms the centerpiece of the Seder. This story has a unique aspect to it, for it needs to be told as if we are experiencing it in the present. Thus we are told in the Haggadah: In each and every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he came out of Egypt. Why is it so important to tell the story as if it is happening to us now? After all,we left Egypt long, long ago! In this remarkable, easy-to-read, and thought-provoking commentary on the Passover Haggadah, Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein brings a wealth of sources, a lucidity of thought, and tremendous originality in order to help understand what the goal of the Seder really us, and how we can best experience this powerful evening. Amazon
Rabbi Bernstein's Hagaddah is a serious book, without the cute illustrations that many others have. The large, easy to read fonts in Hebrew and English make it a pleasure, no doubt especially after a couple of cups of wine. Another good thing about this Hagaddah is that the language in the commentary is clear and not highfalutin academic. You don't have to be an expert in Jewish Law and Lore to enjoy what he has to say.

This new Hagaddah is going into my Passover closet for the upcoming holiday, and I strongly suggest that you add it to your Seder collection either for yourself or as a gift to host or guests.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Safe Walking, Finally a Sidewalk!

One of the worst things about my job in Sha'ar Binyamin was that there was a section between commercial buildings that forced pedestrians to walk with the cars.

It was hard enough for a very careful and lucky adult alone, but I can't imagine how anyone could take young children safely to or from the bus stop, or from Rami Levy or Yafiz or the bakery etc. to the clinic, pharmacy or bus stop.

So, I was overjoyed the other day to see that a sidewalk/ramp was being made there.

All I want to know is:
Why did it take so long?