Food, food and food

Attended a very nice Parent’s shmooze session last Sunday organized by Rabbi Brody. We were challenged to think about our favorite Jewish traditions and for most people, of course there is some type of food involved! There was lots of food for thought in the interesting conversation that followed, although I sometimes wonder if we use food as ritual rather than as one component of ritual. For instance making and eating a challah bread alone is not a Jewish act. It is the baking challah including taking challah and eating the challah as part of making kiddush or hamoetzi that makes the activity Jewish (as oppose to Jewish-style I guess).

Check out the The Kosher Cooking Carnival – a monthly blog carnival about kosher food, kosher cooking, anything to do with kosher food. My original Etrog jam recipe “Etrog Marmalade with Myrtle Leaf Infusion” is included this month. Interestingly, the Etrog marmalade recipe is the most popular post on this site (by far).

Etrog jam jar

Here is another recipe, a rustic homemade pita bread with an international flair. The flour is locally sourced, the pitas were drizzled with Californian olive oil and a sprinkle of Palestinian za’atar.


  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  1. Mix all ingredients well.
  2. Let the dough rise for a minimum of 30 min.
  3. Roll into balls and flatten into round shape (not too thin, not too fat).
  4. Let the dough rest and rise another 20 min.
  5. Heat up a frying pan (no oil!). Place 1 pita at a time into pan. Cover (I used a pan lid) and cook for 2-3 min on each side. When turning for the second side, flatten with a spatula for even cooking. The way the pocket just puffs open is pretty magic.

pita breadUPDATE: Hope to see you at the next parent shmooze. Please mark your calendars for Jan 11th 2015!



Klezmer concert Wednesday Nov 5th


Yiddishist, ethnomusicologist, and Parisian Klezmer maven Eléonore Biezunski will be performing rarely-heard Klezmer folk tunes and Yiddish songs, in collaboration with the Cornell University Klezmer Ensemble.

Concern poster

There will also be a musical workshop Tuesday November 6th.

musical workshop

World Premiere tonight!

DIRECTOR: Rami Kimchi
Cornell Cinema (7:15 PM screening, free)

night of fools

Details from Cornell Cinema:

A docu-drama about a Jewish underground movement in Algeria during WW2 that, with only 400 men, succeeds in taking control of the city of Algiers, in which there are 25,000 French pro-Nazi soldiers. They keep control for one night, handing the city over to the Americans, who land on the city’s shores the next morning.

Rami Kimchi is an Israeli culture critic and filmmaker. His previous films include Galia’s Wedding (1986), Travels with My Brother (1997), Cinema Egypt (2001), and Father Language (2006). His main research interests are Israeli cinema, modern Hebrew literature, Yiddish literature, Palestinian cinema, and Near Eastern cinema. He has published a book, The Israeli Shtetls – Bourekas Films and Yiddish Literature (2012), and articles in Shofar, Reeh, Balshanoot Ivrit, Dapim, Moreshet Israel and Hakivoon Mizrach.

If you want the (very) bottom line

For those who need a pop culture explanation.

Click on pictures for links.

Howard Stern explains (succinctly and with profanity). Also points out the existence of anti-Semitic Jews (see next point):

Howard Stern

Are Jews helpful in your anti-Israel rants? A flow chart to help you decide.

use jews

People of the earth!


Sing it out:


Joan Rivers, doing what she does best – brutal honesty (although one has to admit that Egyptian TV is undoubtedly more brutal).

Joan Rivers

TV talk show host Bill Maher: “I feel terrible for a Palestinian child who dies, but if it’s your father, your brother, your uncle who’s firing those rockets into Israel, who’s fault is it really? Do you really expect the Israelis not to retaliate?”

Bill Maher

The situation above ground:


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

The Yiddish particle

Today I am sharing with you an except from a paper published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature by distinguished scientist and friend Reuven Opher. To my knowledge, this is the first elementary particle with a Jewish name.

Dybbuk particle

Reuven is hosting a group at his house, the “Big Bang Discussion” to examine the nexus between science, religion and the origins of the universe.

Here is the agenda:

  1. The Earth is not the center of the Universe: Copernicus and Galileo
  2. Is the Big Bang Theory and the existence of a superior being compatible?
  3. The origin of the Big Bang Theory.
  4. Common questions concerning the Big Bang Theory.
  5. Primary evidence for the Big Bang Theory.

The discussion is open to all who are interested. Message Reuven or myself if you are interested in further details, the first meeting will take place this Sunday June 1st.

purple shabbat shalom