Sunday, September 10, 2023

Yetzira: A Selichot Gathering of Song (concert video)


We were there! What a delightful concert, full of both old and new songs (one so new that I don't think we've heard it before, assuming that my so-called memory is correct). We even got to say hello to Yoshie Fruchter, Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz, and Elana Arian on their way out. (Hello again!) ❤ Note: The video starts playing at about 13:31 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Break out the masks--it's Purim in August: COVID 2.0

My husband was sniffling and losing his voice, so he gave himself a rapid test last night, and it came out positive.  Oy.  This is his second round of COVID (not counting the "Paxlovid backlash" after the first round last January).  He spent last night quarantined in our bedroom while I moved out to "Camp COVID" in the living-room.  This morning's "official" COVID test at our friendly local urgent-care medical drop-in center didn't turn out any better, I'm sorry to say.  It's gonna be a dull Labor Day weekend. 

For those keeping score at home, we've already had to postpone our apartment painting twice.  At this point, I don't think there's any chance that it'll get done before Simchat Torah.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

"(spiritually-supportive) page calling"

For those who have access to Facebook, here's a helpful post from Jewish educator, baalat tefillah/prayer-leader, and singer-songwriter Eliana Light.  For everyone, here's a link to the text, without the video.

It's Elul, the beginning of Psalm 27 time

It's Elul, time for reciting Psalm 27 morning and evening. So I'm posting links to some songs based on that psalm.

Here's Chava Mirel's "Achat Sha'alti."

Here's a video of Eliana Light's "Koli Ekra."  She included this song on her new album, "ORAH HI." 

(Eliana also posted what I think she would call a learning guide to "Koli Ekra" here.)

Also, you might want to check out Eliana's "If Only" (Lulei).  Here's the audio-only link--it's #6.

And many thanks to  Cantor Jacqueline Rafii and Josh Goldberg for this Mizrachi/Ashkenazi mash-up of "Achat Sha'alti."

As if these goodies aren't enough, here's Elana Arian singing her version of "Koli Ekra."

And here's a link to Aly Halpert's "Achat Sha'alti," along with some good High Holiday resources from the Hadar Institute.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

just for symmetry?

found scratches on right knee, too.  washed them w soap, applied Neosporin ointment.  they turned bright red.  washed off the neosporin.  guess they'll hav 2 heal by themselves.  cld b worse.

How about that Trump indictment?  Go, Georgia!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

ms. klutz takes a tumble . . . again

I tripped on a step in an inconspicuous place & landed on my left knee & forearm.  my forearm's in a splint & my knee's in an ace bandage, but nothing's broken.  typing with 1 hand.  great timing, 2 wks b4 an apt. painting, but could b worse.  sorry my husband is stuck with all the work.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Israeli politics, from both sides (see video links)

Many thanks to Daniel Gordis for sharing this video.

Friday, August 11, 2023

"One man's trash is another man's treasure. . . " Or not

Silver?  Says who?

We have a silver tea set--teapot, coffee pot, sugar bowl, cream pitcher--that was a wedding gift to us from a group of friends.  Someone else gave us a silver tray for our wedding.  We also have a serving "holder" consisting of a lidded silver container designed to hold a rectangular baking dish, and, among our Passover dishes, a little serving bowl.  While we were delighted to receive these gifts, our current entertainment style is much less formal.  None of these pieces has a silversmith's mark, so I assume that they're all silverplate rather than sterling silver.  I've checked online, and, as far as I can determine, no one is buying silverplate.  I'm not sure that we can even give these away, much less sell them.  Any ideas would be appreciated--we have only about two weeks until our apartment painting, and would love to get items that we haven't used in decades into better hands.

"I love you, a bushel and a peck . . . "

I doubt that anyone under 50 has ever even heard that song, and most folks of that age probably don't know what it means.  A bushel and a peck are volumes of measurement--if memory serves me correctly, a bushel is larger.  I currently have a bushel basket  (a what?) of items that I can only describe as "buffet dishes" on a shelf in a closet.  They're dinner plates with an indentation in them for the included matching teacups, presumably used to enable people to hold both their food and their coffee in one hand.  I inherited these from my grandparents, but have never actually seen them in use.  Does anyone serve food this way anymore?  What am I supposed to do with these things?

So long, CDs

I had ripped almost all them to my computer years ago, so almost all of them went to the basement for recycling.  After all, they're only plastic.

Ah, the joys of prepping to have one's apartment painted (quoth she sarcastically).

Monday, August 07, 2023

Good news, bad news (cleaning-for-the-painter edition)

The good news is that I was able to throw away all of my American Sign Language Dictionaries because learning signs from videos is *much* better than learning them from still photos or drawings!  Here's a sample online ASL dictionary.

The bad news is that, in throwing out a copy of Susan Faludi's "Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women" that was too worn out to donate to the library, I noticed that the hardcover version of this book was published in 1991.  It's now over 30 years later.  Is there ever a time when there *isn't* an undeclared war against American women?  😢

Sunday, August 06, 2023

On preparing our apartment for painting (heaven help us)

My husband started first, complaining, as he thinned out his tax and accounting documents and his accounting textbooks (from teaching and tutoring at a local college) following his retirement in 2021, that he was "throwing my life away."  Now, he's undertaken an even bigger project--he's ditching all tax-client records more than seven years old, since he's not required by law to keep them.  He--and, especially our son--did so much shredding that they broke the shedder, so my husband has hired a shredding company to finish the job later this week.

Now it's my turn.  I'm in the process of throwing out my entire collection of French books, dating back to when I was studying for my B.A. in French, because they're over 50 years old and not in good enough condition to donate.  😥 It ain't easy to "throw my life away."  (Sigh.)

For your amusement:  I was trying to figure how I got a whole row of French books into the back of the top shelf of my bookcase where I can barely reach them when it occurred to me that I was four inches taller when I first put them there.  😀  (Note to self:  Call that endocrinologist again--time to start that osteoporosis treatment!)

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Public Service Announcements (or more fun with dentist & diet)

Dental Alert

If you bite anything and feel or taste something weird or hard on your tongue, *DON'T* swallow it!!!  Spit it out onto your hand and have a good look--I've caught broken teeth and dislodged crowns that way.


"Breaded" french fries:  a warning for gluten-free folks

A server at Holy Schnitzel was kind enough to tell me that their french fries were wheat-coated.  I've heard this before--some restaurants coat (dip?, dredge?, spray?) their fries (regular or sweet-potato) in wheat to make them more crispy.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Skirting the issue—or not

I'm sure I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago, but I can’t find it, so I’ll just have to start from scratch and explain why clothing simply doesn’t fit me.  To put it in plain English, I’m short, short-waisted, and pear-shaped, with scoliosis (curvature of the spine) in back and a pot-belly (from SIBO—look it up) in front.  Any dress that fits well across my hips looks like a potato sack across my shoulders.  And fit-and-flare dresses, which would seem to be the obvious solution, are not made for short-waisted women—the waist is at least an inch too low and hits me right across the pot-belly.  As for skirts, let’s just say that the combination of being short-waisted and having a permanent pot-belly is terrible when it comes to clothing.  If I don’t tuck my top into my skirt, I don’t look as dressy as I’d like to look for synagogue, but if I do tuck it in, I look like a 74-year-old pregnant woman, which is ridiculous. (That's what happens when you have no midriff.)

And so, after some 70 years of dressing in a relatively traditional fashion—I didn’t wear pants even to the office, much less to synagogue—I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that the only outfit that fits me is an untucked top over pants.  This has recently become my new shul outfit—I dress it up with a necklace.  I’m not crazy about it, but it’s the best I can do with the body that G-d gave me.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Slightly-delayed kvetch, from July 20, 2023: Stripped-down rental car

No E-ZPASS (for paying tolls) and no radio. Bring your own everything. We're unpleasantly surprised.  😡  And our charger cables don't fit the car's USB ports, so we're afraid to listen to radio on our phones lest we run down our batteries.  😠  Next time, we'll bring a good old-fashioned pocket radio.

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Just grin and don’t bare it 😊

I’d love to be able to tie up my tee shirt and get some “air conditioning” on a hot day.  But I’m so short-waisted that the distance between the bottom of my “tops” and the top of my bottoms (my waistline) is only about two inches.  Midriff?  What midriff?!  😊

Sunday, July 02, 2023

Anniversary mix-up: We've now been married for forty-*six* years, not 45

I lost track of the count, and my husband the retired CPA did, too! Double-oops. Here's the real deal, dated 2022.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

ADD made me the kind of Jew that I am

This post is dedicated to my long-time readers--if there are any left--who asked why I was always complaining that I was an am ha-aretz (Jewishly-illiterate Jew) and asking for explanations rather than trying to catch up on all the learning that I hadn't had an opportunity to do as a child.


Some years ago, our son gave me an “armchair diagnosis,” telling me that he thought I had a mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder.  I think he’s right—I’m easily distracted, and find multi-tasking difficult. 

That’s a problem for a Jew.

Pick up any volume of the Talmud, turn it to any page, and you’ll see a “primary” text only a few lines long surrounded by a page and a half of commentaries, if not more.  It’s impossible for me to focus on such a written jungle—texts that aren’t “linear” distract me.

The same thing is true of studying Torah using a multi-volume text, where three lines of Torah ShehBichtav (the Written Law) are surrounded by Rashi, Rambam, and company, literally centuries worth of commentaries.

That’s why I describe myself as “a p’shat kind of person.”  My way of reading the parashot (weekly Torah/Bible readings) is to look at the written text directly and draw my own conclusions.  I joke that I can spot a midrash from a mile away.  😊

But there’s one area of Jewish tradition that’s almost completely linear—you can ignore any commentary or midrashim with impunity.  And that area is tefillah, prayer.

I’m just a Hebrew School grad with a limited knowledge of Hebrew (which I’ve found challenging to learn).  I had to teach myself how to daven in Hebrew—I prayed almost exclusively in English until I was in my early twenties.  Learning to pray in Hebrew has been my Jewish project for a good chunk of my life.  You can read about my prayer-learning project in my Monday, July 22, 2019 post, Learning, the hard way, or learning from the inside out: An am haaretz teaches herself to davven

Some folks focus on learning.  I’ve never been able to do that because non-linear learning is a major challenge for me.  So I’ve made teaching myself to pray my way to be a Jew.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Parashat Korach, 5784/2023 thoughts: And you thought *synagogue* politics were rough! 😮

Here are my thoughts from Tuesday, June 27, 2017:
Here are some thoughts based on my husband's reading:
Back in Temple times, there were two different factions of priests. One faction considered themselves the descendants of Aharon/Aaron--some call them the Aaronite Priests. The other faction considered themselves the descendants of Moshe/Moses--some call them the Mushite Priests. Unfortunately, the Mushites backed the wrong son of David HaMelech/King David, and when Shlomo HaMelech/King Solomon ascended the throne, he expelled the Mushites from the Bet HaMikdash/Holy Temple in Jerusalem. They survived, however, to write much of Sefer Devarim/the Book of Deuteronomy, the only book of the Torah in which priests are described as Kohanim B'nei Levi, the Priests Sons of Levi--clearly, they did not believe that only descendants of Aaron could be priests. I think one might make a reasonable case that the story of Korach's rebellion was an attempt by the Aaronite priests to discredit the Mushites by portraying them as rebels against G!d's will. Zeesh, at least when you get into a feud at synagogue, everyone lives to tell the tale!

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Climate change hits home :(

My eyes have been irritated since yesterday. I went straight home after physical therapy yesterday instead of going shopping because I was coughing even though I was wearing a face-mask.  😦 I guess it's the east coast's turn.  😟  My sincerest sympathies to the people of Quebec, and wherever else these (or other) wildfires are burning. 😢  Yesterday, the air quality in New York City was in the Hazardous zone.  And here's the cause.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

"Transitional" weather, or double your laundry, double your fun

I spent over a week freezing my elbows off before I finally gave up and switched back to long-sleeved pajamas.  How many times will I have to put two separate pairs of PJs into the hamper until the weather makes up its mind?

It's the same problem with daytime clothing--half the time, I have to wear a long-sleeved blouse over a short-sleeved T-shirt.  Is this the end of May or isn't it?

Even our kitchen is playing games with us.  Who needs a weather app when we can just check our bottle of coconut oil?  A few days ago, the oil was so solid that we had to scoop it out with a spoon.  Then it went half and half.  Today, our coconut oil is 100% liquid.  :)

Global climate change is weird.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Something new under the sun: A family-history update

First, my California brother reminded me that our mother’s Hebrew name was Hadassah, not Esther.  Oops!  Since I’ve been calling myself Léah bat Esther v’Ozer for 50 years or so and can’t bring myself to ditch my old name entirely, I’m now calling myself Léah bat Esther Hadassah v’Ozer. 

Then, our sister reminded me to check a recent e-mail from our Israeli brother that had gotten lost in the Pesach (Passover) preparations, and I was in for quite a surprise!

Our brother told an interesting tale of his first Sephardi (or Mizrachi?) seder (with a family originally from Tripoli, Libya).  But far more interesting was what he had to say about our family’s background.  Since our parents made Aliyah about 10 years after he did, he’d had the privilege—and the responsibility—of being the only one of the four of us to live within commuting distance of them, and had heard a few tales that were certainly news to me. 

Our mother had told him that an ancestor of her American-born father (who had an Ashkenazi last name and was, reportedly, of Austrian origin) was the first gabbai at Mikveh Israel, a Sephardi synagogue in Philadelphia.  That means that he was a Sephardi Jew, probably from Southern Europe. 

There’s more, folks.  My brother also thinks that some ancestors of our father purchased our Ashkenazi last name when they migrated to Austria-Hungary from Turkey. 

I’ve been davening (praying) in Ashkenazi synagogues all my life, and the only nusach (roughly, traditional prayer-wordings and melodies) that I know is Nusach Ashkenaz.  In addition, many, if not most, of the holiday celebrations that we enjoyed as kids were organized by our mother’s mother’s Ukrainian side of the family.  So it’s an understatement to say that I’m pleasantly surprised to learn, at the age of 74, that my family is probably part-Sephardi on both our mother’s and our father’s sides.  Wow! 💖

Sefirat HaOmer Niggun (by Shir Yaakov Feit, Zach Fredman, and Yosef Goldman)

Featuring Yosef Goldman, Deborah Sacks Mintz, and Chava Mirel (vocals), Joey Weisenberg (mandolin), Zach Fredman (guitar), Daniel Ori (bass), and Megan Weeder Gould (violin)

I love this song!

Bonus:  Two of Joey's kids are along for the ride.  :)

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Another beauty by Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz


Monday, April 10, 2023

Instant S'fard: Why this Ashkenazi Jew had to start eating rice mid-Pesach

I can't eat "regular" matzah; gluten-free oat matzah is vile-tasting; white potatoes aggravate my arthritis; and sweet potatoes aren't good for my kidney stones.

Quinoa to the rescue!  I decided to avoid all the above problems by making quinoa my main "starch" for Pesach (Passover) not only for dinner but for breakfast and lunch as well.

Um, not so fast.

I was wondering why I seemed to be running to the all-genders room much more often than usual.  This morning, it got really bad, so I consulted "Dr. Google."  It turns out that, while quinoa is super-healthy, it's also very high in fiber and is well known for causing diarrhea.  Apparently, I can eat it once a day in good health and with no ill effects, but *three* times a day is another matter!

So I'll be cooking rice tonight.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Enjoy this video of Eliana Light singing her "Moadim L'Simcha"

Here's Eliana Light's delightful song reminding us that there's a special greeting for Chol HaMoed.


Are the rabbis trying to make us sick?

Here’s a link showing the amount of matzah, wine, and maror that one is required to eat at a seder, according to some traditional rabbinic opinions.  The amounts are roughly almost three sheets of machine-made matzah or about one and two-thirds sheets of hand-made matzah, wine equaling the approximate equivalent of one and a half cans of soda pop, and, for us masochistic Ashkenazim, about a shot-glass worth of ground horseradish.  And all of those are supposed to be eaten or drunk within a prescribed amount of time, usually only a few minutes, if I understand correctly.  This is how the rabbis show concern for our health?

Then there’s the matter of kitniyot (again, for us crazy Ashkenazim).  There’s some controversy regarding whether the South American grain quinoa is or is not kitniyot.  Those of us who have health problems that limit how much matzah we can eat and/or what kind of matzah we can eat and/or whether we can eat any kind of matzah at all, need alternatives, all the more so if we also have problems eating potatoes.  So why is it that the rabbis are so obsessed with eliminating one of the few alternatives to matzah that are permissible on Pesach?  Do the rabbis consider it irrelevant to ensure that people with dietary limitations have “starches” that we can eat on Pesach without risking our health?  😡

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