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.

Happy New Year 5775

Because of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas, postings have recently shifted to Facebook to enable more interactive dialog. Please PM me if you are interested in joining the conversation.

Meantime, I want to wish everybody שנה טובה ומתוקה. May you be inscribed for a sweet, happy and productive and all round fabulous 5775.

We’re having a Muppet phase in our house right now so I’ll let the softies have the last word for now. (click on photo for link).

muppet Shana Tova

The challenge for Conservative Judaism

Right now there’s a war going on where Israel is defending herself against an awful terror threat from the genocidal theocratic regime in Gaza and from unremitting hostile lawfare on the diplomatic front.

Worldwide, anti-Semitism of all stripes is surging. The demographics of the Conservative US Jewish community challenge its viable future.

And now, at this sensitive moment, Mr Arnold Eisen, the head of Conservative Judaism’s flagship institution JTS, shares his thoughts with the world; an OpEd in a flagship institution of the US media, the WSJ.

His subject?

“Efforts to discourage intermarriage have failed. It’s time to bring more non-Jews into the faith”


What an argument! The bottom line is that Conservative Judaism is, by and large, failing to engage young people and retain their commitment. Why would non-Jews be interested in a Judaism that cannot even retain Jews?

Of course, there is also the elephant in the room. There is a branch of Judaism that doesn’t have a problem with intermarriage. Maybe the Conservative movement could learn a few things from the Orthodox?

I support conversion. The barrier for conversion in Conservative Judaism is already minimal. And yet we have many young Jews married to non-Jewish partners for whom even this minimal level is too much.

I understand the dynamic of liberalism that lead to such modes of thought in the Conservative Jewish community. But the reality is that Conservative Judaism faces more serious problems and deserves leaders with more courageous and creative visions.

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:


Shelter your children from bombs or your bombs with children?

moral equivalence

It is a very anxious time. From the safety and comfort of Ithaca, it is hard to find the words to adequately express the worry and concern that everyone in Israel be safe and to know what, if anything, we can do to help here in the US.

I’m posting a link to two eloquent statements, the first an OpEd in the Times of Israel from Shmuley Boteach, calling on President Obama to demonstrate responsible and moral US leadership.

Mr. President, my Kids are in a Bomb Shelter

and the second, a clip of a speech from the Senate by Sen. Chuck Shumer, a commentary on the falsehood of attributing any moral equivalence between Israel and the ideology of the genocidal Arab war against the Jewish state (click on picture for link).


For an insight into the responsible party behind the degeneration of the security situation, these tweets from Gershon Baskin, the Co-Chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, paint the sad reality.

Hamas is the political entity that governs Gaza. The leaders should be indicted for war crimes, not just for indiscriminate targeting of civilians, but for the horrific use of children as combatants and hostage shields. The fact that this terrorist organization treats its own children and civilians in this brutal fashion is horrifying.