Simple Summer Borscht

summer borscht


  • Cooked beetroots (2-4, depending on size)
  • Couple sticks of celery
  • Goat yogurt (1 cup, can adjust to taste)
  • Balsamic vinegar (about a couple of tablespoons)
  • Dash of olive oil (about one tablespoon)
  • salt
  • Water (or ice cubes for a really cold borscht)

Everything goes into the liquidizer. Blend vigorously. Adjust salt to taste, maybe spritz in a grind of black pepper. Drink.

If everything is chilled before liquidizing it’s like a slushie and can seriously reduce one’s core temperature!

I used to laboriously peel beets prior to cooking before I learned that the secret to cooked beets is to leave the skins on. This takes about 12 mins in the pressure cooker after which the skins just slip off easily.

Alternatively, precooked beets are available in the supermarket which makes the whole recipe a lot faster.

precooked beets

On hot days my Grandma z’l used to make great schave. I always got a kick out of slurping the mushy dark bits although I was always having to fend her off trying to get me to put a potato or a boiled egg in it. I think I was the only one in the family who liked the taste of this soup, so it always felt special when she would bring it out of the fridge. I have no idea where she got the sorrel from and have never seen sorrel in the US.




On June 12th, 2014, three teenage boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel were kidnapped in Israel, one of them an American citizen.

These boys are our sons. Our brothers. Our grandchildren. Our nephews. Our friends.

Jewish communities world wide are responding to raise global awareness of this heinous crime and to help Israel as it acts to bring the boys back home to their families.

All Ithacans are invited to a Solidarity Rally today, Wednesday June 25th, 7 PM at Temple Beth-El  to stand with good people everywhere seeking the safe, secure and speedy release of the three kidnapped Israeli teens.

Stand with us!


B’Yachad in the summer

B’Yachad, the Ithaca Jewish preschool, is running a summer program.

The program features outdoor play, Jewish learning, gardening project, sprinkler fun and much more. You can sign up by the week for the 6-week program.

Click on the photo for more information or to find out about B’Yachad during the regular school year.

B’Yachad is a wonderful, magical little school and it is a wonderful option for Ithaca parents.


Very sad today

There are only 1.6 million Arabs in the Middle East who have full political rights, complete religious freedom and the ability to reach their full capacity as human beings. Not to mention quality health care and the longest life-expectancy of any Arab population.

All the Arabs who enjoy these freedoms live in the Jewish state of Israel. Israel is a boon to the Arabs of the Middle East, an thriving oasis in a region of dysfunctional failure on every level.

It is time to draw a line under the idea of a “two-state solution”. The second Palestinian state already exists. Jordan is the Palestinian state.  There is no moral, geopolitical or legal reason to create another Arab country.


Kidnapping teenagers is evil. Calling for, facilitating, financing, and celebrating this heinous act happens because Arab society is saturated with racist, Jew-hating ideology. It is very difficult for the average person to fathom such deep racist hatred. As a psychological coping mechanism every desperately wants it not to be true. But the evidence is before us and we have to confront it.

The Palestinian Arabs have received aid from the international community equivalent to several Marshall plans (the financial aid that rebuilt Europe after WWII). Money has made the leaders fabulously wealthy but hasn’t benefited the average person.

It is obvious that there is one proven solution to benefit the Palestinian Arabs. That solution is Israel. Long may the Arabs of Israel thrive and prosper.


I hope Americans are not naive enough to image that these are unsolvable conflicts in far away countries that the US should just leave alone. Although it is true that the first target of the Iranian nuclear weapon will be Israel, the next one will land in the United States. Why? These are not “ancient hatreds”. America is a relatively young country. Both Israel and America are built on core values of individual freedom and self-determination. It is the existence of such freedom that is intolerable to totalitarian philosophies. The racism just puts the Jews in first place.

For a detailed perspective, Dr Andrew Bostom discusses Iran’s Final Solution for Israel.



J’accuse Peter Gelb

Met balcony

An open letter to the New York Metropolitan Opera general manager

Dear Mr. Gelb,

I am incredibly sad that The Metropolitan Opera has chosen to perform Alice Goodman and John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer” and, worse, to simulcast it to 2,000 theaters in 66 countries where it can reach hundreds of thousands of people with its biased propaganda.

The opera justifies terrorism by its soft-focus potrayal of the Palestinian terrorists who hijacked the Achilles Lauro cruise ship in 1985 and murdered the elderly disabled Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer. It distorts the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and is marked by anti-Israel propaganda, misinformation, and anti-Semitic canards that are explicit in the libretto. As has been noted (, the very title, “Death of Klinghoffer”, avoids the word “murder” and sets the tone for the euphemisms and fake moral equivalences that are so characteristic of political propaganda apologists for terror.

Great art provokes and disturbs too, and can be similarly amoral. The difference is that a great masterpiece is characterized by the ability to project the audience in multiple directions in a manner that is not explicit or expected. Great art can transcend the stated goals of the creator. The libretto and plot line of this opera do not reach the standard of great art. The Death of Klinghoffer harnesses great artistic skill with the explicit political propaganda goal to bring the audience to a simplistic political view of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. It fits into the same category as Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will”; interesting for the historical record and artistically influential (being generous), but not worthy of the prominence of the world’s most important opera house.

I also want to distinguish crude propaganda from artistic interpretation. A couple of years ago, we sat through a performance of Aida at Glimmerglass that was clearly intended to be a commentary on the policies of George W. Bush, complete with an onstage portrayal of waterboarding. I was uncomfortable and it provoked me, but I certainly wouldn’t condemn it. I draw a distinction between being exposed to a particular interpretation, no matter how political or contrived, of an opera that is truly a great masterpiece, designed to transcend, and a work that from its conception is designed to lock the audience into a single political view. “The Death of Klinghoffer” relentlessly and explicitly hounds the audience towards the creator’s viewpoint of moral murkiness. This pseudo-sophistication provides a convenient vector for audiences to justify anti-Semitic biases.

This opera’s inflammatory bias is well-documented. At its 1991 performance in San Francisco, groups picketed; the Los Angeles Opera and the Glyndebourne Opera Festival cancelled scheduled performances despite the fact that they were among the co-commissioners of the work. After 9/11, performances were cancelled in Boston and elsewhere because of the opera’s sympathetic portrayal of terrorists. The daughters of Leon Klinghoffer have also expressed their outrage. Despite the guise of presenting different points of view, this opera spreads anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views. Opera is a synthesis of text, acting and music. If the text and storyline are false propaganda, it is difficult to understand how a Met performance is justified, no matter how exquisite the music may be.

I urge you to reconsider the decision to broadcast the opera worldwide. I also call on you to publish, in every program handed out at the Met and in the sheet given to each movie attendee, the statement issued by the daughters of Klinghoffer. This will help the audience to be aware that the “artistic masterpiece” is a straight-up serving of propaganda and will show respect to the feeling of the living victims:

“We are outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the coldblooded murder of our father as the centerpiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic. While we understand artistic license, when it so clearly favors one point of view it is biased. Moreover, the juxtaposition of the plight of the Palestinian people with the coldblooded murder of an innocent disabled American Jew is both historically naive and appalling.”

There are terrific modern operas out there, I might humbly suggest that Harrison Birtwistle’s opera “Gawain” is truly a masterpiece and worthy of the Met’s attention. Attracting excitement through “controversy” is a classic publicity move. There is a long Western intellectual tradition of romanticizing or excusing “political murder” To paraphrase Orwell, this is “an idea so morally stupid that only the greatest of intellectuals could believe it”. The ideas promoted in this opera are not original, this is not great art but fancy window-dressing of tired clichés no different to the näive college student who sports a T-shirt of Che Guevara. The juvenile crassness of this piece tarnishes the reputation of the Met.

I am a loyal long-time opera attendee and supporter of the Met. No more, my hitherto passionate support of this institution is shattered. By making the decision to stage this opera you broke faith with me and your public.

J’accuse Peter Gelb. You push the institution of the Met over the red line of racism. With high art, you pour fuel over the fire that enables age-old blood libels against Jews to be cast in modern form. It is shocking and depressing to contemplate.



Met outside

Ba-Li Cravings

Our good friend, Tal Cohen of Ba-Li Cravings will be catering the Temple Beth-El annual sisterhood lunch event. Tal is a superb, mouthwatering cook and an outstanding baker; the lunch ladies are in for a gastronomic treat.

Check out Tal’s challah club (highly sought after) and feast your eyes on photos of her fabulous creations on Facebook. She always uses fresh ingredients including unique Israeli ingredients that give everything a touch of magical Israeli je ne sais quoi. Tal also is very generous and often shares recipes on her blog so you can have your own go at making her yummy concoctions.

Photo: Ba-Li cravings from a May 2014 event catered at Cornell

Contact Tal at 607-229-2214

Check out Ba-Li Cravings on Facebook: Ba-Li Cravings

and follow her blog


I need a new standby

This is my standby cheesecake.

It is the classic American cheesecake adapted from the recipe on the back of the box when you buy 6 Philadelphia cream cheese packets at once.

But seriously, take a look at the ingredients:

cheesecake ingredients

This recipe uses a whopping 5 packets of Philadelphia cream cheese alone, in addition to all the other high indulgence ingredients. It’s like the recipe was sponsored by the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor industry!

I made the traditional cheesecake with the graham cracker crust and a pear vanilla flavoring.

I also created another cake with lemon and golden raisins and no crust for a gluten free version as requested by some guests. What was very apparent was the way the ultra-high fat content of the cake mixture dwarfed the flavoring note. To accentuate the lemon taste I ended up using fresh lemon juice, lemon zest AND a large glug of lemon extract.

lemon extract

Here’s a picture of the cake right out of the oven. Not very photogenic but will be covered up with some sliced apricots and will look as delicious as it will taste.

cheesecake with sultanas

But I think for next year I need a new standby. I am all ears for lighter cheesecake recipe suggestions. Please send them my way.