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Supplement to Jewish News, September 22, 2014 jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 15
Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Dear Readers, The High Holidays have officially arrived.
Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Synagogues have mailed their tickets, Selichot has taken place and meals have been planned, ordered and reserved. Still, there is more to come. So Jewish News offers another packed High Holiday section that recalls 5774 and celebrates the arrival of 5775. Within these next 16 pages we present some interesting lists, moving personal stories and reflections, holiday-appropriate news, always appreciated recipes, and more. For looking back, we feature several “Top of 5774” lists, including Jews who inspired, Jewish entertainment moments and videos that went viral. Mostly, they are fun. For looking inward, we asked several community members about their favorite
Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462-4370 voice 757.965.6100 • fax 757.965.6102 email firstname.lastname@example.org www.jewishVA.org Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Beth Weiner Gross, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Miles Leon, President Stephanie Calliott, Secretary Harry Graber, Executive Vice-President
part of the High Holiday season. Their thoughtful responses are sure to make us all consider what our own response would be. We’ve scattered their words throughout the section.
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In that same vein, I heard Lisa Bertini tell her Teshuva story at Ohef Sholom
© 2014 Jewish News. All rights reserved.
Temple late last month. I found it so inspiring that I wanted to share it in the newspaper. Fortunately, she agreed to let me do so. It is on page 18.
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In other news, it was a record year for Israel Bonds, Birthright has plans for young adults who have taken their trips to connect for the holidays, it’s the year for Shmita (Don’t know what that is? See page 30.),
About the cover: Illustration by Flora Rosefsky QR code generated on http://qrcode.littleidiot.be
and we’ve got a piece on a New Yorker who makes kosher cheese in his basement! However you observe or celebrate, our best wishes from the Jewish News staff for a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year. L’Shana Tova,
Upcoming Special Features Issue
Terri Denison Editor
16 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
Sep 19 Oct 3
L’ Shanvaa To
Shofar so good
The Jews who inspired us in 5774 by JTA Staf
NEW YORK ( JTA)—In a year with no shortage of bad news, these 10 Jewish individuals or groups inspired or impressed us in 5774. David Blatt, for leading underdog Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague title and weeks later nabbing the head coaching post of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Blatt played for an Israeli kibbutz team in 1979 after his sophomore year at Princeton, competed for the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1981 Maccabiah Games and played nearly a decade of professional basketball in Israel. Think the decision by superstar LeBron James to return to Cleveland has anything to do with Blatt’s hire? Gregg Roman, for working frantically to keep Jewish journalist Steven Sotloff’s Jewish and Israeli identities secret after news broke that ISIS, the radical Islamic group in Iraq and Syria, was holding him hostage. The director of the Community Relations Council at the Jewish federation in Pittsburgh, Roman knew Sotloff from time spent in Israel, and Roman spent two weeks scrubbing the Internet of any references to Sotloff’s religion or Israeli citizenship. Ultimately it didn’t make a difference: Sotloff was beheaded by ISIS, and the murder helped fuel the U.S. decision to widen its airstrikes against the Islamic group.
Eight-year-old Samuel Sommers, a.k.a. Superman Sam, for inspiring thousands of people during his struggle with leukemia, as documented by his parents Rabbi Phyllis and Michael Sommers on their blog, Superman Sam. Not long After Sam died in December, 73 rabbis shaved their heads to raise $600,000 for pediatric cancer research. Second Lt. Eitan, an Israeli soldier, for risking his life and rushing into a Gaza tunnel to pursue Hamas attackers after they snatched IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin during the fighting in Gaza. Eitan, whose last name was not publicly disclosed, was hailed as a hero in Israel for averting a kidnapping situation like that of Gilad Shalit by grabbing enough evidence during his chase to verify that Goldin had been killed in action.
Mark Zuckerberg, for being the top U.S. charitable giver in 2013. Last December, the Facebook founder and wife Priscilla Chan gave 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more than $970 million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. It’s not a Jewish charity, but charity is a Jewish value. Alice Herz-Sommer, the 110-year-old Holocaust survivor and concert pianist, for wowing us with her achievements. A week after her death in February, a documentary about Herz-Sommer’s life, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, won the Academy Award for best short documentary. Janet Yellen, who just may be the most inf luential woman in America, her every utterance parsed with Talmudic scrutiny. As chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Yellen is responsible for making sure the U.S. economy stays strong even as Europe teeters on the verge of another recession. She’s the fifth Jew to lead America’s central bank, but the first woman.
Michael Bloomberg, the ex-mayor of New York City, for his good works. Bloomberg, who reportedly is worth $32.8 billion, decided to use the $1 million Genesis Prize he was awarded to create 10 $100,000 grants to seed innovative projects guided by Jewish values that seek to address the world’s pressing issues. This summer, when the Federal Aviation Administration announced a ban on flights to Tel Aviv during Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel, Bloomberg jumped on an El Al flight to demonstrate the safety of flying to Israel and pressure the U.S. government to lift its ban. Israelis are still talking about this gesture—and not just because Bloomberg chose El Al over his own $24 million private jet. Arieh Warshel, Michael Levitt and Martin Karplus, for winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry. The three, two of whom are Israeli, shared the prize for their “development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.” French Jewry, for holding it together during trying times. When gangs of marauding Arabs set upon a Paris synagogue during Gazarelated rioting, French Jews stood strong, battling the assailants until backup arrived. Faced with rising anti-Semitism epitomized by the popularity of the quenelle—a gesture with echoes of the Nazis’ Sieg Heil French Jews seem to think things will get worse. French Jewry is now the world’s No. 1 source of immigrants to Israel.
jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 17
L’ Shanvaa To
A Teshuvah story: Lisa Bertini Each year, just before the High Holidays, Ohef Sholom Temple features congregants telling their “Journey to Judaism” at three Shabbatot services. On Friday, August 29,
ewish Fou rJ n e t
Lisa Bertini delivered her story.
at i ng
JEW SH y T h i rt
18 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
y journey to Judaism started late in life. My childhood was spent in a resort town in New Jersey. The only diversity existed between the Italian Catholics and the Irish Catholics. I had one Jewish friend in high school. In fact, there was only one Jew in Ocean City High School. She was the Valedictorian. So I had Jewish people stereotyped already. Smart. Super smart. That stereotype has only been reinforced these last 35 years. After law school, I practiced in Dallas. If there was a Jewish lawyer there, I didn’t meet her. So when I met a certain Jack Siegel, then a resident at EVMS, I called my dad to tell him I had met someone special. We were chatting on the phone (this was before texts), and I told him I was dating a doctor who seemed very nice. When he asked his name and I responded, he said, “He’s Jewish.” You have to understand. My parents were born in Italy. Our priest ate dinner at our house on Sundays. My parents attended church every morning. Not just Sundays. I attended Catholic school and Georgetown. I lectured every Sunday at Sunday mass growing up. I knew the wrath of a nun. And no wrath is greater. I asked my dad, “Is that ok?” and he said “What do I care? Is he a good man? Does he have convictions? That’s what we care about.” You can see how blessed I have been. When we decided to marry, we knew we had to make a decision about our children someday. You see I wasn’t going to convert. I actually believe what I had been taught. I love my faith, so why after 31 years would I give up something that is part of me? That would be a real waste of all that Catholic school and CCD classes. Jack completely understood. Jack and I decided that faith had been a huge part of our upbringing and to choose not to make a decision in that regard for our children would be cowardly. That was our opinion. He was raised Conservative. His parents had been raised Orthodox, but decided that was too difficult a path for their child. I was raised Catholic. But before Catholic was overly righteous. Before the abortion debate and the Christian Right.
The good old days when polite folks kept their beliefs private. But perhaps it was just before I met a Jew. Our parents had given us one faith. Not a buffet. We owed our children no less. So, it was our decision to raise the girls Jewish and when I say our decision, I mean mine. I was the one giving up something huge. I said I could do it. I truly believed that nothing about the faith rebuked what I loved. Nothing was anything but dynamic. Frankly, all Christians accept the Old Testament. We just keep going. And someday, if the girls chose differently, at the least they’d have something to reject. We owed them a solid rock foundation. No choosing between parents. No favorites. Be raised Jewish with tolerance toward all other faiths and non-faiths. That was the plan. So, no Christmas at home. Again, my call. I had everything to lose here. Christmas was not trees and gifts and Irving Berlin. It was that, but so much more. Christmas is the birth of Jesus… so no comprising; a tree in our house was not going to cut it. Jack got it. This wasn’t a beauty pageant. All or nothing. I wasn’t going to have kids who thought Christmas was about presents. That would be insulting. We were doing this full on. Jewish meant Jewish. Education. Sunday School. Shabbat every Friday. High Holidays, Bat mitzvahs and Confirmations. When the Christian holidays came, we’d go to my parents’. It was like a birthday party for someone else. Not theirs. Guess what. The girls got it. They never complained that their cousins got all the gifts and they didn’t. In fact, Lucy, when only four years old, told me on one eve of Christmas that she was happy she was Jewish and not Chrismas (that’s how she pronounced Christian), because Santa was creepy. Who breaks into the homes of little children in the middle of the night? Perhaps I had gone too far. But besides that, I thought we did well. In fact, it was adorable a couple of years ago how both girls wanted me to get a tree. I decided against it as I had already given away all my decorations, but they got me an awesome smelling wreath. The point is that I have great kids. They
L’SHANA TOVA! FROM THE
VIRGINIA CHORALE HOPE, FAITH, LIFE, LOVE
Our 2014/2015 season opens with a choral pilgrimage through life.
OCTOBER 10-12, 2014
SING WE NOWELL
Organist Kevin Kwan joins us in bringing the warmth of an English Christmas to Hampton Roads.
DECEMBER 12-14, 2014
THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL PASSION
David Lang’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning work receives its regional première.
FEBRUARY 7 & 8, 2015
Jack Siegel, Zoe Siegel, Lisa Bertini and Lucy Siegel.
are strong in their faith. Zoe is involved with Hillel at NYU and adored her Birthright trip to Israel. She said she felt like Israel was her second home. She called it life changing. She stands with Israel in this difficult time regardless of how others may feel. Do you have any idea how warm I feel inside when my daughters love their faith so deeply? I know you do. Lucy, who is here tonight, is not a great fan of any public announcement of her beliefs...but she is strong and beautiful about being a good person and caring about others. To me, my daughters are the essence of Jewish women. Independent. Strong. Loving. And, resilient. And very intelligent. Super smart. Remember? So, my journey to Judaism is still in progress. Of course, I’m only 53. Young still. I have graduations and weddings to look forward to. Grandchildren, God willing. Lucy’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. I have many mitzvahs ahead. Honestly, if anything were to happen to Jack, God forbid, I’d still be loving living Jewish. I’m a ‘pizza bagel’ as Zoe says. I have the best of both cultures. All the passion, food, tradition, prayers, crazy parents, neurosis, food. Oh, I said that already. We really have Shabbat. We talk. We discuss religion weekly. We argue. We hurt feelings. We make religion, this thing that is ancient and made of stone, both new and fluid. That is what happens when you add love to tradition and beliefs. We mix it up. It makes all the dusty stuff modern and alive. It’s fabulous. It makes me smile. It must make God smile. Because in the end, he is a part of our family. Maybe a scolded younger brother some days. Maybe a respected grandmother, others. But never intimidating. Never absent.
Thank you Ohef Sholom for making this difficult decision one of the best I ever made. And as my mother in-law, Betty, of blessed memory, and no shrinking violet she, said on her dying bed to Zoe, “Marry Jewish.” Or at least raise Jewish children!!! Ok. I added the last part. In the words of a smarter person I know: “Gods’ are invisible, the future is inscrutable, and much of life is bushwhacking over uneven terrain.” So, I’d like to give my girls something they can count on. Like an umbrella in the rain. Or a bulletproof vest. Like a shelter in the storm. Judaism prepares them for life’s uncertainties. It helps them get up every time they trip. Because tripping happens. Over and over. I have been blessed with parents who adore my decisions and love my family. I have a community who has always embraced me and supported us and considered my daughters Jewish regardless of my Catholicism. I have an aunt in New Jersey who has bought us Jewish cards for holidays not even Jack has heard of. This temple is brilliant in its open mindedness. Getting that you need to make room at the table for the folks like me. I have given you two amazing women. It doesn’t get any better than that. I am Jewish. I am Catholic. I am one of you. I am the mother of the future. Shabbat Shalom. • • • • • Lisa Bertini is married to Jack Siegel, their daughter Zoe is a sophomore at New York University and daughter Lucy is a senior at Norfolk Academy. She is a member of the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Music commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War.
APRIL 17-19, 2015
Stephen Coxe & Rebecca Raydo join the Chorale in music accompanied by piano four-hands.
may 29-31, 2015
tickets on sale now at vachorale.org! Full subscriptions: $100 | Flex subscriptions: $85 Single tickets: $25 | Student & group tickets: $10 Tickets also available at 757.627.8375.
Wishing the community L’ Shanah Tovah in celebration of our 60 years!
5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 180, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 757-424-4327 | www.hebrewacademy.net The Strelitz Early Childhood Center is an educational partnership of Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and the Simon Family Jewish Community Center.
jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 19
L’ Shanvaa To
Top 10 Jewish entertainment moments by Anthony Weiss
LOS ANGELES (JTA)—Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow and the power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z (we’re not kidding) are among those who made news on the Jewish entertainment scene in 5774. Here are some of the top moments from the Jewish year soon to depart. Scarlett tells Oxfam, pop off: Actress Scarlett Johansson got an earful from the international aid organization Oxfam for promoting SodaStream, which has a factory in the West Bank. Johansson responded by dumping Oxfam (where she was an “ambassador”) rather than SodaStream (where she is a paid spokeswoman). Johansson accused the British charity of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and praised the Israeli manufacturer of home soda makers for providing good jobs for Palestinians. Gwyneth at the mikvah?: After consciously uncoupling from hubby Chris Martin (of Coldplay fame), Gwyneth Paltrow decided to consciously recouple with her Jewish heritage and reportedly is converting to Judaism. She proudly comes from a long line of rabbis on her father’s side (some
20 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
of whom shared her interest in kabbalah). Key question: Will she revive the Paltrovich family name? God declares: Jewish humor is dead: Well, not God, but Mel Brooks, who is as close as one gets to divinity in Jewish comedy. Brooks said that in a world in which we all read, watch and hear the same things, Jewish humor is no longer any different than any other kind of comedy. Somewhere, Bialystock and Bloom are crying.
Bey, Jay-Z visit to Anne Frank’s house: It’s been a rough year for the first couple of hiphop, but the superstar sweethearts proved they know what counts when their trip to Amsterdam included a long, pensive visit to the Anne Frank Museum (documented on Instagram). And unlike Justin Bieber, Beyonce managed to sign the guest book without suggesting that Anne Frank would’ve been a fan (a Bey-liever?). Classy lady. Jewish Bachelorette to inmarry (kinda): In a major cultural breakthrough, “The Bachelorette” had its first Jewish contestant, Andi Dorfman. And in a moment that warmed the hearts of Jewish continuity advocates everywhere, Andi chose Jew-ish (albeit New Testament-tweeting) bachelor Josh Murray. Truly a match made in heaven—or at least Hollywood.
In the beginning, and then: First, Darren Aronofsky brought back the blockbuster biblical epic with Noah. Then Ridley Scott teased us with a trailer for his upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings. So, logically, the next one is Leviticus, right? Can’t wait to see how they dramatize the section on ritual uncleanliness. Sarah Silverman thanks “my Jews”: When her Emmy was announced for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special, the raunchy comedian dashed up the stairs barefoot and opened by thanking “my Jews at CAA,” referring to the mega-agency that represents her and what seems like half of Hollywood. Emmy bonus: Billy Crystal’s heartfelt tribute to Robin Williams, where he recounted Williams kibitzing with Crystal’s Jewish relatives and pretending to be Jewish himself. The Baby Biggs bris: Actor Jason Biggs and wife Jenny Mollen proudly announced the circumcision of son Sid with the words, “Today was not a good day to be Sid’s penis” and a couple of Instagram photos
(don’t worry, no gore). Biggs, who is not Jewish (though he describes himself on Twitter as “The Jewiest looking non-Jew”), claims that the ceremony, which featured a mohel, brachot and a tallis-wrapped family, was not a bris. Uh huh. And what did you say happened to that pie. The Gaza Twitter war: While war raged between Hamas and Israel, celebrities began taking sides. Stars like Howard Stern and the late Joan Rivers stood with Israel, while Penelope Cruz and Brian Eno slammed the Jewish state’s military operation in Gaza. But the political battlefield of Middle East politics can be a dangerous place, causing more than a few celebs (such as Cruz, Javier Bardem and Rihanna) to retreat, ultimately into anodyne messages of peace and goodwill. Miss Margalit: Maggie Gyllenhaal discovered her real birth name is Margalit—something even her mother didn’t remember. She also earned rave reviews playing an Anglo-Israeli businesswoman on the Sundance channel miniseries The Honourable Woman.
High HOLIDAY reflections Vivian Margulies
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Best wishes for a happy & healthy 5775
better year. I also look forward to being with family to share the traditional holiday dishes.
Your full scope home renovation and repair specialist. Roye and Gayle Greenzaid firstname.lastname@example.org 757-452-5899 jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 21
5774 a Record Year for Israel Bonds NEW YORK—As the Jewish year 5774 comes to a close, Israel Bonds had a year marked by record sales and milestone achievements. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, U.S. sales so far in U.S. calendar year 2014 tallied more than $900 million, on pace with 2013’s record U.S. sales. Just last month, worldwide sales surpassed $37 billion since bonds were first issued in 1951.
“5774 was an historic year for Israel Bonds, in more ways than one,” says Israel Bonds president and CEO Izzy Tapoohi. “As we celebrate the beginning of 5775, we could not be more excited for what this year will bring. Israel continues to draw a diverse multitude of individual and institutional investors, even in times of conflict, who are eager to become shareholders in one of the
most resilient economies in the world.” Some highlights from the past Jewish calendar year 5774 (roughly September 2013 through September 2014): October 2013: Israel Bonds welcomed Israeli Finance Minster Yair Lapid to New York for his first meeting with Bonds’ leadership. December 31: U.S. sales of Israel bonds for the year 2013 exceeded $1.12 billion, marking the first time annual domestic sales surpassed $1 billion. January 26, 2014: Israeli Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy joined with over 700 Israel Bonds supporters from the U.S. and Canada to launch the 2014 sales effort. More than $250 million in Israel bond investments were announced at the event, which took place in Boca Raton, Florida.
March 4, 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with West Coast Israel Bonds leadership in Los Angeles. July 2014: Israel Bonds rapidly mobilized to support Israel during Operation Protective Edge, resulting in bonds sales exceeding a quarter of a billion dollars during that period. Over the course of the conflict, Israel Bonds leadership and staff were kept updated by Ambassador Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York; Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer; and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s chief of staff Ari Harow. September, 2014: An Israel Bonds international leadership delegation visited Israel and held meetings with Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
High HOLIDAY reflections Jason S. Hoffman
A time to reconnect, reevaluate and recommit The high holidays have always been special to me. I have very vivid memories of walking to shul with my family in Brooklyn. It was the time of year where I reconnected with friends from the neighborhood; everyone was always seated in the same place as the year before. Something about the ritual, the time of year, the reflection—truly signifies a new beginning. For me, that feeling is even more present at the High Holidays than in January. I see the High Holidays as a time and opportunity for me to re-evaluate and re-commit to being a Jew, to consider what it means to be a Jew to my children, to explore a little deeper what that means to me personally, and to ask myself what it means to me on a more global level. I always seems to come out on the other side more invigorated.
22 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
NEXT helps young Jewish adults celebrate 5775 with friends
Fourth annual High Holidays initiative has improved interactive map “The High Holidays Initiative is really
to connect with each other before attending
circles meet each other and form a commu-
about building community and making
an event or service. Now, users can share
nity for the night was very heart-warming.
“A key to this initiative’s evolution
the many dynamic High Holidays events
the specific events they find on the map via
I think several friendships came out of the
is the strong relationships we now have
and celebrations more accessible to young
social media so that they can recruit their
dinner and hopefully future chavurah-like
with communities across the country,”
Jewish adults,” says Morlie Levin, CEO
friends. They also can connect directly
events are in the works.”
says Levin. “At the end of the day, they
of NEXT, a division of Birthright Israel
to the professionals organizing the event
During the initiative, NEXT’s website
are the reason the map is populated with
Foundation’s 2014 High Holidays Initiative.
they’re considering attending. If users indi-
will offer alumni access to traditional and
such an impressive range of offerings. We
“Birthrighters—particularly those who
cate their interest in an event, engagers will
modern insights on Rosh Hashanah and
recognize that every Birthrighter is dif-
traveled to Israel this summer—are telling
be able to reach out to these young adults
Yom Kippur. Tools to help host High
ferent—the more opportunities they have
us they need spaces to reflect, learn more
to start building a relationship, seeding the
Holiday meals—including Pinterest boards
for Jewish engagement, the better. This is
and take action. The High Holidays are our
potential for year-round engagement.
featuring recipes, table setting ideas and
about empowering young adults to shape
fun High Holiday themes—will also be
their own Jewish journeys.”
community’s moment to help these young
Along with the interactive map, NEXT
adults find these spaces and engage in
expects hundreds of Birthright Israel alum-
Jewish life with their friends in personally
ni to register for High Holiday meals that
thousands of their friends will attend. As
NEXT’s popular interactive map of
with NEXT’s Passover initiative and its
High Holidays events and services now has
ongoing Shabbat initiative, these meals
improved social functionality and enables
showcase the creativity, passion and desire
Birthrighters and young adults to more
of young adults to create truly unique
easily connect to those organizing events.
experiences that build communities of
As part of the initiative, Birthright
Israel alumni can also register to receive
One of last year’s High Holidays hosts
resources and small stipends to help host
in Colorado says, “We wanted to host a
Rosh Hashanah meals, Yom Kippur pre-
meal and a ‘service’ in our home with
fast dinners, and break-the-fasts.
friends who did not have tickets to syna-
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NEXT expects the map to become
gogue. We began our time together with
populated with hundreds of services and
an hour of yoga in the yard to welcome the
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events across the country. When users
day. Then, we gathered and said prayers
LYNNHAVEN CHAPEL (757) 463-0150
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visit the map, they can filter their search
over the food and ate together. One of our
for opportunities in their city with a range
guests brought a Torah and we read from it.
of preferences—from musical services to
We sat around for hours eating and talking
LGBT-focused events, among numerous
about the meaning of Rosh Hashanah and
what part of our lives we want to elevate for
Many of the interactive map’s improve-
the coming year.”
ments are based on direct feedback received
Another host from last year adds, “[I
from young Jewish adults last year. NEXT
hosted my meal] to build a Jewish commu-
frequently heard that young adults wanted
nity in DC. Having friends from different
jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 23
high HOLIDAY reflections Rosalyn Landress
Thinking about the season of the New Year and all its implications This year I’m very excited about the new High Holiday prayer book, Mahzor Lev Shalem, which we at Temple Israel will be using for the first time. It is so different, filled with essays, poems, quotations, etc. that I will probably be reading the margins more than the actual liturgy. I love all the prayers, which give me hope for a clean slate, a fresh start with my relationship with God and mankind. My family has gone through a difficult five years and this year at services I will be especially grateful for the blessings we have received this year.
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24 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
Where high-tech meets High Holidays by Julie Wiener
NEW YORK ( JTA)—Unplugging more from electronic devices has become a commonly cited resolution for both the Jewish and secular new years. But electronics are also increasingly becoming integrated into Jewish New Year observances. Here are some new offerings at the junction between high-tech and High Holidays. G-dcast, a nonprofit that is best known for its animated Torah portion videos, has been expanding its repertoire in recent years, creating videos on a range of Jewish texts and topics, while also venturing into games and apps. For the new year, it’s introducing Wake up World, a digital children’s book with an interactive shofar-blowing feature, and eScapegoat, a quirky website where one can cast off one’s sins onto an animated goat and anonymously share them with others. Wake Up World, an illustrated ebook about Rosh Hashanah, enables users to hear Teruah, Tekiah and Tekiah Gadolah by touching their device’s screen or blowing into its microphone. It also features the voice (but presumably not the shofar playing) of Randi Zuckerberg, sister of the famed Facebook founder. Meanwhile, eScapegoat, a new and improved version of a similar effort last year, encourages users to prepare for Yom Kippur by offloading their sins to the goat in an echo of the ancient repentance ritual. This year G-dcast has also created Mini Goats, custom eScapegoat websites where individual communities, such as synagogues and youth group chapters, can share their members’ sins, stories and goals. Some examples: • • • • • “I put butter in the vegan sauce.” —http://t.co/olcwCgYrEw —eScapegoat (@SinfulGoat), Sept. 11 • • • • • “I said I didn’t delete my bosses files, but I did.”—http://t.co/olcwCgYrEw —eScapegoat (@SinfulGoat), Sept. 10 • • • • •
“I’m sorry I can’t forgive my mother.” —http://t.co/olcwCgYrEw —eScapegoat (@SinfulGoat), Sept. 8 • • • • • “We realized that private, ‘walled-off’ Mini Goats could be a powerful tool for communities because the interface really encourages sharing and that gets more interesting within a smaller community,” Sarah Lefton, G-dcast’s founder and executive director, says. “It lets people see what’s bubbling in their own backyards—all the regrets are so much more powerful when you know they belong to your neighbors and friends. It also creates a safe and private place for younger users in school settings.” Meanwhile, Birthright NEXT, a program for alumni of the free Israel trips, recently introduced an interactive map of High Holidays events and services that enables young adults to more easily connect to the events’ organizers. As part of the initiative, Birthright Israel alumni can also register to receive resources and small stipends to help host Rosh Hashanah meals, Yom Kippur pre-fast dinners, and breakfasts. Users can search the map, filtering by location and a range of preferences— from musical services to LGBT-focused events. The map also links to social media, so users can recruit friends to join them at events they’re considering attending. Next year, will there be an app for dipping apples in honey?
Try cucumber salad and your own cream cheese Cakey Crunch Sweet Potato Kugel Ingredients 8 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 3–4 heaping tablespoons brown sugar ¼ teaspoon nutmeg ½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ cup orange juice or orange-flavored liqueur 8 ounces mini marshmallows 1 box yellow cake mix 2 sticks margarine or butter, melted
Preparation Boil sweet potatoes in large pot of water until tender, around 20–25 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the sweet potatoes and mash in a large bowl. Add vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and orange juice or orange-flavored liqueur and mix well. Grease a 9-by-11 baking dish. Layer half of the sweet potato mixture evenly in the baking dish. Sprinkle marshmallows over the top. Add remaining sweet potato mixture on top of marshmallows and spread evenly using an off-set spatula or knife. Sprinkle yellow cake mix evenly over the top of sweet potato mixture. Pour melted butter or margarine evenly over the top of the cake mix. Bake for 60 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 16 servings
Chipotle Cream Cheese Ingredients 28 -ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature 1 t o 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo (depending on your tastes), minced 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon white pepper ½ teaspoon garlic powder
Preparation In a mixing bowl, combine minced chipotle and liquid, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add softened cream cheese and mix until combined thoroughly. Serve with fresh bagels and sliced avocado. Yield: 12–14 servings
by Shannon Sarna
(MyJewishLearning.com)—Fasting on Yom Kippur is one of my least favorite parts of being Jewish. I recognize the value of reflective fasting, and I know some people even enjoy the fast day, but for me, it is a torturous 25 hours until I can break into the bagels and kugel. The last thing anyone wants to do after fasting and sitting in synagogue is to start cooking and prepping a complicated or heavy meal. The dishes I like to serve for Yom Kippur can all be made in advance—in fact, they are better when prepared well ahead of time. And not just for the sake of your sanity. A quick pickled cucumber salad is a standard in my home and a dish I learned to make from my grandmother. It’s slightly sweet, just a tad spicy, and the crunch of the cucumber is really satisfying next to a bagel schmeared with cream cheese. You need to make this recipe ahead of time to properly allow the cucumber to absorb the flavors. Anyone can break open a tub of cream cheese for a break-fast. But if you make your own custom cream cheese flavor—like the Chipotle Cream Cheese Spread below—your family and guests will think you spent hours and hours in the kitchen. Making your own cream cheese is very easy and a fun way to take the spread up a notch. If butternut squash kugel and a coffee Ingredients cake had a baby, the Cakey Crunch Sweet 1 large seedless English cucumber Potato Kugel below would be the result. 1 onion, thinly sliced It is absolutely delicious, but I make sure 6 tablespoon white wine vinegar to warn people: It’s highly addictive, you 3 tablespoon water won’t be able to eat just one portion. It is 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh also the perfect dish to make ahead and dill reheat once the fast is over. 2 tablespoons sugar —Shannon Sarna is editor of The Nosher ½ teaspoon salt blog on MyJewishLearning.com, where these ¼ teaspoon pepper recipes originally appeared. Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
Quick Pickled Cucumber Salad
Preparation Slice cucumber ¼- to ½-inch thick. In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and dill. Add thinly sliced cucumbers and onions to bowl and mix until liquid coats all the cucumbers and onions. Place salad into container and allow to chill several hours or overnight. Yield: 14 servings
jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 25
L’ Shanvaa To
Top 10 viral videos of 5774 which the Hamas lyric “Demolish [Israel] down to her foundations” is placed in the mouths of prairie dogs from The Lion King.
by Anthony Weiss
NEW YORK (JTA)—For a few days this year, they clogged up our Facebook feeds and then, perhaps, our subconscious. In our list of the top viral videos of 5774, we bring back those videos that had you hitting “share” again and again
Prairie dogs under Gaza http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/music/181478/ hamas-anthem-israel?all=1 https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=DDDUeEmgnm4 What was supposed to be a Hamas war anthem translated into Hebrew to scare Israelis—Up, Do Terrorist Attacks—turned into a hit in Israel, propelled by its catchy pop hook and poorly pronounced Hebrew. Mocking the song’s Hamas producers, Israelis appropriated the tune to create their own versions, such as this one in
Drake becomes a man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqTXwvo4MY0 Drake’s opening monologue on Saturday Night Live turned into a reimagination of the black-Jewish rapper’s bar mitzvah (oh yes, he had one). There’s a lot of code-switching, a few stereotypes and some sharp-eyed jokes. It all culminates with Drake dropping rhymes over Hava Nagila. Stewart gets an earful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmCKZYKsiGM Daily Show host Jon Stewart has never been shy of controversy, and he stirred up plenty of it with his commentary during the conflict in Gaza. Rather than back off, Stewart and Company mocked the criticism in a segment where even Stewart’s most timid offerings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provoke invective from each side. Stewart’s
beleaguered expression—and tongue-tied silence—says it all.
Hot mameloshen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvEWNlcefAw Jason Derulo’s 2013 hit Talk Dirty to Me featured a bit of Jewish flair when it sampled klezmer-infused Israeli band Balkan Beat Box. This year, Vintage Klezmer brought things full circle with a klezmer cover of the hip-hop hit, including a full verse in Yiddish. Seems like the old tongue can still turn a few new tricks. Nice Jewish boy gets naughty http://www.kveller.com/blog/parenting/ nice-modern-orthodox-boy-slings-penis-jokeson-americas-got-talent/ When yarmulke-clad 12-year-old Josh Orlian took the stage at America’s Got Talent in his tucked-in shirt and hiked-up jeans, he looked like the epitome of the nice, dorky Jewish boy. And then he opened his mouth and the penis jokes began to fly. Whoa! Orlian may go on to tell better jokes, but he will never again achieve such shock value. And Mel Brooks says Jewish humor is dead! Bar mitzvah rhapsody http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/ half-asian-half-jewish-boy-stars-in-his-ownqueen-medley-bar-mitzvah-music-video If you are concerned that the modern American bar mitzvah is turning into a festival of glitz and performance at the expense of thoughtful Jewish engagement, this will be cold comfort to you. In this apotheosis of the cheesy bar mitzvah video, young Jorel offers an elaborate and shockingly well-executed adaptation of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, complete with elaborate choreography, family member appearances, fancy editing and blessedly in-key singing. Hamas, caught red-handed http://www.jta.org/2014/08/05/default/watchindian-tv-records-gaza-rocket-launch-1 Shortly before the close of this summer’s Gaza war, Indian news network NDTV captured on camera what nobody else could: Hamas fighters surreptitiously setting up and then firing a rocket at Israel from a densely populated residential district in Gaza. The video spread like wildfire in part because it was a rare glimpse of Hamas fighters, and the Israeli government
26 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
brandished it as evidence of Hamas malfeasance. That prompted the Indian reporter who produced it to explain that, though he knew it might be used by the Israelis as propaganda, its journalistic importance made it impossible to ignore.
They’re back! Jerry Seinfeld has been on the comeback trail with his hit web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” (If you haven’t seen the one with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, do yourself a favor and watch it; we’ll wait.) In February, Seinfeld brought things full circle when, in honor of the Super Bowl, Jerry went for coffee with his old friend, George Costanza (as played by Jason Alexander). Buckets of challenges http://www.jta.org/2014/08/19/news-opinion/ jews-take-up-the-ice-bucket-challenge-andsome-choose-hummus http://www.jta.org/2014/08/25/news-opinion/ the-telegraph/rubble-bucket-challenge-is-latest-online-salvo-in-gaza-conflict The ice bucket challenge started as a viral bit of summer fun, combining social media, a good cause and an opportunity to see friends and celebrities douse themselves and look silly. Then came the copycat challenges. Enter the Middle East conflict. There was the hummus challenge from the Israel Defense Forces, the rubble bucket challenge from Palestinian activists and even the blood bucket challenge from supporters of the movement to use Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Yep, nothing spells summer fun like a bucket of blood. The ‘Frozen’ Chosen http://www.jta.org/2014/04/08/news-opinion/ the-telegraph/is-let-it-go-passovers-new-dayenu Passover Parody of Let it Go—“Let Us Go” from Chuck Green on Vimeo. The hit song “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” first went viral as the song of choice for cute little girls, posted on Facebook by adoring parents. But then a few clever Jews realized that with just a slight tweak this aria to personal freedom could become “Let Us Go,” a Passover sensation. And lo, it was so, and the Internet was filled with versions from ukulele reggae to a cappella.
High HOLIDAY reflections Kevin Lefcoe
A time of joy with Sukkot The ”Shechechiyanu” on the first night of Sukkot gets me every time. The Mitzvah of “dwelling in Sukkah” comes with unique and empowering opportunities to connect to Hashem, our generations, and the Jewish People in ways that can only happen during these extraordinary seven days each year. Sukkot is a Chag, a Festival, when we shake four species, the lulav and etrog, as a symbol of the body and soul of every Jew and the entire Klal Yisrael. Sukkot is known as ”zeman simchateinu”—“a time of our joy.” Simply, we are commanded to be joyous. I love it.
Happy New Year! L’shana tova tikatevu
May You Be Inscribed in the Book of Life The Simon Family Jewish Community Center Board of Directors and its Staff wishes everyone a sweet and healthy new year.
So when we arrive in the Sukkah the first night, we have just invested ourselves for the past few months in self-reflection and contemplating serious times for ourselves
and our fellow Jews (Tisha B’Av and Elul), through judgment and atonement (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). Now, I walk directly into the Sukkah and the loving presence of the Ribono Shel Olam (the Master of the World). We welcome the Ushpezin
Wishing You a Happy & Healthy New Year!
(“Guests of Honor”), the first being Avraham Avinu and his expression of Chesed (kindness). We praise Hashem in Kiddush, Hamotzi, Lashev B’Sukkah and Shechechiyanu. “Thank you for bringing us to THIS day.” It happens once a year. My favorite time.
Reform congregations to hold bone marrow drives on Yom Kippur WASHINGTON (JTA)—Seventy-five Reform congregations throughout the United States are holding bone marrow registration drives on Yom Kippur. For the second straight year, the Reform movement is partnering with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation in an effort to register potential donors. A cheek swab will be taken from potential donors with the goal of helping patients suffering from leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers and genetic disorders. “We are proud that so many of our congregations recognize the importance of performing good deeds during the High Holidays,” says Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Jay Feinberg, the founder and executive director of the Gift of Life, says the Reform congregations will be conducting “the greatest mitzvah of all—pikuach nefesh, saving a life—during this special time of year.”
You never know when you’ll need help, but you’ll always know where to find it. 260 Grayson Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 757-321-2222 • jfshamptonroads.org
jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 27
Deli Sandwiches • Cakes • Bakery Treats
L’ Shanvaa To
Recipes that even ‘non-bakers’ should try 296 Constitution Drive at Town Center Virginia Beach • 757-368-CAKE (2253) • www.TheBlissBakery.com
The Holiday Kosher Baker Paula Shoyer Photos by Michael Bennett Kress Sterling, 2014 222 pages, $35 ISBN:978-1-4549-0714-5
L’Shana Y Tova Best wishes for a happy and healthy year with shalom. BRESS PAWN & JEWELRY 721 Granby Street Downtown Norfolk Free Parking 757 625 4228 www.bresspawnshop.com
28 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
our reviewer is admittedly a non-baker. However, Paula Shoyer, a former attorney, author of the very successful The Kosher Baker Hal Sacks (2010) and now The Holiday Kosher Baker, could make non-bakers want to try: The photos by Michael Bennett Kress will make bakers want to cry. If only you could turn out such beautiful cake, pies, cookies and other dessert delights. You will love the recipes and appreciate the thought Shoyer has put into a Kosher Baking Encyclopedia, defining just what the kosher kitchen will require in appliances and utensils, how one bakes for a bris or a shiva, and even what a pared down Passover kitchen will require in equipment. You will hate the book itself; large, heavy, impossible to place open on a counter without heavy weights to hold its luscious looking pages in place. This book demands and deserves a ring-binder version that can be placed flat.
That said, author Shoyer is very specific about contents and recipes are clearly labeled dairy, parve, no nuts, low sugar, vegan, gluten free, etc. Many recipes have been reworked to substitute healthier ingredients without sacrificing taste, although I’d be personally wary about whole-wheat chocolate babka. One might say dayenu to a book that offers eight hamentaschen recipes all made with the popular chilled or frozen cookie-type dough of which I am personally not a fan—having grown up with the tantalizing yeast-dough hamentaschen baked by my grandmother (“from scratch” as we used to say). There are 45 Passover recipes clearly delineating non-gebrokt where applicable. Passover baking has been a weak spot in our family’s repertoire; however, there is a one-bowl sponge cake recipe that does not require separating the eggs and seems to be worth a try (but a standing mixer is needed). The time demands placed on households where both partners work outside the home have drastically reduced the amount of home cooking altogether, much less baking. The Holiday Kosher Baker contains many recipes that promise success with a minimum of fuss. Whether the home is kosher or not there are recipes that invoke our holidays and are worth the effort when celebrating. —Hal Sacks is a retired Jewish communal worker who has reviewed books for Jewish News for more than 30 years.
Babka Bites Chocolate babka is my most popular dessert, and I have enjoyed teaching audiences of all ages all over the U.S. how to make it. Because it is also one of my most addictive recipes, I came up with a two-bite version so I can enjoy my beloved babka without overeating. In the end they came out so good that the risk of overeating has not been completely eliminated. Be careful not to over bake these bites or you will lose the soft interior. —Paula Shoyer
Dough ¼ cup (60ml) warm water ½ ounce (2 envelopes; 14g) dry yeast ¼ cup (50g) plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided 2½ cups (315g) all-purpose flour Dash salt 4 tablespoons (57g) margarine, at room temperature for at least 15 minutes ¼ cup (60ml) canola oil 1 large egg plus 1 egg white
Filling ½ cup (1 stick; 113g) margarine, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes ¼ cup (20g) unsweetened cocoa ¾ cup (150g) sugar 1⁄3 cup (60g) mini chocolate chips
To make the dough: PLACE WARM WATER, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and let it sit for 10 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add the ¼ cup (50g) sugar, flour, salt, margarine, oil, egg and egg white. Combine with a wooden spoon or a dough hook in a stand mixer until all the ingredients are mixed in. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 1½ hours.
To make the filling: PLACE THE MARGARINE into a medium or large bowl and beat until creamy. Add the cocoa and sugar and beat until combined. Cover with plastic and let sit at room temperature while the dough is rising. PREHEAT OVEN to 325°F (160°C). Place mini muffin papers into a 12-cup mini muffin pan. You will need to bake Babka Bites in batches.
To assemble and bake: AFTER THE DOUGH HAS RISEN, divide it in half. On a large piece of parchment paper sprinkled with a little flour, roll each piece of dough into a 9 x 12-inch (23 x 30-cm) rectangle so that the 12-inch (30-cm) side is facing you. Sprinkle a little flour on the rolling pin if the dough starts to stick to it. Use a silicone spatula to spread half the chocolate filling all the way to the edges. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips all over the chocolate filling and roll up tightly the long way. Cut into ½-inch (1.25-cm) slices and place one into each of the muffin cups, cut side up. You will have about 24 slices. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
BAKE for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered at room temperature for up to four days or freeze for up to three months. Recipe from The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer. Sterling/November 2013
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year Southside Chapel 422-4000 • Maestas Chapel 428-1112 Chesapeake Chapel 482-3311
jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 29
L’ Shanvaa To
LG B T
pu re & natu ra l ho ney
pu re & natu ra l ho ney
pu re & natu ra l ho ney
pu re & natu ra l ho ney
pu re & natu ra l ho ney
pu re & natu ra l ho ney
NOW MORE THAN EVER, IT’S TIME TO LOOK BEYOND OUR LABELS With the crisis in Israel foremost in our minds, this Rosh Hashanah takes on an even deeper significance. And so does our unity. Because no matter how we may label ourselves—we are all Jews. That’s what matters. Now more than ever. This Rosh Hashanah, let’s make it a sweeter new year by standing together. You can do that by giving generously to the Federation. Your gift helps support our brothers and sisters in Israel and in our entire global community.
YOUR IMPACT IS IMMEASURABLE. IT ALL STARTS WITH ONE.
30 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
Understanding Shmita, Israel’s agricultural Shabbat
by Ben Sales
TEL AVIV (JTA)—When Rosh Hashanah comes this week, Israel’s Jewish farmers won’t just be celebrating the start of a new year. They’ll be marking a year in which they are prohibited from doing their jobs. Called Shmita, the Torah-mandated, yearlong farming hiatus is felt across Israel, affecting its fields, supermarkets and, of course, its politics. The genesis of Shmita is Exodus, which commands the Israelites, “Plant your land and gather its produce for six years. But on the seventh, let it lie fallow and it will rest.…” Other biblical mandates prohibit planting, trimming or harvesting crops during Shmita, amounting to a total prohibition on farming. In advance of Shmita, which takes place every seventh year, here are seven things to know about Israel’s sabbatical year. What is Shmita? According to the Torah mandates, the Shmita year is something like an agricultural Shabbat. Just like everyone is commanded to rest for a day at the end of every week, Shmita is a chance to let the land rest for a year after six years of work. It’s easy to calculate when Shmita comes around: Start from year zero in the Jewish calendar—that would be 5,775 years ago— and count off every seven years; this is Israel’s 466th Shmita. The concept of the sabbatical year has spread to academics and clergy, many of whom receive sabbaticals to travel and study. And the root of the word “shmita” has found contemporary usage in Hebrew. Israelis use the word “mishtamet” to refer to someone who dodged mandatory military conscription. How was Shmita observed in the past? Because the commandment applies only in the biblical land of Israel, it became largely theoretical once the Jews were exiled by the Roman Empire after the Bar Kochba revolt in 136 c.e. Generations of Jewish farmers in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere
had no religious imperative to let the land rest. But once Jews started returning to Palestine in the 1880s and founding kibbutzim, Shmita again became relevant—and problematic. At a time when Jewish farmers were struggling just to keep their farms viable, a year of no production would have been a deathblow. To skirt that problem, rabbis in Israel created something called the “heter mechirah,” or sale permit—similar to the sale of leavened food before Passover. The permit allowed Jewish farmers to “sell” their land to local non-Jews for a token amount, then hire non-Jews to do the forbidden labor. That way, because it wasn’t “their” land, Jews could keep their farms going without sin. How is Shmita observed in contemporary Israel? As Israel’s population and agricultural sector expanded, so too has the hand-wringing over Shmita. Here are some of the Jewish legal acrobatics they use to get around it. The sale permit: Israel’s Chief Rabbinate allows every farm to register for a sale permit like those allowed in the 1880s, and the Rabbinate “sells” all the land to a non-Jew for about $5,000 total, according to Rabbi Haggai Bar Giora, who oversaw Shmita for Israel’s Chief Rabbinate seven years ago. At the end of the year, the Rabbinate buys back the land on the farmers’ behalf for a similar amount. Bar Giora chose a non-Jewish buyer who observes the seven Noahide laws—the Torah’s commandments for non-Jews. Greenhouses: Shmita only applies if the crops are grown in the land itself. Therefore, growing vegetables on tables disconnected from the land steers clear of violating the commandment. Religious courts: Farmers aren’t allowed to sell their crops, but if crops began growing before Shmita started, people are allowed to take them for free. So through another legal mechanism, a Jewish religious court will hire farmers to harvest the produce and the religious court will sell it. But buyers aren’t paying for the produce itself; they’re only paying for the farmer’s
labor, getting the produce for “free.” Wink. Nudge. Not observing Shmita: Most large-scale Israeli farmers use a sale permit in order to obtain rabbinic certification for their crops, Bar Giora says. But some small, nonreligious farmers who sell their produce independently ignore the sabbatical year completely and do not receive kosher certification. What happens to fruits, vegetables and other plants that grow on their own during Shmita? Just like Jewish environmentalists can connect to the idea of letting the land rest, social justice-minded Jews can appreciate that whatever grows on the land during Shmita is, in theory, supposed to be free for anyone, especially the poor. When Shmita is first mentioned in Exodus, the Torah says the crops should be for “the poor of your nation, and the rest for wild animals.” But given that almost all farmers in Israel get around Shmita in one way or another, walking onto a farm looking for a free lunch is ill advised. How does Shmita affect you if you’re not a farmer? Because all kosher-certified produce cannot violate Shmita, Israelis shopping in major grocery stores and outdoor markets don’t have to worry about Shmita. But religious Jews—and businesses— that don’t trust the legal loopholes, just buy their produce from non-Jewish farmers in Israel. An organization called Otzar Haaretz, or Fruit of the Land, seeks to support Jewish farmers specifically and is organizing farmers who use religious courts and the greenhouse method to sell to supermarkets in Israel. Customers who wish to buy from Otzar Haaretz can pay a monthly fee to get a discount on its produce.
Shmita has an impact beyond the produce stands, too. Mickey Gitzin, founder of the religious pluralism organization Be Free Israel, says that while the “the idea that the land should rest” is a positive one, Shmita can have a negative effect on public parks. As public property, the parks cannot be sold to a non-Jew. And because they remain under Jewish ownership, some public community gardens don’t receive care during Shmita. What does this mean for Jews outside of Israel? Although they’re not obligated to observe Shmita, Jews outside of Israel have found ways of commemorating the year. At Hazon, a Jewish sustainability organization, the Shmita Project aims to engage in a study of the textual sources of Shmita and develop programs to mark the year without letting the land lie completely fallow. Another group, the Shmitta Association, has purchased a grid of 4-square-foot plots of land in Israel that Jews abroad can purchase for $180 and then let lie idle, enabling them to observe Shmita without being an Israeli or a farmer. What does this have to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Because they don’t want to buy from Jewish farmers during Shmita, some haredi Orthodox Jews buy from Palestinian West Bank farms. But during the past couple of Shmita cycles, there has been backlash against buying Palestinian-grown produce. Jerusalem Post columnist David Weinberg urged Israelis last week to avoid supporting Palestinian farms. “Primary reliance on Arab produce is neither realistic nor acceptable for health, nationalistic and religious reasons,” he wrote. During the Shmita year that began in 2007, Israel’s health and agriculture ministries said there was no elevated risk to eating produce grown in the Palestinian territories.
jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays | September 22, 2014 | Jewish News | 31
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32 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org
by Hillel Kuttler
YONKERS, N.Y. (JTA)—If you’re going to Brent Delman’s home in this New York City suburb on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, don’t expect to see the typical meat menu. Delman and his physician wife, Patricia, plan to host a dairy lunch on the first day that features casseroles and quiches. The meal also will feature a cheese tasting with tropical fruits like guava, dates and figs. The sharpness of the cheeses and the sweetness of the fruits make a delicious combination, he says.
What do you expect from someone who dubs himself “The Cheese Guy”? Delman has plans, too, for the holiday’s most symbolic food. “When you drizzle honey over the cheese,” he says, “it’s just a beautiful combination.” Delman, 51, will use cheeses he ages in his cheese cellar three steps below ground level in his home in Yonkers, which borders the Bronx. He has 300 wheels and blocks of such varieties as havarti, provolone, cheddar, Swiss, gouda, Pecorino Romano and several variations of parmesan.
The cheeses he ages are certified kosher by the Orthodox Union. Those he cures in such solutions as oil, beer and wine are not yet O.U.-certified. With the High Holidays approaching, Delman is preparing a line of Brie that he considers ideal for Yom Kippur break-thefasts, when eager eaters look for what to slather on their bagels. Brie is a departure from his standard offerings of hard cheeses. Rabbi Avraham Gordimer, the rabbinical coordinator for OU Kosher, a leading kashrut-certification organization, calls Delman a gastronomic trailblazer. “If not for him, these cheeses—most kosher gourmet cheeses—would not be available at all,” says Gordimer, who specializes in certifying dairy products. “The face of the kosher cheese market is changing because of him.” Delman does it all in a 500-square-foot, $50,000 refrigeration unit installed six years ago, when he decided to expand his wholesale food business. Many of the cheeses, including non-kosher varieties, are aged and cured in Delman’s warehouse in nearby East Rutherford, N.J., but he says he likes the
hands-on convenience of the home unit, for which he received a permit from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Delman says the cool, damp conditions downstairs, even before the refrigerator’s installation, evoked the environment of caves where some European cheeses have long been aged, such as the Roquefort variety in France. “I like involving myself in something I’m passionate about. I’m very passionate about food,” he says. Making cheese is “one way to be creative” and is tradition-based—much like Judaism. “I enjoy living and practicing the best of our traditions,” says the kippah-wearing Delman, a father of four, including a 19-year-old son serving in the Israeli army. “And since it’s in my home I’m able, six days a week, to go down and age the cheese —the French term is affinage, the process of aging cheese. I try to coax greatness out of each wheel of cheese.” Gordimer says U.S. kosher offerings before Delman were “run-of-the mill, standardized cheese,” primarily American and cheddar.
Most cheeses include rennet, an enzyme in animal stomachs that cannot be used in kosher products. The Orthodox Union has certified 84 of Delman’s offerings as kosher, including 15 aged in the Yonkers cellar, Gordimer says. Delman’s Pecorino Romano, made from sheep’s milk on the Italian island of Sardinia, might be the only one of its kind certified by the O.U., he adds. Most of Delman’s clients are New Yorkarea gourmet shops, supermarkets and kosher groceries. Many are not kosher observant or even Jewish. At one Long Island store, a woman told Delman that as a vegetarian, she and her Muslim husband buy his cheeses because of the certainty that they lack animal byproducts. Delman contracts with creameries, or dairy farms, in New York, Vermont, Wisconsin, Ohio and California—and several in Italy—that prepare his cheeses under O.U. supervision despite not being kosher themselves. The cheese wheels and blocks reach Yonkers relatively soft, mild and creamy. The subterranean aging process of one to
two years breaks down their bacteria and molds, removes the moisture and develops the flavors and textures. Each aged wheel or block—some weigh 60 pounds—is taken to industrial facilities and sliced into smaller, retail-sized chunks, also under strict supervision. Neil Weiss, of nearby New Rochelle says that visiting Delman’s cellar was eyeand palate-opening. “I was impressed that you can age cheeses, in the right environment, in your house,” he says after nibbling on some Gouda, cheddar and Pecorino Romano. “I came away thinking that I could buy some really good, quality kosher cheeses.” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano didn’t have to buy last September when he received two Rosh Hashanah gifts from Delman—unusual given that he’s not Jewish—at his office. One was cheddar cheese shaped like a shofar. The other was a wheel of Pecorino Romano that Spano says tasted like the kind he enjoyed as a child. “I’ve got to see your cheese cellar,” he told Delman. Mr. Mayor, one piece of advice: Bring a coat; it’s mighty cold down there!
Teri and I wish you an easy fast and that you and your family may be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life. May 5775 be one of peace for you, your family, and Israel. Congressman& Mrs.
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34 | Jewish News | September 22, 2014 | High Holidays | Jewishnewsva.org