Monday, April 29, 2019

Welcome to our annual post-Pesach "party" :)

A rerun from here:

"It's huntin' season again :)  (No animals will be harmed)
Yep, it's that time of year--we're looking for all the things we packed away before Passover.  We'll probably need at least another week to find everything."

Some things never change.  :)

Happy hunting, and good luck finding everything!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The collapse: . . . end of American Jewry’s golden age? (Adam Garfinkle)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Blogger botches baking :)

My husband was, unfortunately, home monitoring the "progress" of yet another kidney stone on the last evening of his Spring-semester Context class.  So he took this afternoon to catch up on the reading and listen to the audio recording of that class.  There we were, standing in the kitchen, talking about the Mishnah, Gemarah, Tannaim, Amoriam, and next Fall's classes on the Rishonim and Acharonim while I baked the last of the Pesach banana breads.

The second-to-last cake fell apart when I tried to get it out of the baking pan.  It was then that I realized that I'd goofed--the recipe called for 3 cups of almond flour and 3 eggs, but only 2 bananas.  Eek!  Not only had I used 3 bananas in that batch, but I'd also used 3 in the batter waiting to go into the oven!  Since I was out of almond flour, I grabbed the walnuts, measured out about 1/4 cup, poured the nuts into a zip-type bag, grabbed the coconut-oil jar, screwed the lid on carefully,  "chopped" the walnuts by rolling the jar over them, and poured them into the batter.  Then I put the last batch of batter into the oven, and hoped for the best.

But when I went to wash the baking utensils, I got another surprise--the 1/2-cup measuring cup was clean!  Did that mean that I'd already washed it, or did that mean that I hadn't put any honey into the last batch?!  Out of the oven came the last batch.  I scrubbed everything that was soaking in the mixing bowl, cleaned and dried the mixing bowl, dumped the batter out of the pan and into the bowl, added 1/2 cup of honey, then poured the batter into 2 baking pans, put both pans into the oven, and again, hoped for the best.

I have no idea how that last, well, cake and a half are going to taste.  Remind me that multi-tasking and I are incompatible.  :)

Chag Sameach!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Two sad Sedarim :(

We've been attending both Sedarim at a local Orthodox synagogue for a few years now.  The rabbi leads a nice Seder.

Or, at least, he did, until this year.

Unfortunately, he recently underwent major surgery that left him at least temporarily partially disabled.  My husband and I are concerned that some of the damage may be more permanent.

Various doctors have made it clear to us that general anesthesia, while sometimes necessary, can have deleterious effects on older people.  We're pretty sure that this is what happened to my late father.   His cognitive function was never the same after his last major surgery--he slipped further and further into dementia as the years passed, until he couldn't even recognize his own children's faces or voices.

The rabbi seems to have suffered similar damage.  He was constantly losing his place in the Haggadah, and recited several parts of the Haggadah more than once.

Honestly, we'd rather go elsewhere next year, but we don't think that we should--we've become a known presence at these Sedarim, and have a feeling that our continued attendance, while no longer enjoyable for us, would be a maaseh tov (good deed).

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Chava Mirel figured it out

I've always wanted to try singing harmony with myself, but, short of wasting money on a second tape recorder (if you'll pardon the reference to "ancient" technology), I could never figure out how.

Here's Chava Mirel, three times over, singing her Achat Sha'alti.  Enjoy.

You can also hear her on Josh Warshawsky's Chaveria Nevarech, and here's a link to her own website.

I suppose that this sort of thing--overdubbing?--is done in recording studios all the time, but it's nice to see someone accomplish the same thing without fancy equipment, right in her own livingroom.

Here's another cool video.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Gluten-free banana bread for Passover

In case you still have time and/or energy to bake, here's a nice recipe.  Allergen alert:  Contains nuts and eggs.


3 cups almond flour
1/2 cup honey
3 eggs
2 mashed bananas
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins (or chopped walnuts)

1. Mix ingredients.

2. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees F (180 C). I line the pan with buttered wax paper.

Helpful hints:

~ Skip the chopper for the walnuts (which we use because my husband doesn't like raisins and I can't eat much dried fruit)--just pour the walnuts into a zip-type plastic bag and roll a bottle (or kosher-for-Passover rolling pin, if you have one) over them until they're reasonably well crushed.  This method is easier on the hands, but be advised that it only works on walnuts, which are very easy to break.

~ Oil the baking pan with kosher-for-passover coconut oil (or another parve cooking oil, if you're allergic to coconuts).

~ If you're using disposable baking pans, double them--put one baking pan inside of another one--to prevent the pan from bending and spilling its contents all over the oven.  (Been there, done that.)

Check out this wonderful video

The beginning looks really boring, but wait for it--you'll get a pleasant surprise.  Hint:  Our son said that he'd be afraid to get out on the dance floor after seeing something that good.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Book review:"Subversive Sequels in the Bible:How Biblical Stories Mine & Undermine Each Other (Judy Klitsner)

As promised, here's a belated review of , by Judy Klitsner, which I read some years ago.  I copied this review from some old notes of mine.

The author does a nice job tracking the growth of women from the relatively passive Sarah, whose husband doesn’t bother praying to G-d to cure her barrenness because he doesn’t even care whether his heir comes from his wife or his concubine, to the barren Hannah, who takes matters entirely into her own hands, doing her own praying for a child, and deciding to dedicate that child to G-d by giving him to serve in the Holy Temple without even consulting her supportive husband, who accepts her decision without G-d clobbering him over the head “sh’ma b’kolah/listen to her [Sarah's] voice” style. This book presents the idea that many biblical stories of all kinds are improved in later biblical stories.

Rabbi David Wolpe's review is here.  An Israeli rabbi, Israel Drazin, posted his review here.

And here are some interesting related thoughts from the author herself.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Book review: "Who Wrote the Bible," by Richard Elliott Friedman

Many thanks to my husband, who was assigned this book to read for his Contexts class, for passing it along to me.

If you think that the Documentary Hypothesis regarding the origins of the Bible makes sense, this book is for you. Be sure to get the second edition, as the author, after even more research, changed his mind on a major point.

I had no idea that politics--both governmental and religious--may have played a major role in the writing of the Bible. For example, I had no clue--because all traces have been erased from the Bible--that there may have been Kohanim (Priests) who were the descendants of Moses, rather than his brother Aaron. As the saying goes, history is written by the victors--the Aaronid Priests won, the Mushite Priests lost.

I was absolutely fascinated to see break-downs of confusing texts into their component parts, showing who wrote what, sentence by sentence. Knowing who wrote what, and why, really helped me understand how such texts got to be so confusing. I particularly recommend the author's parsing of the story of Korach, titled "The Rebellion, Numbers 16" (pages 193-196 in my addition).  He did a much better job than I did, and helped clean up this mess.

And I especially appreciated the author's insistence that Biblical scholarship, rather than detracting from the holiness of the text, enhances our understanding and appreciation of it. I also found it fascinating that he's of the opinion that the Bible was the first attempt at writing a history.

I love this book!

Other books that I recommend for your Jewish bookshelf:

"Esau's Blessing," by Ora Horn Prouser 

I can't believe I never posted a book review about Subversive Sequels in the Bible:  How Biblical Stories Mine and Undermine Each Other, by Judy Klitsner.  I really should do something about that.  And here it is.

Monday, April 08, 2019

More Vocals!

Here are links to some of the singers on Chaverai Nevarech, about which I posted here:

Duvid Swirsky (Lead guitar and vocals)

Chava Mirel (Vocals)

Deborah Sacks Mintz (Vocals)



Sunday, April 07, 2019

Quote of the day

Courtesy of Our Son the Physics Ph.D.:

"Just because G-d gave you a planet doesn't mean it's self-cleaning."

See also Planet Earth: 1; Hilchot Shabbat: 0

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Beautiful contemporary Jewish music to sing & share

I got a great tip from a friend of ours from synagogue, who sent me a URL to some new Jewish music. When I clicked on one of the songs, out came the most gorgeous multi-part vocal harmony, complete with delightful instrumental accompaniment.  I strongly recommend that you check out Josh Warshawsky's "Chaverai Nevarech."  And I'm happy to report that, when you click on each individual song, you'll find links to the sheet music and chords.


Quote of the week, heard on the street :)

Bald white male senior walking past a much-younger black man with shoulder-length dread-locked hair: "I wish I had hair like that." The black man smiled.
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