Bâ€™bayit in the Home Supplement to Jewish News, November 12, 2012
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he things that make a house a home are unique to every person and family, but the things that make a house a Jewish home are fairly universal.
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Inside a Jewish home, you’ll find candlesticks—used on a
regular basis to usher in Shabbat and during most Jewish festivals
and special occasions. Many young women receive their first candlesticks as a Bat Mitzvah or Confirmation gift, and treasured candlesticks are passed down from generation to generation. A Kiddush cup, also used during Shabbat and on special occasions, is frequently displayed alongside the candlesticks. Somewhere in a Jewish house, you may also spot a Chanukiah, the menorah used during Chanukah, a mizrach—a decorative item used to indicate which way to face during prayers (east), and perhaps a ketubah, or marriage certificate.
Outside the home, and frequently inside as well—whether it’s an apartment, condo or mansion—affixed to a doorpost will be a mezuzah. Inside a decorative
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container is a parchment scroll that contains the Shema; the mezuzah fulfills the commandment to inscribe the Shema prayer “on the doorposts of your house.” In this special Home issue of Jewish News, we explore area gift shops where we can find candlesticks, Kiddish cups and mezuzot, as well as other unique Judaica. Local design experts share decorating tips and trends, and we discover the benefits one Norfolk family gets from switching to solar power. We learn how a local rug shop owner is giving back to those who are less fortunate. And for
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our senior population, when staying home is as important as making a home, we highlight a Jewish Family Service of Tidewater program that helps ensure that can happen. From our Jewish News home to yours, we’d like to share a translation of the Birkat Habiyat blessing, which can be found on artwork and tapestries hanging on the walls of Jewish homes: May this home be a place of happiness and health, of contentment, generosity and hope, a home of creativity and kindness. May those who visit and those who live here know only blessing and peace. Cover photo by Steve Budman.
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Area experts share decorating design tips by Laine M. Rutherford
hen it comes to interior design and decorating, choices are abundant, popular, individual, classically elegant, ultra-contemporary, endless. For some people, redecorating or moving—whether for the first time or last—is an exciting challenge. For others, it can be an overwhelming task. Jewish News asked three local interior design veterans to share some of their design tips, as well as decorating trends they’re noticing in Hampton Roads. Simon Driscoll of Young’s Flooring, Shawn Griffey of Decorum Furniture and Francine Morgan of Designs by Francine lend their expert advice on home elements, ranging from color choices to picking a design style.
JN: There are so many different kinds of flooring options, from wood to carpeting to cement. What flooring choices do you recommend? What kinds of floors are people requesting? Simon Driscoll: For cost efficiency, carpet is less expense; it fits a lot of budgets and offers a nice comfort factor. For our older clients, though, we recommend if they’re going to use carpeting that they go with a really dense padding, to reduce any kind of tripping hazard. Hardwood floors are probably best for that population. Another great choice is sheet vinyl. Yes, vinyl is making a huge comeback, with the vinyl plank and vinyl tiles that reproduce the look of wood and tile. The quality of the images is so good that it’s deceptive. If you looked at some of the planks, you’d think it was real wood, but it’s not. We are seeing a lot of requests for dark colored wood floors; the rustic
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and dark, weathered look is very popular right now. People need to realize though, that just like having a black carpet, these floors show everything and they require more maintenance. Another very popular choice today is cork flooring. There are a lot of benefits to cork—it is antimicrobial, it’s an excellent insulator and it’s an excellent option as a “green” flooring because you don’t kill any trees with cork; cork comes from the bark of the tree. Francine Morgan: I mostly like hardwood. You can get laminate floors, but what a lot of people don’t know, and need to be aware of, is that they make a lot of noise when you walk on them. On floors today, we’re seeing a lot of textured area rugs over hardwood. And, for me, the carpet of choice is wool; it is the easiest rug to get stains out of and lasts a lot longer than other materials. JN: Paint colors—should we go bold, or should we go neutral? And what about any other kinds of wallcoverings? Shawn Griffey: Paint is such an individual statement...that is why there are so many colors to choose from. Neutrals, and barely there colors are easiest to live with long term, especially in large spaces or unifying several smaller rooms. But color can be such a wonderful expression of who you are, and really set a tone for a room. Francine Morgan: You have to be careful when you use colors other than neutrals, and the popular ones right now that we’re seeing are bright orange and fuchsia. That said, they can really make a room “pop.” I still love chocolate brown for walls. Wallpaper was out of style for a long time, but it’s coming back, particularly grass cloth. We’re seeing wallpaper in kitchens and bathrooms, and we’re seeing a lot of tile, too. Mosaic back splashes and glass tile are very popular.
JN: What about our windows? Do we need window treatments throughout the house? What about upscale blinds or plantation shutters instead? Shawn Griffey: Window treatments can be a useful way to block out sun and ensure privacy. Often they can soften a room or dress it up. Cleaner, more contemporary looks need not be overdressed, that is why plantation shutters and upscale blinds are so popular. Modern looks with spacious, commanding views can look amazing with no treatments at all. Francine Morgan: Decorating has taken a simpler turn, things are less fussy, so gone are the fringes and trim on window treatments; that heavy European look is out and the contemporary, clean look is in. You might see Roman shades or roller shades made out of fabrics. Instead of draperies, we’ll use stationary side panels only, hung on simple drapery rods. JN: How can we reuse what we have to make our homes look fresh? And can you suggest ways to update pieces of furniture that may be good quality, but just look dated? Francine Morgan: Lacquer finishes in different colors on old pieces can make them look all new. We recently took an old buffet, lacquered it in white and it is stunning. You can also apply an antique chip finish to old wood pieces: refinish the piece, then take steel wool and run it just along the edges. It makes the piece still look old, but fresh and contemporary at the same time. People should also be aware that although they may have a very good sofa or chair that they’d like to reuse, by the time they have it reupholstered and repaired, they could have bought a new piece that’s just as good. Shawn Griffey:Repurposing furniture can be tricky. Painting or staining is the most popular way to transform a “keeper” into something you want
to use. Often moving accessories or getting new lamps or even switching shades can do the trick. JN: What is the one piece of furniture in which we should really make a significant investment? Shawn Griffey: The most important investment piece you should invest in is. Comfort, which is so subjective. You and your guests should be comfortable when sitting, or no one is going to be happy. Comfort is the key while reading, eating, watching television, and especially sleeping. Francine Morgan: Nice rugs and a comfortable sofa—with cushions made of spring down—are always great investments. JN: What are the best accessories to buy? (Pillows, lamps, tchotchkes, collections of items?) Shawn Griffey: Accessories are the jewelry for your home…they can make all the difference. Lamps can be useful, and beautiful. Pillows can freshen up a space, and help transform a look. Wall art is so important because it can truly transform a space. Art glass has become popular because it really has so much
personality, and can look so perfect in the right space. JN: Should we group our collections or spread them out? Shawn Griffey: Small clusters of accessories that complement each other based on texture, color, shape are what usually work best. Don’t be afraid to contrast or juxtapose items, as lining up or displaying too much of the same type accessory can be like a “forest through the trees.” Try creating several vignettes around the room. Francine Morgan: I like to see collections grouped, in cabinets, in tables, on shelves. A great look these days is large groups of pictures grouped together, maybe over a sofa. While the sizes of the pictures can be different, all of them should have the same frames so that the grouping looks neat. JN: How important is lighting? Shawn Griffey: Lighting is the most important aspect of any room. Obviously, being able to see is critical, but the mood and ambience a properly lit room can create is invaluable.
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JN: Any last advice you’d like to share, or a special “something” you’d like to share?
JN: Should we go for one design look, or is mixing and matching good-? Can you give us any pointers on doing it successfully? Shawn Griffey: Unifying a space can be as simple as going for one design look, but today’s trends are mixing it up and contrasting modern elements with
earthy, warm pieces. “Urban Organic” really is about taking a lean look and adding natural, textured pieces (both large and small) into the space to add personality and individualism, remember your home should be a reflection of who you are.
Simon Driscoll: If you’re looking to put carpet in your home, the style right now is anything with variation and texture in it. For wood floors, people like the look of wider boards, but in this area, we really don’t recommend anything wider than 4”in solid woods because of the humidity. Unless the whole house has humidity control, the floors can buckle, bow, warp or distort. There are, though, a broad spectrum of engineered planks that work well in this area, and those come in very wide boards. They have a plywood type of construction with a veneer of wood on them and are refinishable and work well in our climate.
Francine Morgan: The simpler turn that decorating has taken applies to upholstery as well as window treatments. No more prints on upholstery! I like to use linen, upholstery-weight, in solid colors, and then decorate with throw pillows in a lot of geometric prints. Another new thing that’s getting popular is intaglios. They’re small, oval pieces that resemble a Roman relief and are made out of plaster. Mounted, they’re grouped together on a wall and they look just wonderful. A few other decorating choices that have become popular are farm sinks in the kitchen, and countertops in the bath and kitchen made of granite and Carrara marble—all of which I think are good looks for the home.
Shawn Griffey: If you want to freshen your look, decide what bothers you the most, and what you really can’t part with...then edit your look (you may need help!).
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Judaica for home
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by Terri Denison
nce limited to a mezuzah at the front door, a single pair of Shabbat candlesticks and a Chanukah menorah, Judaica for the home used to be pretty simple and not-so-easy to find. Synagogue gift shops or a trip to Israel were the primary sources of these essential items for a Jewish home in Tidewater. That’s all changed. Today, couples prominently exhibit their ketubah, mezuzot are found on multiple doors, Shabbat candlesticks, Kiddush cups and Chanukiyot are displayed all year long. And, that’s just the beginning. Havdalah sets, traditional blessings for the home on plaques and tapestries, and Jewish-themed serving pieces abound. What’s more, purchasing Jewish-themed items—from menorahs to clever holders of a crushed wedding glass—is more convenient than ever. Susan Krohn, owner of Worththewait in Virginia Beach, says that Shabbat candlesticks and mezuzot are probably the most often requested gifts of Judaica for a new home in her store. “We even sell a lot of mezuzot to nonJewish people who like them in their home,” says Krohn. “And the Hamsa’s are popular. “I find a lot of times non-Jewish people buy for their Jewish friends and know that I can help them pick out the appropriate gift,” says Krohn. Worththewait, which also sells Jewish themed jewelry, is open seven days a week. Operating during school hours, Hebrew Academy of Tidewater’s gift shop sells child-friendly Judaica, in addition to Jewish games and crafts, says Deb Segaloff, director of development for the school. The HAT store’s offerings aren’t limited to only children’s items, however. “We have a lot of ritual items, including kosher parchments for mezuzot,” says Segaloff. One of her favorite items in the shop
are “beautiful Shabbat candles from Safed in Israel. They are just $12 and I can barely keep them in stock,” says Segaloff. Along the same line, “We also have a hand-designed Shabbat match box made in Israel.” Segaloff says both items make excellent hostess gifts. She notes that all proceeds from the shop go to support the school. Clay Barr and Lauren Baros-Barr, owners of the web-based Missions Possible gift site, spend a lot of time attending gift and craft shows around the country to secure unique gifts for all occasions. “I particularly think that Judaica is important to impress upon the next generation what we’re about,” says Clay Barr. For a different gift for a home, she suggests a challah board. Missions Possible offers them in a variety of styles, including some with salt holders and matching knives. “One of my favorite gifts now is a L’Dor V Dor challah cover,” says Barr. “It is personalized for each family with photographs. It makes a great future heirloom.” Even more unique, is the Israeli artist that Missions Possible features who crafts mezuzot and hamsa’s out of concrete. (Yes, concrete. What will those Israelis come up with next?) Since it is on the Internet, shopping at Missions Possible can take place any time of day. And, they are available by phone during the week. Beth Sholom Village and most area synagogues have gift shops and carry a wide range of items for Jewish homes. It is best to call each for hours of operation.
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Benefits of solar power shine brightly for Norfolk family by Laine M. Rutherford
in our home, we’d definitely save some, and we knew, in a positive way, we’d be helping the environment.” Monetarily, since installing the solar panels and heater, the family has seen its Dominion Power bills cut in half—even in the summer, Baum says. An average bill for their 4,000-square-foot home averages $150 a month. The Baums have become solar advocates. For the past four years, their home has been on a Solar Tour of homes in the area, and they support the local group that works with the tour. “I’m a ‘green’ person, so I think the panels make my roof look more attractive,” says Baum. “Really, they are very unobtrusive and I wish more people would use solar power— it’s been a great, easy change in our lives.”
rowing up, Elena Barr Baum remembers being the type of child who, after school, was pulling litter out of the river. “And that was even before recycling was a big thing,” she says. “I believe now, and have always believed, that any small thing you can do to lessen the burden of our living on this planet is a good thing.” Five years ago, Baum, her husband Gary and their three children, decided to make a change that would help both the planet’s ecosystem and their own economic situation. The family switched their electricity source from a 100 percent reliance on Dominion Virginia Power, to using the sun’s power, with Dominion remaining in place if For more information about the backup is needed. solar power industry, visit the Solar panels were installed American Solar Energy Society’s on the roof of their Norfolk website, at www.ases.org. home, virtually invisible from the street or from neighboring houses. The panels supply 3.2 kilowatts worth of power, which is brought in through wires that connect to an inverter, which in turn changes the power so it’s useable Meter on the through the house’s existing water tank that is heated by the electrical wiring. solar energy. The Baums also installed a solar hot water heater, which feeds the gas water heater they have and uses much less electrical power. The investment in going solar was significant, Baum says, but at the time the federal government was offering an immediate 30 percent tax credit on the capital outlay of switching to solar energy, and the state was also offering a rebate. After speaking with neighbors, professionals and builders, they decided installing the new system would be worth the expense. “We didn’t know how much money we would save on our bills, but we were convinced that with three teenagers growing up Solar panels on the back of the Baum’s roof.
Elena and Gary Baum with son Asher in front of the inverter in their garage. The inverter charges the solar power brought into the house so that it is usable through their home’s electrical system.
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Most want to age at home, so make a plan
significant concern as people grow older is that they may have to leave their home. This means leaving behind a comfortable setting, familiar community and memories. Plus, a certain amount of control is lost when one leaves home. This “control” provides the underpinning to feelings of dignity, quality of life and independence. One’s home is a strong element in that sense of security. In fact, an AARP survey found that more than 80% of seniors desire to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives. This “stay at home” approach is also known as Aging in Place, a term used to describe a senior living in the residence of their choice as they age, while being able to have any services or other support they might require as their needs change. Many reasons exist for this strong Aging in Place preference, including a comfortable environment, being near family, safety and security, familiarity, and feelings of independence. The majority of seniors aged 65 and older currently live either with a spouse or alone in their own home. Many of these people struggle with everyday tasks, their health care and the lives they lead in their homes. For some, quality of life may suffer as they get older. This is why an Aging in Place plan is vital. To Age in Place, one should be aware of community help and services available to deal with increasing frailty or age-related problems. They may also be needed in the event of illness. Such services may include: Transportation— including trips to the grocery store, home delivery of groceries, and transportation to medical appointments. Homecare • Supervision of medication. • Meal preparation. • Bathing, dressing and personal care. • Personal care assistance. • Private care when hospitalized. • Companionship and family support.
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ewish Family Service of Tidewater offers this full spectrum of services and more with certified nursing assistants, nurse’s aides, and home health aides. Licensed practical nurses are available when more comprehensive care—such as blood pressure monitoring, medication administration and catheter care—is needed. And, if skilled services are required, the agency has registered nurses, physical, occupational and speech therapists, and even a registered dietitian on staff to care for the patient. JFS staff helps develop a personalized care plan that works for the senior and his/ her family. Aging in Place is for responsible people who want to ensure their quality of life and live it out in dignity, without being a burden to their family or community. It’s important to take the time to think about needs, research options and put together a plan that is good for the entire family. Aging in Place is also for those caring for an elderly parent or loved one. Caregivers can be the most help by working with the senior to ensure their needs are met and wishes are respected. By providing the level of care that is right for them, a senior’s dignity is kept in tact and their needs are met. Jewish Family Service is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
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THANKSGIVING at home
For a Thanksgiving seder, it’s all about the ‘hodu’ by Edmon J. Rodman
LOS ANGELES (JTA)—Sitting down to the well-set table every November, even though it is filled with family and food, I always feel that something is missing—a Jewish connection to the Thanksgiving story. A dinner without the drama of the Exodus, like the Passover seder, leaves me just with the turkey to send my spirits soaring. It’s not that I need another haggadah—I already know why this night is different: the stuffing isn’t made of matzah meal. But what about borrowing the idea of the seder’s four cups of wine—the Tu b’Shvat seder does this, as well—to help organize the evening in a Jewish way? Liking the idea of repeating an action four times but wanting a change from raising a glass, I played thematically with four feathers, four fall leaves, even sticking four olives—so American, yet a fruit of Israel, too—on my fingers. For inspiration I turned to William Bradford, a passenger on the Mayflower and later the governor of Plymouth colony, who as it turned out was a figure who could bridge the gap between Puritan and Jewish narratives. In Of Plymouth Plantation, his journal of the Pilgrims, Bradford made comparative references between the Pilgrims’ voyage and the Israelites’ Exodus. Later in life, according to Stephen O’Neill, the curator of Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth Mass., Bradford “taught himself Hebrew,” even writing a book of Hebrew exercises. According to Bradford’s journal, the Mayflower Pilgrims gave thanks upon their landing: “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean,” reads the text.
“Let them therfore praise ye Lord, because he is good,” wrote Bradford, quoting from Psalm 107, which in Hebrew begins with the word “hodu,” “give thanks.” Here was my repeating element. Saying hodu, or thanks, four times in my Thanksgiving seder would work, and in a fortuitous Hebrew play on words, hodu also happens to mean “turkey.” First hodu: Begin your Thanksgiving seder with a blessing over a glass of wine or juice. Though historians think the Pilgrims probably drank water at the first Thanksgiving, they were not teetotalers— they later produced a hard cider, even a watered-down version for children. Then say a Shehecheyanu. During their first year in the New World, slightly more than half of the Mayflower’s 102 passengers survived. Sitting together around the table and saying this blessing—especially in a year when nature has made it painfully clear how fragile life can be—reminds us that God grants us life, sustains us and enables us to reach this day. Since the first Thanksgiving followed the corn harvest, the hamotzi blessing is in order. Break some bread—at this seder you don’t even need to dip it once. Say a hodu for a cornucopia of blessings. Second hodu: In 1621, Edward Winslow wrote a letter to a friend in England describing the first Thanksgiving meal shared by the Pilgrims
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with the Indians: “Our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.” Adding to the menu, we find in Winslow’s account that to help feed the assemblage, including 90 from the Wampanoag tribe and “their greatest king Massasoit,” the Native Americans “went out and killed five deer.” At your table, ever thankful that someone else has done the “fowling,” and that you haven’t hit a deer with your car, somebody should hold up the turkey (or Tofurky) platter and thank the “greatest” cook. To add a sense of family tradition to the meal, also hold up the other dishes, acknowledging what the guest households—the tribes—have contributed to the meal. One should ask, from whom was the recipe passed down? For tables with children in elementary school, it’s also a good time for show and tell. One should ask, from what did you make that lovely centerpiece? Go ahead and kvell. Say a hodu of recognition and dig in to your Thanksgiving meal. Third hodu: Before dessert, talk about the perilous journey of the Pilgrims toward religious freedom from England to Holland and finally to Plymouth. Each person at the table can introduce the story of their
own family about coming to America; one should tell of the going out. Say a hodu of freedom and feel free to indulge in pie. Fourth hodu: Last year, having a guitarplaying guest at our Thanksgiving dinner really gave us a chance to sing out our feelings. After dessert we sang old American favorites like “Turkey in the Straw” and “If I Had a Hammer.” This year I want to add a passage from “Birkat hamazon,” the grace after Meals” that begins with the words “Kakatuv, V’achalta v‘savata,” “And you shall eat and have enough, and then you shall thank the Lord your God for the good land He gave you.” Say a final hodu: As a guest, for the hospitality of your hosts. As a host, for the opportunity to bring together your family and friends. Then pray you can get up from the table. —Edmon J. Rodman is a JTA columnist who writes on Jewish life from Los Angeles.
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