Tuesday, April 07, 2020

My Passover Kitchen! Sort Of

I am very happy with the new kitchen we did less than two years ago. I did most of the designing. Almost everything for Passover lives in it easy to access all year long. Anyone who has to kasher their kitchen annually knows what I mean. I still clean it of course, but only two closets get switched. And I have some pots in the laundry room, which is just across the hallway.

Here are some photos. Sorry, but I don't have time to chat.

Chag Pesach Sameach 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Baile Rochel Locked In? Nah! Can't Keep a Good Girl Down

Baile Rochel tell you how it really is:

Life in The Corona Lock-down

The other day I got an emergency call from my childhood playmate:
"Baile Rochel, the world is waiting for your words of wisdom."
"Nu, me?"
What wisdom?

I'm just a sloppy overweight middle-aged senior citizen who keeps getting chastised by my children for taking walks outside the house. I dress like a bandit with a mask and all. OK, I admit that the "mask" is just a folded shmatta, cut from a ripped flannel sheet. For goggles, I have my trusty multifocals.

When people ask why I still go outside I answer:
"Doctors orders!"
When corona virus, COVID-19, the plague, or whatever you want to call it, is no more than an awful memory, high blood pressure, diabetes, serious aches and pains, etc ad nauseum will still be live threats. In addition, I live in the "sticks," in a private home, so I don't need scuba gear in an elevator or public stairwell.

I rarely see anyone when outside, and if I do, I cross the street. And if that's not possible, proper corona manners demand that the younger wanderer must climb the nearest tree. A close call was averted when a clueless little kid started approaching encroaching on my personal space, about the distance/height of a star basketball player, so I growled. He got the hint and ran away.

Like many, I'm hoping that I still have clothes that fit when this corona has crooned away. In a "normal year," I would have given fattening chametz, the food forbidden on Passover, away before the holiday begins. And in case you haven't been following the Jewish calendar, Passover's next week. Corona prevention regulations forbid giving away food, so my husband and I are enjoying suffering by eating pancakes-made in large family quantity and other forbidden for dieters foods. Yes, I'm finishing the beer, too. It's chametz!

I haven't seen my grandchildren in person since Purim. But now on the advice of one of my kids I am "living my old dream" to be an international "entertainer" by reading children's stories daily on facebook. Anyone can tune in, as long as you have a facebook account. Join to watch my daily shows.

One corona related regulation I'm following very strictly is staying away from the supermarket. My husband can't do his beloved shuq, open market, shopping either; it's in Jerusalem and shuttered. We must be saving a lot of money. Every few days I call the manager of the local grocer and order a few things. They arrive straight to our doorstep.

And I can't remember the last time I ate out with friends, another frugality of the corona lock-down. We now meet frequently on Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp, email and, of course, my blogs written under my other name. But:

Mrs. Sullivan's Dancing School, Bayside, NY, circa 1953

Monday, March 30, 2020

Corona Lock-down Boredom, Try Reading Blogs

Most of the modern world is suffering severe boredom, since we're in corona lock-down. Try reading blogs. There are still many bloggers like myself who post new material on independent blogs. You have nothing to lose. It's free.

I've been blogging for over twenty years. At one point there was quite a large community of Jewish and Israeli bloggers. We used to have regular blog carnivals, each with a different topic, general, kosher cooking and pictures. Then they faded away. I'm still in touch with some of those bloggers and others I met through blogging.

Some of the most successful bloggers have stopped blogging completely. Others, like myself still enjoy the medium. We get to write and "publish" what we like, when we want. I used to blog "religiously," daily on each of my blogs. Now I blog less.

Every once in a while I blog a round-up of blog posts from various blogs. My custom is just to give you the title without even a hint as to what blog it appears on. Today seems like a good time to offer you some blogs. Reading blogs is a nice way to travel and meet new people, or see old friends.

I'd like to make it clear that I'm not responsible for the opinions of other bloggers included in this round-up.

If there's a blog you'd recommend, please let me know in the comments, thanks. Enjoy, and let me know which is your favorite.

#blogExodus day 4: RISE
Travels With Sushi, A Fable, Genre: Harry Potter
Bnei Braq Corona Drive-Thru
Liberman's now irrelevant
“Because of me, this great storm.”
The Death of Daas Torah
What Did Yitro Hear? Who's Today's Yitro?
Zoom, Skype and Coping in the Corona Lock-down
Jerusalem Living with COVID-19
The Five Crisis Management Languages
Rebooting my Faith
Haiku With Morning Coffee on Facebook
Don’t Panic, Pt. 4: Life in Lockdown
The Irgun and MP John Platts-Mills

Don't forget to read, comment and share. Enjoy, of course, too.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Zoom, Skype and Coping in the Corona Lock-down

Have you Zoomed yet? A couple of weeks ago, I hadn't a clue as to what Zoom is, but now I'm a fan. Last week, just as the corona virus lock-down restrictions began to creep its way into our lives, my book club friends and I realized we couldn't have our traditional pot luck dinner meeting. We had this nasty feeling that things were going to get worse before they got better. Also with Passover rapidly approaching, we just couldn't put off our meeting. Someone suggested Zoom, so we all signed up and had a wonderful discussion about Little Women. It was rather ironic meeting in such a magical high tech way, when the book was written by hand.

My "Chevruta," Bible study group also didn't want to stop meeting. We usually meet very early Wednesday mornings in Matan before classes begin. At first we tried Whatsapp conference call, but that's for a maximum of four, and we're mostly five. Then we started learning via Skype daily, and we love it. When this corona virus lock-down ends, we're going to miss our daily get-togethers.

Yael Ziegler teaching via Zoom and FB
Once Matan realized that this lock-down was not just a few days, they got into gear. Matan now simultaneously uses Zoom and Facebook live to allow students all over the world to study together. Yesterday we had our regular classes, but watched/listened in our homes. It was amazing how quickly we managed to adjust to the app.

Both Yael Ziegler and Yael Leibowitz gave superb classes. On Zoom we can also see and hear our friends, which was very comforting in these difficult times. Nobody knows when life will return to normal.

Today was Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the first of the Jewish Month of Nissan, and I "attended" two Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayer groups. First I said Hallel together with many of my usual group. For years we've been meeting at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, where the Biblical Tabernacle had rested for close to four hundred years, Since we're now restricted to only walking near our homes, we couldn't go to Tel Shiloh, so we Zoomed. The time lag made the singing a bit less musical, but it really was great to be together praying. By the time we ended there were participants from Shiloh, Eli, Kedumim and Beit El.

Saying Hallel together from Shiloh, Eli, Kedumim and Beit El via Zoom
Matan Rosh Chodesh Prayers
Zooming from Raanana
Then I checked out the Hallel at Matan Raanana. It was also via Zoom, but done outdoors, by someone's house. Women from all over had joined in to pray together. Now with technology, to be "together" one can be miles and miles apart.

Our lives are changing so quickly. All this modern technology is certainly helping us get through Corona.

Matan will be having its traditional Pre-Passover learning on Monday March 30, 2020, but bigger and better than ever. That's because it'll all be Zoomed. The English program will consist of seven, yes, 7 lectures instead of the usual three. Top teachers from the various branches will teaching from 9am-4pm.
You can view the classes through:
Zoom: Meeting ID: 257 547 385 https://zoom.us/j/257547385
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MatanFaceYoutube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcddaJS8bnNI3olXbCxNrRA

Yael Liebowitz on Facebook Live

Monday, March 23, 2020

Expert's Response to My Corona Advice Not To Cough in Your Elbow or Rely on Gloves

Immediately after I posted Dumb "Corona Question" About Elbow Coughing and Disposable Gloves, I received a response from a friend who had forwarded it to a corona expert. Here it is:
Indeed! Wearing gloves gives you a fake idea of being safe.. there is an entire, complicated and time consuming procedure to put them on and take them off in a safe way. That’s being applied by medics and was also thought to me during my Wuhan mission but nobody in real daily life knows how to do this, it’s way too complicated! So yes, the neighbor is absolutely right.. wash your hands, often and thoroughly!
The idea of coughing in your elbow is ONLY to be used in a situation where you are surrounded by other people and you do NOT have a tissue nearby.. in such case, it’s safer to use your elbow than nothing or than covering your mouth by hand. BUT using a tissue and ditching it ( in a bin! Not on the street!) asap is definitely far better and should always be the preferred way..
My only question to the expert is:
Why haven't you publicized this? People are endangering themselves and others by spaying viruses around their elbows/arms and relying on plastic/disposable gloves? 

Dumb "Corona Question" About Elbow Coughing and Disposable Gloves

The corona virus stays:
45 minutes in the air, traveling 2 meters 6 1/2 feet
a few minutes on your skin
12 hours on your clothes
up to 4 days on wood
4-5 days on paper
5 days on metal
6-9 days on plastic

If this is true, and the pictures are clear enough so that you don't have to understand the writing, then coughing into your elbow and wearing disposable gloves are worst things to do.

The corona virus stays the shortest time on your skin, which is easy to wash frequently with soap and water.

How many people strip off their tops and launder them after coughing into their elbow?

Ditto about washing your hands with soap after touching any surface is safer than passing around the virus on disposable gloves, which can easily spread the virus as you touch more than one thing.

PS it's much easier to cup/cover your mouth/nose with your hand tissue than catch all the spray on the inside of your elbow.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Corona Lock-down Tips, How I'm Surviving

How are you getting through these challenging times? Corona lock-down isn't all that easy. I'm the type who loves getting out, even if it's a walk around the block. Actually, especially in our rather rural area, in theory I can take a walk. But Gd has decided to continue winter a bit longer.

I had to contort myself to get this photo taken earlier.

Now I'll get off the computer after posting this. Here's my little message and plans:

Even when rain resumes, I'll keep the sun in my mind. It's there, even when hidden. I'll dress as nicely as I can, even though I'm not going out. I plan another walk inside while listening to a class, like yesterday. I'll turn on the heat, so I won't suffer from the cold.

I'll finish Shabbat preparations and take out a cake and challot from the freezer.

Gd willing I'll read another children's book or story or poem at 2pm Israel time.

May Gd give us health and sense of humor to survive these difficult challenging times. I really thank Him for scheduling the corona lock-down after Purim, because all the family came here for Purim.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Corona Lock-down Tips: Keeping Fit, Even if You Can't Get Out

Life in the Corona Lock-down, all the restrictions we're now living in, makes keeping fit much more difficult.

Yesterday I took two "walks" to keep up my general fitness. Since, like most everyone, I can't really estimate how many steps and distance I've walked at home*, I rely on two pedometer apps on my phone.  You can see their icons on the screenshot to your right.

The pedometers I use are free. One is more sensitive than the other. They each have a purpose, and I keep the phone on me all the time, except when it's charging.

There are two ways to find icons for your phone:
1- google play store and "search" free pedometer
2-go into "chrome" or whatever you use and just google "free pedometer"
Match up the icons with those on my home screen.

On the bottom there's the icon on the far left, showing two feet. It's very simple to use and sensitive enough to most walking around the house. And Gd willing when this lock-down is over, it shows a realistic amount of steps when shopping and in museums etc.

There's another pedometer app on the second row, far right with one foot. This pedometer, even at its most sensitive is less so. I like that it shows me how much "serious walking" I've done.

After installing a pedometer, you have to personalize it. Go to "settings," and add whatever info they ask. The most important is "pace distance." You can check the accuracy of that by counting your steps as you walk and check that the app has the same number. "Sensitivity" can also be adjusted. You may need to tweak here and there. I uninstalled one, since it was horrendously inaccurate. The app on the bottom of my screen is more sensitive. I generally try to turn it off when in a car or bus.

Please tell me how you're managing. Is this helpful?

*I turned on facebook live for company. You can join in. Here are the recordings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

One of My Favorite Books, Madeline, Filmed

I loved the book Madeline when I was a child. Like many, since it's in rhyme I had it memorized. And then I read it to my children.

And now I've read it for the public on facebook. This is the only way I can read to my grandchildren, now that we're in corona virus lock-down, a quasi-quarantine.

My plan is to read more books on facebook live. Tune in. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Living in The Corona Virus Lock-down

This is something I wrote on facebook and think it really should be here, too:

Keep a grip on reality in the corona virus restriction/lock-down world: Unless you've been ordered by the medical authorities to keep strict quarantine, staying home and being sedentary is more dangerous for your health than going outside and taking a solitary walk.

You can even walk with one or two others, as long as you strictly keep your distance. Only in crowded places would a mask be advisable, and apparently, they aren't all that useful.

I'm lucky to live in a relatively rural community, where it's pretty easy to find an empty road for walking or running.

So walk with headphones to talk on the phone or listen to music, radio, lecture or an audio-book. Or, like me, turn on facebook live and talk to the world.

When I was out last night for a walk I saw young people running for fun and fitness and others walking in small groups. Physical exercise brings on "happy hormones," which prevent depression.

Gd willing we'll survive this, too.

Benji Lovitt keep the jokes going.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus, My Opinion

Neighbor's coronavirus themed
  Mishloach Manot, Purim gifts
I'll start with the bottom line. I think that the world has gone berserk.

Maybe I've seen too many deaths and injuries from war, Arab terror, car accidents, innumerable illnesses of all kinds, funerals etcetera.

International economies, trade, and more are crashing.

Now even though an epidemic/pandemic whatever is predicted, at present  the number of people actually ill from coronavirus is infinitesimal considering the world's population. Even in the countries most affected, it's less than other causes of death.

But the "precautions" are endangering people. The precautions are causing economic damage, both on a personal level and national, international. Staying home isn't healthy. It's depressing. It causes overeating or starvation. It's sedentary. That causes major health problem, especially in the same age population that is considered most endangered by the virus.

Children stuck at home get bored and get into trouble. Accidents, too.

Of course, I'll never be able to prove the numbers, but the costs in every sense of the word will be humongous.

Precautions should be in general hygiene, use of more soap and water and clean towels. The disposable gloves you probably see on cashiers and food workers are generally filthier than their hands would be if they washed them properly and frequently.

Studies show that soap and water are more effective against germs than the modern chemical cleansers.

When will this end?

I feel like we're improv actors in a science fiction horror movie.

very recent funeral in Shiloh

Friday, March 06, 2020

Rebbe Nachman's Chair, Israel Museum

Tuesday evening I was privileged to attend the opening of the new exhibit in the Israel Museum, Seated in Seclusion: Bratslav Hasidim and Contemporary Design. It's a photography exhibit of broken chairs in isolation symbolizing the popularity of the prayer in seclusion among followers of Bratslav Hasidim.
Hitbodedut – self-secluded prayer and introspection – is practiced by Bratslav Hasidim in forests throughout Israel. These Hasidim use the salvaged parts of old chairs to create “new” chairs for this very purpose. Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (1772-1810) believed a regular practice of hitbodedut was perhaps the most important element in one’s relationship with God. In this state the Hasid addresses God directly, sharing his most personal prayers and thoughts without the mediation of a prayer book or synagogue, as he strives to achieve spiritual affirmation and restoration. (Israel Museum)
Catriel and Heidi Sugarman and I 
The most famous of the Bratzlav chairs is the one that had belonged to their rabbi, Rebbe Nachman. A few decades ago the chair was clandestinely sent to Israel, in pieces. The carpenter chosen to restore it was Catriel Sugarman, who at that time had a Judaica woodwork workshop on Shlomzion Hamalka Street, Jerusalem. He and his wife happen to be old friends of ours.

Curators of the museum exhibit contacted Sugarman and brought him to the synagogue where the chair is now located. They filmed his examination of the chair, reminisces, his descriptions of what he was given to work with and what he had to recreate. A short movie of that visit is part of the exhibition, and that's where we spent our time.

Catriel Sugarman, master Judaica craftsman/carpenter and writer
I must visit the exhibit another time to see the photographs and replicas of the broken chairs in situ. Yes, I do recommend seeing the exhibit and others in the Israel museum.

As part of the exhibition opening there were some speeches and a wonderful performance by Shuli Rand, a popular chassideshe singer and actor.

Shuli Rand

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Enjoyed Israeli Election Day, Grandkids, Baking etc.

photo by Yisrael Medad, yes, my husband
Yesterday there were elections here in Israel for the third time in less than a year. Of course I voted. I even managed to color-coordinate my outfit to blue and white, almost matching the election paraphernalia at the polling station. It's a good thing that denim is blue.

The weather was still pretty wintery, though my friend and I took a nice morning walk. Due to cold, damp winds, I decided not to do laundry, but I was busy with lots of other "domestic" activities.

For me the highlight of Election Day is that some of our kids still come to Shiloh to vote. I set up a table with all sorts of arts & crafts activities for the two cutest and most creative pre-school girls. They each left with a bag of pipe-cleaners, with which they could create even in the car.

Yesterday we dined on my version of "orange" lentil vegetable soup, freshly made. It includes two types of lentils, orange and brown. Besides onions the vegetables are all orange, carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. The only additional ingredients, besides water and some vegetable oil, are dehydrated dill, coarse salt and pepper. It was very easy to make; I just used one pot.

Besides voting and soup-making I baked. Between Purim and the next few Shabbatot, we're going to have to finish all this before Pesach. I used my standard recently tweaked challah recipe, which is very easy. I don't have a mixer. It was all hand-kneaded.

The cakes and cupcakes were a version of my standard basic simple one-bowl cake recipe, which I've been baking for almost half a century. This time I added mashed bananas and chocolate chips. Of course, I have almost always baked with brown sugar and whole wheat flour, nowadays 70% extra fine. And as I had mentioned earlier, I don't have a mixer. This was all mixed by hand with a large spoon, and the bananas were mashed with a simple low-tech potato masher.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Haiku With Morning Coffee on Facebook

Many of you may know that I've been writing morning haikus as I drink my coffee every "weekday" on facebook for quite awhile. The facebook page I started never took off, so I opened a facebook group called Morningcoffeehaiku Group. It's growing. Anyone interested can request to join it, but I don't accept those recommended "second hand." That's because I hate being added to a group without my permission.

I illustrate my haikus with photographs.

Haikus are simple minimalistic poems of three lines 5, 7, 5 syllables. Theme wise you can take liberties. There are those who say that even the syllable count can be flexible. Following are a couple of haikus I've written.

woke to pouring rain
winter is still here with us
warmed by hot coffee

won football last night
coffee, shabbat too much food
bright early sunrise

As you can see, it's a daily diary of sorts. Join us.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Taught a Totally Original Torah Class

Last week I blogged on Shiloh Musings asking for some "research help" for a Shabbat Torah Class I had committed to give at our Shiur Nashim, Women's Class.

This class I go to every Shabbat I'm home is the most veteran, longest lasting in Shiloh. It began over thirty-eight 38 years ago. We've had the same regulars now for quite awhile and can't manage to attract more women. Most who teach are men, even two generations of the same families, who are much more scholarly than we are. On occasion some of us even try our hand at it. A few months ago, we decided to give the neighbor who recruits speakers a monthly break. A few of us volunteered to give (or bring someone) the shiur, class so she won't have to make the calls. I had plenty of warning that my turn was coming up.

Due to the fact that I did not grow up in a religious home, going to a Jewish school and hearing all sorts of Torah stories from the youngest age, I generally read and learn with a fresh eye. That means I come up with some unique interpretations. Luckily I've found teachers in Matan and Shiloh who don't mind my rather unconventional ideas.


For this talk I had been inspired by the opening words of Parshat Shavua, Weekly Torah Portion Yitro, which was the week before. Since we're not restricted to the weekly parsha, that wasn't a problem.

I managed to get everyone talking and participating, which was quite an accomplishment. Sorry, but I'm not giving more details than you can get in the Shiloh Musings post. Maybe I should "market" myself?

I have another unique shiur cooking in my head...

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Threading a Needle, Quite a Challenge at My Age

I can't remember the last time I threaded a needle to do some mending/sewing, but last night I had to take the plunge. The hem of my all purpose black skirt was history.

The skirt had been bought a number of years ago in a 2nd hand store and is of a fabric made to last forever. I used to joke about that, but the proof is that it has outlasted the thread and ribbon of the hem. Yes, it was that well-made. Since the hem fabric was literally falling down and "flapping," I could no longer ignore it and wear the skirt unmended/unhemmed. Last night I bit the bullet and pulled out black thread plus needle from my dusty old sewing box.

very tiny hole in the needle, but it was the needle in the spool of black thread
In my younger days, pre-reading glasses, meaning decades ago, threading even the most delicate needle was totally effortless for me. But then things began to change. To thread a needle, you need excellent vision and very reliable fine motor skills. Considering how very minute the hole in a needle actually is, this isn't easy at all.

My first attempts to thread the needle were far from successful. Having once been an expert in it, I still remembered a very simple trick. Cut the thread with sharp scissors, so there aren't any extra threads at the end. Since I noticed a little willowy thing, I cut. Actually I needed to try from both ends of the thread before succeeding.

Then I had to remember the hemming stitch. I don't know how long my new hem will last, because the entire skirt needs to be re-hemmed. Either I need to fold over, baste and hem, or I need to sew some thin ribbon all around the edge of the skirt and hem that. But, in the meantime, I can wear the skirt without looking worse than shabby.

It's a relief to know that I haven't totally lost my touch. I used to really sew. But to tell you the truth. Mending was never a favorite task. It's just not creative and interesting enough for me. It's like housework, which I avoid at all costs.

Monday, February 10, 2020

"Little Women," The New Movie Deserved More Than One Oscar

For the month of March, just a coincidence, my local Shiloh book club has decided on the classic Little Women. This past Tuesday we rushed to see the new movie version in Cinema City, Jerusalem, taking advantage of the special NS10 senior discount ticket. I had started this post a few days ago, before the Academy Awards. My friends and I were totally blown away from the movie. It was amazing, especially the way Greta Gerwig adapted Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women to the screen. It's beyond my comprehension how she didn't get an Oscar for that category. Just the Costumes won the coveted prize.

I've been rereading Little Women, after a break of over half a century. Since it's a very old classic, you can get it for free e-reading. To be honest you don't need a special e-reader/kindle. I use my phone and don't even need an app.

Back to the movie Little Women. It mixes times and sequences, which may be confusing, but the truth is that it makes sense. Jo is the main character, and she thinks a lot. Her thoughts and memories of the past are an important part of the movie. Actually, that whole package is the movie.

There's a color-schemed clue to put you on track for the era, past versus present. Jo's, or is it Alcott's, memories are bathed in sepia, while the movie's "now" is brighter and bluish.

All the aesthetics were stunningly perfect, yes, the costumes, too, of course. We were spellbound. On the whole the acting was perfect, but although Amy (Florence Pugh) could almost pull off looking younger than her sisters, her voice jarred. She has a mature woman's voice which was rather distracting when she was supposed to be young. Also, Timothée Chalamet, playing Laurie, wasn't consistent. Granted it's harder for a man to simultaneously play a teen and a grown man convincingly, but Chalamet, even at his best, was unconvincing.

With those exceptions, every other actor in main and minor roles was excellent and totally convincing. Little Women is definitely worth seeing. This version is like no other before it. I'd recommend reading the book beforehand if you can. Otherwise be prepared for a unique journey. Get into the head of the young writer, Jo, obviously based on Alcott herself. Everyone in the audience seemed mesmerized. And if you're in a book club, like I am, choose the book and see the movie together. The adaptation is totally brilliant.

Cinema City, Jerusalem