Our Trip to Uzbekistan

We were a small group of Jews traveling in Uzbekistan, a predominantly Muslim country. Our tour group had originally included nine others who dropped out of the trip after war started between Israel and Hamas, because they did not feel comfortable being in a Muslim country. However we felt safe and entirely welcome. (All these people wanted to take picture with us!)

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Shabbat in Uzbekistan

We spent two Shabbatot in Uzbekistan.

The first Shabbat was in Bukhara. The men in our group attended Friday services (we had been told earlier in the day by the Rabbi that women do not attend services on Friday).

Afterwards we all made our way for Shabbat dinner to the home of a Muslim family who specializes in cooking kosher meals for Israeli tour groups. Continue reading

Hardening the Heart: Thoughts on Parashat Va’era

The notion of hardening the heart occurs 20 times in the book of Exodus.

Ten of these occurrences state either that Pharoah hardened his [own] heart (8:28, 9:34) or say that Pharoah’s heart hardened, suggesting that this was something that Pharoah did on his own (7:13, 7:14, 7:22, 8:11, 8:15, 9:7 , 9:35). The other ten occurrences attribute the heart hardening to God (4:21, 7:3, 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8, 14:17).

The idea that God intentionally hardened Pharoah’s heart has always troubled me. Why would God do that? And how, if God made this happen, can we blame Pharoah and hold him accountable for his actions? Continue reading

Kiddush with a Southern Flair

The kiddush luncheon for MLK Shabbat (1/13/2024) was sponsored by participants from the November Civil Rights trip. In keeping with that experience, kiddush coordinator Dale Russakoff (who herself grew up in Alabama) planned a Southern-themed menu. The kiddush crew prepared these recipes: Southern Cajun Salmon, Soul Food Mac & Cheese, Southern-style BBQ Tofu (for a vegan option) and Sweet Potato Pie. There was also a chopped salad, “Sweet Cole Slaw” from Shoprite with bagged cole slaw and shredded carrots mixed in, and cornbread from a mix.

Thank you to Dale and to these other volunteers for preparing the kiddush luncheon: Lou Hammerman, Lynne Tapper, Gerry Blume, Linda Blume, Vicki Compter, Risa Bernstein, Fern Hening, Alex Kent, and Aileen Grossberg.  Continue reading

MESH Report Sept 12, 2023

Our team for this first MESH of the year included Linda Ariel, Lou Hammerman, Lynne Kurzweil and me (Sarita Eisenberg).

We made our signature dish of barbeque chicken – each guest received 2 drumsticks with a generous side of roasted potatoes and a slice of bread. The meal also included a serving of cole slaw, fuit cup, cookies (left over from Selichot), and a bottle of water. Continue reading

MESH Report June 29, 2023

We started out the MESH year making 20 meals, then 30. For this last MESH of the year, we upped the number to 50 meals.

Our MESH team included the trusty trio of Linda Ariel, Lou Hammerman and me (Sarita Eisenberg) plus Lynne Kurzweil. Aileen Grossberg provided the bread and dessert and delivered the packed food.

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