oh the power

mysending:

This is where I’m spilling over, if you didn’t get that yet.

Originally posted on Learning from the Learned:

I should tape the sound coming through the windows for you. Actually, I did, but I’ll have to wait for it to download from my phone. Smart it may be, but me, not so much. I am keeping the trissim ( heavy metallic blinds) down next to me to keep warmer. Yes, I could turn the heat back on, now that we figured out how to do that, but we can manage a little bit longer without it…as long as my grandson keeps his socks and sweatshirt on. He’s home from school again because half of his nose wasn’t working. He’s quite fine now and quite bored. That’s how we like them. I might take a break to play Uno with him now.

I’m back. I won, but it was pretty close!

The kids’ school told them to dress “like onions” with layers, knowing that the classrooms are not necessarily…

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starting over, learning

mysending:

What do you think?

Originally posted on Learning from the Learned:

This title is a multi-level pun which I will start to explain now.

The first part you might want to know is that it is a pun on the phrase תלמיד חכם, “wise student.” In Hebrew, unlike in English, the noun comes first, with the modifier following. But here the modifier is not an adjective, but another noun. So you can be a student of a wise person, or a student of wise people, or many students of wise people. You can see more here about the expectations and values assigned to a Talmid Chacham here, but here is just a bit.

The principles in accordance with which the talmid ḥakam must live are enumerated in the first chapter of Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa, opening with the following sentence: “The way of the wise is to be modest, humble, alert, and intelligent; to endure injustice; to make himself beloved of…

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holy mud

I spent a considerable amount of time Friday morning scraping mud off of our Israeli grandsons’ brand-new soccer shoes. They went right from the store into the house and out to their outside plot into the mud. It was made worse, of course, when the littler one suggested to the older one to bring them into the house and wash them off. “Wait, wait–don’t do that!!” I tried to stop them. By the time I got to the sink (2 seconds at the most), it was pretty seriously too late.

They did not say this. They said lots of things at the highest volume that they have, which has grown since I saw them last in July. Oh, Lovely Mud, indeed! So I showed them how to use the plastic garden tools that they have to clean off the shoes. It worked to a point. The tempers calmed down and I was able to convince them that:

  1. this was better than the time that he stepped in dog stuff at our house. (This didn’t make him feel better, though, because he remembered how angry everyone was when he did that.)
  2. they would eventually dry. and
  3. the mud was a good thing, because it meant that it had rained enough to make mud!

The previous day, we went to visit Rachel our mother, but it was hard to know if she was even home. DSC_0157 DSC_0155

The tomb of Rachel has become a huge tourist attraction, rather than a visit of religious devotion. I shouldn’t say that, because most of the women who were there were very busy praying. But OMG, Kever Rachel even has a Facebook page now.

It used to be a place of a more private devotion. I think that was the point–Rachel was buried on the way. Her death was unexpected and her husband had not prepared himself emotionally for that loss. I have a feeling he probably regretted not bringing her to Hevron, but she became the standard bearer for the unredeemed. Even Melville uses her in Moby Dick, at the end of Chapter 128:

She was Rachel, weeping for her children, because they were not.

[explanation given here:] In Jeremiah 31:15, the prophet speaks of ‘Rachel weeping for her children’. This is interpreted in Judaism as Rachel crying for an end to her descendants’ sufferings and exiles following the destruction by the Babylonians of the First Temple in ancient Jerusalem. According to the Midrash, Rachel spoke before God: “If I, a mere mortal, was prepared not to humiliate my sister and was willing to take a rival into my home, how could You, the eternal, compassionate God, be jealous of idols, which have no true existence, that were brought into Your home (the Temple in Jerusalem)? Will You cause my children to be exiled on this account?” God accepted her plea and promised that, eventually, the exile would end and the Jews would return to their land.

But actually, what brings most women to the Kever is something different; it is G-d listening to Rachel’s prayers during her lifetime. Here is the sign that is posted.

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This is the line that is boldened on the right in this prayer that was composed to say at the Tomb of Rachel:

כב  וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-רָחֵל; וַיִּשְׁמַע אֵלֶיהָ אֱלֹהִים, וַיִּפְתַּח אֶת-רַחְמָהּ. 22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.

So women are there to pray to be heard now; for the children to come, not the children who have passed.

Now why did I bring up Rachel’s Tomb and my grandchildren’s muddy shoes? After all, I could have referenced walking to the Old City my first day in Israel; or walking to the Promenade and noting the changes since I’ve been here; or tasting the sufganiyot that have gone so upscale.

But somehow it comes down to the real needs that matter. Getting mud off of new soccer shoes; getting dog poop off of the baby stroller; getting vomit out of the baby’s clothes; it’s the real that we need.

We can wax poetic later when the smell is a distant memory.

what do you do the night before your trip?

Why, write about food, of course!

So now I realize why I was drawn to these polenta latkes–I’m traveling through Rome to get to Israel, and polenta is Italian, so that make sense now! I was also on the phone (thanks to gethuman.com, because the number provided by Alitalia was unproductive at best) on hold with Alitalia to figure out my code. It turns out I have to wait one hour to actually book my ticket for tomorrow night. I’m a bit antsy, I guess.

Anyway, these were really really tasty, albeit as messy as any frying, and for those of you who want to limit your egg consumption, but don’t care about the amount of oil, these are perfect. Or should I say “perfetto!”

And they also mask any other smells in the house beautifully.

Always looking for the silver lining.

Polenta latkes from the LA Times

Olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 1/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add polenta slowly, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until polenta comes away from sides of pan, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While still hot, spread polenta about 1-inch thick onto an oiled baking pan. Cool, cover and refrigerate until cold and firm, several hours or overnight. Using a (2-inch) round scalloped cookie cutter, cut polenta into rounds and transfer to a large platter.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in nonstick skillet and brown polenta rounds, turning occasionally, until brown and crispy on both sides, 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining polenta rounds, adding additional oil as needed. Serve immediately or reheat just before serving.

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Enjoy!

Seriously!

granola bar dilemma and other rebbitzin tales

Some of my biggest challenges happen in the supermarket. Will they have the fish that I want? Will the lines be unending? Will I have to see people I really don’t want to see? Will people who don’t want to see me have to endure the sight of me?

Sigh.

Yesterday, I was trying to get through the store aqap, but I was stymied in the granola bar aisle. I usually purchase some bars of some kind for travel. But I end up feeling all Goldilocksy–some are too soft, some are too hard, and, to be honest, I haven’t come across the just right ones, but I was looking to see if there were any new options.

I noticed someone who I know in the next aisle over on the phone and we waved. I figured that would be safe enough and I wouldn’t have to talk to him. But of course, a few minutes later (while I’m still Buridan-assing over the granola bars) he comes over. He says to me, “I’m sure you hear this a lot, but your husband is amazing.”

Actually I don’t really remember what he said exactly, because I don’t want him thinking I really know why he’s saying it, so I’m trying to feign ignorance. That’s not really hard for me. I don’t really know why he thinks that, but I also probably know enough, only because of the amount of phone calls back and forth between them. So I play along.

“Thanks. I just stand back and let him do his magic.”

Which is true. But yes, we all know that magicians need their assistants, so I guess sometimes I do assist behind the scenes. I’m so happy to let him be in the spotlight.

And then I shared my dilemma of the granola bars and he wished me good luck with my search.

A few minutes later, we caught up again in the next aisle.

“What did you decide?”

“To make my own.”

And so I did.

Banana Oat Bars from thekitchn.com

Makes one 9×9-inch pan

2 large, very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 cup pitted, chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped nuts — such as walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans
Grated nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×9-inch square baking dish with olive oil or butter.

Peel the bananas and mash their flesh in a medium mixing bowl. Mash very thoroughly until no large chunks remain; the bananas should be essentially liquid. Stir in the vanilla, if using. Add the oats and stir them in. Stir in the salt, dates, and nuts.

Pat the thick mixture evenly into the baking pan. If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with nutmeg or cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to crisp up.

Place the baking pan on a rack to cool. When the pan is mostly cool, cut into bars and enjoy with a glass of milk or tea.

Shall I tell you now what I changed or do you want to guess?

silver linings of polio and other travel tidbits

While searching for some travel items on Amazon, look what I found! I typed in “travel accessories”, in case you want to try it. I’d be curious to see if you come up with similar items.

Product Details

Simran SM-60 Universal Power Strip 3 Outlets for 110V-250V Worldwide Travel with Surge/Overload Protection by Simran

(Okay, that makes sense, but not for my needs. Let’s continue.)

Rick Steves Travel Gear Clothesline by Rick Steves

(Again, okay. I’m skipping the photos, since you get the picture:). It’s a rope.)

iPad Mini 5-in-1 Accessories Bundle Rotating Case for Business and Travel, Green by Gearonic

(Ditto.)
Product Details

Classic Accessories Fairway Travel 4-sided Golf Car Enclosure (Fits most two-person golf cars) by Classic Accessories (Jan 12, 2009)

(Hmmm. What else is there?)

CTA Digital PS Vita Travel EVA Protective Case with 4x Game Storage Pockets by CTA Digital (Mar 5, 2012)

(Boooring.)

humangear Gotoob Travel Bottles 3-Pack Medium 2 Ounce by humangear

(Boooring. Wait–I need that.)

Product Details

Pinterest by Pinterest, Inc (Aug 15, 2012)

  • $0.00
  • Available instantly on your connected Android device
  • Get inspiration from DIY, Travel, Food and other categories.
  • Apps for Android: See all 5 items

I think I’ll stop here. I’m not pinterested. (Sorry.)

I did order a few things for myself in preparation for my travels next week.

I made the reservations back in August, but it’s really hard to wrap my head around it that I’m actually taking off. Now, how to pack for over 2 months with one suitcase and lots of different weather possibilities? Australia was a breeze compared to this.

Israel is a complex country, in case you hadn’t heard. (I’m not going to discuss politics now. Enough people are doing an awful job of it without me joining in.)

Even the weather is complex. It can be gorgeous in the winter; it can also snow. We pray for rain in the winter. I will be there for long enough to have to really mean it. So I have my waterproof boots and shoes (yes, the 7 1/2 in the Land’s End actually is the right size, thankfully). I have layers. Enough to make an archaeological dig.

But I think I’ll skip the golf cart enclosure, although perhaps, if it rains enough, I may regret my decision.

Oh–the title?

Of course, you may have read about a polio outbreak in Syria and in Israel last month. I did, too, but I didn’t actually process that it may refer to me. Even though the Israeli healthcare system (the US should really take better notes) has taken care of it pretty well, it still could be lingering in certain areas. And should I take a risk or not?

I called my doctor and asked should I get a booster shot for polio? Does my blood work show if I am immune? Do you have on record that I had polio as a child? Please make sure to tell the doctor that fact–am I more susceptible because of it, like chickenpox/shingles, or does it create immunity?

Well, in the realm of the added unexpected, the nurse called back to say that the doctor said I was immune because of having it as a child.

Woo-hoo!

Who ever thought that would come in handy some day?

memory brings us forward

I, like so many others, am remembering the assassination of JFK. I am reading various interviews of those who were there with him in Dallas, including heartbreaking details about why Jackie was reaching back on the car after the shots.

Here’s the last line from an article in the Washington Post that describes the 4 days of national trauma:

The United States would never stop telling this story, as a loss of innocence, as a time of unity, as a rote memory.

In our family, we thought the world of him. He was good to the Jews. He was one of the good guys in a world that was simply divided. We didn’t need to differentiate.

Of course I remember where I was when I heard that he had been shot. I was in fifth grade and I was sitting at my desk three-quarters’ back in the room. I retain this image of being very far away from the center. There was an announcement over the loudspeaker that the president had been shot.

None of us knew what that meant. Death was kept far away from us, even when family members passed away. Nothing was explained, but this we knew was a change. I don’t know at what point you could place that marker of  the loss of innocence, but I know we all experienced the somberness of the veil being lifted–when we didn’t know if we could trust people who lived among us.

I also remember going over a friend’s house that Monday and watching the funeral procession on her black-and-white television while sculpting a menorah out of soap. I remember the quiet of the house, the quiet of the procession, except for the clip-clop of the horse.

Please take a moment to read this speech, “The Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy; Yeshiva University Charter Day Dinner, 1957.” It’s comparable to Washington’s speech at the Touro Synagogue, both appreciating the best of differences, welcoming religious and intellectual ideas that enrich the quality of our country, the standing of the world.

Oh what a loss! Oh how poor we are today.

I add some photos here of a recent visit to the JFK Library to mark the occasion.

IMG_20131119_145059_569 IMG_20131119_145451_218

now and then; a review of how things are never the same

I will show you some photos from August and some from yesterday taken at another nearby museum. First, from August:

DSC_0437 DSC_0506 DSC_0511 DSC_0539 DSC_0543

Now here are some from yesterday.

DSC_0319 DSC_0360 DSC_0364 DSC_0337 DSC_0338 DSC_0352

Now, did you notice that some of the photos were the same and some were completely different? Actually, none were the same. That’s the main point. Even though we went to the same place, the place had changed, our focus had changed, and yes, we had changed. The weather was hot so we were happy to go under the trees, especially that amazing beech tree. I was very curious to see how that fared in autumn, so I took the opportunity to check that out. And some other photos that I show here are because I thought the colors or textures were most fascinating. Did you notice how the woman matched her sweater to her dog?

But then there was the one piece of art that we really didn’t look carefully at last time. It’s by Jim Dine, who claims that it (as most of his work) is autobiographical, and this one is in honor/memory of his grandfather and his hardware store.

But do you see the mezuzah?

We can’t really be sure. I can’t find anything specifically about it online.

I did find this article, though:

A Really Special Gift Bag from May 10, 2001

The American Friends of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art named JIM DINE its artist of the year; commissioned the artist ARMAN to design an award, a mezuza with Mr. Dine’s name on the base; arranged for ARNE GLIMCHER, chairman of the PaceWildenstein Gallery, to hand it to him; invited a Rainbow Room-filling crowd that included SIMON DE PURY, the new chairman of the Phillips auction house, and RONALD S. LAUDER, the cosmetics heir.

Then, the big moment. And no one could find the mezuza.

It had been in a plastic sack when last seen, prompting suspicion among the organizers that a guest who left early assumed it was a gift bag like the ones often handed out to guests leaving such events.

And that, the organizers said yesterday, was exactly what happened.

”We found out when this person called and said, ‘What a lovely evening, what a lovely mezuza,’ ” a spokeswoman said yesterday. She would not identify the caller.

But I think it was here all the time.