March 2024

Page 1

Simchas Issue

MARCH 2024 | ADAR I • ADAR II 5784
Art Alive + BESA Expo





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Women of Dedication April 26, 2024

Honoring Ernest and Evelyn Rady at the 58th Annual Women of Dedication

Join us at the Women of Dedication luncheon to honor the Radys' profound impact on our community and The Salvation Army’s mission. This event, a longstanding charity tradition, celebrates twelve dedicated women and supports essential social service programs. Don’t miss this historic celebration of compassion and generosity.


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2024 Women of Dedication Honorees

Scan the QR Code or visit for more information or to register for the 58th Women of Dedication.
Back from left: Lisette Farrell, Merrilee Neal, Lee Wills-Irvine, Elaine Becerra, Caroline Wohl, Coreen Petti, and Connie Matsui. Seated from left: Christine Cremidan, Fran Shimp, Barbara Rand Metzler, Jennie Hamilton, and Julia Ramirez-Stone Evelyn and Ernest Rady Legacy Award Rosalie Gerevas, Co-Chair Dee Ammon, SAWA President Carol Sciotto, Co-Chair Louarn and Alan Sorkin Honorary Chairs






) P A R

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ADAR II 5784


Mark Edelstein and Dr. Mark Moss


Susan Edelstein


Makayla Hoppe


Eileen Sondak


Donna D’Angelo


Ronnie Weisberg


Emily Bartell, Linda Bennett, Leorah Gavidor, Emily Gould, Judith Fein (Senior Travel Correspondent), Paul Ross (Senior Travel Photographer), Patricia Goldblatt, Pat Launer, Sharon Rosen Leib, Andrea Simantov, Marnie Macauley, Rabbi Jacob Rupp, Rachel Eden, T.S. McNeil, Sybil Kaplan.


Alan Moss | Palm Springs






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24 31 Features 22 Annual Bloom Bash Kicks Off Art Alive 2024 24 Traditional Jewish Food Goes Vegetarian! 28 When It’s Time To Celebrate! 31 ‘I Want To Get Married Before a Rocket Lands on My Head’ Columns 11 From the Editor | To the San Diego Jewish Journal Community 16 Israeli Lifestyle | Flowering Among Thorns 18 Literature | Lost in the Crowd 42 Advice | The Fine Art of the Successful Simcha Departments 12 What’s Up Online 14 Our Town 34 Local Arts 36 Diversions 39 Food
contents ©2024 by San Diego Jewish Journal. The San Diego Jewish Journal

A Blueprint for Our Future, San Diego’s recent Jewish Community Study, asked financially struggling adults,

“How do financial challenges impact your emotional wellbeing?”

22% felt lonely often or all the time in the previous week.

15% had emotional or mental health difficulties that harmed their daily life often or all the time in the previous week.

12% have no one in their support network.

You are not alone. Take the next step.

The Center for Jewish Care is Here for You.

At the Center for Jewish Care at JFS, find comfort in the embrace of our compassionate community and connection to services and support that help you stabilize, move forward, and thrive.

We offer:

• Compassionate support in English and Hebrew

• Spiritual support with Rabbi Susan Freeman

• Care coordination for Holocaust Survivors and their families

• Mental health resource navigation and coping strategies

• Financial assistance

(858) 637-3018

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To the San Diego Jewish Journal Community:

Shalom. I have been an avid reader, admirer and supporter of the SDJJ magazine since its inception. It has been and continues to be the baby, the pride and joy, the raison d’etre of the publisher, and now, incredibly, as I move behind the scenes as acting editor, I feel humbled and honored to become a part of it. I am grateful to be welcomed by our wonderful writers and contributors, and guided and tutored by our amazing art director. I am looking forward to learning new skills, honing some old ones, and feeling the joy of community and accomplishment. It is my goal to continue to provide our wide, varied, strong and supportive community a beautiful compendium of issues, events, news and history as they affect our everyday lives. Thank you for allowing me entry into the lovely world of the San Diego Jewish Journal.

P.S. Rereading things we love, novels, poems, even just lines from our favorites, can help to calm and reassure us, strengthen our convictions, make us smile, and give us the ability to go forward with joy, even into unknown realms.

I’ve been rereading and pondering one of my favorite poems, “The House by the Side of the Road,” by Sam Walter Foss and reading about the author’s life and accomplishments. This poem is about human connectedness, empathy and compassion — about sitting, watching and acknowledging without judgment as fellow travelers on life’s roadways make their way. I learned that Sam Walter Foss not only wrote five volumes of poetry but was also a librarian, an editor, and a journalist who wrote for various newspapers. He was known to have a “boisterous faith in humanity,” and nowhere was that more exemplified than in his very last newspaper column written in the hospital while awaiting surgery that did not save his life. Foss was only 53 when he died in that hospital, and the title of that last column says it all, “Optimism.”

With all the ways we can become discouraged by today’s world, it might do us some good to read “The House by the Side of the Road” and refill our coffers with optimism and embrace our shared human experience. A


This designer closed his New York Fashion Week runway show with Israel’s national anthem

(New York Jewish Week) — For his very first runway show under his own label for New York Fashion Week, Israeli-American designer Kobi Halperin knew exactly the message he wanted to send: hope.

On Sunday, Halperin concluded his show at Soho’s Splashlight Studios for his Fall 2024 collection, titled “Illumination of Hope,” with an instrumental version of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, which translates to “The Hope.”

“To me, it just felt right,” Halperin, 51, told the New York Jewish Week. “I wanted it — it was my moment and I wanted to use it to make people feel good about who we are [as Israelis].”

“I felt like it was necessary,” he added about his show’s moving finale, which has been viewed more than 160,000 times on the Jews of NY Instagram account. “I am so overwhelmed that it has made so many people cry and so many people actually feel good about themselves. That’s more important than anything else — it’s more important than the statement of the fashion.”

“The whole collection was basically inspired from my heritage,” said Halperin, who grew up in Netanya, Israel, and now lives in New York. “I was raised in a religious family and if there’s something that I miss, it’s the idea of Shabbat. It’s not necessarily the religious part, I love the idea that there’s an ending, but then a beginning of something else. For me, I remember

this amazing moment in Israel on Fridays: Everything is shutting down, the stores are closed, the music changes, the sky is changing.”

“It’s hard for me to justify fashion with everything that’s happening around us right now,” he said. “That’s why I love the idea of taking this opportunity to gather and be together — to find what we have in common and respect that we think differently about specific

things, but still recognize that as people we actually can have hope and pray for something positive.

Julia Gergely is a contributing writer to JTA and SDJJ.


Kobi Halperin during the Kobi Halperin show, New York Fashion Week at Splashlight Studios on Feb. 11, 2024.

Two Matisyahu concerts in the Southwest are canceled after pro-Palestinian activists protest

Two concerts by Matisyahu, the American Jewish singer famous for his peace anthem “One Day,” have been canceled after pro-Palestinian protesters targeted venues where he was set to perform.

Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico, canceled one concert on Wednesday. The Rialto Theatre in Tucson, Arizona, canceled a second on Thursday, after first saying it would not do so.

Both venues cited staffing shortages and safety concerns. Both had been targeted by protesters who said Matisyahu’s record of performing for Israeli soldiers and pro-Israel groups in the United States should disqualify him from appearing.

Matisyahu said in a statement posted to Instagram that he had offered to pay for additional staffing and security at the Rialto show but had been rebuffed. He will instead play

a free show in Tucson for hundreds of people.

“They do this because they are either antisemitic or have confused their empathy for the Palestinian people with hatred for someone like me who builds empathy for both Israelis and Palestinians,” he wrote about those who had sought to cancel his show. “It truly is a sad day when dialogue with those you disagree with is abandoned for hate-mongering and silencing artistic expression.”

“I’m sorry you were denied a show. I love you all,” he wrote. “My band and I will be back. We will not respond to hate with more hate. We will be together again. We will make music together again. We will sing together again One Day soon.”

Philissa Cramer is a contributing writer for JTA and SDJJ.


Nina Gottlieb, 91, Holocaust survivor and subject of a New Yorker documentary

JTA News

Nina Gottlieb, who broke eight decades of silence about her experiences during the Holocaust in an award-winning documentary that aired in 2023, died Feb. 4 in Manhasset, New York. She was 91.

In “Nina & Irena,” a New Yorker film made by her grandson Daniel Lombroso, Gottlieb opens up about her childhood in Kielce, Poland, and the death of about 25 members of her family, including her older sister Irena. Only she and her parents survived. The film, which made its New York City debut in July 2023, has been a success on the festival circuit.

“Nobody spoke about the Holocaust,” she said, “but my grandson here decided that there is a story to be told, and that’s what he did.”

Andrew Silow-Carroll is a contributing writer to JTA and SDJJ.

Nina Gottlieb, in red shirt, and her grandson Daniel Lombroso, second from right, during the shooting of “Nina & Irena.” PHOTO COURTESY OF LOMBROSO. Matisyahu performs in concert during the “Hold The Fire Tour” at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas, Feb. 10, 2024. PHOTO: RICK KERN/GETTY IMAGES.

Our Town

This year’s 34th Annual San Diego International Jewish Film Festival offered two ways of viewing the vast selection of films scheduled. Whether in person or virtually from the comfort of your own home, the caliber of offerings gets better every year! Some of our favorites were “Remembering Gene Wilder,” “The Catskills,” “Without Precedent: Supreme Life of Rosalie Abella,” and “Bella!”. As usual, Christina Fink, Chair; Joyce Axelford, Founding Chair; and their whole committee put together a fabulous event. How lovely to have been able to enjoy both virtual and in-person programming. Some of the other film buffs we ran into at the JCC were, Risè Edney, Sheila Nerad, Perri Wittgrove, Rita Cohen, Jane Zeer, Joy Heitzman and Jack Cohen, Phyllis & Mo Gold, Maxine & Arthur Gellers, Lori & Henry Holmes, Lolly Fromm, Susie & Steve Schwartz, Kim Kipnis, Stan Hoffman, Nancy & Marty Goldberg, Sue & Ed Cherlin, Sharon & Nat Koren, Ann Jaffe, Barbara & Rick Cohen, Avril Copans, Amy Krause and Paul Needleman, and Paula Halprin

Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., Temple EmanuEl presented the 9th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Choir San Diego Shabbat service. Sponsored by The Handler Family, this is always a wellattended event that offers community partnership. Such a wonderful evening!

Mazel Tov to Jean & Franklin Gaylis on the birth of their fourth grandchild, Zach Jayden Gaylis. Zach was born on December 11 in Atlanta, GA. Happy parents, Jade & Greg Gaylis, along with siblings Tori (3yrs old) and Ashton (6yrs old), and Great Grandmas Rhoda and Zelma are overjoyed!

Mazel Tov to Yehudis Andrusier on becoming a Bat Mitzvah at Chabad, on December 7. Yehudis’s parents, Chaya & Rabbi Rafi Andrusier were beaming with pride.

Yom Huledets Sameach to...

Rosalie Reisman Ulrich celebrating her 99th birthday. Bob Rubenstein celebrating his 90th birthday.

CELEBRATING Wedding Anniversaries

with infinite love & happiness, Mazel Tov to…

Anne & Herbert Arnold, 67 years.

Joan & Arnold Gass, 61 years.

Florence & Anthony Riesner, 61 years.

Marcia & Donald Wolochow, 60 years.

Dale & Gerald Spector, 55 years.

Berdele & Richard Katz, 54 years.

Sheryl & David Baron, 54 years.

Sarah & Tom Karp, 54 years.

Karen & Warren Kessler, 54 years.

Michale & Sanford Shapiro, 53 years.

Gayle & George Wise, 50 years.


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Flowering Among Thorns

“I know we are your chosen people, but can’t you choose someone else?”
— Tevye the Dairyman

Sometimes, being chosen doesn’t feel like such a bracha. As Israeli Jews, we’ve been chosen to suffer the unimaginable. Whether one is a survivor of Beeri, related to a hostage, a parent/ grandparent/sibling/buddy of a combat soldier who is alive, injured or dead, no one here owns a rulebook for surviving this shocking chapter.

Some days, the pain is unbearable. And the worst part? We can’t opt out. The torment, the unbearable sadness is always there, even when having a manicure, listening to Andrea Bocelli at full volume, taking a spa day or hitting the gym with fervor. Occasional distractions do allow us to place one foot in front of the other as we conduct that exercise called “Life, ” assisting us to navigate these tentative, strungtogether days. Temporary poultices.

On a recent trip to South Africa, I was asked by a woman at the Sabbath kiddush, “Andrea, are we going to win the war?” Gobsmacked, I felt bile rising in my throat and that congenital New York attitude kicking in. Thankfully, this is when G-d grabbed me by the shoulders and clobbered me with a whopper dose of patience and compassion. I intuited that she was

getting her news from South Africa’s “Daily Sun” along with, possibly, online issues of “The New York Times,” “Boston Globe,” “Wall Street Journal” and/ or Al Jazeera: media outlets that view “Swords of Iron” as fodder, chatterworthy entertainment and even with a voyeur fascination of a cock-fight, excitedly watching the bloodied and butchered. Lazy hustlers with license to twist our story can even convince a Jew outside of Israel to consider whether or not we will prevail.

We will win because we have no choice. We have nowhere else to go. Today is a dangerous day to be a Jew anywhere in the world. Anywhere. And yet, I live in a country where I can wear a Magen David, hamsa or chai necklace without fear, my yarmulkesporting husband goes to synagogue, any synagogue, and there are no police cars or security guards checking out congregants

or passers-by. We live in a miraculous country where even completely secular children know holidays other than Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and Purim. They may not observe Shabbat, but they participate in Tu B’Shvat, Lag B’Omer, and Shavuot. Without question, Israel today is the safest place in the world in which one can be a Jew regardless of his/her ethnicity, level of observance, sexual identity or political leanings — even when at war.

But we are held to a standard that no nation in the world would, themselves, adhere to.

And despite universal finger-pointing, our IDF soars way above traditional codes of exemplary behavior. From treating the enemy’s wounded, to putting our own holy soldiers at risk rather than inadvertently injuring non-combatants, from assisting civilians to safe passage

continues on page 20 >>



Lost in the Crowd

Not everyone can be famous, even those who have the talent and intelligence to do something great. It is especially thorny when you are born into a generation of brilliant practitioners in your own craft. This is essentially what happened to Bernard Malamud, one of the most successful little-known authors in the history of American letters.

Born in 1914, Malamud lived through both World Wars as well as the Great Depression, putting him in the same generation and into the orbit of some of the most famous Jewish authors of the mid-20th century, including Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer and Philip Roth. Even the best and most patient of authors could easily get frustrated while trying to be noticed in a field like that, but try he did.

Building a solid foundation, Malamud went through the writing program at Columbia University, earning a master’s degree in 1942 based on a thesis about Thomas Hardy. Taking a page from Kafka, he became a civil servant, working for the Bureau of the Census, narrowly avoiding the meat-grinder of the Japanese islandhopping campaign because he was his father’s sole supporter. He later moved into the more comfortable halls of academe, securing a position as an instructor of composition at Oregon State University, then moving to the far more open-minded Bennington College who let him teach in the creative writing program, despite his lack of a doctorate.

Taking his sweet time with his own writing, Malamud published his first short story, “The Prison,” in 1950, despite employing an agent since 1942. This led to a sporadic string of similar tales between 1955 and 1963, including “The Mourners” and “The Jewbird,” each bearing the hallmarks of his deliberate and considered style.

Published in 1952, Malamud’s first novel was similarly worth the wait; the name of his debut came to be more famous than the author himself. A hopeful story of second chances, “The Natural” follows baseball player Roy Hobbs as he finally goes pro 35 after having a promising early career sidetracked by a most inconvenient gunshot wound. It was made into a film of the same name in 1982.

Five years later, Malamud published “The Assistant.” Largely based on the theme of “life sucks, but people don’t have to,” the narrative follows Morris Bober, an aging shop owner who gets kicked so hard by life that it borders on the cosmic. Just when it looks like things can’t get any worse, Morris gets help from an unexpected source when he reluctantly hires a young drifter to serve as his assistant in the shop.

Malamud kept up the five-year interval between books, releasing “A New Life” in 1961. One of his funnier outings, the book fictionalized Malamud’s time as a teacher at Oregon State and is in some ways quite similar to “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis.

Delving deeper into the darkness of the human soul than before, Malamud’s fourth book, “The Fixer,” takes on the dark history of anti-Jewish persecution in the early 20th century, even before the notion of National Socialism had formed. Taking place in 1913, the narrative fictionalized the real-life “Beilis Trial” in which ex-soldier Menahem Beilis was fraudulently accused of “ritual murder” based on misinformation found in the thoroughly debunked propaganda tract “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” by the Tsarist regime of Nicholas II. The novel follows the true story so well that there has been a long-standing suspicion, never proven, that Malamud plagiarized the English translation of the memoir Beilis wrote about the ordeal. As with “The Natural,” the novel was also adapted into a film of the same name in 1968.

Breaking the trend, Malamud’s fifth novel, “Pictures of Fidelman: An Exhibition,” came out only three years after “The Fixer” in 1969. More a collection of short stories than a unified narrative, the book holds six distinct storylines featuring the closest thing it has to a protagonist in Arthur Fidelman, including such evocative titles as “Pictures of the Artist,” most likely a reference to Joyce, and “Glass Blower of Venice.”

Picking up the pace to nearly breakneck speed, Malamud managed to get his next novel, “The Tenants,” out to

continues on page 20 >>

Israeli Lifestyle continued

before embarking on missions, we do not fear Heaven's judgment. For the sake of transparency, as the mother of a combat soldier who faces unspeakable danger with each heart-stopping operation, I am not comforted by our policy of restraint.

Perversely charged with ethnic cleansing, bankrolling all of the world’s evil, along with other depravities that are too numerous to mention, Israel will remain in charge of its narrative, and neither a morally corrupt U.N. nor Hollywood lightweight is entitled to determine our outcome.

We are not looking to be saved by strangers. Israel’s ultimate redemption will be accomplished by our own physical and spiritual efforts. A

Literature continued

the world by 1971. Digging again into his own experience, this time in terms of the writing life, the story follows a blinkered rivalry between two writers in a crumbling New York tenement. Inspired by the civil unrest in New York at the time, the fact that one of the writers is Jewish, as is usual for Malamud, and the other is African-American adds some extra spikiness to his observations, as well as a whiff of the idea of an “oppression Olympics” decades before such a term was coined by internet culture.

Returning to form, no one would really hear from Malamud again, aside from the short story collection “Rembrandt’s Hat” (1974), for another seven years. Joining the argument again in 1979, Malamud holds a mirror up to the literary establishment and those lionized by it by having the protagonist William Dubin, a successful and happy writer, cheat on his wife during a research jaunt to get background on the notoriously earthy D.H. Lawrence, drawing uncomfortable parallels between Dubin and those who went before him.

Hilarious in an extremely cynical way by taking on the hubris of humanity to think that a perfect society can ever exist, despite the direct translation of “utopia” from the Latin being “no place,” Malamud’s final novel, “God’s Grace,” is a new twist on an old theme. Calvin Cohen, the last human on earth, tries to create a perfect society by his own standards out of what is left of civilization.

Although Malamud was from Brooklyn, his parents were Russian Jews, which informed much of his later work and dealt directly with the paradox and near-surrealism of being a Jewish American in the 20th century in a way that rivaled even Philip Roth’s Zuckerman novels despite never reaching anything like Roth’s level of fame.  A

C M Y CM MY CY CMY K 2024 Puffs Jewish Journal.pdf 1 2/7/24 3:54 PM

Annual Bloom Bash Kicks Off Art Alive 2024

For over 40 years, Art Alive has served as the San Diego Museum of Art’s signature fundraising event. The fourday celebration is a colorful spectacle that delights all the senses, featuring floral interpretations of artwork from the Museum’s collection. The theme for 2024 is Art of India, taking inspiration from the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of South Asian paintings.

One of the biggest highlights of Art Alive is Bloom Bash, a special evening that showcases the yearly theme through food, drink, dance and, of course, art. Sarah Grossman, the associate director of special events and corporate relations at SDMA, shared some of the offerings that will be available for this year’s Bloom Bash.

Hut, Naturally Desi, Urban India and Annapurna Indian Cuisine will be dishing out South-Asian offerings. In addition to the Indian food, there will be American options like Dang Brother Pizza and Crack Shack. Sweets will be provided by Extraordinary Desserts and Eclipse Chocolate, to name a few.

Hendricks Gin and Milagro Tequila are signed on as corporate sponsors for the event, and they will be serving up fun and festive libations all evening long. The Rincon Reservation Road Brewery


There will be 40 local restaurants and businesses supplying food for the event. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a better list than we’ve had this year,” Sarah said. “I’m very excited by the kind of variety; a lot of the people have been coming year after year, but there are a lot of new people and a lot of new restaurants that are just opening their doors, which is exciting.”

To help flesh out this year’s theme, local Indian restaurants Turmeric

will be providing beer both on tap and in cans located around the event. All food and drink offerings are included in the ticket price.



“This year, we have some wandering entertainment,” Sarah said. “We are bringing in an Indian dance group out of LA called Karmagraphy. We haven’t had dance performances at Bloom Bash before, but this was a really good time to showcase a modern take on Indian dance. They’ll be doing dances periodically through the evening. Along with them, we’ll have a South Asian DJ and dhol player — it’s kind of a celebratory drumming...but he does it along with DJ music, which is kind of fun. We love to have live entertainment like that.”


Each year, SDMA highlights certain artists and their work for Bloom Bash specifically. There will be three artists this year for the Art of India theme.

Nisha Kaur Sethi is a graffiti artist and graphic designer working in both

LA and Oakland. “She’s creating some digital work for the event,” Sarah said. “We’re going to be doing a pretty good installation with some of the theming of the decor and colors kind of coming from her work.” Her art will be available to view on the Plaza de Panama in front of the Museum.

Tejal Shah will be providing henna/ mehndi for Bloom Bash visitors. Born and raised in Mumbai, Tejal learned graphic design before migrating to America in 1994. In 2008, she started her own business, Henna San Diego, and it has been thriving ever since.

Vani Shiroor and DOTURMINDS will present rangoli, a traditional Indian art form. “It’s done with sometimes spices, but often in this situation, colored sand,” Sarah said, “and they make patterns on the ground, and it’s meant to ward off evil spirits and, you know, [have] good omens at the entryway...They’re

going to be doing live rangoli work at the Bloom Bash event, and they’re also doing a hands-on version at the Garden of Activities’ Family Art-Making on the weekend.”

The Art of India theme was an organization-wide decision that had been talked about for many years.

“The Indian collection is a cornerstone of our collection that I don’t think a lot of people know we have,” Sarah said. “They say it’s the largest [collection] outside of Delhi of its kind. So, it’s a cornerstone, but we’ve just never featured it for Art Alive, and it’s been on the ‘want to do’ list for a while. Each year, I sit down with the head of curatorial and the director, and we start talking about options; this one has come up a lot, and within this year, it just seemed like the best fit with what else is going on.”

The Museum saw over 12,000 visitors for Art Alive 2023, who all helped raise $1.2 million for the organization’s programming. Bloom Bash is an especially fun and festive way to contribute to SDMA and enjoy all the Museum has to offer. A

Art Alive runs April 25-28, 2024. Visit for ticket information.


Traditional Jewish Food Goes Vegetarian!

Micah Siva is a food writer, photographer, cookbook author and a regular contributor to SDJJ. Micah has just published her second cookbook, “Nosh: Plant-Forward Recipes

Celebrating Modern Jewish Cuisine,” and SDJJ had a few questions for her.

SDJJ: Tell us about your inspiration for this new book of vegetarian and vegan recipes.

Micah Siva: As a long time plantbased eater, I always felt excluded from my family’s holiday dinners, and no matter how many times my bubbe and grandmother would push, I never wanted to have “just a little” of their meat based dishes. When I grew up and out of my family home (and country), I started to connect with Jewish food as a sense of community and family through creating my own food traditions, and found great comfort in revisiting my family recipes during the holidays, shabbat dinners, and celebrations. I loved to put my own

spin on my grandmother’s classic dishes, and found that it made me feel connected to my family in new ways. At the same time, I’ve seen a great shift in the way that people are eating and cooking. Plant-based eating has been steadily rising over the last decades, and with that in mind, I wanted to create a book and community that celebrated Judaism through food that I connected with, and hope that others can do the same.

SDJJ: Tell us how your Grandmother Epstein nurtured your love of food, particularly Jewish food.

24 | SDJEWISHJOURNAL.COM March 2024 continues on



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MS: She was a firecracker, and she always prepared elaborate meals with strong roots in her Eastern European heritage. As children, my sister and I would visit her and my Grandfather for a week every summer. We would go raspberry picking, come home to make jam, then use the jam to fill thumbprint cookies rolled in chopped walnuts. She centered memories and family gatherings over a dinner table, and it has always stuck with me. Every meal and dish had a story and memory attached, and it was truly a way to connect with relatives and family that we had lost.

SDJJ: How do you define “modern Jewish cuisine”?

MS: To me, modern Jewish cuisine takes classic Jewish dishes and uses modern, novel ingredients to bring them to a new level. It also means using Jewishish ingredients to make dishes that are suited for a 21st-century lifestyle, like meal-prepping, weekday dinners, or a Shabbat meal that doesn’t take all day to make. It honors the past and recipes from generations prior while tweaking them to appeal to younger generations of Jews.

SDJJ: “Nosh” offers recipes with roots in Africa, India, the Middle East, and both Western and Eastern Europe. Why is it important to you to celebrate the multicultural character and flavors of Jewish cooking?

MS: The Jewish community is so diverse, and its diversity is often overlooked in North American Jewry, where Jewish food is equated with deli food or falafel. It is so important to recognize and celebrate Jews from across the diaspora, as they are an integral part of the worldwide community. At the same time, as an avid traveler, I love to visit local synagogues

and Jewish communities and learn about their foodways. These recipes celebrate those experiences. I want everyone to feel represented and seen in “Nosh.”

SDJJ: What would you most like our readers to take away from “Nosh”?

MS: Whether you are vegetarian or not, “Nosh” is for you — you don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy a vegan recipe. Try adding a new vegetable side dish to your Passover Seder or Hanukkah celebration! A

Jewish Food continued
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When It’s Time To Celebrate!

BESA, San Diego’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah Experts

Life’s milestones, like the bar and bat mitzvahs of our children and grandchildren are once-in-a-lifetime occasions that bring tons of joy, but can also be fraught with tons of stress. Where to hold it, how many to invite, should there be a theme, and if so, what should it be? Should we have a DJ or a live band? How will we know the latest trends that 13-year-olds are into? How do we get everyone to agree on so many details when there are so many choices?! How can we make everyone happy?

Well, Lydia Krasner, the self-proclaimed “Party Queen,” wants you to feel relaxed and confident when you

are planning what is one of the most special events in your family, the bar or bat mitzvah of your 13-year-old. These events can be stressful for parents to plan and organize, but not for Lydia, owner of Mitzvah Event Productions, Charming Expressions and the president of BESA. She has been orchestrating fabulous events effortlessly and joyously since 1995. She will assist you in bringing your vision of the perfect celebration to life. Lydia began her creative career as a Judaic art teacher and director. Then, about 20 years ago, she was asked to decorate for a synagogue fundraiser and went over the moon;

her new career as an event planner was born. Lydia loves what she does and her enthusiasm is boundless. She is known for her beautiful, breathtaking productions, as well as the peace of mind she brings to the task.

Lydia wants everyone to know that the very first place to start thinking about and planning your event is to check out the annual expo put on by BESA, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Event Services, an association of vendors specializing in Jewish events since 2001. This year, the expo will be on Sunday, March 17, from noon to 4 p.m. at the San Diego Mission Bay Resort and


Have some fun and get fresh new ideas for your upcoming mitzvah at this year’s BESA Expo.

will host 60 exhibitors ranging from videographers and DJs, entertainers to game stations, decor and food — all the latest trends will be on display. Prepare to be wowed by the “buzzing atmosphere brimming with families and kids.” At the expo, you’re sure to find what you need to create a truly wonderful, memorable celebration that will include all those little details special to the celebrants. As Lydia says, “Love is in the details.”

The expo is free, but please register at A


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‘I Want To Get Married Before a Rocket Lands on My Head.’

War Has Amped up Israel’s Passion for Matchmaking

Katie Silver had already mastered volunteering and racing to safe rooms when she hopped on another Israeli wartime trend. Silver, a pilates instructor in Jerusalem, logged onto a Facebook group called Secret Tel Aviv and announced that she was looking for love.

Like many single 30-somethings, Silver had tried dating apps but felt burned out. But she saw something different in what was happening in the Secret Tel Aviv group, where diverse residents of Israel’s hippest city — and, increasingly, others from elsewhere in the country — were furiously posting their personal details and romantic ambitions. In the flood of beach photos and biographies, she detected a national mood that matched her own.

“There’s a sense of urgency of creating togetherness, family, community and bringing more good people into the world with good values...not to let evil win out,” Silver said. “To celebrate life and have joy and simcha and weddings and bar mitzvahs and of course to make more Jewish babies so the population numbers can go back up.”

She added, “Plus, I want to get married before a rocket lands on my head.”

According to Secret Tel Aviv’s administrator, Jonny Stark, the matchmaking trend began in the first weeks of the war amid daily rocket fire, with posts from people seeking to find “the one to run to the bomb shelter with.” Those soon morphed into more

general personal ads, which peaked in December but have continued since, increasingly with humorous twists on the theme.

Hundreds of posts seeking partners poured into the group, including new members like Liat Admati MacKie from Beeri, one of the “envelope” communities near Gaza that was hardest hit on Oct. 7, and veteran members like Ben Raul Maizel, whose humorous post racked up more than 4,000 likes. Maizel’s post reads: “I want to take my girlfriend to a B&B in the north. Can anyone recommend a girlfriend?”

Stark said that during past times of conflict, similar trends have emerged in his group — but never on such a scale.

continues on next page >>

“During past times of conflict, similar trends have emerged... but never on such a scale.”

“People are looking for connection,” he said. “I’m super happy about it. The goal of Secret Tel Aviv is to help people connect and this is a great example of it happening.”

The Facebook group is hardly the only example of wartime matchmaking on overdrive. In the days after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, as soldiers massed on the border with Gaza, pictures of soldiers flexing their “miluim mustaches” — using the Hebrew word for reserve duty — punctured the somber mood. Some noted that they were single and would be available once they were released from duty.

Actress Maya Wertheimer, one of Israel’s most widely followed social media influencers, has peppered her accounts with singles ads since the beginning of the war. She has used her Instagram platform to showcase soldiers who are looking for love, sharing their basic details along with pictures of the men in and out of uniform — often submitted by their sisters and friends.

And in New York City, an Orthodox synagogue launched a matchmaking initiative in response to the war in November. Hundreds of people signed up within days, and at least a few relationships have started there, according to its organizers.

“Everyone’s trying to figure out what to do from here,” Avital

Chizhik-Goldschmidt, the congregation’s co-founder and rebbetzin, told the New York Jewish Week at the time. “I felt very much that the best way to respond to darkness and death is to bring in more light and more love and to bring people joy. Traditionally, that is the Jewish response to catastrophe.”

Stark understands the impulse to find a partner well. One of the reasons he founded Secret Tel Aviv — where anything from parking places (or the lack thereof) to the best ramen in the city is discussed — was to find a partner. He ultimately found one elsewhere and now has two children — but his group has taken on a life of its own since its launch in 2010. It has exploded to nearly half a million members — exceeding the size of Tel Aviv’s entire population — and at one point even counted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg among them. The potential for pairing up is huge.

Stark added that it was too early to tell if this round of posts had yet had the desired effect. But he is trying to stack the deck in their favor: Secret Tel Aviv has partnered with DateNight, a platform that hosts online speed dating nights, and recently attracted more than 150 people to one event.

Silver, who immigrated to Jerusalem from London in 2012, posted a brief biography and several photos, and opened the post by quipping that she

wasn’t having much luck finding love in Israel’s capital “because apparently everyone in Jerusalem is married with kids.” She clarified that she was only searching for a serious relationship before ending the post with another quip: “I hope you all find ‘the one’ so that this group can return to being a place to advertise apartments instead of ourselves.”

She said she was so overwhelmed with offers of dates that she had to turn off her phone.

“It hasn’t led to love — yet — but it’s been eye opening,” Silver said about her experience. “It’s also allowed me to be much more honest about what I’m looking for. It removed the stigma. You’re no longer too proud or too embarrassed to put yourself out there because you sort of see that we’re all in the same boat, looking for love.”

Some group members have lambasted the trend, charging that it distracts from the original purpose of Secret Tel Aviv or is even a catfishing effort by Hamas to collect information about Israelis.

But others say simply watching the posts unfold has kept them connected to others at a challenging time. Limor Stika, who did not put up a post herself but who commented on several others’, said it made sense that the war was bringing the trend to the fore. “In times of crisis and wars, people want support and love, comfort,” Stika said. “Someone to hug and vent to.”

Recently, she posted news of a success story. “I must tell you that because of you I got to know my partner of the last three months,” read a note she posted on Friday. “....There’s no doubt that he is the best match for me in the world.”

Says Maya Wertheimer, “Yalla, friends, we’ve waited long enough!” A

Deborah Danan is a contributing writer for JTA and SDJJ.
32 | SDJEWISHJOURNAL.COM March 2024 I Want To Get Married continued


hold your next special occasion at pacifica


Local Arts


San Diego Musical Theatre’s revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” will continue to charm audiences through March 10 With its wonderful song and dance numbers and its much-adored story, this is a show for the whole family, so don’t miss it!



La Jolla Playhouse is turning the spotlight on “Redwood,” a world premiere musical that stars Broadway icon Idina Menzel in her local debut. This one-of-a-kind theatrical event zeroes in on one woman’s journey into the awe-inspiring world of the redwoods. Written and directed by acclaimed writer Tina Landau, this new musical comes to life with cinematic force and a soaring score. The show will continue at the the Potiker Theatre through March 17

The Old Globe’s season on the Shiley Stage continues with “The Age of Innocence,” a Globe-commissioned world premiere based on Edith Wharton’s beloved novel of the Gilded Age. The plot revolves around a visit from a glamorous Countess, who wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone around her. “The Age of Innocence” is another opulent period piece, which the Globe produces with such aplomb. It will stay on through March 10

The White Theatre at the Globe will unveil “King James” on March 9, an energetic play about friendship and basketball that focuses on the fabulous career of LeBron James. The play is interwoven with moments of laughter, poignancy, and camaraderie and highlights the connections that sports can cultivate.


The La Jolla Music Society will start the month off on March 2 with a recital by tenor Lawrence Brownlee, followed on the 3rd by violinist Maria Iodenitch and pianist Kenneth Broberg. Kronos Quartet’s 50th anniversary tour is slated for March 8, and Kings Return will take over on March 9. Meow Meow is coming on March 10, followed on the 14th by Branford Marsalis Quartet.

Alphabet Rockers is on tap for March 16 and Nrityagram Dance Ensemble follows on the 20th & 21st. Ladysmith Black Mambazo will perform on March 22, with violinist Ray Chen & pianist Julio Elizalde due to appear on March 28 to finish off the month.

Callum Adams as Newland Archer and Michael Underhill as Dallas in The Age of Innocence, 2024. PHOTO BY JIM COX. "Fiddler on the Roof." PHOTO BY KEN JACQUES .


Broadway-San Diego will feature the multiple Tony Award-winning “MJ” show at the Civic Theatre, March 5-10. The new musical tells the story of Michael Jackson and his unique talents in song and dance. This is the show’s first visit to San Diego, so catch it while you can.


The Roustabouts Theatre is ready to make you laugh with “Hand to God,” a humorous exploration of faith, morality, and the human psyche. The show will play on at Diversionary Theatre on Park Blvd., March 7-31.


The Lamb’s Players will be launching a world premiere on March 16. “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate,” a musical based on an award-winning novel, tells the story of a bright young girl’s fascination with the natural world, and the encouragement she receives from her special grandfather. The show will be in residency at the troupe’s Coronado home through May 5.


North Coast Repertory Theatre will give local audiences a chance to delight in Moliere’s “Tartuffe,” March 6 – April 7. This comic masterpiece abounds with satirical wit, and is brilliantly entertaining in its use of rhyming verses to skewer religious hypocricy, deceit, and desire. You can savor this saucy and enduring work at NCRT’s Solana Beach home.


The Oceanside Museum of Art will feature “Artist Alliance Biennial” through March 31

Cast of "Tartuffe" at North Coast Rep. PHOTO BY AARON RUMLEY. "MJ" at Broadway-San Diego. “The Evolution of Capternia Tate” at Lamb’s.


‘Barbenheimer’ and ‘Maestro’ Lead a Large Crop of Jewish-Inspired Oscar Nominations

The year’s biggest movie phenomenon was a one-two punch of blockbusters with Jewish roots — and they both came up big at the Oscar nominations.

“Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s biopic of the Jewish “father of the atomic bomb,” led the year’s nominations with 13, including best picture and director, and is favored by many prognosticators to win the big prize.

The film’s rendition of J. Robert Oppenheimer covers a fair amount of Jewish ground, including his personal animus toward the Nazis; his recruitment of expelled European Jewish scientists to work on the bomb; his relationship with Albert Einstein, and his late-in-life rivalry with Jewish atomic energy bureaucrat Lewis Strauss. Both Cillian Murphy, who plays

Oppenheimer, and Robert Downey Jr., who plays Strauss, were nominated for acting Oscars, as was Emily Blunt, who plays Oppenheimer’s wife Kitty.

The movie’s summer release-date companion and partner-in-memes, Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” picked up eight nominations, including best picture. The doll at the center of the musical comedy was created by Jewish inventor Ruth Handler (a minor character in the movie, played by Rhea Perlman). Also nominated from the film are Gerwig’s partner Noah Baumbach, a credited co-writer, and composer Mark Ronson for best original song. Both are Jewish.

Another Jewish-themed contender this year, Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” was the subject of some derision upon its premiere for Cooper’s use of a prosthetic

nose to play Jewish composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein. But the biopic, a passion project of Cooper’s, sailed over the objections and picked up seven nominations — including, notably, for best makeup.

“Maestro” was also nominated for best picture, with producer Steven Spielberg among the nominated names, as well as lead actor for Cooper and lead actress for Carey Mulligan as Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre, the actress whose paternal grandfather was Jewish and who in real life converted to Judaism for Bernstein.

The Oscars will air March 10 on ABC. A

Andrew Lapin is a contributing writer for JTA and SDJJ.

Cillian Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s film “Oppenheimer.” (Universal Pictures)
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Falafel & Feta Stuffed Peppers

Skip the fryer and get stuffing to satisfy your falafel fix! Get the taste of your favorite falafel without the fuss in a simple but delicious one-dish meal that is perfect for welcoming spring! With Purim around the corner, I like to look beyond the hamantaschen and dive deeper into what makes the holiday so special. I love to make stuffed and/or vegetarian dishes to pay tribute to Queen Esther, who was a vegetarian, and her act of hiding her identity in order to protect her and her people — not unlike these Falafel Stuffed Peppers! A vegetarian dish (vegan, if you omit the cheese) that is not what you expect!



• 3 bell peppers, cut in half vertically, seeds and stems removed

• 2, 15-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

• 3 cloves garlic, peeled

• ¼ large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped

• 1 cup fresh parsley

• 1 cup fresh cilantro

• 1 teaspoon lemon zest

• 1 teaspoon cumin

• 1 teaspoon coriander

• ½ teaspoon red chili flakes

• ¼ teaspoon cardamom

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt

• 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided

• 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

• 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

• Tahini, to serve

• Lemon wedges, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Place the bell peppers, cut side up in a 9×13-inch baking dish.

2. Add the garbanzo beans, garlic, onion, parsley, cilantro, cumin, coriander, red chili flakes, cardamom, and kosher salt.

3. Pulse until it resembles small pebbles — do not blend until smooth, you want some texture in this mixture.

4. Remove the garbanzo bean mixture and transfer to a large bowl. Add ½ cup of the crumbled feta cheese, mixing to combine.

5. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil into the peppers. Fill the peppers with the bean mixture, and top with remaining feta cheese, drizzling with olive oil and sesame seeds.

6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the peppers are tender.

7. Drizzle with tahini and serve with lemon.


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The Fine Art of the Successful Simcha

My Dear San Diegans:

The thing I adore more than jars of whitefish from Katz’s Deli sent to me in Las Vegas are terrific Simchas. These do not include the joyless, the meaningless, the Oscar-night productions, the skimpy chickens, the seat by the kitchen next to someone’s Tante Bertha describing her hip replacement, leaving out children and hosts that boast: “Look who came. The ‘Tesla’’ Teitlebaums!”

Getting It! Strategic Ways to Plan a Simcha


• Annoying (usually) strategy

Personally, I think there’s a difference between a simcha and organizing a safari for 150 or a bar mitzvah starring Taylor Swift. For the last 50 years, we have gotten tackier, especially with the aid of the digital world (causing the digitalis world) that can make revelers deaf and blind with triple surround sound and photos of the “stah” since the ultrasound. (Of course those who think this way will adore it.) If you’re a billionaire who must invite every other billionaire, throw a dinner on your yacht– with caviar and Taylor Swift on toast.

• Effective Strategic Relationship Thinking (SRT)

Every joy has its moment and its season. Of course, be creative and enjoy, but the star of the simcha is the “simcha!” Let us not forget to plan for joy, but transcendent joy that celebrates the true meaning of the bar mitzvah, the birth, the graduation, the wedding, the anniversary, or the birthday, and doesn’t become a contest for most extravagant irrelevancies.


• Annoying creative costly mindfields (to impress) I believe sometime starting around the 1960s, from relatively intact egos, the Alphas created the new Cold War of “Appearances.” The principal values became gelt, status,

stuff, from Yuppies to Alphabetic Gens with bloated bitcoins lighting up their egos. This new thinking extends to some simchas. Perhaps the worst I endured was a high school graduation — among the boars. This was a jungle motif. The graduate, smart enough to get into Yale, descended in a cage, then fell over flora and fauna trying to find his head table in the dark. Daddy doctor took a night job to pay for the authentic alligators.

• Better strategic thinking

My three words: “SIMPLE, CLASSY, AFFORDABLE!” The synagogue, your home, a library, a super restaurant room, a tent, a museum, a great house that rents for occasions are amazing even for the rich and wannabes. It beats an overdone catering hall, with wild animal noises and falling guests. My suggestion is to go to a place you know well and discuss plans and décor with the owner to make it super special and meaningful to you and your family.


• Annoying strategy

NKA or no kids allowed. Obviously this isn’t an issue for bar mitzvahs and graduations (usually), but I personally find leaving the kinder out (OK, say over a certain age for some events) a little silly. True, at times they can be silly, but so can adults. Going to a wedding across the country with the kids, and having to find babysitters, etc. when the wedding is during the day on a lawn, seems ridiculous and asking too much of the parents.

• Effective SRT

Simchas are learning experiences, they provide family naches, and joys to remember. Unless you’re “simchaing” on Mar-a-Lago with Warren Buffet and the exiled Princess of Slovakia, children, if proper preparations are made, can be a delight. By proper preps, I mean, rules in place (no random running, screaming, and other “joyful” antics), consequences, shared parental responsibility, bringing the kiddy stuff to calm them, finding a place you


Advice continued

can calm them, and leaving at the witching hour, when exhaustion has turned your doll into a mini monster. If we want our children to love family, we have to see them as a continuation of family, and make them an important stitch in our quilt as early as possible.


• Annoying strategy

When I receive a 14-inch fancy, lacy, gaudy, tissue-filled invite, I have an irrepressible urge to turn it into a trendy boho top. I literally have an allergic reaction and think about how many meals one of these “Picassos” could provide a village of Ukrainian Jews. How tasteless, expensive and not strategic.

• Better strategic thinking from SRT

Most of us have received the free cards that charities send you hoping for a donation. They’re often a simple design promoting a good cause, such as funds for Israel, medical research, wildlife. My one word: “CUSTOMIZE.” I called a favorite charity, and they did it. I paid for each card, and they customized the “who, where and when,” while each invite became a DONATION. It’s mitzvah, I believe classier, and actually costs less than sending “A custom ‘Chagallthemed invite’ to Melvin’s bar mitzvah!”


• Annoying, yet common, strategy

How often have we heard guests moan: “Look where they put me? Some nerve!” Think on it. Which do we like better? Strolling and schmoozing during the cocktail hour or sitting at the dinner with a table full of the hosts’ great uncles Shmooie, Louis, and Dewey. Seating charts are major stressors (“Auntie Myra hates Cousin Irving, so...but she needs to be near the bathroom so...”). Then there are the people no one knows, and the plus-ones you put anywhere (with the uncles). Moreover, if you want to escape tables, you need the chutzpah of a “Mr. Wonderful” which implies “you’re dead to me” to the people you’ve abandoned.

• Ah! Better strategic thinking from SRT

My three words: “GUEST POWER SEATING.” Have lovely, decorated tables and chairs. That’s it. The adults are old enough to seat themselves. In fact, you couldn’t do a better job. Moreover, all can float around and mingle without that embarrassing table-jumping. Even better, Tanta Millie can’t blame you if she’s sitting too close to the kitchen. No blame, no charts, no extra work that usually doesn’t.


• Boring, yet common, strategy

“Chicken, Fish, Beef — with potato and peas. Choose One.”

So says the $250 invite. As for me, I’d rather go for kosher Chinese. How many of us adore pre-meal mingling food? Hmmm. We stuff ourselves with kosher pigs in the blanket, gefilte fish balls, and mini-knishes or vegan salads, hummus and little bagels with anything on them. Then there’ get the point.

• Better strategic eating

My one word: “BUFFET!” Bubbe can’t chew steak, your niece is allergic to fish, your millennial daughter won’t eat anything that was ever alive. Who doesn’t adore variety in life and especially in food. Servers can serve whoever is sitting wherever for the first round, and then, it’s a free-forall. Your nearest and dearest can stuff themselves as much as they wish, and with whatever they want. Oh, another benefit is, it’s often less expensive than a sit-down force-feed.

The take-away? Enjoy, but on your terms, your tastes, your budget. Make life easy on you and your guests, and finally, keep the meaning of the simcha at the front of your strategy for a truly successful celebration. A

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“An astonishingly delightful romp.”

Molière’s TARTUFFE, acknowledged as one of the most enduring comedic masterpieces in the theatrical canon, is given an astonishingly clever translation by two-time Pulitzer Prize poet Richard Wilbur. The charlatan Tartuffe worms his way into a wealthy family causing disruption and pandemonium. This highly satiric comedy skewers religious hypocrisy, deceit, and desire. Lovers of classic theatre will not want to miss this rollicking evening of grace and fun.

into English verse by Richard Wilbur Directed by Richard Baird
NEW YORK POST Translated
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Bruce Turk & Bo Foxworth PHOTO: AARON RUMLEY
Illustration by Anita Kunz
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