Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TorahMama: Shemini

This is a particularly hard Torah portion for me. Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, are in some way misbehaving. It's really not clear what they do wrong, but God is displeased. A fire consumes them. 

The whole community mourns for Nadav and Avihu. But Aaron and his family are told to refrain from any mourning. "Aaron was silent," is perhaps one of the most chilling phrases in the Torah. 

And yet...in some ways I can see it. When our Sammy died, we were the ones left with the gaping hole. We, his family and loved ones. And there was a whole community that mourned for us. Did we mourn too? Of course. And we still do. But often, we were the ones who kept silent so that others could speak, and often we were the ones who bit our tongues with held-in laughter when we knew something was deliciously funny, but only to our family. 

We are the silent mourners, because we continue to mourn, even today, even 829 days later. Like Aaron, we might be quiet about it. But that doesn't mean the river of grief has run dry. 

Today, there's a different way to be "noisy" or "silent." In today's palance, perhaps Aaron wouldn't have posted much about his sons' deaths on Facebook, and perhaps he might not have posted reminiscences of their childhoods or their funny stories...perhaps his silence was a reticence to share, publicly, the chasm that had opened up inside of him. Perhaps he was a lurker, watching the happy stories of others from afar, holding onto his own inner pain.

Perhaps the silence is there to remind us that everyone has pain. Sometimes you can't see it...but it's there. 

TorahMama is my attempt to look at the Torah portion through a parenting lens...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

TorahMama: Tzav

Tzav is a list of sacrifices, an explanation of many of the tasks of the priests. Delineated in this portion are the various ways that offerings are made on the altar, the mixing of the meal offering, and all of the rules that Aaron and his sons must follow to shepherd the people through these rituals.

This Torah portion can feel very tedious. After all, it's a somewhat repetitive listing of tasks, punctuated by a recipe for a pancake. The priests' work is nothing but holiness. And yet, they are even instructed in the process of removing the ashes from the altar -- taking out the trash. 

Sometimes, that is what parenting is like: daily tasks, repeated over and over, punctuated by a meal that may or may not be eaten, and ending each day with taking out the trash. 

And yet...holiness.

Somehow, it's hard to find that holiness in the ashes. Somehow, it's hard to figure out what exactly might be holy about making yet another lunch or doing yet another load of laundry or changing yet another set of bedsheets. Somehow, though, it's there. Not every day, or every time. But every so often...I'm reminded through the haze of it all...even the pancakes, the daily tasks, the trash....it's all holy.

TorahMama is my attempt to look at the Torah portion through a parenting lens...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hand-Pie AKA Pop Tart Hamantaschen

In our usual annual tradition, we have started to make a lot of hamantaschen.

In the course of one baking session, we used one batch of Aunt Dora's dough, one batch of chocolate dough, and a double batch of cream-cheese dough (that's my favorite). It was about 150 cookies. Yum! The chocolate and cream-cheese recipes that I used this year came from Marcy Goldman's cookbook A Treasury of Jewish Baking.

Hamantaschen are, as you might know, the three-cornered filled pastries that remind us in some way of The Bad Guy from the Purim story, Haman. Some say they are reminiscent of his hat, his pockets, or his ears. Either way, they're a fun and delicious treat for this holiday!

So this year, I have started thinking more and more about what "counts" in the field of hamantaschen. After all, there's no list of "rules" for making them -- and over the last few years, perhaps thanks to Pinterest, hamantaschen creativity is off the charts!

So this year, inspired by this post from Kosher in the Kitch, I decided to try my hand at hand-pie hamantaschen, also known as Pop-Tart Hamantaschen.

I picked up a package of refrigerated pie dough (careful, some of the supermarket brands contain lard) and let it come to room temperature. Then I rolled them out into the round circles (meant to make pies of course) and sliced them like a pizza!

I filled up half with chocolate spread and half with strawberry jam, crimped the edges, brushed with a little egg wash, and baked.

Then we added some glaze -- about a cup of powdered sugar and a tablespoon of milk made a nice sugary topping. Then I had a little helper who might have gone a little overboard with the blue sugar...
my helper

I thought they were delicious!
Next time I will make them slightly smaller (it will make more from a batch of pie dough), and perhaps mix up the chocolate and strawberry!

Bonus -- I also made hamantaschen-shaped challah:
Luckily, challah doesn't mind dressing up as other baked goods.
The usual Hamantaschen Post Round-Up: