is kugel the secret sauce?

First, I saw this:

Braun Food Processor

  • Kugel Blade
  • Stainless steel blades offer efficiency and durability
  • 600 Watts of power for a wide range of tasks around the kitchen

This is on a site for a company that sells 220v appliances, the kind you need for Israel. I was looking at it for my daughter and family. Granted, it’s a company that’s selling for this particular niche, not for other ethnic groups.

But still, an odd description, wouldn’t you say so?

And then I saw this article from the Jewish Week about a young woman who traveled from being raised as a Neturei Karta-nik to becoming an artist:

“Since I can remember,” she says, “I always felt like I was born into the wrong place, the wrong family. I always knew I wanted to be different. I wasn’t sure I could do it. It was my dream.”

Frequently, she thought about running away, but didn’t think it was possible.

“If you leave, you have to give up so much: your family, your community. It’s really scary; you’re born again. But you’re not a baby, and no one is taking care of you.”

Asked what she misses, she says, “Kugel, food. A sense of community is nice. Other than that, I don’t miss anything. Nothing about that part of my life was good.”

And then there was this thing about:

An Indian-American boy won a national spelling contest after correctly spelling a Yiddish-derived word.

Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, N.Y., won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday by spelling the word “knaidel,” a traditional Jewish dumpling.

The NY Times says this here:

But the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which created the standard Yiddish transliteration now used in libraries around the world, holds that the correct spelling is “kneydl.”

Kugel, knaidel, kneydl.

Has our mamaloshen become so ubiquitous? But who is telling our story and do we want Yiddish so sold out?

Dara Horn, in the NY Times piece, ends with this:

A famous Yiddish song, “Oyfn Pripetshik” (“On the Hearth”), describes children sitting in a schoolroom learning how to spell. Toward the end, the lyrics say: “When you become older, children / You yourselves will understand / How many tears lie in the letters / And how much weeping.”

And then I got an email from a marketing expert, John Haydon, in his newsletter Inbound Zombie, about some ways to maximize your non-profit’s Facebook presence:

 …let’s talk about storytelling.
Telling an emotional story that truly moves people is no easy task. We both know that. But what’s ironic is that we are emotional animals first, and logical animals second. Our very existence depends on our ability to feel another person’s pain! In fact, scientists believe that storytelling is part of our evolution as a species.
But judging by the most recent fundraising emails I’ve received, sounding witty is far more important then telling simple stories that move people.
Is it that we’re afraid to feel deeply when we communicate with our community? I mean, they’re people – just like you and me – who feel sadness, joy, anger and hope. Plus, feelings are precisely what drove them to begin a relationship with our nonprofit in the first place!
  • Are we afraid to cross “the line” with words that have tears behind them?
  • Are we afraid that coworkers will judge us if we put colossal passion into our work?
  • Are we afraid that the cause is much more personal to us then we’d like to admit?
  • And are we afraid to lose our identity by investing our entire heart in the work we do?
Finally, are we afraid to realize the power we truly have?

Granted, he’s talking about a community of donors. But of course you can extrapolate from here to anywhere you want.

Or dare.

I am not at a loss for words about what should be a good community, but at what makes one work. I know that people judge us/me, even if we do nothing, so you might as well do something that you are passionate about and make it meaningful. We are definitely more afraid of not living up to our potential, so we’d rather do nothing.

That way, we haven’t failed; we just haven’t given it our best shot.

I’m not talking about others, by the way.

My daughter is getting ready, as I mentioned, to move to Israel. They (perhaps) have mixed feelings about leaving the states, but I won’t talk for them. She also doesn’t understand how people can blog, and I won’t write for others. I do it because I find something valuable stating what I can’t say in other settings. I’ve written about this plenty, so I’ll just continue writing that I do feel that if I left my community now, I would not be missed (okay except for just a few people). The jobs that I do in the community could be done by others without a problem; they have before and they can be again. Do I bring more passion to what I do than others? I hope so.

Is this necessary?

Clearly not.

Should we be encouraging people to feel more connected?


But maybe someone else should be doing it, since I just don’t know if I have the right recipe.

Last week on Memorial Day, we took the kiddies to the neighborhood parade. It was quaintly nostalgic of what Americana should be–the people lined up with their lawn chairs to watch; the politicians waving bravely; the marching bands; the strange assortment of others, always with people you would not expect. I was touched by the purity of the simple. It’s what community should be, the coming together and celebrating the collection. To the outsider that I was, that was enough. My daughter didn’t come. She stayed home to finish planting the flowers we had bought.

That was also community.

I’m still thinking of what it all means, but hey, I did take some photos that I’ll share now.

DSC_0242 DSC_0256 DSC_0258 DSC_0261 DSC_0264 DSC_0267 DSC_0270 DSC_0275 DSC_0277 DSC_0286 DSC_0289


2 responses

  1. I can be quite cynical, but I’m one how cries at parades…yes, it’s community, isn’t it? But I never could put into words why a parade touches me so deeply. You began to do that here. Such a good writer you are!

    • Thank you so much!

      I was so very moved by this display, but that’s also why I left the lonely gentleman at the end, to show that we are not living up to the ideal of community.

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