Monday, May 22, 2017

Elisha Davidson and The Shamir, Third of The Trilogy, A Book Review

This was first posted on Israel Blogger.

Elisha Davidson and the Shamir,
Menorah Books
Elisha Davidson and The Shamir by M. R. (Rhonda) Attar is the final book in the futuristic trilogy that could happen in the not so distant future. I reviewed the first two, ELISHA DAVIDSON and the Letters of Fire and ELISHA DAVIDSON and the Ispaklaria.

Attar's trilogy along with Catriel Sugarman's The Falconi Effect: A Modern Novel about the Days of the Messiah herald a new and exciting genre in Jewish literature. Considering that both authors relied very heavily on Jewish sources for their fantasies, it's clear that Jewish literature can compete with Harry Potter.

Parents who prefer that their children's imaginations be enriched and fertilized by Jewish concepts are in luck. Elisha Davidson, his family, school and friends are perfectly kosher. And even more, Elisha's challenges and adventures can inspire children to read more Bible and commentaries. There's a glossary in the back of the book for those unfamiliar with the basic terms used. So one doesn't have extensive knowledge about Judaism to understand the book. And those who do have a much more advanced understanding of the concepts, they can be challenged to find the sources that Attar used in her writing.

There's lots of suspense in this third volume. Elisha and his "merry band" must complete a very dangerous and crucial task within a limited period of time. If they fail, it would be disastrous.
The final ‘Nine Day’ count-down is ON and the most cataclysmic day on earth is nearly here. Elisha finally knows what he has to do. He must enter the dark time of an ancient and lost world and try to receive one of its most powerful gifts. A gift that will attract armies of light and dark forces who will be watching his every step and are determined to stop him. The greatest masterminds of his generation will be brought together, willingly and unwillingly, to join forces with Elisha in his quest, shattering their veils of secrecy and revealing that what appears to the natural eye is not always the reality.
Don't think of Elisha Davidson and The Shamir as a children's book, because it isn't. I found the story totally mesmerizing. Yes, I enjoyed reading it!

Considering that we do live in miraculous times, remember that this week we are celebrating fifty years since the Six Days War, it's not that hard to imagine Redemption getting closer. And we really don't know how the changes will begin. A hundred years ago, nobody in their right mind would admit to predicting a strong, modern, advanced Jewish State, like we now have, in 2017, 5777.

Elisha Davidson and The Shamir is a perfect gift for all ages, including for yourself. So, be sure to get some copies. Enjy!

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Menorah Books (April 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1940516722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1940516721
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What Happened to The Yummy Natural Goats Yogurt?

For the past few years I had been getting myself a wonderful plain goat yogurt in our local supermarket, but lately it's not stocked there. A couple of weeks ago I picked up a small goat yogurt in Jerusalem, but it was awful. It reminded me of the one I had in America. Instead of the pure white, it was pale yellow. And it had the consistency of a pudding, rather than a yogurt.

When shopping last week, I saw a different brand and decided to check ingredients before buying. Look what I discovered:

This brand has added starch, tapioca, to make it creamy. Yuck! That's the E1442:
E1442: Hydroxypropyl di-starch phosphateOrigin: Prepared by treating starch with propyleneoxide and phosphoric acid. The resulting starch is more stable against acid, alkaline and starch degrading enzymes. It also provides better colour and shine to products and has very good freeze-thaw properties.
Function & characteristics: Thickening agent
Products: Many food products
Acceptable Daily Intake: None determined
Side effects: It may slow down the degradation of food in the intestine
Dietary restrictions: None, modified starches can be used by all religious groups, vegans and vegetarians. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

So, Instead of Buying a Can of Crushed Tomatoes...

All I wanted was some simple, NO ADDITIVES Tomato Paste for the beef I had planned on making. I couldn't find any, so I checked out the plain Crushed Tomatoes:

Even though the label said "No Preservatives," I saw all sorts of non-tomato items in the ingredients. I finally gave up. Guess what I did.

I bought about the same weight tomatos as the can had, for about the same money, and I "crushed" them in the food processor.  

OK, I must admit that it did give me the chore of  cleaning the food processor, but at least I know what I'm going to be serving tonight. There is just onion, fresh garlic, peppercorns, some dehydrated parsley, please forgive me for not using fresh, and a bit of oil along with the beef.

It smelled good when cooking. And this time, to reduce calories, no wine. And I don't put in jam or any other sweetener. The tomatoes and onions are sweet enough. And it's all so simple to make.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sprouts, Do You?

Do you eat sprouts, lentils, beans, seeds etc?
Do you sprout them at home or buy them sprouted?
Do you eat them fresh or cooked?
What's your favorite type of sprout?

I have neighbors whose children are athletic champions, and the family is more than vegan, they're raw food eaters. One of their dietary proteins is sprouts.

I've been getting a periodic supply from the newest member of our family who's vegan and sprouts lentils pretty regularly. But I haven't yet taken the plunge and tried doing it myself.

From what I understand you don't need expensive equipment, but even though I've heard the instructions, I keep chickening out. Oops, maybe a punny word.

Maybe I'd get some of the weight off if I have sprouts as my vegetarian protein more often instead of the sesame paste, but the fat in the sesame paste makes the meal more satisfying. And if I add a good olive oil I'd be increasing the calories...

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Finally Finished, Sort of...

As many of you must know by now, Sundays are holy for me. I make no plans. It's the day I do my arts & crafts at the senior citizens club. I've always loved arts & crafts, all my life, for as long as I can remember. When my kids were little, I didn't buy them toys, but they always had papers, crayons, scissors, paste etc. Those were the best toys. And yes, the crafts can't be done on Shabbat. They did have blocks and permitted stuff like that, which are still in the house.

Most weeks we do mosaics, but sometimes we weave. Now, my weaving experience had been limited to those potholders we wove on a simple metal frame when I was little. And, yes, we got those for my children, too. And I even bought them for my grandchildren, but by then the frames were made of plastic.

One of my neighbors teaches the weaving. All of the "staff" are neighbors who volunteer their precious and professional time. We just pay a nominal fee to help cover costs of materials. There was a choice of large and small wooden looms or a round metal one. No surprise, but I chose the large one. And no surprise that I found weaving row after row horrendously boring, so I jumped from "first time beginner" to "intermediate" within minutes, not that I knew what I was doing.

As you can see, I started playing with the colors, not following a pattern or rules and figured out how to get two colors on the row. I also found it much easier to set the loom up as an easel and sit across from it. It's much more comfortable, at least for that size loom, and I can't understand how others bend over the table and survive.

I'd take it home to work on when I had time, though it was much more fun to do it with everyone else. And it did take a long time.

And now it is finally finished. I did the last few rows at home. But now I don't know which way it should go and what to do with it. It still need "finishing touches," which are beyond my capabilities and knowledge right now. The neighbor will do the "finishing" for me.

While weaving it I'd be asked what it was for, and I'd answer:
"Occupational Therapy."
That is true, but still I'd like to find a use for it. I've been giving the mosaics away as gifts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #19, Center 1 Has Gone Downhill

This is a continuation in my ongoing series about public toilets in Jerusalem. See #18#17#16,  #15,  #14#13#12#11#10#9,  #8#7,  #6,  #5, Saved by The First Station aka #4a#4#3#2 and #1

Early on in this series, #3 to be precise, I reviewed the public toilet in the new section of Center 1, and at that time I could easily recommend it. Now I can't. The small one on the Yirmiyahu end is too small and almost always crowded. Last week a couple of friends tried going there. One just left, because she didn't want to wait on line, and the other went to the men's room. I had been counting on using the large one at the other end, near the Cafe Cafe. So, that's where we went, and if we hadn't been desperate, we would have tried some other one, not that I know where one can be found nearby.

And even worse, we were scheduled to be there a couple of hours for a party.

During the few hours we were there, the toilet wasn't cleaned even once. It just got dirtier and dirtier. It seems like the building's management is taking lessons from the people who decided to save money in the Jerusalem Municipality by cutting down on cleaning. It reminds me of the public toilets at Safra Square, except for the toilet paper, which the municipality rarely provides.

After years of struggling, Center 1 is finally full of customers and busy stores and restaurants. We customers deserve clean facilities. The present situation in the loo isn't healthy.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lag B'Omer, Batten Down The Hatches

Call us a bunch of killjoys, but we weren't part of the Lag B'Omer medurot, campfire scene last night here in Shiloh. And there was even a conveniently located one near the house special for old fogies like ourselves.

As early as right after Shabbat, I had closed all of the windows, including the bathroom ones which usually are kept at least slightly open except on the very coldest of days. I didn't want any of those polluted and even not polluted fumes and smells to make it into my house. One of the last things I caught on the radio news was a report of increased air pollution and a plea to those throwing everything they could find into the flames to be sure to keep out plastic.

I trained my kids from the youngest age that the minute they get home from the campfires, it's straight to the bathroom, strip off all clothes and then shower, including shampoo, lots of soap and rinse well. Then the next day, after the smoke cleared I'd launder everything and hang it to dry.

One advantage of the fact that our neighborhood is getting more and more built up, and our house is surrounded by others, is that the campfires are further away, Baruch Hashem.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Which Camera is Takes Better Photos?

This morning I took pretty much the same pictures with my phone and with my camera. And they were taken seconds apart, so there wasn't any change in the lighting or sun or angle. I stood in the same place and first used my Canon IXUS 145, which is a small, lightweight low-end Canon I've had for a few years. And then I used my Samsung J7, which is the best of the "bargain" Samsung's J version. At least it was about half a year ago, when we bought "his and hers." Yes, my husband also has one.

None of the photos were edited in any way, not even cropped. Here are the photos:



Vote which pair you like better and why in the comments. Thanks.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Dieting Blues...

Some of you may remember that a number of years ago I very successfully and pretty easily lost about 15 kilo, yes a good 30 pounds, and they stayed off until recently, when they began creeping back. I've been fighting them best I can, but I must admit that I'm getting really tired of it. I'm getting tired of my food restrictions and frustrated that none of my "tricks" are working.

Just when it seems like I'm making progress, the scale suddenly tells me differently.

And it has gotten harder for some reason ever since I returned to teaching. So I've started telling people that teaching makes me gain weight. I know it sounds stupid, but as a teacher I feel less in charge of my eating schedule. The truth is that the weight began creeping back a year ago or more, but a kilo (a kilo equals 2.2 pounds) or two don't show all that much. Three or four show a lot more, and when you get closer to 5....

Eating out an average of once a week doesn't help, even when ordering the most dietetic meal possible. Restaurants sneak, sugars, oils and salts into all sorts of unsuspecting dishes. When I lost those 15 kilo, I didn't eat out much if at all, because we didn't have money to treat ourselves to restaurant meals. And then the following year I was caring for my elderly father, and I almost never got out, besides the money problem.

I'm going to have to re-motivate, increase exercise and find a way to enjoy the food restrictions again. Gd willing...

Friday, May 12, 2017

Summer! Cold Brew Coffee, Homemade

Last summer I discovered a new coffee taste and brewing method, Cold Brew. It's so easy, as long as you remember to prepare in advance, and the flavor is super fantastic.

  • Just add water to the coffee in your French Press, or jar if you have a filter you can use. 
  • Give it a stir.
  • Then cover and put in fridge overnight or for a few hours until it brews and chills.
  • Before drinking, give it a good stir.
  • Press the plunger or filter it.
  • Enjoy!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #18, Shuq Loo for You Ladies

This is a continuation in my ongoing series about public toilets in Jerusalem. See #17#16,  #15,  #14#13#12#11#10#9,  #8#7,  #6,  #5, Saved by The First Station aka #4a#4#3#2 and #1

A few months ago, when this series began taking off, I got a couple of requests to find and review the Ladies Loo/WC/00 aka public toilets in Machane Yehuda, the open air market in downtown Jerusalem, also known as "the shuk, or shuq" however you want to spell it. For whatever reasons, the "facilities" have been moved around the area, which is a few square blocks of warren-like lanes and roads serviced by a nice selection of bus routes and the Jerusalem Lightrail.

I promised to find the loo, and this week I succeeded. At present it's just off Machane Yehuda Street, on one of the side streets/lanes that leads to the "main drag" of the shuq.

To find it, you must "look up," since there are signs.

Now, I must admit that although it is one of the most trafficked places in Jerusalem, even on a very busy Tuesday evening, when prices were being slashed by the sellers of fruits, vegetables etc so they could soon close their stalls for the night, and the bar/restaurant scene was getting into full swing, the public toilets were relatively clean. The floor was wet, but it didn't smell. I guess it had been recently swabbed but not dried.
And as you can see here, there's plenty of pink soap, plus a cup for ritual washing according to Jewish Law. There are also a few stalls, including a designated handicapped one large enough for a wheelchair or giant shopping-cart. So, comparing this WC with others, especially the relatively nearby Binyan Clal, I must say that this loo gets a passing grade plus.  The Jerusalem Municipality is doing a much better job here than in its own complex at Safra Square, which is one of the very worst I've been to recently, which in my recent experiences gets cleaned and resupplied only once a day.

Ladies, have no fear when shuk-shopping. There is a place to go...

PS I must find a willing male to review the "men's room," wherever it is.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Treat From The Freezer

When mangoes were ripe and yummy quite a few months ago, I bought more than I could eat and stored the extra in the freezer. And now, when the summer fruit hasn't yet fully ripened and gotten reasonably priced, I'm enjoying those mangoes.

Mangoes thaw really well, but when frozen they are like the best quality sorbet imaginable. All natural and very healthy.

Nutrition by the Numbers
One cup (225 grams contain) contains the following. Percentages apply to daily value.
  • 105 calories
  • 76 percent vitamin C (antioxidant and immune booster)
  • 25 percent vitamin A  (antioxidant and vision)
  • 11 percent vitamin B6 plus other B vitamins (hormone production in brain and heart disease prevention)
  • 9 percent healthy probiotic fiber
  • 9 percent copper (copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes plus production of red blood cells)
  • 7 percent potassium (to balance out our high sodium intake)
  • 4 percent magnesium

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Photography Fun!

As you may know by now, I'm in three very different internet photography groups, 52Frames, Instagram and 365 . They are all very different. I'm sure there are other groups or whatever you want to call them.

52Frames is a weekly challenge from which I'm learning photographic principles that I never would know without it unless I was taking a photography course. It began, if I'm not mistaken, on Facebook, and even though there is a site, the feeling of "group" is via on FB. Here are a couple of my most recent photos for them. I'd appreciate your input, either as a comment here or on Facebook by clicking the title.


365Project is daily, and themes or challenges are optional. I post almost everyday. You can see my photos and become a "friend" by clicking here.  Here are a couple of recent ones:

Lastly is Instagram which has the least amount of structure and restrictions. You can post multiple times during the day or very infrequently, using your membership to see other photos. I post from my phone, not the computer, but pictures show up on Facebook. You can find me as shilohbatya.


Monday, May 8, 2017

For The First Time...

I've been living in Shiloh for a long time, since September 1, 1981, and in all those years I played no part, even super indirectly, in the Yom Ha'atzma'ut ceremonies. Until very recently, the focus was almost always on parents of relatives who had done amazing things during the War for Independence and early days of the State of Israel. That pretty much left me out, even though one of my uncles was one of the American volunteers in the Palyam who helped on the ships carrying illegal immigrants. But since he went back to New York afterwards, and I had no pictures and stories to contribute, I didn't promote him for honors. 

In recent years, there are more prepared films and less of the live talks from people. This year, we didn't even have torch-lighting. Interviews with honorees were filmed in advance and interspersed in the live play, which starred two adorable precocious boys, davka, both third generation in Shiloh, as their parents all grew up as neighbors. 

A couple of weeks ago, while I was at my Senior Citizens Arts & Crafts, the "Social Director" showed up with a cameraman and filmed us for the movie showing everyday life in Shiloh. When I mentioned something afterwards to the director of our program, she replied that they come every year. And so, if you look at the movie below, you'll see us along with the photogenic preschoolers and energetic school kids. 

I managed to get screenshots of me off of the film. Of course, since I hadn't been warned I don't even have lipstick on. 

Yes, I've finally made it, OK as an extra.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What Books Have You Been Reading Lately?

One of my daughters got me started on some amazing police detective series, Harry Bosch/Mickey Haller by Michael Connelly and NYPD Red by James Patterson. I'm in total awe of the authors who can spin amazing tales with so many characters and details and even unexpected plot twists. I'm always trying to second guess them and predict what will be discovered, but it's very hard with these two mystery writers.

The main characters are also amazingly compelling, likable and very intelligent. In addition, the side plots are fascinating, too. Both authors build total worlds, especially Connelly,  who keeps adding new series based on characters first introduced in the Harry Bosch books. And the characters continue to interact. Yes, it's very much like real life.

I could never write fiction, especially with such complicated plot lines. I only once tried writing something fictional but got stuck very early on.

These books must be returned to my daughter- so she can pass them onto other series addicts fans- unlike most books I read which are "disposable." That means that I can just pass them to others. I'm not in the "book collection" business. Our house has a gazillion too many books.

And as you may have noticed from the photos of the books, I read real paper books, not kindle screens.