Saturday, March 24, 2018

Shabbat Table

I can't remember the last time, if there ever had been one, when I managed to set the Shabbat table before lighting candles.

What do you think?

PS we had a very needed relaxing Shabbat.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Jerusalem Big Blue Lions Win Second Championship in a Row 2018

The reigning champs, the Jerusalem Big Blue Lions ran out on the field knowing that it was going to be a very difficult game.

Last year's win was hard, but it meant this this year's games were even tougher than before, because each team who played us knew that they had to really fight, play their very best. The Lions entered the semi-finals without losing a single game. And we crushed the Tel Aviv Pioneers in the semi-finals, which was a very different different game from when we beat them in last year's finals. That game was like a movie script. We had been behind the entire game and only 2 minutes to the end we began closing in. With just six seconds to the final whistle we tied them. Then in overtime we capped the season with a truly championship win.

Last night's final game was a very low-scoring endurance match between two very different teams. The Petach Tikva Troopers have some of the best, most talented players ever seen in the IFL. They also have a veteran, very experienced coach who grew up with the game in America. He's old enough to be the father of the Lions' coach, an Israeli who knew nothing of American football until his post-IDF stay in the states. The Lions great strength not only comes from a few talented players, but its strong "bench," teamwork and family spirit. If you follow the Lions' games the past couple of years, you'll also see that they don't relax or buckle in the fourth quarter. They've had movie-like wins because of that.

The highlight of my recent winters has been attending the Lions home games and cheering the team. This year each time we played one of the stronger teams in the league, I was afraid that one of them will do what we did during the 2016-17 season. We can never take anything for granted. A small mistake, or Gd forbid an injury to a key player, can suddenly change the flow of a game.

I have a couple of things to admit to you. One is that even after about a decade of dedicatedly watching these football games, I still don't know the rules very well. And two, the Jerusalem Big Blue Lions Head Coach is my son, my youngest child. Obviously I'm very proud of him and his wonderful hardworking, fair-playing team.

I pray to Gd that they should all have a restful, healthy summer break to prepare for, Gd willing, another winning season and the Israel Bowl XII ישרא-בול 12.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Passover Approaching, Freezer Empyting

Yes, I cleaned off the top shelf of the freezer already. And now that I see the picture, it's clear that I didn't put it back properly. And some of the food on the bottom shelf is actually chicken that is Kosher for Passover.

Considering that we have a week until Bedikat Chametz, bli eyin haraa, we're doing OK.

I'll be giving away and throwing out some food. Not the end of the world...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Book Review: Growing with my Cousin by Ester Katz Silvers

I had been looking forward to reading Growing with my Cousin by Ester Katz Silvers, for a long time. Silvers is my neighbor, and I had known there was a book on the way. From what I understand, getting a book written, edited and published can be quite a long "pregnancy." As soon as I received the review copy, I began to read it and had trouble putting it down.

Growing with my Cousin is fiction based on facts. There are recognizable similarities between Sondra, the main character, and Silvers. And in some ways the fictional yishuv, Jewish community in Samaria, is like Shiloh. Most of the book actually takes place in Phoenix Arizona, where Silvers and her husband had lived before making aliyah, moving to Israel. I'm also familiar with the Jewish community there, since my parents lived there in their final years. The Orthodox community graciously put me up for Shabbatot quite a few times. One of the families I had become close with moved to a different city with more Jewish opportunities for their children just like some of the characters in Growing with my Cousin.

You can say that Growing with my Cousin gives both a macro and micro account. On one hand, we get to know the individual characters very well. They are totally believable, and it is easy to care about them. On the other hand, we learn about life in a small, but dedicated, Jewish community, one that tries to offer all an Orthodox Jew would need. It's a difficult situation, because most people are "in transit" and don't stay in Phoenix all that long.

Sondra and her Cousin Lisa dream of moving to Israel, but it's not all simple.
Sondra seems like the stronger one. She's older and became religious much earlier.
Yet don't underestimate her beloved cousin, Lisa. When Lisa commits to something - whether Judaism, Israel, or a husband who mysteriously disappeared - she doesn't give up easily.
In Growing With My Cousin, readers are invited into the deep, emotional and fascinating relationship and lives of Sondra, Lisa, and their families.
From Kansas to Phoenix to the Land of Israel, this gripping novel covers Jewish and human experiences common to us all.
From grandparents to grandchildren, this moving story connects the past, present and future.
I highly recommend Growing with my Cousin for readers of all ages. Silvers includes a glossary at the end of the book, so that even those not familiar with Jewish life will have no problems understanding Hebrew terminology. I particularly liked how Silvers shows the wonderful community spirit, willingness to help others that exists in Jewish communities in Israel and abroad. Sometimes we contribute, and sometimes we are on the receiving end.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Mosaica Press (November 15, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 194635113X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1946351135
  • Package Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Jerusalem Egged Buses Modernizing, Part 1

For the past few weeks, there have been announcements and warnings about major changes on Egged's Jerusalem buses.

To speed up travel, bus drivers will no longer be "clerks" selling tickets and making change. They aren't going the way of the American "exact change only." We are supposed to use these little machines to load our RavKav cards with the tickets we need.

This is fine if the bus stop has one of the machines, like the one here, and you have a charge/credit card and time. Some machines will take cash, and there are special RavKav centers in some of the malls around town. Passengers on the Jerusalem Lightrail have gotten used to the fact that we can't buy a ticket on the train, but the trains are more frequent than than many buslines. It can be very annoying to miss a bus that only comes every twenty minutes, because you were loading your card.

Frequent travelers who get a monthly pass will just have to deal with it once a month. Many other regular users of the trains and buses keep a number of trips on their card, so they won't be caught empty. You can check the content on those machines. For people like me, who usually begin our bus travels to Jerusalem in Egged Taavura, it's less problematic, since our bus drivers can load the RavKav cards with the various options. There are no ticket machines in our area.

The only people who will really find this problematic are tourists and others who don't have RavKav cards*, but I think they can be purchased from the machines and other places.

If I've gotten anything incorrect here, please let me know, thanks.

*There are two basic types of RavKav cards. One is the personal one, with a picture, registered to a single person. It automatically charges discount rates for the Senior Citizens and those officially recognized as handicapped by government authorities. The second is the "anonymous" card which can be used by anyone. It gives the 90 minute transfer but no senior/handicapped discount, nor can you do the special "all day" ticket.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Toothpaste as Silver Polish?

When I first saw that someone had suggested that one can use toothpaste instead of specially made/produced/marketed silver polish, I thought it a dangerous joke. I had already ruined some good silver by using a cheap silver polish, Hepi instead of the Silvo.

toothpaste to the left and 
Silvo to the right
The other morning a friend came over to help me polish my silver. She is better at it than I am and really enjoys the chore. I could only find an almost empty Silvo, so when it got really empty, I asked her about the chances of using toothpaste. She said yes, so I first started to experiment on some less expensive items. Believe it or not, it worked! So we both worked on polishing. Then I washed everything, and she dried.

Then I replaced the cloth on the table/cabinet, and put everything back. B"H, that was easy.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mosaic Havdalah Plate in Use

Since I have a pile of abstract mosaics waiting to be given as gifts or whatever, I began making purposeful mosaics in the senior citizen craft class I go to. The last one I completed before the Passover break is a שבוע טוב Shavua Tov, Good Week for my son-in-law, to be used for the post-Shabbat Havdala ceremony.

I was so happy when they sent a photo of it in use!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Easy Chicken "Fricassee"

What's Fricassee? It's generally chicken cooked in a sauce, frequently a white sauce, but Chef Google showed me links to definitions that say any sauce makes it a Fricassee.

I had a package of chicken wings and a package of chicken breast I needed to cook/use up before Passover.  So first I made a very simple sauce. I don't use/buy ready-made sauces.

Sauce Ingredients 

Photo by Y. Medad
  • diced onion
  • fresh garlic
  • a few ripe tomatoes. OK in Israel they aren't expensive, so you can buy a can of diced tomatoes.
  • 1/2 cup of wine I needed to get rid of
  • a few peppercorns
  • a couple of Tablespoons of Tamari sauce
  • a couple of Tablespoons vegetable oil of your choice
  • saute the vegetables in the oil
  • cover pan
  • When the sauce is boiling strongly, add the wings and cut pieces of chicken breast.
  • Cover again, and cook until chicken has become white and well cooked.
I've made it with meatballs, instead of the chicken breast. You can also add more vegetables to the sauce. We enjoyed it very much. If you try it, please tell me how it came out and how you changed it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions Into The Finals, 2018, 5778

The Tel Aviv Pioneers quickly ran out of steam last night at the new Kraft Family Stadium, as the reigning champions, Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions outplayed/crushed them in the first of the two semi-finals. Final Score 54:12!

Gd willing, we will complete the season this coming Thursday, undefeated.

Ya'ala BIG BLUE!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Framing the Sky

The challenge for this week's 52Frames photo was the Sky. I take lots of sky pictures. Almost every morning I photograph the sunrise, and the sky in Israel is extraordinary. But to be honest, recently, the sky has been so clear it's almost boring.

I wasn't quite sure what to do. Then when I was walking in Jerusalem I saw this "frame," and took a few pictures. I finally decided that they were the the most interesting, and I finally, with a little help from some friends, chose this one.

"Framed"It's all in the accessories. 

It's not perfect, and I couldn't return to take more. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Nu, And How's The Diet Going?

It's certainly no secret that I have been struggling with my weight for a very log time. A number of years ago, I made it a very public diet which you can find by using the search engine of this blog by asking for "public diet," "diet saga," "low carbohydrate" and other labels.

I did manage to rid myself of about fifteen 15 kilo or thirty plus 30+ pounds, most of which has stayed off ever since, but about a third, five kilo found their way back about a year ago. When that unwanted weight had reached three kilo, I went to war, but lost the battle and gained another two kilo. But about six months ago, after the pool closed, I tried a few different tricks, about some of which I have blogged.

Over 12,000 steps is pretty rare for me.
12,000 is now very common.
The first thing I did was to make more time to walk, since the pool had closed. Three months of water exercise hadn't reduced much, except that my body looked and felt better. And even the experts say that walking is better for weight reduction than swimming. I increased my daily steps, as I could see on the pedometer.

The second thing I did to lose weight was to change my breakfast. For years I had been eating a large vegetable omelet, but not that long ago I felt terrible sugar/fruit cravings as soon as I finished it. I took that as a hint. Maybe I need to eat fruit for breakfast, since the omelets and vegetables weren't satisfying my hunger.

Now, for the past few months, I have fruit, fresh ginger and goat yogurt for breakfast. I must admit that there are days when I crave cashews afterwards, so I eat a few. It's clear that I need more protein early in the day in addition to the sugar/fructose.

Another thing I've noticed, and I do weigh myself almost daily on the same scale, is that the fewer restaurant or catered meals I eat, the lower my weight is. It goes up a bit when I've eaten out. And it's lowest when all the food I've eaten has been my own home cooking.

My weight seems to have stabilized close to where it was post-big diet, bli eyin haraa, let's not tempt the "evil eye." I do have days when I eat things I "shouldn't," but there are diet mavins who actually  say that once a week or two it is good to go off the restrictions. It stimulates the metabolism to work harder and burn calories more quickly. Also, it makes the "diet" easier to live with, and that is a major trick/technique. If you adopt a diet you find impossible to live with, you won't be able to stick to it very long.

And how is your diet going?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Thank Gd, The Chiropractic Adjustments have Helped

Not that long ago, I blogged about my neighbor, Dr. Azriel Gordon's Chiropractic Clinic. I had gone to the open house to celebrate his new location. I listened to his talk with half an ear, not having a clue that I'd soon be one of his patients.

"Gd laughs," as the saying goes.

When a pain in my hip caused my knees to ache and make normal life totally impossible I gave Dr. Gordon a call to set up an appointment. That evening I trudged down the hill to his clinic, which was a bad mistake. I should have found a ride. By the time I got there, I could barely move. And the pain in my knees was excruciating.

Dr. Gordon began by reminding me that a well-treated body should last over a hundred years. Oh, boy, had I just permanently abused it...? Chiropractic healing concentrates on keeping the spine supple and healthy. Everyone knows that a break in the spine paralyzes sections of the body, so it makes sense that blockages will also have dangerous effects restricting movement and causing other damage. I knew quite a bit about chiropractic care, because my brother-in-law in New York has been a chiropractor close to forty years, and he has helped me a number of times. But since a trip to New York wasn't realistic, I had no problems calling Dr. Gordon.

When I got ready for my adjustment, I couldn't even take off my shoes. So, since they were soft, he allowed me to keep them on. Dr. Gordon worked very hard trying to relax/release my spine and move the bones of my hip joint into the proper position.

One thing I wonder about is if there are many female chiropractors. I haven't heard of any. The profession demands great physical strength. Women do well as massage therapists, dealing with soft tissue, but the type of work that Dr. Gordon does is much more physically demanding by the therapist. 

Part of my "treatment" was that Dr. Gordon helped me get a ride home. He told me not to overdo things. I realize that I had gotten in such bad shape, because I hadn't gone for help when the first discomfort began.

The next day I began to feel better and started doing various stretches to get my spine healthy again. I do have a very extensive dance background, which makes it possible for me to know what to do. Other people really do need much more professional guidance.

A week later, I returned for another adjustment by Dr. Gordon. By then I could comfortably walk down to his clinic, but I asked a neighbor to drive me home.

Since then I've been doing daily twists and stretches, while gradually returning to my walking routines. The big difference is that I stop when there's discomfort, but the discomfort has been much less frequent and doesn't reach the pain I had previously. My goal is to be totally cured of this "hip" problem, and I'll return for what Dr. Gordon calls tune-ups. Call 054-4849094 to make an appointment or ask more questions.

In the meantime, I feel that I'm doing well, thank Gd, with gradual daily improvements.

Yesterday I comfortably walked a lot and at a good pace, B"H, thank Gd.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Finally Wore My Hand-Painted Shirt

Months ago I did a project with my older grandchildren, or more accurately, I planned one. I came with a bunch of shirts and sweatshirts for myself* and their whole family. Some were even specially bought the occasion. I decided that we would paint/decorate them.

Photo taken by my husband just before I went to bed when I remembered that there was no photo of me in the shirt.

Well, it was a good idea, but only the youngest, age seven 7, was interested or willing to participate. I just came home with one shirt, which wasn't suitable to the winter weather. Yesterday, before getting dressed, I finally took out my iron, which I hadn't touched for at least a decade, and ironed the shirt to "set the paint." Then I wore it. I hope that is got hot enough, or it will wash out when laundered.

I don't know if my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter have ever worn theirs. But I had always liked this shirt and am happy to have hidden the store logo so creatively. There's still some paint for more fabric projects.

*The idea came to me when I was trying to figure out what to do with all the shirts and sweatshirts I had with the "Yafiz" logo from my six years working there. I had returned the one shirt that I had signed for, but nobody wanted or would wear the others.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Pre-Passover Countdown Just 2 1/2 Weeks

I sincerely hope I am wrong, but if next Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Nissan then we barely have two and a half weeks until the house must be ready for Bedikat Chametz.
I don't think there is too much in the freezer, but there definitely too much forbidden chametz in the house. And in terms of general junk, we are drowning in it.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

DOF- Depth of Field Photography for 52Frames

The latest photographic challenge I did for 52Frames was Depth of Field, aka DOF.

"Love That Lox"
Feasting on Lox, cream cheese and salad on the Jewish Purim Holiday. We celebrate two days in Shiloh. On the second day, my husband and I had this special lunch, not an everyday menu for us.
The photo was taken with my phone, a Canon IXUS 145, which I hardly use. It's not a great camera, and in general I'm happier with the photos from my simple phone, Samsung J7. But it ended up that I couldn't get the phone to cooperate for DOF. I couldn't trick it into blurring part of the photo. Davka, I was bvle to get the camera to do it by having it set for a simple close up, which resulted in the further section being blurred.

Here are a couple of other photos I took, but decided to serve the lox.

Did I choose the right one?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Remember These?

As a kid I liked them much better than real black licorice. So when I saw some the other night I just had to have one.
But I must admit that I was very disappointed. Either my sense of taste has changed drastically or they were poorly made. After one bite I threw what was left of the piece out. I didn't want to be tempted to eat it just because it was in front of me.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Bit of Humor in South Jerusalem

A couple of nights ago I went to another event of Anglos of South Jerusalem. This time is was comedy. Olim to Olim, immigrants to immigrants, stand-up by Liami Lawrence, Joel Haber, Hani Skutch and Benji Lovitt.

Except for Hani Skutch's routine, everyone concentrated their stand-up on the immigrant experience, sometimes even asking us the same questions from us. I think we were a tough audience for them, since they were young enough to be our kids. The audience was mostly retirement age plus.

Benji Lovitt, Joel Haber, Hani Skutch and Liami Lawrence
Regardless, it was a very entertaining and pleasant evening. I have a lot of friends who live in "South Jerusalem, and it was nice to get out together. There's a good chance we'll go again sometime to one of the activities of Anglos of South Jerusalem. They're really nice about not keeping out people like me, who not only don't live in South Jerusalem, but I don't live in Jerusalem at all. So, you should check out what is scheduled.
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, text

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Shiloh Views and Memories, Celebrating 40 Years

I always enjoy being able to walk around my hometown of Shiloh. Views are always changing. Sometimes I try to reconcile the new with the tiny community of a few dozen families we moved to at the end of summer, 1981. Even in our wildest and most unrealistic dreams none of us could envision the large, vibrant, stunning and growing town that exists today.

Shiloh has grown and prospered despite our modest plans and dreams.

Absolutely nothing in these pictures existed or was even planned when we first came to Shiloh. It's clear that Shiloh's great growth and change from "the middle of no place" to being the center of a "settlement bloc" with easy travel to the Jordan Valley, Yarkon Junction, Rosh Ha'ayin-Petach Tikva, Ariel University and Jerusalem is miraculous. During the years I was on our "absorption committee," it became very clear that publicity/recruitment principles didn't hold with us. Something mystical was really controlling the traffic of new families to Shiloh. 

Ironically, or maybe more accurately, siyate d'Shmaya, the Hand of Gd has made the Gush Shiloh area the largest and most popular in Eastern Binyamin, rather than the two communities which had been favored by our regional council Mateh Binyamin in the 1980s.

During Biblical times, Shiloh had been the Jewish Capital City. I don't expect Shiloh to replace Jerusalem in any way, but I see our role in modern Israel growing, just like the gorgeous flowers pictured here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Making Kitchen Progress, Who Wants These?

One of my tasks before redoing the kitchen, Gd willing, is to get rid of things that have been in it for decades, which I don't use.  And like many people, especially experienced and confident cooks, I don't open my old cookbooks.

Way back when I did love and utilize cookbooks, I'd frequently read them cover to cover and then internalize general principles. Except for cakes, I'd very rarely follow a recipe exactly. Besides eliminating or seriously reducing the amount of salt and other seasonings, it was usually impossible to find all of the ingredients in my pantry/kitchen. I became a "housewife" in late June,1970, and two months later we docked in Israel. Post-tzenna* Israel had plenty of food, but not all of the the ingredients in the American recipes.

My mother bought/sent me not only cookbooks, but lots of books about natural health, dieting, pregnancy and child-raising. I added many books and health/vegetarian magazines to the collection. But it has been a very long time, decades, since any of them have been opened and read. When I need a recipe, instead of taking down a few books, going through the index, putting small pieces of paper to mark the pages and then reading and comparing, I just check with Chef Google. Isn't that what almost everyone does?

So, as I've planned and envisioned my new kitchen, the bookshelves** will morph into my coffee corner. Gd willing in a few months, maybe by my next birthday, we'll be seeing my percolator, French Presses and coffee mugs on those shelves.

I've already given away more than half of the actual cookbooks. If anyone is interested in any of the remaining books, please come and get them.

*צנע tzenna or zenna, was the term for the austerity days of great financial difficulties and hardships in the early years of the State of Israel. The population grew dramatically, as Jews from all over the world hurried to our Historic Homeland. Basic food items were rationed, and families/citizens were given coupons to try to make it possible to share the limited supplies.

** That wall closet is to be re-doored with new formica to match the new cabinets on the other walls.

Monday, March 5, 2018

You Need Coffee #3, Ethiopian Gima

This post is the third and for the meantime final in the series of coffee reviews about You Need Coffee. From the size of the bulk of the impressive bag of Ethiopian Gima coffee, I was sure that I had bought quite a bit of it. A discernible aroma wafted out the minute I opened it, but so did the air. Yes, there was lots of air, too much packed together with the coffee.

Ethiopian Gima coffee served with milk and a bit of sugar

Finally, I realized why their, and other Israeli freshly ground coffee then stored for a few weeks or even days, tastes so disappointing. They make no real attempt to vacuum pack it. Other shops haven't a chance, since their bags are of cheaper materials. But You Need Coffee uses quality bags, and even if the sealing included very low-tech pressing to attempt "vacuum-pack" pushing out all the air possible, the coffee would keep fresh much longer. When I return to the shop, and I probably will some time after the Passover holiday, I will request better bag sealing.

In the meantime, I'll finish what I have and then perk simple Israeli Turkish coffee until after Passover. Gd willing I'll be getting some good American ground coffee from a friend. Then I'll even be able to "cold brew" coffee, though I do need a new French Press... but that's another story.