Honor their memories


From Rabbi Steinsaltz, head of the Mekor Chaim high school, where two of the boys were students:

“People will light memorial candles, recite prayers, and attend vigils. Our boys were killed al Kiddush Hashem, because they were Jews. Therefore, to best honor their memories – indeed, to confront evil – we must act always as proud Jews, in our deeds and through our lives.”


Klal YisraelTo reiterate. This is not political. This is not regional conflict. It is anti-Semitism.


Read more here and here.





Happy people

An uplifting tribute to Pharrell Williams’s song “Happy” from the wonderful city of Tel Aviv-Yafo.

Submitted by the artist for the UN’s second International Day of Happiness.

Happy video

click picture for link to song

The kids adore this song.

Watch out for the former UN employee Richard Falk making a cameo appearance at 2:34 …… just kidding……if only!

Zero Chicken Soup Recipe

At some point, every Jewish parent has to tackle the classics and interpret them for a new generation.

Here is a modern take on chicken soup with some novel innovations.

The recipe is named Zero Chicken Soup for the following reasons:

1) Zero waste – uses every scrap of the ingredients, nothing goes to waste. Plus using a pressure cooker greatly increases fuel efficiency.

2) Zero fat – no fiddling around with skimming the soup and other tedious steps associated with fat removal in traditional recipes.

3) Almost zero time – 20 mins from raw ingredients to finished soup, no kidding and no compromise on flavor. There are two secrets to making chicken soup so fast. The first is the use of bottled carrot juice. You get the carrot essence and save on prep time. The second is to use a pressure cooker. IMO the pressure cooker is a key kitchen gadget and thanks to the recent $40 Aldi’s deal these are popping up in kitchens all over Ithaca.

Aldi pressure cooker

4) Practically zero cleaning up. A one pot meal, as minimal washing up as you can get for such a delicious hearty meal.

5) Zero degrees – especially good in the extreme cold weather we’re experiencing. Also helpful in the case of inner frigidity.

Zero Chicken Soup recipe

Ingredients (quantities are not absolute and can be varied, what is suggested below will make a hefty quantity, approx 5 QTs, more than enough for a hungry family and set of guests. Aside from the seasonings, all ingredients are from Wegmans)

  • 3-4 onions
  • 1 large bunch celery
  • 1 large bunch parsley (curly or flat leaf)
  • 1 pkg boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 bottle carrot juice (anywhere from about half to a nearly full 32 oz bottle)
  • ~3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp tumeric
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • salt and pepper

ingredient montage image


Heat olive oil in the pan and add the onions coarsely chopped. Stir from time to time while you’re preparing the other ingredients.

Wash and slice celery cross-rib. Add to pot. Use the entire bunch of celery, including the tougher outer stems but omit the leaves.

Take the bunch of parsley. Chop off and discard only a very tiny bit at the base of the stem, keeping as much of the stem as possible. Now wash the bunch and arrange on the cutting board so the stems are fairly aligned at one end. Chop thinly starting from the stem end upwards into the leafy portion. Add the chopped stems and about half of the chopped leafy portion into the pot. A picture is helpful here.

chop parsley

Preparing the parsley

What is left should be just the parsley leaves. Reserve these to finish off the soup at the very end. The tougher parsley stems are usually discarded but they are edible and give great vegetable body and bite to the soup.

Now add all the other ingredients except for the chicken and the reserved parsley. Stir and add water. The amount of water depends a little bit on the capacity of the pot, you can always cook the soup and dilute just prior to serving. If you have a big bottle of carrot juice you may not need much water.

Chop the chicken into small bite-sized pieces and add to the pot.

Give the soup one last stir, close the lid and allow the pot to rise to cooking pressure. When it reaches cooking pressure, turn off the heat under the cooker and time 5 mins.

pressure cooking indicator

pressure cooking indicator at cooking pressure

Release the pressure, throw in the reserved chopped parsley leaf, taste to make sure the soup is adequately seasoned with salt and pepper and YOU ARE DONE!!

Serve with your favorite carbohydrate accompaniment. DELICIOUS!

chicken soup with fluffy floating kneidle

zero chicken soup with matzoh ball


The traditional accompaniment is kneidlach aka matzoh balls. These take considerably more than 20 mins to make but they freeze well so can be made in big batches ahead of time.

Noodles – Quick and easy. We prepare noodles separately and combine to individual taste.

Rice – A Maurice Sendak favorite.

Each month is gay,
each season nice,
when eating
chicken soup
with rice.

chicken soup with rice


Etrog jam recipe (cooking)

For the previous stages of this recipe click here for Parts I & II, and here for Part III. We have arrived at the final act.

Part IV Cooking the Etrog jam

We last left off with the mixture containing our prepared Etrog slices, lemon stock and sugar. We are now going to cook the mixture creating the alchemy that is jam.

The first step is to adjust the mixture to taste with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Drip a few drops of the liquid on a spoon and taste. Our perception of taste varies with temperature and you want to make sure that you are tasting the mixture at room temperature. This is very subjective, everybody’s palate is different. I like a taste where the citrus flavor is bright and edgy rather than tasting just the sweetness. To this particular mixture I added the juice from a whole lemon, about 2.5 fl oz.

The jam is ready for cooking.

jam cooking

Not much to say about this stage, it is pretty straightforward. The trickiest aspect is the “test for doneness”. One reads about “doneness” all the time in cooking. It’s a great concept that never really transfers to real life! The two indicators I use are the size and shape of the bubbles (small and uniform) and by dripping a few drops of the jam onto a spoon which is left on a saucer in the freezer for a couple of minutes to cool down and see if a gel is forming.

freezer gel test

A few mins before the end of cooking, I steeped some dried myrtle leaves in the cooking mixture.

dried myrtle leaves

The leaves were placed in a stainless steel mesh tea ball so they could be easily retrieved after infusion. The myrtle leaf infusion adds a beautiful aromatic note to the jam in addition to a reminder, of course, of why one acquired the Etrog in the first place.

myrtle leaf infusion

The hot jam is ladled into sterilized jars and sealed. After the jars are sealed, they rest undisturbed to cool down and allow the jam to set.

finished jam

The final touch is to add a label and the jam is now ready for consumption.

jam label Making Etrog jam is certainly complicated, there certainly are a lot of steps but the result is insanely delicious. The flavor of this jam is incredibly intense and concentrated, very distinctive. It can be taken with tea or spread between the layers of sponge cake. I like it on challah or toasted bread for a simple but sumptuous treat. Some people have the tradition of saving the jam for Tu B’Shevat.

Verdict on the recipe? This jam is delicious. Actually I think that technically this recipe is a marmalade. There is definitely room for tinkering in the recipe. Next time I would perhaps make the Etrog:partner fruit ratio at 1:2 or even greater. This would create a different look and taste to the jam, with a different ratio of slices to jelly.

jam final

Enjoy and I hope you will trust me with your Etrogim again next year!


Baroque Kol Nidre

The composer Handel arrived in London in 1712 and wrote his sublime opera Giulio Cesare in 1724. This was only a short time after Jews had been allowed to return in England starting in 1655 after their explusion in 1290. By this time, historians suggest that the majestic melody of the Ashkenazi tune to Kol Nidre must have been well established. One of the moving and dramatic arias of Giulio Cesare is the funeral oratory of Pompey sung by Cesare “Alma Del Gran Pompeo”. Every time I hear this aria always wonder if Handel was influenced by Kol Nidre.

Listen to this clip from the aria and see if you agree with my feeling of the uncanny similarity. The audio excerpt is taken from the René Jacobs recording of Giulio Cesare. Jennifer Larmore is heard singing the title role of Cesare.

We know so little about the life of Handel, his opinions and his philosophy. However it would appear from his music that he was motivated by universal ethical ideals. I like to entertain the fantasy thought of the great composer sneaking into the synagogue on Yom Kippur to hear Kol Nidre and being as moved by it as we all are and expect to be very shortly.

G’mar Hatima Tova to all!