Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Newest Addition...

Last year, I shared the experiences that I had at the Devorah Quilting Kallah at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute. Things have been a little crazy since I came home, so I've yet to post a full report but...

Yesterday, after a stressful day, I arrived home to find my ***new Bernina sewing machine***!!!! (Okay, I am really excited. Oh, and it's not really new, it's actually 17 years old, but it's new for me.)

First I had to get it out of the box and unwrap all the bubble wrap. Then, of course, I had to try it in order to leave feedback on eBay - so it had to be tonight. {{{Deep breath}}}

Seriously, the woman who owned this machine was amazing - she kept every single item and they're all there. The manual is not as enlightening as I'd like (and uses the word "whilst") and I had to figure out how to thread the thing...which I got right - thanks, Mrs. Procise, my 7th grade home-ec teacher - and then it wouldn't sew...I knew that something was wrong, something simple, but I couldn't figure it out....finally I got it - the bobbin winder - and I was off...'s so quiet. It sews like a dream. Tomorrow I will figure out more - like how to change the feet and how to play with the cool stitches and maybe even actually sew something!?

AND it has retractable cords.

See how easily impressed I am!? :-)

Moving from my sweet, lovable Kenmore to this fancy-shmancy Bernina is going to take some adjustment...but I'll manage!!!!

In case you were wondering, her name is Batya and she'll have her Brit Bat next week on the 8th day....okay, just kidding:-)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Big Brother Dressed Me

Yael, now fully enmeshed in her two-year-old-ness, is absolutely in love with her big brother, Sammy. (Except when she's not, but I think that's a different post!)

She talks about him: "my brother, Sammy" and wants to be just like him.

The other day, he helped her choose her clothes...which meant that he went into his drawer and picked things he thought she would like to wear. She's wearing a sponge-bob t-shirt underneath this football jersey. (Full disclosure: she chose her own pants. She wanted ones with pockets.)

Sam decided that the game would involve tape and bowls. Yael seemed to agree. The Ima just went along with her camera.
"Is this what I'm supposed to be doing, Sam?"
But the game quickly became a game of running and chase. I tried really hard to capture just how much fun they were having, how much joy they were experiencing. Their laughter was infectious and beautiful.

Some days are just like that.

See more best shot Monday posts here...

Jewish Blogosphere Strikes Again!

It's so nice to know that even when I'm away....things still get done around here. 
Go over to The Rebbetzin's Husband and read Haveil Havalim #214 - The Radiant Ziv edition.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Welcoming the New Month of Iyar

not Nisan, not Sivan
not slaves and not yet fully free

the month of transition
of transit
not here and not there


where are we?
what are we doing here?

once we were slaves
now we are free.
so what do we do with ourselves?

we move
we keep moving
always moving
where are we going, again?
who’s leading this show?

the month of manna
perfect in its perfection

as we fill ourselves with manna
it fills us with its faith

we are
not here and not there
but we are
full of faith
that we will arrive

The new month of Iyar begins this Shabbat. We welcome the month that moves us from Nisan, the month of Pesach, to Sivan, the month of Shavuot. A month of transition, yes, but a month in which it is said that the manna began to fall from heaven to sustain the Israelites on their way.

A truly incredible feature of the manna was that to each person, it tasted different, and to each person it was delicious. Only enough manna could be collected each day for each person's use; a double portion was collected on Shabbat. Any more than was necessary, any leftovers, rotted away overnight. Each day, the newly-freed Israelites had to renew their faith in their invisible God, each day they had to believe that more sustenance would come their way. What a remarkable way for God to create a bond of trust with these former slaves. Faith can be hard to come by.

We all have manna in our lives...the sustaining elements that help to define us and stir our souls. What is it for you? How do you trust that it will be there tomorrow? How do you keep the faith?

May the new month of Iyar bring blessings of sustenance and peace.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's a "hand" bag!

I'm currently at OSRUI (Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute) at the annual Devorah Quilting Retreat. It's a wonderful group of Jewish women getting together to quilt in a spiritual and open setting.

Although we don't usually do "assigned projects" - today we all did this project as a creativity exercise. It's a "hand" bag from this site: and while the directions were unclear about the end of the project, I think that mine came out really cute!

Hopefully I'll post another update later today or tomorrow. Having a lot of fun....
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Favorite Things?

Some random things that I like. I'm not getting any money for these products, just sharing the things that I like. If Oprah can take over Twitter, I can take over her idea for sharing stuff I like. (I wish I could give it all away like she does!)

These are great kitchen cloths for cleaning. They go in the washer, dryer, microwave, dishwasher, and they don't have that funky anti-bacterial smell. They're awesome.

Emerald Nuts Cocoa Roast Almonds
Absolutely delicious. Love these. (Their website is not great, though.)

Sabra Hummus
The closest thing to being in Israel that I can find. Their babaghanoush rocks too.

Bubbie's Pickles
The most wonderful pickles I've ever found. Pure Kosher Dills - they are sharp and salty and crunchy and awesome.

L'Oreal Kids Detangler, Pear Scent
I've started spraying this on my kids' hair each night and combing it through. I love the smell. They love the combing. It's a great deal.

Sedu Flatiron
It works really really well on my very curly hair. Makes it shiny and straight. It impresses me every time.

Do you care about brands? Are you "brand-loyal"?
For the most part, I'm really not. I buy store-brands and whatever happens to be on sale. Then again, I know that store-brand Cheerios are just not as good as the real thing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

From Slavery to Freedom...

We've had a great Passover around here.

Our Seder was a lot of fun! (we actually did two Sedarim, the first with our family, and the kids made it through that one entirely. So I really consider that to be our "real Seder." The second night, I helped lead the Seder at the synagogue. My kids didn't really make it through that one....)

 Our Seder table, featuring the huevos haminados that I made with David. They were beautiful but interestingly enough, didn't taste any different from regular hard-boiled eggs!
My kids had a great time with the plague masks. I felt that the lice plague was most fitting for them...
Everyone always wants to know if I conduct our family's Seder, being a rabbi and all. Nope. My dad (who wrote my omer counter) has always done it and he does a great job! I pipe up occasionally with new ideas and comments, and sometimes move things along...
Each year, we open the Seder with a reading from Mark Twain's "Concerning the Jews." My 93-year-old grandmother offers this reading, which she found many years ago and brought to the Seder.
And....David offered the Four Questions:

The rest of the week has been relatively uneventful. Sam has persisted in asking each day for waffles. I'm quite sure that he did not eat a single bite of matzah in protest. Luckily, he's only 3 so it doesn't matter too much. Our digestive tracts were, um, healthy all week. We made popovers, toasted farfel, grilled fish, potatoes, eggs, tuna, and ate a lot of babaghanoush and cream cheese on matzah. I think I made matzah pizza 4 or 5 times and I made matzah brei twice. (For the Matzah Brei cookoff at the shul, I made Matzah Brei Italian - with marinara sauce, onions, garlic, basil and mozzarella - garnished with Salad Caprese. A huge hit!)

The dishes are packed away, the crumbs are swept off the counter, and another Pesach has come and gone. So much work to prepare and it all seems to end so quickly. But it really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It is a total change of routine and behavior that consumes us and reminds us with every mouthful of the meaning of freedom.

How was your Pesach?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Get your Jewish Blogging Here!

For all who want the weekly roundup of Jewish blogging, stop over to Shtetl Fabulous for her excellent debut edition of Haveil Havalim. And she makes sure to include what I think was one of the more interesting things that happened this week in j-blogland (okay, besides the once-in-28-years blessing and oh, yeah, that holiday that started this week), the controversy over the JTA's recent solicitation email. Scroll down in Shtetl's post for those links.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Counting up the Omer

The second day of Pesach begins the Counting of the Omer, the period between Passover and Shavuot, a 49 day period.

The period between these two holidays represents the journey between them - from the Exodus from Egypt (celebrated on Passover) to the Revelation at Sinai (celebrated on Shavuot). Receiving the Torah isn't something that can just be done at the drop of a hat, it takes preparation and work. The period of the Omer gives us that time to reflect and consider, to pay attention to each and every day, and to literally "count up" until the Torah comes into our lives.

It's also considered a period of semi-mourning. Traditional Jews won't cut their hair, shave, listen to live music, or celebrate weddings or other parties. The 33rd day of the Omer (Lag B'Omer) has some lifting of these restrictions. Tradition says that a plague killed 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva during this period, hence the mourning.

In case you want to count the Omer, feel free to come back here every day to Ima on and off the Bima. Over <------------------ there is the counter that my dad wrote for my blog (last year!) and it works really well! If there was a market for this kind of thing, I think he could make a good business with the J-bloggers. What do you think, Dad???

Okay, so how do we find contemporary and interesting meaning in the Omer? Just as we do with any of our holidays and observances, we have to find a way to make it relevant to how we live our lives. One tradition is to study various texts during this period as a way to improve oneself. Another way is to choose a story or other reading to meditate upon daily. Maybe this is the time to introduce a new practice - do you want to take up yoga or daily prayer? There's something wonderful and finite about making a 49-day commitment. And when the Omer ends, you can choose how to proceed from there. Revelation has an incredible life-changing-potential. But it won't happen if you don't welcome it in and prepare yourself in some way for it. We have the chance each and every day to open ourselves up...and Judaism gives us the structure and program to do it...

How will you observe the Omer this year?
May it bring enlightenment and personal nourishment...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Huevos Haminados

On July 19, 2008, I was first introduced to the concept of Huevos Haminados. I know it was this date because I went around and bookmarked three different sites/recipes
Huevos Haminados, which means "baked eggs" in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language spoken by Sephardic Jews, are served primarily on Pesach, when eggs are so important to the meal. But because of their long, slow cooking time, they work for any Jewish holiday because of all the prohibitions on cooking/lighting fire.
There are various recipes available, all of them use onion skins and some use coffee grounds. I used this recipe from the Kitchn blog which had the coolest illustrations. I went to the grocery store and asked for onion skins...voila, they gave them to me! And so we proceeded....
First we sorted out some pretty cilantro leaves and David helped me to press them onto the eggs.

and then tie them into old pantyhose, tightly. (Tight is key, I've learned, and skip the seams if you can.)
Put all the onion skins into a pot, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. That was the longest and hardest part....waiting.
After it comes to a boil, add peppercorns and salt, a few glugs of white vinegar, and the eggs. Drop to a simmer. Cover the water with a few glugs of olive oil. Cover and cook for HOURS. We started with one or two and it ended up being three hours before we turned off the stove (I would have left it longer but we were going out) and then I left them sit there while we went out for dinner. When we came back, I couldn't wait any longer - I was hoping they'd be cooled off but they weren't really. It didn't matter....
This is what it looked like:

And this is what came out of that mess:
Aren't they bee-yoo-tee-ful??? I actually dropped one while putting in the pantyhose but it only cracked slightly so we kept it in. It was already tied in, so the hose helped hold it together, I think. It worked great.

Tomorrow we're going to taste. I was given advice to serve them with lemon.
I think they might be the coolest looking thing I've ever made.

Pesach is here tomorrow!
May this celebration of freedom bring joy and peace to you and your family...and to the whole world.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Reading Over the Haggadah

I definitely don't like to step up to the Seder unprepared. I like to re-read the text and prepare something new and different for each year.

I totally stole this idea from this post by Tamar Fox.

Off to continue practicing the Four Questions with my oldest....
and the Frog Song with my little ones!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Haveil Havalim #211: The Preparing for Pesach Edition

(also known as: The "If You're Not Done Prepping You Now Have More Excuses to Procrastinate" Edition)

haveil havalim

What's going on here today?
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
Please please please publicize HH on your own blog
and share the news about it!
Preparing For Pesach Posts...
(I tried to group them all here but I might have a few below too. It's been a busy week!)

Especially for bloggers: tips on cleaning your computer of chametz (obviously, we can't do anything about the cookies...)

Here's Passing Over into Spring? (with a delicious-looking lemon Pesach cake) posted at Manely Montana.

Following my Judaism explores the difference between Pesach and Spring cleaning.

Read Passover is Coming! (in case you hadn't noticed) by Beneath the Wings

This made me laugh: Why do I (almost) turn into someone else on Passover? posted at Home-shuling. Cocoa-o's anyone?

Jacob Richman presents The Passover Humor Files posted at Good News from Israel. (it's a very extenstive list!)

Blog d'Elisson reveals Eliyahu ha-Navi for who he really is...or not... at PASSOVER.

Desperate to clean with your kids around? Read this post: Children and Passover Cleaning. Do you think it's helpful?

Soccer Dad feels that We were slaves... as he contemplates pickle and sardine sandwiches. Eww!

If you live in Israel, you might find this post useful: Machon Shilo: Pesah Links.

Here's my favorite Pesach dessert and some of my favorite YouTube Pesach Vids ... (hey, it's my blog and I'll link if I want to!)


Ricki's Mom presents Ricki, Language, and “Machtesh(im)” - a language and geology lesson.

If you want to know How to Be Israeli read this post: Don't be a Fryer. Funny!

Shmuel Sokol shares this reprint of a JPost article he wrote: New Balad MK praises Iran's nuke quest.


ProfK wants us to drop our European ways...interesting thoughts in this post: And the Song Plays On... And here's another one by ProfK: On Minhagim

Schvach Yid chuckles as the Amish visit Brooklyn...I chuckled too!

The Velveteen Rabbi is in Buenos Aires, spending Shabbat morning at the Libertad, the oldest synagogue in that city.

Shira Salamone is puzzled about Women and ritual: A survey for Conservative Jews. She mentions the movie "Praying in Her Own Voice," about the Women of the Wall. I'm very excited that we're bringing this film and one of its producers to our synagogue in June!

Tuvia is changing his diet: Disposing of the un-kosher food part 1.

Ilana-Davita shares a shiur by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik on First Born Sons.

Should Modern Orthodox Jews say Birchat HaChammah? Or is it a bracha levatalah? Great question and a great post. This could have been the Birkat HaChammah edition of Haveil Havalim. Maybe next week...

Funny Stuff

Shira Salamone thinks that there are many Mysteries of the Hebrew language...

The Real Shliach is giving advice: Dear TRS: advice for the masses. Do you think it's funny? Go see!!!

Jewish Life, Culture, and Everything Else...

Soccer Dad shared this piece of news: LeBron Picks... Schottenstein? LeBron James is Jewish? I'm so confused. That info is missing from his Wikipedia page .

tooyoungtoteach presents On A Scale From One To Ten posted at Sporadic Intelligence.

Rivka with a capital A shares the lighter side of chemo with Chemotherapy Induced Time Travel. As she says: Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

Our great leader JackB wrote about When Parents Die and Don't Die Dad. He's having a hard week, I think, so stop by and send him some positive energy. (Or at least good stats, which might translate...)

A Simple Jew is Returning The Next Day.

Chaviva asks Why am I converting Orthodox? - make sure you read the comments too. Great personal post about Jewish choices...

That's all for this week's Haveil Havalim!
Note to self: don't sign up to host four days before Pesach...

Please send your posts for the next edition of the
Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival via the Blog Carnival Submission Form. If you're interested in hosting or receiving more information about the carnival, please contact Jack at talktojacknow-at-sbcglobal-dot-net(and please, for the sake of our hosts, try not to submit more than 3 posts a week!)

Please please please publicize HH on your own blog and share the news about it!

You can just copy and paste this nice little sentence into your blog if you'd like:

A very lovely edition of Haveil Havalim, the Jewish Blog Carnival, is now up over at Ima on and off the Bima. Check it out!

Chag Sameach!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Favorite Pesach Dessert

It does seem like everyone makes this stuff now. I have never heard of it or had it until about 10 years ago, when we were in Israel. Now I make it every year....

Matzah Candy Buttercrunch

5 boards unsalted matzo
1 cup margarine, unsalted
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
6 ounces semisweet chocolate,chopped, coarsely (or chocolate chips, these work great)

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a jellyroll pan. Line bottom of pan evenly with matzo, using what you need and cutting pieces to fit any spaces on the cookie sheet. Combine margarine and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking 3 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour over matzo. Bake 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure mixture is not burning. (*If it seems to be browning too quickly, remove from oven.) Remove from oven, then sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread chocolate evenly over surface. Cool thoroughly, refrigerating if necessary to set. Break into randomly sized and shaped pieces.

Variations: one year I found coffee-flavored chocolate chips. They were delicious! Also, lots of people like nuts in this. I'm sure you could make it with white chocolate chips, if you could find them l'Pesach. I'm sure some dried fruit, fancy could be a real grown-up dessert! Also, you could leave the chocolate out entirely, I bet it would be yummy with just the caramelized sugar.

What's your favorite Pesach dessert? The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune both published some in today's paper.


Mabel's Labels has created new Invisble Sticky Labels - so cool! Go and see...

And while you're at it, check out You Tube today...

and see this new feature of Gmail.

and Amy's getting a cow! I'm so jealous.

In other news, today is the English date anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah...