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Five For The Weekend

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I know, I know. I fail at blogging these days! Well, I have good excuses…

1. We celebrated my grandson’s 4th birthday yesterday, and we had about two dozen little kids run around the house: most of his classmates, cousins, playground friends. Everyone had fun, we destroyed a small country’s yearly pizza production, and I believe Legos are hiding at the most random spots of the house. The torture of walking over them was so worth that stormy afternoon of fun we had!

I put a movie on repeat in one of the downstairs room, and we had various activities elsewhere in the basement, with the assistance of the kids’ imaginations and my older kids. We initially planned it as a drop off party, giving parents the gift of three free hours on a Friday, but because of the weather most of them decided to stay. We had coffee, cookies, a grown up movie, and adult conversation available for them. We ended up going over two hours over the originally planned time. We lit Shabbat candles and had kiddush together, and just generally had a good time.

2. We are wasting a lot of time watching American Idol. I used to watch it way back, then tried again for season 12, but it was a big disappointment. I missed season 13 (which I now regret. Harry!) and started watching season 14 again. As mentioned earlier, I LOOOOOOVE the judges. And this year I really like about 20 of the top 24. I think Mark is my favourite, and Tyanna from the girls. I also like Trevor and Daniel and Quentin and Rayvon and Adam from the guys a lot, and Jax and Joey and Shi from the girls.

3. I just remembered that I bought the album this song is from with my birthday money for my 14th birthday while we were visiting my brother at college in Utah. I can’t beleive it was 19 years ago!

I loved Star Turtle. We have a turtle called Harry, by the way. Most people think it’s after Harry Potter, but really it’s after Mr. Connick. Our turtle is less musical than his namesake, but he enjoys walking around on the piano’s keyboard. Currently this song is playing, and the fire is on…

4. …because it’s actually cold enough for that. The last few days have been stormy, and there is snow in several areas of the country. Kevin went with some of the kids for a snow ball fight near the capital. They enjoyed it. I don’t mind the rain and storms, being Irish and all. We spend today inside, enjoying the cozyness of our home. I am still not very happy with all the tile we have on the main floor (since we turned the other levels into living areas, those have laminated wood floors), but our house really feels like a home. I am sitting on the couch with a kid (or four), watching Ice Age, enjoying the warmth of a blanket my girls and I made from leftover yarn. Yes, home is not perfect. But we have pizza.

5. OK, I can’t resist posting another song. I love the original, I love the cover involving Ran Danker, but I love this the most.

Charity shopping for Kenya

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Those who know me know that I love charity shopping. My favourite place in all of Cork to get mugs, shirts and holiday cards is the Enable Ireland charity shop. If anyone ever stayed at my aunt’s B&B, they will remember the missmatched tea sets at the communal kitchenette that is set out every day at tea time. Those are all from that shop.

Through a community I participate online I found a wonderful online shop that sells creations made by women (and maybe men?) in Kenya and are sold both locally and online. I fell in love with this bag, and I want to order it for my daughter’s birthday. But they are also selling various other ornaments and dolls, too!

This is a Christian charity, working long term in Kenya (which is 83% Christian). In addition to selling crafts made by locals, they offer child sponsorships as well. Please consider checking out Jacaranda Community.

 

 

Five for the Weekend – Week 6

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1. Yes, I missed week 5. I was abroad, and there were too many things to do and too little time. It was also the beginning of birthdaypartygate, and all I could have posted at that time was rants at anti vaxers. And rants about governments. And rants about elections. And generally just rants. I like to save those for Facebook and my poor friends.

2. On Thursday the former Chief Rabbi of Hungary, József Schweitzer passed away. I was not going to go to synagogue yesterday, but I decided to do it, to be among those reciting the kaddish for him. I always enjoyed his lectures and classes that he taught for various schools and organizations, and I really, really looked up to him. He will be missed by many. May his memory be a blessing.

3. My kids discovered Frozen. Their aunt gave them a DVD while I was away, and now… Nothing. Based on everyone’s description of Let It Go taking their lives over, I fully expected my girls going crazy over Frozen. Didn’t happen.Yeah, Shiri likes to watch it once every few days. Watching is an exaggeration: she puts it on in the girls’ bedroom for background noise to do homework, or read, or draw, or something. Oh, and there is a new Elsa sticker on her sticker door. I have to admit, some of those tunes are catchy.

4. You know what other tunes are catchy? Ivri Lider’s new album! I had pre-ordered it, and it finally became available for download this week. Can you guess what I’ve been listening to?

I am so happy for this album. Some songs are already permanently logged in my brain. Now if only Mr. Skaat hurried up with his new album!

5. Guess what I got? I got some awesome patterns from my friend Shellie from PlanetJune! She bought me the complete cat set of patterns. I’m starting to make a rainbow cat. Of course the yarn is not the correct weight, so we shall see what happens. Planet June has awesome patterns! I haven’t crocheted much since a problem with my wrist a few weeks ago, so I will need some time to get back into practice!

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70 Years Since Liberation – International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2015

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When talking with my grandma about what happened 70 years ago today, she usually mentions two things: how lucky she was to be left behind and how young some of the Soviet soldiers were. Nothing else. She tells us about life in the ghetto, life in the camp, but never talks about liberation without prompting, and then only says these two things.

70 years ago today the Auschwitz death camp was liberated, and since 2001 January 27 is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Let us remember the millions, whose only crime was being Jewish, Roma, LGBTQ, disabled, or politically disagreeing with the Nazi regime. Let us remember those, who had no one left to remember them. Let us remember those branches broken off of family trees that would have blossomed. Every holiday dinner we gather around the table we feel the absence of those cousins, who were never born.

Never again.

Five for the Weekend – Week 4

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Five for the Weekend – Week 4

1. I started to think about making a button/graphic/logo for this feature of my blog, but currently I’m too lazy to do so. And addicted to Bitstrips, so I live out my creativity with that. I don’t even know what to include in one, other than a big 5. Oh well. Life takes priority.

2. I, once again fell in love with American Idol. Of course my primary reason for that is the three judges. I missed last season, so I didn’t know Harry Connick, Jr. joined the show, because I was so disappointed in season 12. Now I think JLo is cute (and beautiful), Harry is hot (he has the Jewish looks and Catholic charm’s perfect mix), and Keith is also just awesome (and hot, too. But Harry is hotter.) I believe that half of the show is the judges, 2/3 in the casting episodes. If they work together well, that is half a win. I also like the contestants who got their tickets already. There were only two or three that I didn’t really care about, and I do think some of them will be eliminated in the next round.

3. As a side effect of watching AI again, I managed to spend most of the $$ I was saving for Ivri Lider’s new album on songs by Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban on iTunes. You know that Harry has a wonderful recording of O Holy Night? And his album Star Turtle was one of the first CD’s I bought with my own money? And that he was so cute in Memphis Belle? And that he is just awesome? I’m seriously fanboying him here. Listening to his CDs 20 and 25 inspired one of my kids to continue with piano, taking jazz after he had had enough of classical.

4. Just registering Yonah for his semester abroad this weekend. It involves $5 Starbucks tumblers, eating at a pirate themed restaurant, getting overpriced chocolate and sleeping on the floor. It is lovely. I feel like a college student hanging out with him and his boyfriend. Sometimes it is fun to feel ten years younger.

5.This coming week we will be remembering the liberation of the Auschwitz concentrationwpid-Photo-2014.03.21.-903.jpg camp on its 70th anniversary. It will have been 70 years since part of my family finding freedom again. It was 70 years this summer since so many others of my family were murdered at the same place. And soon after it will be 70 years since the last Shoah death in my family. 70 years means that the survivors are now aging, and there are fewer and fewer of them. The memory lives on in their children and grandchildren. It is important to talk about what happened, because we can only build on their experiences to prevent it ever happening again. And we need to learn from it–all of us.

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Five for the Weekend – Week 3

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Hello everyone, I hope you all had a good week! I promise there will be less seriousness and politics in this week’s post than last week’s.

1. On Wednesday there was a national strike for high school students. It was because annual field trips were to be canceled as teachers wouldn’t accompany students if they can be sued if students get hurt. My homeschooled high schoolers joined in solidarity, and ended up using the time to paint the little girls’ bedroom. Win-win if you ask me.

2. Does anyone else have daughters (and some sons) with crazy hair? Two of my girls have crazy African hair, a third a massive Jewfro–crazy curly but a lot softer than the other girls’ hair, and the little one has very fine, wavy golden hair, that is also crazy in a completely different way. One of the problems for us has been hair bands. We lost a bunch of them to scissors as they got so tangled in curls that we had no other way to remove. We lost even more when they slipped out of my youngest daughter’s hair, and yet more when they just broke as the older girls tried to stretch them enough to go around their ponytails one more time–so they’d actually stay in place and not slip out. I was about ready to start convincing my kids that very short hair is trendy when I accidentally ran into some Scünci no slip grips that are made of silicone. Our lives were changed. They are so much more flexible than other hair bands, almost like household rubber bands, and they don’t slip out of their hair, but they don’t get stuck either… We love them. Doing their hair is more fun this way, and way, way less frustrating.

3. Mentioning the girls, we will have some friends over for the afternoon and we are making bath bombs again! I bought several nice cheap ice cube trays at IKEA to make pretty ones instead of the white blobs from our first attempt. Some of the girls live in apartments without tubs, so we are going to increase salt content a bit to create nice footbath bombs: all you need for that is a washbasin and some hot water… and our lovely little bombs. Knowing the girls, they will have a whole beauty salon set up in our dining room by the time I get home… My sister has given the older girls her nail polish collection as she switched to some more sophisticated form of nail painting. Don’t ask me what, I have no idea.

4. On March 17 there will be elections in Israel. this will be the first time for two of my kids to vote! I know I said less politics in this post, but I find the deep political analysis over dinner fascinating. So far the only thing everyone agrees on is that it’s time for Netanyahu to go. Some of the events of the past week only have only cemented that in my mind. Should I wear green to the polls?

5. That reminds me, in our homeschool group one of the moms decided I should teach a course about Ireland. I’m not sure it is a very good idea.

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When Something Goes Right: Bath Bombs KosherKola Style

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When Something Goes Right: Bath Bombs KosherKola Style

The last several months have been vers stressful for me. One of the things that I used for relaxation is an occasional bath. My girls have introduced me to the blessings of bath bombs. It’s like a mini hot tub in my very regular bath tub.

2015-01-11 12.52.46For the longest time Bella was trying to find a recipe for home made bath bombs, but most of them called for cream of tartare. The problem is, I have no idea what it really is or where to get it. Luckily, some of our friends in Hungary and Russia came to our rescue with a very simple and lovely recipe.

What do we need?

1 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of citric acid (powder form)
1/2 cup of corn starch
2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt/Dead Sea Salt (or your favourite bath salt)
3 tablespoons of coconut oil (I used hydrogenated coconut oil as it’s solid at room temperature)
Optional: 30 drops of essential oils, a few drops of food colouring.

After mixing the solid ingredients I added the melted coconut oil and the essential oils. If making this for kids, I’d skip the essential oils all together. I am also in favour of using basic ones from your local herb store or even Whole Foods: they are cheaper than overpriced MLM oils like Young Living or doTerra, and no one will claim that your bath bomb will heal everything from third dregree burns to cancer to the common cold, but they will smell nice. I also made our first batch with 4 tablesboons of coconut oil for extra nutrition for my skin during the winter. Normally three tablespoons should be enough.

After mixing all the ingredients together you have two options: put them in some mold (I recommend cheap silicone ice cube trays in various shapes from IKEA) or, as we did, try to make bath bomb sized balls. They are not as pretty, but it is a fun sensory activity for the kids (and dad).  Let them stand in a cool/cold, dry place for a day. Store them in an air tight container, or individually wrapped.2015-01-11 11.36.03

By adding a few drops of food colouring, various shades of the bath bombs can be achieved. Make sure you keep it light, otherwise the bombs might stain your skin or the bath tub. Other decorative elements can be added. Bella added some sugar pearls to hers. I have heard adding lavender flowers, but that requires a filter for the drain.

These bath bombs are easy to make and even little ones can help with them… and enjoy them in their baths. For someone who hates lotion like me the coconut oil is a great solution for dry skin problems. As a side effect the bath bombs in the water help with the elimination of dandruffif you give yourself an underwater scalp massage.

Five for the Weekend – Week 2

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Welcome back! How was your week?

1. For the longest time I refused to change my FB profile pic to say Je suis Charlie. The reason for that refusal is I just don’t identify with what Charlie Hebdo stands for. Their satire is racist, Anti-semitic, homophobic and generally Xenophobic in addition to being Islamophobic.  They make fun of rape victims, Boko Haram victims, etc. What they do is tasteless and often personally offensive to me. I agree with the criticism they have received over the years, and I really don’t mind them being called out on being awful.

However, since the attack, several posts, articles, tweets came to my attention where the authors are upset about the grief, mourning and outrage, and voice their opinion that fee speech doesn’t mean freedom from criticism. These articles, posts and tweets imply that murdering twelve people is an acceptable form of criticism. Unfortunately most of these opinions come from the very group that Charlie Hebdo painted as barbaric, vicious, undesirable people, and they only reinforce that image. I know that at least some of the people posting these do not support mass murder, however, their writing does not reflect that.

Then there are those who whine that now everyone is so upset about freedom of speech, and no one was upset about that when Pro-Palestinian demonstrations (in reality most of these in France turned into violent Anti-Semitic mob attacks on non-Israeli French Jews) were banned. Equating violence with freedom of speech, once again, shows the violent side of a religion that is commonly viewed as the whole religion by westerners. Some of them, and their supporters, happily blame Israel for the murder of the journalists and police.

On the other hand: Moderate Muslims often fail to speak up in condemnation of the murder of teh Jews while they do condemn the murder of these twelve people.

While I don’t agree with the content Charlie Hebdo published, murder is never an appropriate response. Freedom of speech involves things that are offensive to you, to me, to someone else, being published. Those, who think it’s okay force me to say: Je suis Charlie, אני שארלי .

2. It is never okay to attack your peaceful Muslim neighbours for what happened in Paris, and that includes the hostages taken at a kosher shop. Just because jihadists target us, Islam is not exclusively about jihad. Of course, just reading the comments by “moderate” Muslims on the news regarding this most recent attack shows that many Muslims do support violence against Jews. Not even Israel, just local Jews. But then there are people like Ahmed Merabet, the policeman who was killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack, whose faith had been ridiculed by the magazine, and he still gave his life to protect the right of the magazine to do so. He is a face of Islam, too. There are those, who speak up against the violence. Not in their name. Not in their religion’s name.

3. The other day Itai made a comment how he has lost some of the respect he had for one of Israel’s very talented music stars because he had not served in the Army. While I might have mumbled something about we don’t know his motivation and there are many reasons for avoiding conscription, I was very proud of Itai. He is one of those handful Israelis who has a very legitimate option not to serve, but he is already looking forward to doing so.

4. On Wednesday I developed an intense dislike towards the universe.

There was a training organized in Jerusalem on Wednesday, but there was also a weather alert. It has been storming and raining in my area, and snowing in Jerusalem. We were fully expecting the training to be cancelled, but since the alert never came, we ended up going anyway. Let me tell you, being able to drive pretty well in bad weather is useless when no one else on the roads can do the same. We finally made it to Jerusalem, and twenty minutes after the training was supposed to start, with every single person registered for it coming from outside of the capital already present, we were told that the instructor couldn’t make it over from the other edge of Jerusalem, so training would be rescheduled.

At this point the highway home was already closed, it was snowing heavily, and we were stuck in traffic. We were told that we could try Highway 1, police were still letting trough some traffic. By the time we got there, they didn’t. We kinda gave up on getting home, but luckily the highways opened and we are finally on our way home. Thanks to a stupid training that was canceled, I spent 7 hours stuck in a car.

Only in Israel are rocket attacks an inconvenience but an inch of snow paralyzes the country!

5. Wow, this post has become a lot longer and a lot more serious than I originally intended it to become. I guess the world just does that every once in a while. And my last point will not be much lighter either. It’s amazing and scaring to me how anti science the American religious right is. It amazes me that those who so condemn the “culture of death” are willing to see people go without access to healthcare and die from preventable and easily treatable diseases, such as dental problems causing sepsis, because of financial reasons. It’s frightening that they don’t only opt to forego real medicine in favour of essential oils (usually overpriced MLM products) and are willing to allow their kids with treatable cancer to opt out of chemotherapy for some quackery that has not been able to produce any controlled study to prove its effectiveness. It is always frightening when I think of how the same folks value the parents’ rights so high that they eliminate the children’s rights completely. The fact that CPS cannot get involved in case of educational neglect in Texas makes me sick. Parents can not teach their kids, not send them to school, not provide any kind of education, raising an illiterate litter of kids without consequences… And these people will vote. They will vote for likeminded politicians. And they think the USA is the greatest country. I just can’t understand.

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The Saint Generator

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Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary created a Saint’s Name Generator. You click a button, the another, and then it gives you a random saint. People like to use it for picking a patron saint for the new year. She has a lot of saints and beatified people uploaded, with info on their patronage and feast day, and links to bios on various Catholic sites.

Because I love to learn more about religion and that includes saints, I decided to give it a try, and this is what I got:

Gee, even random result generators know I’m Jewish.

 

 

 

Five for the Weekend – Week 1

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Five for the Weekend – Week 1

1. One of my goals for the new year is to blog more intentionally, or at least, more regularly. Last year I decided to stick to posting a 7 Quick Takes post every Friday (or Saturday the latest) and I actually did it for 30+ weeks.  Often I found myself trying to come up with more things to post about, and I realized that 7 things were too much for me if I wanted to blog during the week as well–and even when I only posted once a week I was filling my quick takes with random things. Plus, it seemed, most everyone participating in that link up was a Catholic (or maybe Lutheran) stay-at-home mother, with some Catholic men thrown in the mix. While I do enjoy reading some of their blogs, I think they didn’t like reading mine very much. That said, make sure you check out that link up!

So to give myself the opportunity for regularity, I decided to create my own weekly link up. One of my hopes is to also inspire some of my friends to write more regularly. So every Friday, before Shabbat comes in, I will post the link up, with my post. It will remain open for linking up till Monday midnight Tel Aviv time. I hope some of you will join me in this new blog adventure. And in case you don’t have 5 things you want to share? Change the number in your post title!

2. 2014 ended at work for me, with some nice sparkling cider, M&M’s cookies, and fish sticks sandwiches. Fish sticks make great sandwiches with some mayo and cheese. Not a traditional New Year’s food, but this is what was available. We had some unplanned things come up, with Itamar getting influenza and being hospitalized for the past several days. Fortunately he is feeling a lot better already, and he will be coming home tomorrow hopefully. When that happens, we will start our 2015 with the family traditions of playing cards and eating mini meat balls and building with Legos.

3. I found the perfect Lego DUPLO set for myself! Build your own burger!

2014-12-21 17.00.39Actually I didn’t find the set, but some friends did. Since then I might or might not have ordered it for Judy for her birthday.

I love hamburgers. I love making them. I always look for various combinations to try in my burgers. One of our favourites involves a sunny side up egg, another some mushrooms, yet another some thinly sliced duck livers. Food can be an adventure, even when it’s “just” comfort food.

Now this video features both a hamburger and Harel Skaat.

4. When it comes to toys, though, I was in toy shopping heaven the other day.

 

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While these Me to You teddy bears are very overpriced, they are a family favourite for us. My teddy bear, in particular, is one of my favourites. Back many years ago, when I was a child, I got The Big Teddy Bear Book from my older brother for Christmas one year. My kids still cherish it. We have a great assortment of teddy bears in our home, and just recently when Noah moved to his own apartment (shared by roommates), one of the few things he took with him was the teddy bear he got from Kevin when he moved in with us. That teddy bear also served three years in the army with him!

There is something special in the less than perfect teddies we all love. They share a piece of our personalities, and definitely share more than one adventure!

5. I started writing again! 2014 proved to be a difficult year, and the second half of it added a lot of stress to my life. Finances were one thing, the aftermath of war another, ups and downs with Itamar’s health, work, etc. The stress really contributed to a drop in my productivity, both in writing and crafts. The last few days I started writing again, and I only need to type it all up to add to my slowly growing collection of stories. New pens and notebooks help me be creative.

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Blessed Sára Salkaházi

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I still wonder, how come she wasn’t recognized earlier? I have posted about her before, and I still don’t understand how Edith Stein, murdered for being a Jew, can be so well known as a martyr of the Roman Catholic faith (erm… no, she wasn’t killed for being Catholic, though that doesn’t reduce her merits as a Catholic religious or saint) and no one knows about Blessed Sára, whowas driven to sacrifice by her Catholic faith.

Today is her feast day. Let’s remember her today, and those she saved and those she died trying to save.

70 years.

The Twice-a-Year People

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The Twice-a-Year People

One of the things that never fails around Christmas is people complaining. The same is true for Easter. Or, if said people are Jewish, around the High Holy Days and then Pesach.

They complain about the lack of parking space, complete strangers taking their usual seats, the crowd, the noise… In short, they complain about the people who only come to Church or synagogue twice a year. For some reason they appear to be an incovenience to the ‘regulars’. Jokes are made about them on Facebook, weird nicknames are given to them, and blog posts how to avoid them are posted.

Inevitably someone mentions that these people should attend regularly and contribute regularly. But why would they want to go somewhere regularly where they are clearly not wanted? The regular attendees’ attitude, the thinly veiled frowns, the loud complaints about seats and parking places don’t go unnoticed by those twice-a-year people. Prominent Chatolic bloggers admitting going to a different Mass to avoid the people who only come twice a year speak volumes to those who are considering to return to their faith, but are treated as an inconvenience.

So please, before you complain about the visitors at this year’s Christmas services, just think about all the people who would be ready to fill the pews every week if you gave them just a smile, helped them get around and thought of them just as much a part of the Church or the children of Israel as yourself.

 

Let’s Chanukah!

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With only eight days left till Chanukah (Hanukah. Hannukah, Hanukkah, or however you prefer to spell it), it’s time to Chanukah! In my family Chanukah and Christmas both can be verbs. Because preparing/celebrating for these holidays is an active activity. :) I’d like to invite you to share your favourite ways to get ready for the holiday you celebrate at this time of the year, be it Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, or anything else, whether you take a secular or religious approach to your holiday. If you don’t mind, I’ll update this post with your comments. :)

One of the things I did as a new thing is making fake marzipan from walnuts. We love walnuts, and yesterday I learnt a recipe from a friend who had just learnt the same recipe from a friend. I made the first batch in less than an hour.

The recipe I used was:

150 g or powdered sugar
150 g of ground walnuts
eggwhite from one small egg

Put everything in a zip loc bag, mix and knead till a uniform consistency forms. Add more sugar and walnut mix if it’s too soft. Roll out, cut with cookie cutters. If it lasts long enough before it’s all eaten, dip in melted chocolate. Very yummy.

 Jon: I do the whole tree decorating. For the last several years I have rotated different themes. This year I am going back to my Disney theme tree already because it’s just going to be me and Maggie. Dad got an invite to spend a few weeks with my brother and his family down in Georgia. So the tree is up, but not decorated yet. :o So far behind this year. :o
Also need to get Christmas cards going. I did get a few over seas ones mailed, but nothing more.
Also need to get some gifts mailed too. Yikes. :o

CiskaNo matter what my Christmas looks like (at home or on a holiday, having friends over or visiting friends, my own home or not), I always make sure I have an advent wreath. It doesn’t have to be fancy (this year, I just put four candles together on the table), but I really need it to have a real Christmas! Other traditions: putting up a tree, decorations, a stable, lights and Christmas music on (or after) Gaudete Sunday. And EATING ALL THE FOOD!!!

Jill P.: I love sending out Christmas cards, making treats and taking them to neighbors, and singing with my family.

An Undetermined Number of Quick Takes

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— 1 —

Today, before sunrise in the parking area of the children’s hospital as we switched being with our foster son, he handed me a bag of leftovers from yesterday’s Thanksgiving meal. Now I have not only a full turkey dinner, several turkey sandwiches and a carton of eggnog, but a whole pie with several different fillings… and enough other goodies to share with my colleagues. This is the one thing I love about Thanksgiving: The whole turkey and the pies. While it’s true that Jewish women prepare similarly elaborate meals every Shabbat, but there is something about the turkey that I just love.

— 2 —

It’s hard to believe that last year on the night of Thanksgiving we were already lighting two candles on Chanukiyah. Now we are still over two weeks away… but the sufganiya kiosk is already up in our street! Mmmm, jelly donuts put me in a holiday mood. I dug out my Chanukah playlist, and on Sunday we will start listening to it!

— 3 —

The last few days there have been discussions about Ferguson and the 12-year-old boy shot by police in Cleveland. I realized that for me and most of my friends what happened there was inexcusable, because… “How could police thing they had a (real) gun?” Because our kids don’t have access to guns. Because most of the civilians don’t have access to guns.

— 4 —

Our foster boy was registered with one of the wish granting organizations in Israel. Now he is trying to come up with a wish. His initial ideas were pretty much nixed, because he’d have to do them with his social worker, or, at best either Kevin or I could participate with him, and he doesn’t want that. He is very close to three of his new siblings, and wants at least them to be able to participate in his wish. Also, his number one wish would have involved travel, and as much as he loves his social worker, he would have rather done that with his family-and he is sure that his social worker would have rather made that trip with her own children.So we are in process of coming up with a good wish. He is getting help from the foundation, form his social worker, and, at his request, from the rest of the family, too.

— 5 —

I spent the morning on eBay. Black Friday sales sound so good… till you add the shipping. I would really love a KitchenAid thingy. Sigh. Maybe in a different life.

Cheesy, winey 7 Quick Takes

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— 1 —

I have been looking for really good Cheddar cheese. Of course experimenting with various brands I found really nice orange coloured, absolutely taste free varieties. I never thought that the best thing I’d fine would be in a small Deli that sells some store brand products of a European chains that are not in Israel. Not sure how they do that, but they  seem to have a pretty constant supply of goods. I check them once every month or so, and they had Mature and Vintage Cheddar!

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Apparently this is part of the seasonal offers of the particular chain. I paid one and a half times of the average price I saw on various websites of the chain, and I still considered it reasonable. Or more than that. It cost about the same as Israeli Cheddar, which tends to be mild. We first tried the Scottish Mature, which was a nice, sharp(ish) cheddar. I ended up using it in my new favourite breakfast… which will be also crossposted to the food blog.

— 2 —

We all love making egg in a basket for breakfast or dinner. After trying some Pinterest variations that usually ended in tasty but ugly disasters, I came up with something that is so tasty and good looking that we named it egg in a Louis Vuitton bag! 2014-11-18 08.11.55

Our new and beloved breakfast includes two slices of 7 grains toast bread (so not Paleo), with a slice of honey cured turkey breast, a slice of cheddar cheese and a slice of lightly smoked turkey breast. With a pogácsa szaggató  (large round cookie cutter) I cut the whole through the sandwich, and then put it in a pan with some coconut oil. Add an egg in the hole, flip it before the bottom burns, throw in some tomato slices next to the sandwich and eat them all together in the kitchen for breakfast. Or dinner. In which case, open some wine.

 

— 3 —

And when talking about wine, when Kevin and I visited Italy this past spring, we found this small little shop outside the popular tourist areas that sold wine from vineyards that produce wine to be used in the Eucharist. They sell some of their wine for lay folks like us, too. We bought two bottles and opened them yesterday, sharing with the family. We had some cheese (the above mentioned vintage Cheddar, some real buffalo mozzarella, some Parenica and Edamer) some vegan “cheese”, nuts, apples, and grapes. We watched some Castle and we enjoyed a fun evening. Most of the kids went to bed early, and Kevin and I caught up on the second season of the 100.

I really am not a fan of wine, but I must be getting older or more mature or something, because this fall I have found several wines that I actually enjoyed.

— 4 —

Kevin teaches 9th and 10th grade World Literature in English. Many evenings his phone rings with questions from students. The other day a student told Kevin that he couldn’t complete the week’s homework because Kevin hadn’t answered his phone the night before when he called (around 9 p.m.) to clarify something. Mind you, Kevin hands out homework assignments at least a week ahead of the deadline. I just don’t get it. When I was growing up I wouldn’t have dared to call my teacher at home. Never mind that some of my teachers didn’t even have house phones. I’m sure this is not the norm these days, but it annoys me a lot.

All things considered said student received a zero on the assignment.

— 5 —

A couple months ago one of my nieces did something that prompted my brother to take away my niece’s phone for three weeks. It was appropriate punishment for my niece’s action, and while it was a difficult three weeks for her as an American teenager, it was a great lesson for her. Then just today one of my kids did the same thing as my niece, and… I can’t take his phone away. Just this summer after every red alert the text messages saying “I’m fine.” saved my sanity. When a 20-year-old soldier was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv  two weeks ago, before his age was released, I got a text from my soldier son that he was safe. I would give myself a stomach ulcer if I took their phones away.

— 6 —

In 1963 on this 22nd day of November, C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley passed away. Brave New World has always been a favourite book of mine. I didn’t like Narnia, but I really enjoyed Lewis’ essays.

— 7 —

Today is also the birthday of my awesome sister-in-law Maya! Nothing better than helping tiny nephews and niece bake cupcakes for mom while dad keeps her away from the kitchen. Also, adding pink sprinkles to a dark chocolate cupcake batter… yeah, not very impressive looking. But they taste awesome. Happy birthday, Maya!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

We Are

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We Are

We are being targeted. In the last few weeks more Israelis were killed by acts of terrorism than in the last six years before.

We are not making it easier. For the first time I can remember I agree with the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel: If we can save Jewish lives by it, we should keep off Temple Mount.

We are the essence of Judaism. I’d like to believe that while the Kotel and other sacred sites are very important to me, to us, that essence is not being transferred to places and sites.

We are the chosen people, the House of Israel, the people G-d himself chose to make a covenant with. I hope we are not creating ourselves new idols out of the Temple Mount and other sites in the heart of some of the clashes we are experiencing.

We are one of those people whose greeting is carrying a promise of peace. I hope that we still have the will for peace.

We are Israel, we are the Jews of the Diaspora and the State of Israel. It’s not easy. but at least we are.

We are, and we need peace so we can say, we will be.

We are a country in turmoil. I hope, one day, we will be a nation, safe and strong. One day we may become the promised land to the children of Israel. One day, maybe, all the children of Abraham can live in peace.

7 Quick Takes

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7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

It’s been a long time since I listened to Harel Skaat’s Lauf.

With Chanukah only about a month away, we have more and more ads for Festigal. And this will be the first year since we moved here that none of us will actually go to Festigal. While my kids always enjoyed it, we can’t justify the cost and the costumes are weird. The two are not related, but I asked my dad not to surprise us with tickets this year. None of the kids expressed much of an interest to go, so we will do something else for Chanukah. I will have a few days off, so we might take a little trip somewhere in the country. Maybe take my brother Chaim up on his offer and visit him, and camp out in his garden. Or, depending on the snow and war situation, a ski trip to the Golan can happen. We shall see.

— 2 —

Mentioning Chanukah. My dear Christian friends, it’s adorable that you are planning to do Chanukah crafts/activities with your kids, but when you kidnap the activities and add all kinds of Christian symbolisms, it is no longer Chanukah. Chanukah has its own very specific history and symbolism, and adding Christ in the mix (beyond a mention of  John 10:22) is not only meaningless, but it’s also offensive to many Jews. When adding non-existent Messiahnic meaning to Jewish holidays Christians send the message that they degrade Judaism to the status of being a prelude to Christianity. Of course many Muslims consider Christianity to be that for Islam, and I’m sure most of my Christian readers would disagree. Now, if you want to recognize your religion in the tradition, you are very welcome to do it, just please rename the holiday appropriately. Like Christian Festival of Lights. Or whatever.

Christians can celebrate Chanukah, and some people believe they should. I think it is a wonderful celebration of the survival of the children of Israel and our faithfulness to G-d’s word and refusal to assimilate. Celebrating with us makes the party only better. :)

Couple of years ago one of my LJ friends posted videos and photos of their Chanukah tradition. They were very enthusiastic to celebrate this holiday that their saviour celebrated. I remember telling S that… they weren’t doing it according the Jewish tradition. She eagerly picked my brain to find the proper way to light the candles and recite blessings, and they changed the way they celebrated Chanukah. They, however, also loved their own family tradition that they continued to do in addition to the Jewish way of celebrating. Their own tradition became a cherished family festival, carrying all the layers of meaning added to it during the years–both personal and Christian religious. The two traditions continue side by side for them, and I think they have doubled the fun!

— 3 —

A couple posts down I wrote about our holiday plans, including Chanukah and Russian style New Year celebrations. One of my readers chatted me up on Facebook, and asked a very valid question. She didn’t want to ask in a comment, because she wanted to avoid any kind of potential drama, but she agreed to me answering it publicly: If we are so secular, why do I not let my kids celebrate Christmas at my BIL’s?

My answer to that is very simple, and it is very much the same message that religious Christians are trying to send: Jesus is the reason for the season. As commercialized it has become, Christmas is a religious holiday, celebrating the birth of, from the Jewish POV, a false messiah. It’s kind of like Christians not celebrating Krishnashtami. At the same time the absolutely secular Christmas replacement of the Russian New Year is part of some of my kids’ culture, so I can convince myself easier to celebrate it.

Of course we also live in a country where Christmas is no big thing. Every Jewish family in the Diaspora has to make the decision about what to do with Christmas. Some will write Christmas songs. As Wolowitz says in TBBT: “Must be the one Christmas song not written by a Jewish guy.” Some choose to ignore the day. Some make some fun traditions since it’s a day off… or just volunteer to cover the holiday shifts for their co-workers who do celebrate.

— 4 —

We are busy getting ready for Chanukah. I haven’t learnt to sew, and I still can’t afford buying gorgeous Chanukah stockings on etsy, so I made up my own crochet stocking patterns. And I made some stockings.

2014-11-14 13.33.24Yes, I believe they can be used for Christmas, too. :D

 

— 5 —

Why is it that I start to write seven quick takes on Wednesday, write three in quick succession and then I’m stuck? Here I am on a Friday afternoon, and considering including cartoons and a cute video for quick takes 6 and 7. Of  course I spend a lot of time writing, because it’s November, but then this blog is getting little to no inspiration. I’m sorry about that.

— 6 —

Last year at Rosh Hashanah I promised myself I wouldn’t knowingly eat pork and not-kosher seafood. 5774 happened to be a long year, with a leap month. At times it was hard, because I love shrimp and bacon. Now 5775 has come and now I could eat all these without breaking my resolution, but suddenly… I don’t really miss any of it. Weird. Maybe finding the best fake bacon helped. :) Today I’m making chicken liver and prunes wrapped in turkey bacon. Good thing I have help in the kitchen, because we can eat a lot a lot of it!

— 7 —

Writing so much about Chanukah put me in a great Chanukah mood. Did you know that the best Chenukah song was not written by Adam Sandler but by Steve Page of the Barenaked Ladies?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Operation “Christmas” Child???

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It’s time for my annual post about shoeboxes and religion.

Why do Samaritan’s Purse folks insist in delivering “Christmas” packages to children in countries and cultures where Christmas is not celebrated?

“Oh, but they don’t do that!” said a local pastor friend of ours, a big fan of OCC.

Oh, but they do. On their page they say,

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So… the reason is quite simple. This is not a charity, this is a proselyting method for Samaritan’s Purse’s pet brands of Christianity. Portestations that they must be reaching out to the Christian minorities in such countries are refuted by their own website, again. 

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If you wouldn’t mind people of different faiths distributing gifts to your child for their religious holidays with the intent to convert your child to their faith, often without your knowledge, then please go ahead, and send a box to Samaritan’s Purse. If you’d object to active proselytizing of your minor children, or generally consider the practice of OCC unethical, please consider one of the many alternatives to be charitable this holiday season.

Ten Answers to Today Christian’s Questions to Atheists

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Today Christian posted a list of questions: 10 Questions For Every Atheist without actually giving a chance for Atheists to reply. So here are my answers.

1. How Did You Become an Atheist?
I read enough sacred texts of various religions to find that they contradict each other, and they all claim deities that cross out other deities. How did you pick your deity to believe in?
2. What happens when we die?
Usually our loved ones are very sad, we get buried, our bodies decompose, and return to the natural cycle of life. Unless, of course, they are pumped full of chemicals that will only poison the earth.
3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
What if there is a heaven and hell and you believe in the wrong religion? Just the same way you don’t believe that you can be wrong, I know that I am right.
4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?
It’s sad if someone needs religion to be moral. I get my morality from living in a society, and confirming to or rejecting certain societal norms.
5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
See 4. If your only reason for not murdering and raping because some unseen man in the sky said not to, you are a pathetic human being. And apparently Christianity teaches that good deeds don’t matter. Actually Christianity teaches that you can murder and rape people and still be rewarded. so I don’t get this question at all.
6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
The meaning of life is to make this world a little better by the time you leave. To make the world a lot better for those in need, and not just have a comfortable assurance that it doesn’t matter if they die for they have a better life in the world to come. This is our only life, we need to act in this life.
7. Where did the universe come from?
I recommend Stephen Hawking’s documentary (narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch) “Did G-d Create The Universe?” It’s on Netflix. But really, the world being created by some duck laying an egg and any other creation myth is just as likely as G-d creating it.

8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
Miracles usually have an explanation. People also have connection with other deities that you believe not to exist. Mental illness, halucinations, warm fuzzy feelings are common. Oh yeah, us atheists also have those Holy Spirit feelings as Christians. We just know it’s our own mind or subconscious that creates them.
9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
Dawkins is an asshole, and sometimes I wish I could have made Hitchens move to an apartment building without a rocket shelter of safe room in Ashkelon, but only after experiencing life as a secular Jew in certain parts of the world.
10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
If there is a god, why do so many societies have different religions? The answer to the original question is easy: humans want to understand the world around them. When having very little scientific knowledge, they come up with theories. Theories became religions.

7 Very random Quick Takes

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— 1 —

November is National Adoption Month in the US. A week into the month, my feeds are overtaken with posts like “10 Things Adoptees Want You To Know”, “5 Things Never To Say To an Adoptive Family” and “6 Things Adoptive Parents Want To Tell You”. These posts make me angry. They are based on the personal experiences and beliefs of the author, and they have no right to speak for me, don’t post stupid things on my behalf.

Because, for a start, most, if not all of them take offense at someone referring to birth mothers as real mothers. Do they mean that birth mothers are not real? And when you drill your kid to always refer to adoptive mom as real mom, what happens at disruption? Who is the real mother? Demanding everyone to speak your lingo scares well meaning people off. Don’t be so darn offended at everything. Teach your kids that people don’t want to hurt them. Come up with witty answers, that provide info at the same time as gently guiding the questioner into the direction you want them to go with their language use.

Many adoptees have memories of the parents they were born to. Many of these memories are good. They still love their first parents. My mother, my real mother, was the mother who gave birth to me. My adoptive mother, who taught me to call my real mother my aunt, and call her my “real” mother had no problem abandoning me when I became inconvenient. Please, don’t speak for me.

— 2 —

Can I just say, I totalfell in love with The Blacklist and it took us, as a family, less than a week to watch the entire first season?  I actually haven’t seen last week’s Doctor Who, because I was watching The Blacklist. I have never seen Pretty in Pink, but I’ve been a James Spader fan ever since he played Daniel Jackson in Stargate. The reason why it took me so long to start liking Stargate: SG-1 was because of Michael Shanks being cast as Daniel. Shanks was great, but for me Spader was the real Daniel Jackson. Now two decades later Spader has gained weight, lost hair, and has wrinkles, but he still has that sparkle in his eyes, and he is still a great actor. In addition to the show having Spader, it has interesting stories, a good cast, and a certain level of unpredictability and foreshadowing mixed together. And the first season is on Netflix.

— 3 —

The 19th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzak Rabin was this past week. Rabin’s death was indeed a great hinderance to the peace process. but we cannot give up hope that one day there will be peace. Of course both side have to make sacrifices for it. Of course currently it feels like that we are heading to another war. But maybe, one day, there will be coexistence.

— 4 —

Anniversaries and holidays always make me patriotic, so I started looking for crochet patterns for the Israeli flag. I found a very cute key-chain patter, for $3.00, and I almost bought it, when I realized it was a white rectangle with two blue lines, and then the star of David just stitched on it with six stitches. I realized I can do that without a pattern. Now if you find a pattern that is not for a full sized afghan, and it has the star of David crocheted into the piece, please let me know. Because I’m being patriotic right now. To add to my patriotism, today is also an important anniversary…

— 5 —

70 years ago today poet Hanna Szenes was executed. She was born in Budapest, made aliyah, and volunteered in the British army to fight against Nazism. She was captured on her way from Yugoslavia to Hungary, imprisoned and sentenced to death in 1944. Her remains were buried in Jerusalem, on Mount Herzl in 1950. She is one of our national heroes, and her poetry is cherished greatly. Today I’ll have the opportunity to lay a few flowers at her memorial in Budapest.

One of her best known poems in the English speaking world is A Walk to Caesarea, in Israel commonly known as Eli, Eli.

My God, My God, I pray that these things never end,
The sand and the sea,
The rustle of the waters,
Lightning of the Heavens,
The prayer of Man.

— 6 —

It must be one of the warmest Novembers in Hungary. It is almost as warm during the day in Budapest as it is in Tel Aviv. It is not how my dad remembers that November 58 years ago when my grandparents left Hungary for the second time for Israel. It’s not how I remember all the Novembers I spent there. The sunshine and the ability to run around in a single long sleeved T-shirt are delightful. The climate change behind it is less so.

— 7 —

Shabbat Shalom!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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