Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breakfast at Chez Mizrachi

Yom revi'i, 4 Kislev 5772.

This is a departure from the "I love Israel!" nature of this blog.  But my friend Batya has been asking me, gently but consistently, to involve myself in the Kosher Cooking Carnival.  And today I came up with a recipe that made me so happy, I had to share it.




Let's say you came up with half a kilo of Welt Family Freedom Farm organic kale (three lovely varieties, completely bug-free, b"H).  You've soaked and salted 'em; laid 'em out lovingly on towels to dry; divided the leaves into different piles for different purposes.

Now let's assume you've steamed some of your kale to eat with a plate of excellent beef, and the rest you've made into kale chips.  (Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade -- around 350 degrees Fahrenheit -- sprinkle washed and dried and chip-sized leaves of kale with olive oil and seasoned salt; bake for about ten minutes, until the edges are brown but not burned.  Delicious snack!)  Now you've got all these stems and tiny leaves left.  Not quite enough for -- anything.  But wait...

You're on this great low-carb, virtually no sugar (except for Shabbat) diet, which is working miraculously: you are never hungry; you are eating foods you enjoy; and you are consistently losing weight.  (Oh, how I wish they'd told me decades ago that meat and eggs and butter are health foods!)  Oh, yeah -- and the stomach problems you've had for years have vanished.

So...  you take some eggs and Parmesan, a little onion and garlic and those bits of kale, and you come up with

Kale, Garlic and Parmesan Omelet

1/2 T. butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup kale, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
3 large eggs, beaten
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté onion, kale and garlic in butter at medium heat.  Remove vegetable mixture from pan.  Add eggs to pan; turn down heat to medium low.  When eggs are nearly set, season and add Parmesan.  Top with vegetable mixture.

Allow to set for a minute or two more; then, fold omelet gently before transferring to plate.  Sprinkle with a little of the slightly-too-brown kale that is the inevitable result of a phone call during the last batch of kale chips; add a few tiny cherry tomatoes for garnish.

Voilà!  A breakfast to kick-start your day.  Accompanied by an excellent cup of coffee, of course.

Check here at Batya's blog Me-Ander to see a collection of Kosher Cooking Carnival blog posts. And, if you have a kosher recipe or post about food you would care to share, please feel free to add your contribution here.

B'tayavon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guest Post: JobKatif in Baltimore

Yom revi'i, 26 Cheshvan 5772.

I come from a remarkable community in Baltimore.  No matter how long I live in Israel, this community "in the Old Country" will always have a special place in my heart.  In a letter from a dear friend, you can get a small glimpse into why the Baltimore Jewish community is a diamond in the crown of Ahavat Yisrael:

My Dear Ruth,

I would like to tell you about a very special event that occurred in Baltimore this past motzei Shabbat.

In a wonderful display of love for the people of Eretz Yisrael, the Baltimore Community came together to celebrate and support the accomplishments of JobKatif and to honor Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon at a benefit concert.  This evening was a labor of love for Mike Lowenstein, who chaired the event, and for Avraham Rosenblum who conceived of the idea and brought it to fruition.

Photo of Rav Rimon from the JobKatif website
 
Rav Rimon is a resident of Alon Shvut South, a faculty member of Yeshivat Har Etzion and Midreshet Migdal Oz, and the author of a book on halacha for soldiers.  He conceived of JobKatif, and he made it happen.  Rav Rimon and the miracle of JobKatif is not that they get jobs for people, but that they treat the entire person.  The expulsion produced people who were depressed, demoralized, unable to take on responsibility, who lost their homes, lost their businesses, lost their neighborhood, lost their social network, everything gone.  His chiddush was that the whole person needed to be treated; otherwise they wouldn’t be able to work.  He recognized that without all the help to the person’s mind and soul, they would not succeed in business.  And their success rate is astounding.  In the general population, about 50% of businesses fail after three years.  For JobKatif, it’s only 10%.  Pretty amazing!  And so the Baltimore Community honored Rav Rimon for his efforts and worked to raise funds that were matched 3 to 1 by the Israeli government.

The Beth Tfiloh Mintzes Theater was full and enthusiastic; the two-hour program just flew by as the audience was engaged at each segment.  There were musical sets by Baltimore bands Zemer Orchestra and Kol Chayim Orchestra, with a few other independent musicians, all organized and directed by Avraham Rosenblum of the Diaspora YeshivaBand (guitar and harmonica, sometimes at the same time) with Nossi Gross (sax, flute, and percussion) assisting.  The musical sets were interspersed with storytelling by four Baltimore rabbis – Rabbis Shmuel Silber, Binyamin Marwick, Menachem Goldberger, and Moshe Hauer.  The audience was enthralled by the storytelling, and energized by the music.

Each of the rabbis sat on a stool with a microphone to talk to the crowd and tell their story.  Each one started with words of chizuk that related to the mitzvah of giving to help this cause.  Then each one told a story.  Every story was very warm and special, and every rabbi had a tremendous rapport with the audience with their obvious love for Eretz Yisrael and their support for this fundraising effort.

Photo of Rav Goldberger taken by Frank Storch
 
Our Rav, Rabbi Menachem Goldberger, unique in this group with his long white beard, streimel, and black satin bekeshe with gold trefoils, put the audience in the palm of his hands with his first words, which were that he remembered when he was once the young rabbi in the group.  He gave a beautiful talk on giving, and then he told a very moving Chassidic story of how a secular Jew held onto the hand of the Bluzhever Rebbe as they were forced by the Nazis, yemach shemam, to jump over a pit to save their lives.  The Rebbe was in his 50s, and the pit was enormous, the task, impossible, but somehow, the two managed to make it over with the secular Jew stating he sailed over on the Rebbe’s coattails.  Rabbi Goldberger related this to how JobKatif pulls people to reach beyond their current state.

As Rabbi Goldberger talked about the expulsion from Gush Katif, there were tears in his eyes and a choke in his voice; this Chassidic Rabbi’s love of Eretz Yisrael and her people was palpable.  He cited a verse from L’Cha Dodi to connect to the work of JobKatif --


Shake yourself free, rise from the dust,
Hitna’ari me'afar qumi
התנערי מעפר קומי

Dress in your garments of splendor, my people
Livshi bigdei tifartekh ami
לבשי בגדי תפארתך עמי

That led to the band’s segue into the next musical set of the Rabbi Goldberger’s famous L’Cha Dodi niggun with the Rabbi singing and leading the tempo.  He soon pulled in Rav Rimon, Mike Lowenstein, and each of the Rabbis, forming a circle, with everyone dancing with fervor, some with closed eyes and faces gazing upward.  What an amazing sight to see a Chassidic rabbi, three Yeshivish rabbis, and two kippah seruga religious Zionists all up there dancing, all brought together by our Rabbi whose heart is in the East.  This picture will last in my memory.  The audience loved it, and so did the band.  It was an unforgettable evening that raised $40,000, which translated to $160,000 for JobKatif.

I just had to share with you this example of the wonder of Jewish people. 

Your friend from the Old Country,

Glenna


For additional comments on this beautiful event, plus photographs and a short video synopsis, please take a look at the beautiful article in the Baltimore Jewish Life by Margie Pensak.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Dawn of a New Day

Yom sheni, 17 Cheshvan 5772.


Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess whose people were from a far-away land.  She climbed mountains and crossed seas to marry her handsome prince.  At last, after scaling unbelievable heights and spanning unimaginable depths, they married and had children and were happy.  They moved to a mountain in a Wondrous Kingdom, and they were happier still.


One day, the princess got very, very sick.


And now it was the prince's turn to scale unbelievable heights and span unimaginable depths in order to fight against the terrible sickness, which seemed very much like a great, coiled dragon.  The prince put on his armor, and prepared to do battle with the forces of darkness.


The people of the village on the mountain gathered to see the prince off.


 Weavers and dyers made beautiful garments for the occasion.





The youth of the village adorned the trees and flowers with lavender balloons to remind the prince that he was not alone.  The village sage gave a speech of encouragement.  And then the prince departed.


He rode his trusty steed for hours and hours and hours, over hills and up mountains, covering miles and miles and miles in an attempt to slay the dragons that terrorized the nights, and to bring hope to himself and his princess and their children.



In the process, he brought hope to his community.  But not just to his community.  As the prince traveled those many miles, he brought hope to his people, those who were scattered across the globe, and those who were just around the corner.  There were knights with trusty steeds who joined the prince on his travels.  There were builders and bakers and memory stick makers.  There were minstrels and carriage drivers.  There were even court jesters.




As he rode, spreading his message of hope, the prince discovered time and again that he was not riding alone.  There were runners and riders.  There were people walking dogs, and dogs walking people.

There were those who traveled through space and time to share in the prince's struggle, among those longing for the dawn, longing for the dawn.  All along his route, the prince and the princess were reminded that many, many people had been longing to give a hand in the fight against the dragons and on behalf of goodness and kindness.


The people completed the ride together.  The prince and the princess and their children shared weary but joyful smiles.  The war was not over.  Not yet.  But they had won this battle.  And they knew that they would never, ever be alone.  Together, and with the help of the Mighty King, they knew that they could make it to the bright light of morning.





"Behold, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers in unity!...  May there be life forever!"

Please continue to daven for Tzuriya Kochevet bat Sara, among the other precious cholim of Am Yisrael.

Additional photos borrowed (ehhhhhhhh...) from Laura Ben-David.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One small kindness. And another. And another...

Yom revi'i, 12 Cheshvan 5772.

I have often thought about the human need for acceptance, and our reticence to give acceptance to others.

Since we all need it, you would think we'd be sensitized to the same need in our fellow man.  Right?

Yet we gather in our little groups and decry other groups.  We let slip careless and hurtful remarks behind each other's backs.  We make assumptions that an accusation we hear is true, even without first-hand experience of the evidence.  We fail to acknowledge those around us, totally oblivious to cries for help or the simple need for a smile.

Anyone who risks rejection by saying "Good morning" to a neighbor ought to always be greeted in return -- because the object of his greeting would also hate to feel rejected.  Instead, day after day, he must exercise the muscle called Benefit of the Doubt, until it wears out, or until it is the strongest muscle in his body.  Of course, there are plenty of reasons Ploni didn't smile at our brave soul.  He may not have heard or seen him.  His mind may have been on his own troubles, as small as a missing key or as great as catastrophic loss.  But what if we all went out of our way, every day, to put out the smile welcome mat for people we pass on the street?  (And no, o ye single minded straw man attackers: Of course I don't mean that six-year-old girls should smile at scary mugger types.  Consider your cautious tone already acknowledged, and attend to my main point.)

I always told my boys:  "There is no pareve encounter with another human being possible.  You have the opportunity to do a kiddush Hashem or -- chas v'chalila -- a chilul Hashem."  Translation: No encounter with another human being is meaningless.  You can either advertise G-d in a positive way through your actions, or -- G-d forbid -- you indicate that people in skull caps and ritual fringes don't care about other people.

Please enjoy the following short video.  It is a celebration of the concept of "pay it forward," how one small kindness begets another small kindness, and another, and another...  (Hat tip to Mare Newcome-Beill.  This is my kind of movie, Mare.  Thank you!)

I don't care what my children and my grandchildren choose to do for a living.  But I will feel that  the Mizrachi Family Mission is accomplished if they string together lifetimes filled with small acts of kindness.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reason to Rejoice, Permission to Participate

Yom shlishi, 4 Cheshvan 5772.

To all of our excellent friends who have been davening with us over the months for the refua shelaima of Stella (Tzuriya Kochevet bat Sarah), please read Yarden's latest blog post, and share our hope and happiness.  (The short version: against all odds, Stella's situation has improved dramatically.  The Frankls thank you for your prayers, and say "Keep 'em comin'!")

Those who can attend this crazy all-night ride-a-thon, details are available in this post.  (The Dearly Beloved and I will be sitting in lawn chairs on the sidelines at some unspecified ridiculous hour of the morning to shake pompoms and yell "Go, Team Frankl!"  We will try to drink beer to rub in the fact that we are NOT exercising.  And we'll be there at the finish line at 6:15 AM to accept our share of the accolades.)

Those who cannot attend, due to being unfortunately delayed with business overseas, please join us in donating to the cause, which is bigger than all of us.  The need to "do something" is strong in all caring human beings...  and straddling a bike for 12 hours is more difficult for me than pushing a "donate" button.  And I'll feel just as involved as Yarden will, without the need for mass quantities of diaper rash ointment.  (Heh-heh, Yarden.  You go, boy.)

And finally, add Stella's dream to your prayers.  "B'ezrat Hashem, we will stay on track, and we'll surprise my doctor again after the next scan! I really want to be written up in a medical journal (egoist that I am) about the miraculous case of Stella Frankl!"

There is no limit to the number of people who can be on Team Frankl.  Dust off your bike.  Make a pledge.  Or just pray with all your heart that this fine young mother gets her dream.  May we share joyful news!

Glossary:
Refua shelaima: complete recovery