Thursday, May 23, 2019

Medura Lag B'Omer Bonfire, Senior Style

When we first moved to Shiloh late summer 1981, we were among the older residents and the few with children old enough to be in school. Now all of us from that time and many who moved to Shiloh years later, are old enough to be in the 55+ group, old enough to enjoy a special range of activities.

Many of us "veterans," or vattikim as we're called in Hebrew are already retired. Consider us as a whole "young seniors," but last night we were all very happy that our Lag B'Omer midura,  or campfire/bonfire had chairs to sit on. Very few of us would have stayed or been comfortable if we had been expected to sit on old rugs and blankets like the kids, or like we had done easily decades ago.

Just like at the Medura Lag B'Omer Bonfires of old, we sang kumzitz style/genre, Israeli folk songs and told stories, plus some Divrei Torah. Unlike the kids, our menu was mostly fruit and watermelon. We do want to stay healthy active seniors for as long as possible, Gd willing.

Gd willing we'll enjoy many more together.

Chag Sameach!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Matzah Breakfast on "Second Chance Passover," Pesach Sheni, פסח שני

For years I've been missing the boat, forgetting to celebrate "Second Chance Passover," Pesach Sheni, פסח שני.

Passover, Pesach is one of the holidays we are commanded to celebrate, as written in the Torah, Bible, the first five Books. These texts are thousands of years old, and we Jews still read and follow the Mitzvot/Commandments. When you think about it, it's quite amazing. For thousands of years we Jews have followed the calendar, the same holidays according to ancient texts.

When we were a small people all living in the Holy Land, making it to the Beit Hamikdash for holidays was doable. And since Passover was so important Gd gave us a second chance, because sometimes people found it impossible for very legitimate reasons.
The Torah mentions two official excuses for “missing” Pesach Rishon (on 14 Nissan) and being commanded to bring the KP on 14 Iyar – TAMEI, ritually defiled because of contact with a dead body or other source of TUM’A and DERECH R’CHOKA, “far” away from the Mikdash.
So today, even though I celebrated a large family seder with my family a month ago, I ate matzah. Did you?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Should I "Thin" My Blogrolls?

If you look on the left sidebar of this blog, you'll see I have a blogroll, which I call "INTERESTING BLOGS." Over the years, from the time Jewish and Israeli bloggers considered ourselves a community, I've added to this list. And not only do I just collect, but I "visit" and comment on other blogs. I also write up "blog roundups," which are posts that feature posts by other bloggers. My most recent was here, but I usually host in on Shiloh Musings, my other blog.

For many years there was a weekly Jewish/Israeli blog roundup called Havel Havelim, plus the monthly Kosher Cooking Carnival and JPIX, but they've all faded away. My blogrolls have blogs that haven't had a new post for years. Since I set them both up to feature "newest post first," you can see the old blogs on the bottom of the list. Some of these blogs were extraordinarily good. There are some bloggers who blog on rare occasions, every few weeks or months, according to unschedulable whims. Even I've cut down an awful lot, frm daily on both blogs to a few times a week, according to what seems worth writing.

I'd like your input if possible. Could you please look at the blogrolls on both my blogs and let me know which of those "dead" blogs aren't worth keeping, and which ones are worth reading, even though the posts are very old.

Thank you for the help.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother's Day? No Breakfast in Bed for Me

I have no memories of celebrating "Mother's Day" for my mother when I was a kid. She got gypped, because her birthday was May 14, and there were no "double celebrations" by us. We weren't much of a party family.

My mother and I, a gazillion years ago, in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY

Actually, I have a vague memory of a disastrous attempt to serve my mother "breakfast in bed," never again attempted.

Maybe that's why the idea of breakfast in bed sort of turns my stomach. I don't understand the attraction. All I can think of is the dirt, the food getting all over the sheet and blanket, which could bring bugs. And then all the extra laundry to clean it up.

Besides the mess that breakfast in bed can easily make, today, as a religious Jew, who makes a point to pray the Shacharit, Morning Prayer, properly dressed each day before eating breakfast, I can't quite figure out the logistics. Am I supposed to change back into pyjamas, and then climb into bed before eating? Trust me. I'm more comfortable sitting at the table.

I have no objection to eating breakfast "out," whether a hotel breakfast, a restaurant or special breakfast with friends. But first I try to at least drink my water plus some coffee, and pray of course.
After that you can serve me.

There wasn't an American style "Mother's Day" here in Israel when my kids lived at home. Now that they're all grown and out of the house, I try to get a bit of quality time with each whenever possible, a lot more frequently than one day a year.

It's strange to think that I'm the matriarch with grown children and grandchildren. My cousins and I are the "older generation." Most of us are older than our grandparents were as we remember them. Actually, I've already lived longer than three of my grandparents. That thought/fact makes me treasure every day Gd gives me, even though my parents lived much longer.

I enjoy the blessing of health and being able to get out of bed each morning and starting the day admiring the sunrise, drinking lemon water, then coffee.

Breakfast is for later and never in bed.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Customize Your Google/Chrome Homepage

For those of you who use Google/Chrome as your homepage, you probably have noticed that Google changes the picture/background on it to suit your local holidays.

Just above you can see the graphics they chose for yesterday for computers, tablets, whatevers they "sensed" to be in Israel. There's an Israeli Flag, because yesterday was Israel's Independence Day, Yom Haatzmaut.

If you look on the lower right hand corner, you'll see a very convenient and helpful tool.

Click it, and you'll discover a host of possibilities to customize your homepage.

Above is from today's homepage, and Google has changed the graphics.

Don't be afraid to click the options/choices.

  • They give you a choice of their own "Chrome backgrounds"
  • You can upload any of your own images.

After playing around with it, experimenting, you can always click the "Restore default shortcuts."

I hope this simple "how to" post helps you. Don't be afraid of your computer. The neighbor who first taught me how to use one said one word to me in the early 1980's:
When I asked him what would happen if I "broke" anything, he replied that he's fix it. Then programming was much more complicated, and very few programs available did very little. There wasn't even an "undo" button. I had to call him only once. Now I can teach people, even younger than me, how to use their computers, tablets, smartphones etc.

Instructions are in the "menus" that pop up when you click. If you have anything to say about this, please ask in the comments, thanks.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Israel's National Mourning Memorial Day, One People

Growing up in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, post-World War Two I don't remember anything about Memorial Day, except that it was a long weekend. Here in Israel it's a day of National Mourning, and even young children are exposed to the "nasty fact" that there is evil and people die.

As a child I knew very well that people die. Between the ages of almost three and three and a half, I had lost both maternal grandparents and an uncle. I have strong memories of those grandparents. Then when I was about twelve another uncle died, but none of them died in battle, nor did I grow up hearing anything about the Nazis or the Holocaust.

Life in Israel is rooted in reality. Children are taken to funerals, cemeteries and memorial ceremonies. They are taught about real people who had been killed fighting for Israel's independence and continued existence. They are taught about real people of all ages murdered by Arab terrorists.

Today is a day of national mourning for the soldiers and victims of terror attacks,  Soldiers and Terror Victims Memorial Day. Last night I ended up attending a very moving, well produced ceremony in Jerusalem. I missed being home in Shiloh, where most of the stories would be about people I had known. But instead of feeling like an outsider, attending that Jerusalem ceremony just reminded me how we are one nation, one people, one family.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Save The Date: Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5779, Tuesday June 4, 2019

Our next Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers will be Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5779, Tuesday June 4, 2019, Gd willing at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, 8:30am.

Tuesday, the first of Sivan, 5779, June 4, 2019 at 8:30am, Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh. For more information email me, subject: Rosh Chodesh.

תפילת נשים בראש חודש סיון תהיה יום ג', א' בסיון, ,8:30 4-6-2019 בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה. לפרטים נוספים, subject: Rosh Chodesh.

We pray traditionally, silent prayers silently, and Hallel is sung together.

Shiloh is a holy site. It is mentioned in the Bible as the spiritual and administrative center of the Jewish People after Joshua led us into the Holy Land. There wasn't even the need for a battle to enter it, exactly like in 1967 Six Days War.

The area of Shiloh is now populated by well over a thousand Jewish families, and numbers are growing annually. Suburban, rural and agricultural communities fill the area from west of Highway 60 until just east of the Alon Road. Schools, medical clinics, shops and industries make it possible for families to live in Gush Shiloh Bloc without having to travel daily.

Most important is Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Shiloh, which is a recognized and popular archeological and tourist site. Visitors come from all over the world to see the latest discoveries and learn about Biblical Shiloh and the Mishkan, Tabernacle. For more information, arrange special tours, events and more contact, or call 02-5789111.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Dinner at Merlot, A Real Dairy Restaurant in Shiloh

It's so nice to know that we don't have to travel at all to get to a nice dairy restaurant. When we had been renovating our kitchen last summer, the added expense of a few meals "out" was minor financially and made life much easier. Merlot is nicer than many of the chain dairy restaurants you find all over the country and on par with, or better than most kosher dairy restaurants in most cities and towns.

Our most recent visit to Merlot was just before Pesach/Passover, after Bedikat Chametz, the ritual searching for the forbidden chametz. There was nothing to eat in the house, especially after a long day cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen to turn it into Pesach mode. For many years, my husband has brought home felafel from Jerusalem for us to eat after the "search," but this year he was home that day. When he did some shopping that afternoon, he checked at the pizza store, which apparently is attached to Merlot, about felafel. They didn't have any on their menu, but he was told that Merlot would be open until midnight with its full menu available.

Once we finished with the ritual, I "spruced myself up" for our post-Bedikat Chametz "date night," and we walked down the hill to Merlot. For those coming by car, there's a parking lot behind it, and it's also near bus stops for the 461 and 463 Egged Taavura. Merlot is across the street from the Shlomo Levyatan Supermarket and the Kupat Cholim Leumit clinic. Yes, the location is central and convenient, even for those who don't live in Shiloh. And of course it's strictly kosher mehadrin.

Merlot is open Sunday-Thursday 8am - 11pm. Friday 8am- until 1pm (or possibly later during summer hours,) and after Shabbat until 11pm. Call 02-6284601 for more information.

My husband ordered the Asian Stir-Fry, and I had the Sweet Potato Salad. We were both very happy with the food, which was delicious. We didn't order dessert, though I've eaten their desserts other times, including parties. Merlot also has a Breakfast Menu, which is offered until 12 noon.

Yes, we definitely recommend Merlot, and it's worth the trip, even if you don't live in Shiloh. Shiloh is only about ten minutes from the Ariel University, Ofra and of course closer to Eli and all the Gush Shiloh Bloc communities, besides being off of Highway 60 and barely ten minutes from the Alon Road.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Blog Visiting, A Roundup From Blogs All Over

Once upon a time there was Havel Havelim, a weekly roundup of blog posts about Israel and Judaism. I met a lot of amazing people through it, some in person and some just online. Now a few of those people still blog, less frequently, and some I'm facebook friends with and others on instagram. And I even have real life f2f friends I first met via blogging.

In the heyday of blogging, there had been a real community spirit, but now it's different. It is what it is.

Still I think that there are some great blogs out there, and I'll now post a number of blog post titles linked to the blog. I hope you make the time to click, read, comment and even share. Yes, share on your blog if you're a blogger, or facebook or twitter or just send on whatsapp or email. It's a new world out there. Sorry, but in these roundups I don't include "blogs" that are on news sites, just independent blogs. If you have any to recommend, please add them to the comments here. Both my blogs, this and Shiloh Musings have blog rolls, listings of blogs I look at, or looked at when they were "live."

All opinions in included posts are those of the bloggers, not necessarily mine. Enjoy:

4 Treasures in Northern Israel
Homemade Challah, Yes, Passover's Over
Tame the body, unleash the soul (Kedoshim)
Heroism, Gevurah גבורה Yom HaZikaron LiShoah UliGevurah
Shma Yisrael
Two examples of NYT apathy during the Holocaust
Cartoonist Antonio Moreira Antunes Claims Antisemitic Allegations Come From “The Jewish Propaganda Machine”
And We Remember.....
Visiting an Old Age Home in Jerusalem
Bread of Affliction
Redemption, Exodus: Would You have been One of the One Fifth 1/5?
Nefesh b'Nefesh: How helpful are they AFTER you make aliyah?
The Post-1967 Origin of "Judea and Samaria"
Stand Up to the Bullies

Shabbat Shalom Umevorach,
May You have a Peaceful and Blessed Shabbat

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Early Lunch and Visit to Israel Museum

Yesterday I only had one of my Matan classes, so I was finished there before 10:30, and I had made a date with a friend visiting Jerusalem. Since we had a couple of hours and we were both hungry, we decided to go to the Israel Museum.

Mansfeld Café is always a good choice for a simple tasty dairy meal. For her it was breakfast, and for me it was an early lunch. I chose the Quiche of the Day, which was spinach. It comes with a fresh salad and was totally delicious.

After eating we found ourselves just wandering around various exhibits, not with any real plan. We didn't even check to see what's new. There is always so much to see in the Israel Museum, even in the permanent exhibits there are changes, since the museum has  so much in its storage facilities.

We really enjoyed looking at these beautiful and amazingly modern-looking jewelry in the Jewish Costume and Jewelry: A Matter of Identity gallery.

Right now, even though quite a few galleries are being redone with  new exhibits, there's still plenty to see. As the days get hotter, it's extra important to find places that are indoors. Parking is free, and there are a number of buses that you can take to the Israel Museum.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Homemade Challah, Yes, Passover's Over

Yesterday I made a nice batch of challah, which should be enough for more than a month. I used a very simple challah recipe and no electric mixer. I knead by hand.

1 cup sugar (I use dark brown)
2 Tablespoons or a bit more of dehydrated yeast
approximately 2 kilo flour (I use whole wheat extra fine)
pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups of warm water
1 cup of any vegetable oil
2 eggs (optional)
1 egg for painting to make a shiny challah

  1. Put almost all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl; just use a cup of flour.
  2. Mix
  3. Add the warm water.
  4. Cover with plastic.
  5. When it looks all bubbly and has risen add the oil (and eggs).
  6. Mix
  7. Gradually add flour, mixing all the time, until you can knead it.
  8. Knead for about 8 minutes.
  9. Coat completely in a bit more oil.
  10. Cover and wait until doubled in size, anything from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the weather and quality of yeast.
  11. Punch down, then cover and wait again. 
  12. "Take a piece of challah" for the blessing.
  13. Punch down and shape. The shaping as you can see in my photos can be very simple.
  14. Paint with raw egg and let the challot rise a bit.
  15. Bake. Don't preheat oven. First I let the shaped challot, more like rolls, rise in 100c, 212f oven until doubled. Then I baked it at 190c, 374f until starting to brown. Finally lower heat to 160c, 320 until a sort of hollow sound when tapped on bottom. Times depend on size of challah and your oven. Mine is turbo/fan and I have heat from bottom. Usually I bake on two racks, also.
  16. It's ready when hard on the bottom and has a hollow sound when tapping the bottom.
  17. Let cool out of the oven.
  18. Enjoy for Shabbat, Jewish Holidays or whenever you want a special bread.

Afterwards I bagged and froze the challah, since it was only Monday, but the house had that wonderful smell of home-baked challah for the rest of the day.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Post-Pesach/Passover 5779, 2019

Yes, it's hard to believe but last night as Shabbat ended, so did Passover for Jews wherever.  This is a rare year when even those of us in the Holy Land find ourselves still in Passover mode for eight full days. That's because as Passover ended, Shabbat began, and on Shabbat we are forbidden to cook, shop, switch the kitchen etc. Also, the chametz we had sold stays sold until after Shabbat.

Before the Chag Shvi'i shel Pesach, the last day of Passover, we make a special blessing Eruv Tavshilin which starts the cooking of a meal which is to be eaten on Shabbat. We may finish the cooking, and do any other food preparation for Shabbat as part of that Eruv Tavshilin.

After Havdala, the ceremony that separates the Holy Shabbat from the regular days, we can then start rearranging the kitchen into regular Chametz mode. About an hour plus after Shabbat, if we've sold our Chametz, we retake possession.

It didn't take me all that long to take off the counter coverings and get my kitchen back to normal. I made sure to find all of my coffee paraphernalia before going to bed, figuring that in the morning I'd be too confused and tired to think straight. Especially since this is the first year/Passover in the new kitchen, it's a bit more complicated to remember where I'd stashed everything.

B"H, thank Gd I found it pretty easy to get this new kitchen in and out of Passover mode. I'm pleased, thank Gd, with my kitchen.

No, I haven't yet had any chametz. Some years it takes me until Shabbat.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Passover/Pesach 5779, 2019 Almost Over

This year's Passover is a day longer than usual for us here in Israel. That's because as it ends Shabbat begins. And we can't start putting away Passover dishes/pots etc on Shabbat, nor can we cook chametz.

So, this year, for all practical purposes, Passover is the same whether you're in Israel or outside of it. In Chutz La'Aretz, meaning out of the Holy Land, there's an extra day, just like they have a Second Seder and celebrate Simchat Torah a day after we do. A number of times in the past, we had visitors from abroad who needed to continue eating strictly Kosher for Passover for eight days, rather than our seven. Those years we couldn't switch everything immediately after the holiday was over for us. But in a year like this one, it's no problem at all. Everyone finishes with Passover the same time.

Now I have to finish off all of the cooking for the last two days of Passover eating.


PS Please remember to get all of your candles ready before the chag begins and also a 48 hour one so you can light for Shabbat.
PPS Also remember to prepare and bless the Eruv Tavshilin, so you can prepare food for Shabbat on the chag.

Chag Kasher V'Sameach and Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Visiting an Old Age Home in Jerusalem

Yesterday I went to visit a friend who now lives in an old age home in Jerusalem. I was with a couple of other friends. We followed "google map's" directions to find it, although we took a detour to pick up some cake.

At our age, we know that, should we live so long, we could end up in such a place in another decade or so. Our friend can no longer take care of herself, live independently. I remember her talking about if she reaches such a stage, she'd like full-time care in her own home, but for various reasons that couldn't happen.

Our friend still has enough of her brain cells to converse and praise her new home. She likes the fact that all the cooking and cleaning, maintenance etc are done by others. All she needs to do is smile, eat and cooperate, which is fine for someone as friendly as she is. She enjoyed the cakes we brought her, insisting that they don't serve such desserts. It was clear to me that some of her "report" wasn't totally accurate, but it's what she wants to and is able to believe to stay happy. When we all posed together for a picture, she quickly pushed away her "walker," which was a good sign of her awareness. She doesn't like to appear infirm.

Of course the place has ramps and elevators. In the large lobby of the entrance floor there was a musician entertaining residents. When we didn't see our friend, we asked a staff member where she could be found. Then we easily found her on a different floor/department. She was very happy to see us.

PS The old age home didn't "smell," so that means that the upkeep and the residents are well taken care of.