Starting the Journey: Reflections on Torah Study for Parashot Noah and Lech L’cha

Rabbi Julie began Torah Study last Thursday (Oct 27) with a question – To what extent are we pursuing our own journey or continuing our parents’ journey?

Parshat Lech L’cha begins with God telling Abraham (Abram as he was then called) to start on a journey “to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1)”. Abram then gathers together his people and possessions and sets out for Canaan. This is, of course, a huge deal; but is it actually a break with the past?

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MESH Report Nov 1, 2022

This week’s MESH meal was prepared by the efficient foursome of Sarita Eisenberg, Lou Hammerman, Gail Stock and Ian Stock with assistance from Ehud Klinger. It took only two hours to prepare and pack the food into bags, which were loaded on carts and brought downstairs to be picked up by MESH staffer, Joe Tyson. Continue reading

Project Isaiah Food Drive a Success!

Thank you to everyone who donated to this year’s High Holiday food drive. With your support, we were able to provide food to Family Promise, Toni’s KItchen and the Human Needs Food Pantry. We were also able to set aside some of the food to help keep for our LIttle Pantry stocked.

Thank you to Ehud Klinger for reminding us that it was time to start the food drive. Thank you to Shirley Grill for organizing the food drive and to Linda Ariel for assisting with the food delivery. Thank you also to Carlos Alegre and Ehud for helping to load up our cars. Continue reading

Enjoying the Harvest: Cooking for Sukkot

I did not grow up celebrating Sukkot. Lou built our first sukkah when our son was 2 years old. Each year Lou drags the sukkah pieces up from the basement and our now 36-year-old son comes over to help him put it together. We cut the schach from grasses that we grow in our yard and Lou spreads it on top of the sukkah. And then I hang the decorations – stained glass and metal ornaments that we’ve collected over the years. Continue reading

Only For the Holidays

One of my quirks is that there are certain recipes that I make only on designated holidays. I think this makes them special; but my family find this very annoying as they have to wait all year for some of their favorite foods.

For Rosh Hashana, I have recipes made with honey. This Rosh Hashanah chicken is even more special because I make it only on Erev Rosh Hashanah. As a funny consequence of this practice – friends who ask for this recipe check whether it’s okay with me if they make it at other times. Of course it is!

Rosh Hashanah Chicken (aka Chicken with Honey, Basil & Almonds)

INGREDIENTS
2 chickens, cut up
2 tablespoons olive oil
White pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup almonds, finely ground
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup chicken broth, heated
¾ cup yellow raisins
2 tablespoons lemon juice

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.
1. Follow the general instructions for browning chicken. Season chicken with pepper and remove to a covered casserole.
2. Add onion & garlic to pan; sauté until onion just starting to brown. Add almonds, honey, & basil. Cook over low heat, stirring to mix (about1 minute).
3. Sprinkle corn starch over almond mixture and stir to mix in. Gradually add broth, stirring and cooking over high heat until thickened (about1 minute). Stir in raisins & lemon juice. Pour over chicken. Bake, covered, 1 hour.
SERVE with couscous.

 

Rosh Hashanah Chicken #2 (aka Honey & Spiced Glazed Chicken)

INGREDIENTS
¼ cup honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
4 chicken legs, cut up
Pepper

PREHEAT` oven to 425 degrees.
1. In a small bowl, stir together honey, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, mustard, & cayenne.
2. Put chicken in a rimmed baking dish. Make a slash in each thigh and drumstick. Season with pepper and then brush most of the glaze all over the chicken. Let chicken rest for 30 minutes to soak in the marinade. Bake 15 minutes. Brush the remaining glaze over the chicken and bake 15 minutes more.
3. OPTIONAL: Remove chicken from the oven and preheat the broiler. Brush the juices from the baking sheet on the chicken and broil 5 minutes until the skin is crisp.

 

This is my preferred salad mix for Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot ― made with apples and a dressing made with honey. I use a firm tart apple, such as Gala or Fuji, and I prefer Persian cucumbers. I do actually make the dressing throughout the year, but I use brown sugar instead of honey.

Rosh Hashanah Salad (aka Mixed Salad with Apples & Craisins)

INGREDIENTS
Red leaf lettuce, cut or ripped into bite-sized pieces
Cucumber, cut lengthwise in half or quarters (depending on size) and sliced crosswise
Apple, cut lengthwise in 8 wedges, cored and sliced crosswise
Dried cranberries (or Craisins)
Sliced or slivered almonds
Sweet and Sour Dressing

Put all of the salad ingredients into a bowl. Add dressing and toss well.

Rosh Hashanah Salad Dressing (aka Sweet and Sour Dressing)

INGREDIENTS
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey (or brown sugar)
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (½ teaspoon)
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to blend.

 

The traditional Rosh Hashanah desert is honey cake. Seems like one of my guests always offers to make it so I never have and don’t have a recipe. Aileen Grossberg shared this recipe from chef Michael Solomonov.

Mother’s Honey Cake with Apple Confit

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake:
2 1/2 Cups flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
3 eggs, beaten
1 Cup sugar
2/3 Cups honey
1 1/4 Cup brewed coffee
6 Tablespoons canola oil
Salt
Pinch cinnamon

For the Apple Confit:
3 apples, peeled and sliced thinly crosswise
1 Cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tablespoon honey
3 cloves

For the Cake:

PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees.

LINE 2 loaf pans with oiled parchment paper.

  1. Combine the flour and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, honey, coffee, canola oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and cinnamon. Mix on low until blended. Add the flour mixture and continue mixing just until combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

For the Apple Confit:

PREHEAT the oven to 275 degrees.

  1. Toss the apple slices with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, and cloves. Arrange in a single layer in an ovenproof skillet. Add water just to cover the apples. Press a sheet of parchment onto the surface of the water.
  2. Put the skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, cover tightly in foil, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the apples are just tender, about 1 hour.
  3. Cool to room temperature, transfer to a lidded container, and chill until cold. Serve apples on top of a slice of honey cake.

Responding to the Tragedy of Gun Violence

Like all of you, our hearts are broken following the horrendous death of innocent children at an elementary school in Uvalde Texas, which follows two mass shootings last week at a supermarket in Buffalo and a church in Laguna Woods California. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need to act. Taking action is the only thing that will change what is happening. Here are some suggestions for appropriate actions you can consider taking. Continue reading

Taking Action Against Climate Change

At this past Sunday’s Mitzvah Day event, Shomrei members took part in an educational program delivered by David Korfhage, President of Montclair Climate Action. David began the presentation by asking us, “What comes to mind when you think about climate change?” These were our responses, “Guilty” “Scared” “Confused” “Helpless”: “Paralyzed.”

“So there’s a lot of anxiety” he responded. “And the antidote to anxiety is to take action – to channel fear and anxiety into action, even if you don’t know what the results are going to be.” Continue reading

MESH Report April 5, 2022

Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Delany family who celebrated Gabriel’s bar mitzvah this past weekend, our MESH guests were treated to an outstanding meal left from the event, and the cook (that would be yours truly) simply had to lead a very experienced packing team of Sarita Eisenberg and Susan Rosenblatt. Continue reading

Bat Mitzvah L’dor Vador (from Generation to Generation)

Last week, synagogues across America marked the 100-year anniversary of the first official bat mitzvah. The ceremony occurred on March 18, 1922 and was created by Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, to welcome his12-year-old daughter, Ruth, into the family of Jewish adults. While that sounds like a long history, it pales alongside the roughly 1,000-year longevity of the bar mitzvah. Moreover, it took almost 60 years for the bat mitzvah ceremony to attain equal stature with the bar mitzvah at synagogues in the U.S.

To explore this evolution — and what it says about the role of women and girls in Judaism — assistant JLC education director Lily Lucey invited Shomrei women of several generations on Sunday, March 19 to recount for the b’nai mitzvah classes what the bat mitzvah represented when they were 12 or 13. Continue reading