CHESHVAN/KISLEV 5774 NOVEMBER 2013
This Chanukah, serve an extra helping of Thanks This year, for the first time ever, Chanukah starts on Thanksgiving. Both holidays are about gratitude and giving. So as you plan your holiday meal, and shop for presents for your family, please also consider a gift to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. Even a small donation can do so much for a grateful person in genuine need. Donate now, while youâ€™re thinking about it, at www.jewishlehighvalley.org
THAN CHAN KSGIVING UKAH MENU
Thanksgivukah: By Maggie Goldman
JewishBoston.com, reprinted with permission
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!
Other once-in-a-lifetimes Here, in honor of the eight nights of Chanukah and the once-in-a-lifetime night of Thanksgivukah, we’ve compiled a list of seven other rarities that accompany our favorite holiday hybrid on the list of true never-gonnahappen-again occurrences. Hey, Baby: It should go without saying that you’re only born once. No do-overs! That’s OK, though, because odds are, you did it just fine the first time. Comet Light, Comet Bright: Visible from Earth every 75 to 76 years, Halley’s Comet isn’t guaranteed to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but it sure doesn’t happen often. It’s the only short-period comment visible to the naked eye from Earth, and the last time it appeared was in 1986. It won’t be visible again until 2061. A Practically Perfect Pi Day: The number pi, a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is approximately 3.141592653589. Each year, math-lovers celebrate Pi Day on March 14 (3.14 -- get it?). In 2015, that day will be what some excited mathematicians are already calling “The Pi Day of Our Lives.” Starting at 9:26:53 a.m. -- at the .589-second mark, to be exact -- we’ll find ourselves experiencing the longest, most numerically accurate Pi Day of our lives, which happens just once every 100 years.
The Luckiest Day of the Century: Lots of folks make a wish when the clock strikes 11:11, but did you make one two years ago when the calendar struck Nov. 11, 2011? That day -- 11/11/11 -- marked the last time in 100 years when all the numbers in a double-figure date would be exactly the same, given that there’s no 22nd month. What a perfect palindrome! It won’t happen again until 2111. Venus Up Close and Personal: Considered the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena, the transit of Venus across the sun happens in pairs spanning eight years -- but then doesn’t happen again for about 243 years. The last pair of transits took place in June 2004 and 2012, and the next pair won’t occur until 2117 and 2125, long after we’re gone, and even then, the next transits will only be visible to Americans living in the most western coastal areas of the country. Missed the last transit of Venus? An Upside-Up Year: Look at the number 1961; now turn upside down and see what it looks like that way: 1961 looks the same from both views. Prior to 1961, no year had boasted this claim since 1881--and it won’t happen again until 6009. That means that while this strange, unnamed occurrence might’ve been a twice-in-alifetime event for some of our great-great-grandparents, many of us will never (or never again) see an upsidedown calendar year.
By now, we Jews think we’ve got the hang of when our holidays occur in relation to the Gregorian calendar: Passover often overlaps with Easter, the High Holidays inevitably collide with back-to-school season and, of course, Chanukah frequently shares one of its eight days with Christmas. Still, these overlaps aren’t a given, and the timing of the Jewish holidays can be a bit difficult to keep track of, as evidenced by the unusual placement of Rosh Hashanah 5774, which fell in early September. Accustomed to associating High Holiday season with the time of year when we wear sweaters, drink pumpkin spice lattes and wax autumnal, many American Jews wondered, “Why are the holidays so early this year?!” Still, when it comes to this seemingly strange timing, Jewfaq.com reminds us, “Jewish holidays actually occur on the same day every year: the same day on the Jewish calendar!” Because the Jewish calendar is tied to the moon’s cycles, rather than the sun’s (as the Gregorian calendar is), it “loses about 11 days relative to the solar calendar every year, but makes up for it by adding a month every two or three years.” The result is that, while the Jewish holidays don’t always fall on the same calendar day here in the U.S., they always fall within the same month or so. This year, though, the Jewish calendar has
thrown us all for a bigger-than-expected time loop. It’s not exactly a “December dilemma,” as the occasional Dec. 25 Chanukah/ Christmas hybrid is sometimes called. In fact, Chanukah doesn’t begin in December at all. In 2013/5774, Chanukah will overlap with a different holiday altogether: Thanksgiving. That’s right. On Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, at the same time that Americans gorge themselves on turkey and weirdly textured cranberry desserts, expressing their gratitude and indulging in the joy of family (and, let’s be real, probably some of the annoyance, too), American Jews will have another holiday to tend to also. So bust out the pumpkin pie and the latkes: This year, we’re celebrating Thanksgivukah! Because Chanukah begins at sundown, the Jewish holiday will actually start on Wednesday, Nov. 27, but Thanksgiving Day will also be the first full day of Chanukah. Just how rare is this? Well, the two holidays would have overlapped in 1861, but Thanksgiving wasn’t formally established until two years later, in 1863. That means Thanksgivukah has never happened before -- and it won’t happen again until 79811. Maggie Goldman is a social media strategist and freelance writer living in New Jersey and pining for New England.
The JCC’s ECE kindergarten class helped out with the Chanukah section for this very special year by coloring in black-andwhite drawings. Be sure and say thanks to your JCC kindergarteners!
A Moment Like This: It all comes back to those Kelly Clarkson lyrics. We may wait a lifetime for special anomalistic occurrences like comets and 11/11/11 and Thanksgivukah, but consider this: Whatever you’re doing, right now, is a moment that will never happen again. Every minute of every day we’re living a once-ina-lifetime event. Live like it!
HAPPY CHANUKAH | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2013 3
PJ LIBRARY Family of the Month: THE ALLENS
EIGHT BRIGHT IDEAS FOR
Chanukah-themed family nights The PJ Library
The eight nights of Chanukah provide eight opportunities for families to spend quality time together. To help inspire Jewish family moments this Chanukah, we’ve created a list of possible evening themes. Here are some nightly themes to consider:
At PJ Library, we believe every night is book night (that’s why it’s our No. 1 suggestion).
2. “We love books, but we especially love PJ Library books! Getting a PJ Library book in the mail is the highlight of our son’s day. He has us read them to him over and over again, and we love that they teach important Jewish values! We’re looking forward to reading PJ Library books to our son and our little girl for years to come.” - GREGORY AND SELI ALLEN
TZEDAKAH DREIDL NIGHT
As a family, ante up coins. Each player chooses a tzedakah recipient, and all the dreidl winnings are donated to the tzedakah cause of the winner.
FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS NIGHT
CUPCAKE NIGHT – OR NOT
Invite someone over. It could be someone who doesn’t celebrate the holiday or maybe just someone without any family nearby. Share your family Chanukah traditions and learn some new ones.
PHONE & SKYPE NIGHT
Light candles and say the blessings with a friend or relative in a far-off place. Use technology to bring them closer. To learn more about PJ Library and register to receive free Jewish-themed books for children from 6 months through 8 years, visit www.pjlibrary.org.
nukah gifts for friends or family members by hand.
DO-IT-YOURSELF GIFT NIGHT
Get those creative juices flowing. Make Cha-
Enjoy an evening with friends or family members. Watch a Chanukah-themed movie or video.
Make and enjoy jelly-filled (fried) cupcakes as a trendy alternative to the traditional fried jelly doughnuts – or go the traditional route (see recipes pages 6-7).
SEND A ‘MAKE A POSTER’ ECARD
The Voices & Visions "Make-a-Poster Contest" has made it possible to send your favorite poster as a Chanukah e-card. Send one to a loved one. Go to www.voices-visions.org/ collection-posters-gallery to check it out.
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4 NOVEMBER 2013 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | HAPPY CHANUKAH
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HOW TO MAKE A
The once-in-a-lifetime holiday of Thanksgivukah is the perfect excuse for a new menorah, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy one (unless, of course, you want to). It’s easy to create a fun twist on the traditional Chanukah menorah using materials you have on hand (well, most of them!). This homemade menorah uses pumpkins to bring a seasonal vibe to your holiday table and is a great way to engage kids of all ages. Materials • Eight mini pumpkins and one medium pumpkin (for the shamash, or helper candle) • Tea light candles • Chanukah menorah candles (these will be easier to use for lighting the tea lights) • Hand or electric drill fitted with 1 ½-inch-wide paddle bit (you can find the paddle bit at a hardware store for about $7) • Paint and brushes or paint pens • Other decorative materials of your choice (sequins, beads, buttons, gems, glitter, etc.) • Newspaper to protect your work surface
Instructions 1. Kids: Remove the stems from pumpkins. (Mine snapped right off but adults can use floral cutters if necessary.) 2. Adults: Using a drill with a 1 ½-inch-wide paddle bit, drill holes in the tops of the eight mini pumpkins. A hand drill will allow you to hold the pumpkin in place with one hand. I only had an electric drill, which worked great, but you will need a vice or a second adult (wearing work gloves) to hold the pumpkin in place. Make the holes just deep enough to fit the tea light candles. 3. Adults: For the pumpkin that will hold the shamash candle, use a regular drill bit and make a hole large enough for your Chanukah menorah candles.
4. Kids: Decorate the pumpkins. I used glitter paint pens, sequins and beads, but you can use any craft materials you have on hand. Be creative! 5. Kids: When the decorated pumpkins are dry, line them up to create a menorah. 6. Kids and adults: Use your Thanksgivukah menorah as you would any Chanukah menorah, replacing the tea lights and shamash candle each night. Enjoy! Leah Sherman is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in work with children and families. As a former preschool teacher in the JCC Early Learning Centers, she loves developing creative and fun ways to share Jewish holidays with young children. Leah lives in Newton, Mass., with her husband, Rabbi Philip Sherman of Temple Beth Elohim.
COURTESY OF JEWISHBOSTON.COM
By Leah Sherman JewishBoston.com, re-printed with permission
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HAPPY CHANUKAH | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2013 5
but it doesn't have to be
SAM FELDER/CREATIVE COMMONS
OH, IT’S FRYING TIME AGAIN --
Swapping potatoes for other vegetables, like carrots, zucchini and sweet potatoes, is one way to cut calories during the eight-day festival of Chanukah. By Chavie Lieber Jewish Telegraphic Agency Gone are the days when the Chanukah holiday meant an eight-day binge fest of all things fried. The Festival of Lights, which commemorates the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks, has a longstanding tradition of oily
foods such as latkes and donuts in remembrance of the miracle of the temple oil, which lasted eight days instead of the expected one. But for some, the holiday has become an excuse to inhale fried potato pancakes and custard-filled pastry. “People have a misconception of the tradition to fry on Chanukah,” Yosef Silver, the author of the popular
blog This American Bite, told JTA. “The concept is to remember the oil, but that doesn’t necessarily mean frying. We’ve gotten so wrapped up with frying, but there are ways to make Chanukah food, like latkes, just using oil.” These days, with everyone from the first lady on down drawing attention to our widening waistlines, Jewish foodies have plenty of options for consuming traditional holiday fare without packing on the pounds. Silver was raised on the old way -frying everything. But now he prefers to bake latkes rather than fry them. “If you prefer to use the traditional potato latke recipe, the best way to make it healthy would be to pan fry it with an oil substitute like Pam,” Silver said. “If you want to incorporate oil, add only a tablespoon and lightly pan-fry it.” For those who prefer a fried taste, Silver suggests swapping potatoes for healthier vegetables that provide vitamins and nutrition as opposed to starch. “My favorite latke variety to make is my variation using rutabaga and turnip,” Silver said. “Rutabaga is a starchy vegetable, but it’s not actually a carb. It gives a similar consistency to potatoes and is delicious.” Shaya Klechevsky, a personal chef from Brooklyn who writes the kosher
cuisine blog At Your Palate, says there are ways to make healthier donuts, or sufganiyot — also a traditional Chanukah food though one generally more popular in Israel than the United States. But Klechevsky warns about playing too much with recipes. “When making the batter, you can use a little bit of whole wheat if you want to veer away from white flour, but you need to be careful because too much whole wheat will turn your donuts into bricks,” Klechevsky said. “You can also substitute sugar with honey.” Rather than altering the recipe for the dough, Klechevsky says the best way to make healthy donuts is to use healthy fillings, like sugar-free jams, nuts, fruit and granola. “The best option is to bake donuts rather than fry them,” Klechevsky said. “The taste won’t be the same, but it will be close. You can buy little round molds and fill them with batter.” Erica Lokshin, a wellness dietitian at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, points out that baked donuts have half the calories and onethird the fat of fried. “Chanukah foods loaded in oil are high in cholesterol, which can be really bad for your heart, and eating them for eight says straight increases risks,” Lokshin said.
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Lokshin says that when serving toppings to go with latkes, reducedfat sour cream and unsweetened applesauce are the best options. And since no one wants to feel deprived around the holidays, she suggests picking one night to indulge. “It’s better to designate which night of the holiday you will enjoy latkes and donuts, and stick to your regular eating routine on the other nights,” Lokshin said. “Otherwise, you’re picking at a donut here and a latke there, and over an eight-day period you will probably consume more than you hoped you had and it will throw off your eating routine in the long run. Below are a couple of healthier latkes recipes. ROASTED GINGERED CARROT LATKES (from Shaya Klechevsky) Ingredients: 6 c. coarsely grated peeled carrots 3 T all-purpose flour 3 T whole wheat flour 1 1/2 t salt 3/4 t baking powder 1/2 t ground black pepper 7 t finely grated peeled fresh ginger 3 large eggs, beaten to blend Blended olive oil (for frying) Preparation: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil, or take a pastry brush dipped in olive oil and lightly coat the foil. Place grated carrots in a large bowl; press with paper towels to absorb any moisture. In another bowl, combine flours, salt,
baking powder and pepper, and blend together. Add carrots, ginger and eggs to the flour mixture and combine. Mixture shouldn’t be too wet or too dry. When forming patties, the mixture should stick to itself and not come apart. If it’s too wet, add a little bit more flour; if it’s too dry, add more beaten egg. Allow to stand for 10-12 minutes for ingredients to absorb into each other. Place patties, about 3 1/2-inch rounds, onto the greased baking sheet. Leave a little room around each one. Place tray into middle rack of oven and roast for 10-12 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Makes about 15 latkes.
Thanksgivukah Dinner BY SANDI TEPLITZ
RUTABAGA AND TURNIP LATKE (from Yosef Silver) Ingredients: 2 rutabaga, shredded 2 turnips, shredded 1 large onion, shredded 1 egg, plus one egg white 1/2 t of garlic powder 1/4 t salt 1/2 t of freshly ground black pepper Preparation: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the ingredients, then shape the latkes so they are approximately the size of your palm and about 1/4inch thick. Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil if you want to keep with tradition, or substitute coconut oil for a lighter alternative. Place the latkes on the cookie sheet with space between them. Once the oven has heated, bake the latkes until golden brown.
Butternut Squash Quesadillas
3 c. butternut squash, cubed & cooked 2 T finely chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper 12 8-inch floured tortillas 10 oz. non-dairy cheese, crumbled 1 c. coarsely chopped cilantro wedges of lime While squash is still warm, puree and stir in pepper; season with salt. Divide evenly among six tortillas. Divide “cheese” and cilantro evenly -- sprinkle over all. Top with remaining tortillas. Heat a heavy skillet and cook quesadillas until golden and slightly charred, for about a minute. Cut into wedges; serve with lime. Turkey -- cook as desired Potato Latkes -- make your usual recipe, substituting sweet potatoes.
Broccolini with Toasted Walnuts
Cook broccolini as directed; drain. Toast whole walnuts at 300 degrees until lightly
browned. Just before serving, add to broccolini with a tablespoon of peanut oil (remember to alert your guests to the presence of peanut oil!).
Sparkling Apple Cider
Use 1 c. salted Earth Balance stick margarine; mix well with 2/3 c. sugar. Beat in 1 egg. Add 1 t. pure vanilla, 1/2 t. salt and stir in by hand 2 1/2 c. sifted flour. Chill overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out 1/4 “ thick. Use turkey cookie cutters to cut out the dough. Bake on two greased cookie sheets for 9 minutes, until lightly colored. Remove from sheets with spatula and cool. Frost with: 3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar mixed with 2 T. Earth Balance, 2 T. non-dairy creamer, 1 t. vanilla and 1/2 t. lemon juice. Add 1 drop each of yellow and red food coloring to achieve an orange tint. May be topped with coarse sugar. Recipe for frosting may be doubled.
HAPPY CHANUKAH | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2013 7
WRITINGS FROM THE
RABBI MELODY DAVIS
Temple Covenant of Peace It is no secret that Jews can be contentious. We read in Exodus 32:9 that God said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people …” Then there is the axiom: “Two Jews, three opinions.” Many of us idealize the past, feeling that was when we all got along. We moan when a Jew makes negative headlines. We are shocked when Israel -- either as a country or people in it -does something "wrong." We are surprised and dismayed when there are disagreements in shul. There is a sense that synagogues should be held to a higher standard of behavior. Perhaps -- but synagogues are populated by regular folks, not saints -- which brings us to what really happened in the Chanukah story. Let’s begin with where we find this story. It is missing from the Mishnah, apart from
8 NOVEMBER 2013 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | HAPPY CHANUKAH
What really happened in the Chanukah story several passing references. The Talmud asks: (Shabbat 21b): “What is [the origin of] Chanukah?” A beraitah, (a tradition in Jewish oral law not incorporated in the Mishnah,) from Megillat Ta’anit answers: “On the 25th of Kislev, the eight days of Chanukah [begin]. On these days, one may not eulogize, and one may not fast. [The institution of Chanukah, with this festive nature, resulted from the following:] When the Greeks went into the Holy Temple, they contaminated all of the oil there. [Later,] when the Hasmoneans overpowered and defeated the Greeks, they searched and found only one container of oil, which remained with the seal of the High Priest. There was only enough oil in it to light [the Menorah] for one day. [However,] a miracle was performed with it -- and they lit [the Menorah] from it for eight days. In the following year, [the Sages of that generation] 'established' those days -- making them holidays with respect to ‘thanksgiving’ and saying Hallel.” This is reiterated in Second Maccabees (which is usually only found in the Catholic Bible): “They celebrated it for eight days with gladness like Sukkot and recalled how a little while before, during Sukkot, they had been wandering in the mountains and caverns like wild animals. So carrying lulavs [palm branches waved on Sukkot] ... they offered hymns of praise to God who had brought to pass the purification of God’s own place.” The problem of the origin of Chanukah is complicated. According to some historians, the origins are to be found in pagan celebrations of light in the mid-winter season. (This notion is ignored in the Jewish tradition.) Josephus also recounts the story of how the Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempted to suppress the practice of basic Jewish law, resulting in a Jewish revolt against Seleucid rule. Some modern scholars argue that the king was intervening in an internal civil war between the traditionalist Jews and the Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem. Jews were divided over the High Priest Jason’s Hellenistic reforms. What began in many respects as a civil war escalated when the Hellenistic kingdom of Syria sided with the Hellenizing Jews in their conflict with the traditionalists. There was a strong group of influential men who believed that Judaism should adapt itself to the Hellenistic culture which was sweeping the world. They believed that this universal civilization was inexorably progressing, and if Judaism was to have a place in the new world it must abandon all
those things which set the Jew apart: Shabbat, circumcision and kashrut. As the internal conflict escalated, Antiochus sided with the Hellenizers by prohibiting traditional religious practices. This may explain why he banned a traditional religion, which was a complete departure from previous Greek custom. (It is interesting to note after his first great success, Judah Maccabee instituted a new feast. Up to this time the Jews had observed only those feasts prescribed by the Law of Moses; the institution of new ceremonies to commemorate important events was a Hellenistic custom.) The Talmud mentions the miracle of the oil, but there is no reference to this in the Chanukah liturgy, which speaks only of the victory of the Maccabees. Moreover, it is stated that the eight-day festival was introduced because, during the war, it was impossible to celebrate the eight-day festival of Sukkot. Yet, it is undoubtedly the miracle of the oil that has captured the Jewish imagination through the ages. Some scholars see the emphasis on the miracle as due to the disillusionment of later generations with the Maccabees, so that the victory came to be interpreted in terms of the spiritual power of the Torah symbolized by the oil that burns miraculously even when, according to the natural order, the light should have gone out. There is a reference in the Talmud (Shabbat 21A) to a disagreement between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai concerning the proper procedure with regard to kindling the Chanukah candles. Shammai decided that eight candles should be lit on the first night, seven on the second night, and so on down to one on the last night. Hillel argued in favor of starting with one candle and lighting an additional one every night, up to eight on the eighth night based on the premise of “Ma’alin Ba’Kodesh ve’ayn Moridin,” (one increases in matters of holiness, and does not diminish). We follow the opinion of Beit Hillel. Light is the symbol of Torah and of tzedakah (charity) so we emphasize the study of Torah and the giving of alms on Chanukah. This year Chanukah coincides with Thanksgiving. Perhaps this year when we light the menorah after gobbling our turkey, we should endeavor to be grateful for life’s smaller miracles that often go overlooked -- like sunshine, blue skies and autumn foliage -- and try to get along. Chag Urim Same’ach -- may you have a holiday of light and joy.
IT'S A Temple Beth El
For 11 years, the fifth grade class at Temple Beth El has looked forward to Chanukah, but perhaps not for the reasons you’d expect. Morah Shari Spark charges her students and their families each year with creating a unique chanukkiah – the Chanukah menorah. While demonstrating what makes a kosher chanukkiah, students also get to express their interest in any Jewish theme or topic of their choosing, incorporating it as the subject of their project. Over the years, this has produced some fascinating results with presentations like My Jewish Family, Jewish Actors, Sports and Jews, Jewish Foods, Holidays, and The Synagogue … to name but a few. Among her favorites, Morah Spark recalls the kibbutz-themed project featuring a giant orange tree with kibbutzniks climbing ladders to pick fruit. The student, who had emigrated from the [now-former] Soviet Union, expressed this experience with a giant globe
Chanukiot come in many designs. This Chanukah, try making one of your own. and symbols of Judaism that spurred her family to make the trek. “The exciting part of this assignment is seeing what themes the students come up with. It is an expression of their own Jewish identity, a choice they make to research a topic and learn about it along with their family,”
Spark said. While knowing the rule of the chanukkiah is important to Jewish education, creating a sense of Jewish self is much more so in today’s world. The school’s families have kept their chanukkiot over the years and bring them out to use and display each Chanukah.
KI TO HOST CHANUKAH, INTERFAITH PROGRAMS By Michele Salomon Congregation Keneseth Israel Congregation Keneseth Israel is getting ready for Chanukah and we are delighted to be hosting several activities for children, adults, families and the community. Our festivities begin on Sunday, Nov. 24, with both a family education program and an adult education program to be held at KI. The family program is geared for families with children in grades 3 to 5 and will focus on creating blessings for each night of the holiday in a different and meaningful way. The goal is to support families in creating life-long traditions that go beyond gift-giving and that help each of us bring light into our lives and the lives of others. If that’s not enough, that same morning Rabbi Seth will be teaching an adult education class on "The REAL story of Chanukah." Come out and learn about Chanukah in a new and noteworthy way so that the holiday gains more meaning and significance in your life. KI’s Chanukah plans culminate with the very special and unique concurrence of Chanukah and Thanksgiving. KI is pleased to host the community-wide Interfaith Thanksgiving service on the first night of Chanukah, Wednesday, Nov. 27. What better way to kick off these holidays than to join KI for this community event? Our celebration will be shared with the Christian community as we unite to light one candle for our past and one for our future.
“Live each day to the fullest.”
Life advice from Betty Y., Resident and Life Enthusiast
FOR YOUR YOUNG CHILD?
Check out these titles:
JEREMY'S DREIDEL by Ellie Gellman EMANUEL AND THE HANUKKAH RESCUE by Heidi Hyde HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY HAPPY CHANUKAH? by Jane Yolen THE GOLEM'S LATKES by Eric Kimmel
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makes for ‘nuclear program’ with unquestioned peaceful intent
By Edmon J. Rodman Jewish News Service While at the U.N. General Assembly and other public forums, Iran continues to tout what it calls the peaceful intentions of its nuclear program to a skeptical audience. But the peaceful intentions of another “nuclear program” -- one that will come in handy for Jewish shoppers this Chanukah -- are unquestioned. Using the words of the prophets as inspiration, a company called From War to Peace is turning swords into ploughshares -actually, recycled material from nukes into Jewish jewelry -- in California. The line of peaceoriented products that includes flower power earrings, peace symbol pendants, tree of life bracelets, and household accessories is made from recycled copper cabling that once carried the launch codes to Minuteman III nuclear missiles. The copper, taken from a disarmed and deactivated Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) site in Grand Forks, N.D., is cast by the company into an array of wearable and usable symbols from many religions, including Star of David earrings, hamsa pendants, and mezuzahs. In time for Chanukah, a new menorah pendant design will soon be available. From War to Peace’s work is available in stores nationwide, in Canada, online, and at the Clinton Presidential Library, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and The Jewish Museum in New York. “The Jewish prophets are the absolute inspiration for what we do,” said the organization’s founder,
Paul Ogren, a former Minnesota state senator who lived in Israel in the 1970s. The truncated bible verse, “Turn your swords into plowshares, and you shall know war no more,” from both Isaiah and Micah, is featured prominently on the website of the company, which was launched in 2010. “The cabling is a good source of copper,” said Ogren, who first found out about the metal from a friend who had the scrap contract from the federal government for the silo’s metal and plastic. Ogren said he bought 10,000 pounds of copper, but initially was not sure what he would do with it. “I’m always looking for a transformational element,” said Ogren, who recalled that hearing a niece singing a
Hebrew song, “Lo Yisa Goy El Goy Cherev,” (“Nation shall not lift up sword against nation”), put him on the path to making jewelry. “Weapons that kill people can be used for constructive means,” Ogren, a peace activist during the Vietnam War, said. After discovering that copper needed to be alloyed to be cast successfully as jewelry, Ogren decided on a mixture that included manganese and silicon to create a “Peace Bronze,” which is cast into various shapes in Albuquerque, N.M., and Paso Robles, Calif. Various styles are given an iridescent finish in San Luis Obispo, Calif., or dipped in silver or gold in Albuquerque. One of the mezuzah designs is cast with the words “Peace to all who enter here.” Other styles feature the word “peace”
in three languages -- Hebrew, English and Arabic -- or an image of a dove. “There is a naïve quality to them, like American folk art,” said Nestor Diaz de Villegas, who owns one of the mezuzahs as well as a pendant. “That they are made of metal from nuclear weapons in really amazing,” added Diaz de Villegas, who is a poet and a journalist. “We do museum grade castings, using the lost wax process” said Ogren, whose company also uses its Peace Bronze in casting the Gandhi Peace Prize as well as the Sean MacBride Peace Prize, awarded by the Geneva-based International Peace Bureau. Ogren said 24 percent of the company’s profits are dedicated to peace and social
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justice organizations, with current recipients including Veterans for Peace, Homeboy Industries and Mothers for Peace. Seeing a benefit in injecting “humor and lightness” into the messages of his work, Ogren also creates beer bottle openers which say “Beers Not Bombs,” and wine bottle stoppers which say, “Make Wine Not War,” out of the Peace Bronze. Just how hot is Ogren’s nuke-related jewelry? The cabling was buried six feet underground, has been tested, and is not radioactive. “I get asked, ‘Will I glow in the dark if I wear your jewelry?’” Ogren said. “I would have to charge you more,” he said he often responds.
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