Home Supplement to Jewish News March 28, 2016
Home Dear Readers,
think it is real this time. Glorious white blossoms, hopeful
tree buds, and colorful flowers emerging from the soil are all welcome signs that spring might have actually sprung in Tidewater! With springtime, of course, comes a different focus on our homes. It’s a good
Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. 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 email@example.com Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Sherri Wisoff, Proofreader
time for that intensive cleaning, repairing and painting and, of course, gardening.
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It’s also a good time of year to take a new look at our interiors and think about how we’re using our spaces and how we
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can spruce them up a bit. Francine Morgan talks about some trends on page 21.
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These months are also traditionally the best for selling homes, which means buyers tend to be on the hunt…for homes and mortgages and all that accompanies home ownership. Shikma Rubin offers some tips
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on making mortgage decisions on page 29. While many activities take place at home, in addition to sleep, the one we all do—no matter the season—is eat. And so, in these pages you’ll find recipes, articles about a new kosher hotplate from Israel, a local business that delivers lettuce, and information on kosher cooking classes. However you use your home, we hope
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Terri Denison Editor
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April 8 April 22
Home Design trends focus on creating eclectic, serene, family-centric environments by Sherri Wisoff
n an extremely busy and complex world, 2016 interior design choices for homes may reveal insights into longings for more stable and serene environments, a desire to recapture a sense of intimacy with families and the natural world. Francine Morgan, an accomplished interior designer for Tidewater and Richmond areas and owner of Designs by Francine, says, “The world is such a different place to live now—with so much anxiety in it. People are more interested in decorating their homes so that they can come home to a safe environment surrounded by beautiful and comfortable furnishings.” She sees a big trend in the return of the stone fireplace and the kitchen as important epicenters of family commerce. “The children may still want to be attached to their iPads and iPhones, but many of my clients are striving to create more peaceful, unplugged environments—a place to detox and reestablish family life,” Morgan says. She notes the increased use of natural stone materials such as slate and “beautiful wood floors scattered with muted colored area rugs” as reflecting a longing for more natural simplicity. Modern lines for furniture are still in vogue, but increasingly the mid-modern design trend popular over the last several years is becoming “more a mishmosh” with elements of traditional design thrown in. Interior home design has become more eclectic, the expression of one’s individuality, rather than any one universally accepted design statement. Morgan says she enjoys helping her clients reuse and repurpose old furniture by giving it a fresh look with new upholstery and delights in creating design whimsy with her placement of old furniture with modern materials. She recently paired an old nostalgic French settee with a crisp, modern lucite coffee table. “Anything goes,” she says. For years, she says, textured and solid
fabrics were the designers’ upholstery choices for sofas, but now patterns and prints are back with a vengeance. “I haven’t seen Francine Morgan floral prints and chintze patterns on furniture in the last 15 years of interior design,” she exclaims. “I think it has to do with people trying to recapture something from their past— perhaps a nostalgic memory of a simpler life. The 2016 color choices in paint also seem to reveal a longing for a serene habitat—blush pink and delicate robin egg blue. “Wallpaper with crown moldings is also back, especially in the bathrooms and dining rooms,” she says, replacing solid colors. Design patterns have ranged from geometric to Asian trellis designs. “Window treatments are still simple with blinds and roman shades—no heavy drapery. “Unusual commanding, decorative mirrors of all materials are taking center stage in bathrooms this year,” says Morgan. (As to what this design trend may say about self perceptions or vanity, remains unknown.) “As modern life gets busier and more pressured our homes have become our sanctuaries,” according to m.Interior Design.net. The site notes as a trend for 2016 a rebellion against the pressures of a technology driven universe that seems to be expressing itself in many home improvement decisions this year. “People are attempting to bring nature back into their daily lives by building sunrooms and glass conservatories onto their homes this year. I think people want to create a sanctuary in a busy world,” says Morgan. “Orchids are the flower of choice, they are gorgeous, serene and do not need to be watered. As a matter of fact, if you water them too much they will die—the perfect houseplant for contemporary life, low maintenance.”
Kosher cooking classes for all levels
eanna Freridge, CFSE, chef instructor, Culinary Arts Department at Tidewater Community College, now offers a series of kosher cooking classes through the school. Classes include recipe handouts, information on region/class, and all of the food. Freridge lectures for a short time to go over course material, then participants prepare a recipe. “We serve it family style so everyone gets to sample all recipes, plus take home leftovers if there are any!” she says. Glatt kosher classes are taught at B’nai Israel, while kosher-style classes are taught at TCC Norfolk Campus. For more information, call 757-822-1234, email email@example.com or go to tccworkforce.org.
Kosher cooking class at B’Nai Israel Congregation (Glatt kosher) All classes 6–10 pm, $85 Monday, April 4 “A Taste of Italy”—Discover the rich diversity of Italian cuisine, from the sunny southern coast of Naples to the northern beauty of Florence, Tuscany, and Rome. Sample items prepared in class: Pasta, Polenta, Risotto, Cacciatore, Braciole, Tira Misu** Monday, May 16 “Cajun and Creole”—The flavors of New Orleans, where the culinary influences from Spanish, French and African settlers combined to create truly unique flavor profiles and cooking techniques. Sample items prepared in class: Jambalaya, Gumbo, Etouffee, Blackened Fish with Remoulade, “Dirty Rice,” Bananas Foster, and Pecan Pralines** Monday, June 6 “Tapas Night”—Spanish inspired small plates menu with flavors and techniques from the various regions of Spain including Catalonia, Andalusia, Valencia, and more. Sample items prepared in class: Potato Tortilla, Romesco, Catalan Spinach, Gazpacho, Pollo al Ajillo, Churros**
Kosher-style cooking classes at TCC Norfolk Campus All classes 6–10 pm, $85 Tuesday, April 24 and Tuesday, May 26 For those wishing to prepare kosher foods for catering, retail, or home cooking, this class is designed for the novice as it describes the laws of kashruth pertaining to ingredients such as meat, dairy, fish, produce, and packaged goods. The class will also include an overview on production including days and times for production, holidays, and equipment. Sample items prepared in class: Layered Gefilte Fish, Matzo Ball Soup, Curried Tuna and Couscous, Beef Kabobs, Pineapple Challah Kugel, Chocolate Toffee Torte** **Menu items subject to change based on ingredient availability
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Religious Jews is used matter-of-factly in many Orthodox retirement communities | beach CONNECTION area condos | country clubsFLORIDA REAL ESTATE YOUR NORFOLK TO SOUTH use all sorts of workarounds—electric circles. Patel says he wasn’t aware some timers, preprogrammed thermostats, spe- considered it offensive. YOUR NORFOLK CONNECTION TO SOUTH FLORIDA REAL ESTATE YOUR NORFOLK TO SOUTHREAL FLORIDA REAL ESTATE cial hotplates—but sometimes it’s not “Most people don’t believe us when YOUR NORFOLK CONNECTION TOCONNECTION SOUTH FLORIDA ESTATE enough. A bedroom light may accidentally they see that sign,” he says. “Our cusbe left on. A cool day may unexpectedly tomers wanted us to put it up. We were | beach condos | country clubs YOUR NORFOLK retirement CONNECTIONcommunities TO SOUTH FLORIDA REALarea ESTATE turn sweltering. The hotplate may have providing the service anyway, so they Buyers forfor AllAll Buyers said, ‘Why not put up a sign?’” been left unplugged. Two doors down, Arvind Patel (no That’s where the Shabbos goy comes relation), the owner of the local convein—a non-Jew who can perform forbidforfor AllAll Customers Customers nience store, also takes pride in serving as den tasks for Jews. “If someone needs anything, we go and a Shabbos goy. He, too, has a sign on his UPUP TO TO do it for them,” Patel says. “They might shop, Ambe Grocery: “Shabbos goy availneed us to turn off a stove. Or they left able,” it reads. “Shabbat Shalom.” Registration & Details at “I’m the original Shabbos goy,” Arvind the fridge light on. Sometimes kids turn boasts. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years. on the light by mistake.” UP TO All the rabbis know me. They’re like Because business is very slow on Must Register Now/Good Towards Any Purchase Made in 2016 Must Register Now/Good Towards Any Purchase Made in 2016 Saturdays, Patel is usually the only one family.” Must Register Now/Good Towards Any Purchase Made in 2016 Arvind says he usually gets about eight minding the store. So when Orthodox customers come in and ask for help, Patel or nine requests per Shabbat—more on Broker/Owner locks up and follows them home. He usu- holidays. On Sukkot, he helps fix sukkahs Must Register Now/Good Towards Any Purchase Made in 2016 Must Register Now/Good Towards Any Purchase Made in 2016 Broker/Owner ally gets about five requests per Shabbos, damaged by wind (Jewish law forbids he says, using the Yiddish-style pronunci- repairing a sukkah on the festival’s holy firstname.lastname@example.org ation. There is no charge for the service. continued on page 23 by Uriel Heilman
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Home Sandler Family Campus hosts new homes for birds the rear of the campus. A purple martin house stands along the pond’s edge next to the JCC parking lot. Cavity nesters, Bluebirds have been struggling in recent decades to find natural tree dwellings. An interest in posting man-made nest boxes has helped the bluebird population grow and spread in the open spaces where they typically live. Purple martins are community nesters that like open spaces and open water access that they can share with their friends and families. As a natural predator of mosquitos, purple martins are a welcome sight for all.
continued from page 22
days or Shabbat). On the High Holidays, Arvind patrols the neighborhood offering help wherever needed. The local Jews all know him, he says. Arvind also owns the laundromat next door, which he notes uses only kosher-certified soap and fabric softener. A letter of certification from a body called the Central Rabbinical Congress of the U.S.A. and Canada attests to that. “Say I speak a little Hebrew, too. Baruch Hashem yom yom!” Arvind says, using the Hebrew for “Thank God every day.” Many
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oping to take advantage of the natural open landscape, Tom Edwards, Simon Family JCC sports and recreation director, has placed five birdhouses around the Sandler Family Campus. Edwards crafted four new bluebird nest boxes made of cedar. The handmade birdhouses are mounted throughout the campus: Outside of the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater entrance, near both entries to the Simon Family JCC parking lot, and along the west side of the athletic field at
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Israelis live in the neighborhood. When an Orthodox patron leaves the store, Arvind calls out, “Yom tov! Tihiye bari”—Hebrew for “Have a good day. Stay healthy!” Arvind says he also extends credit to Orthodox Jewish customers who come into the store on the Sabbath for items they unexpectedly need, like milk or soda. They always return and pay on Sunday or Monday, he says. “I trust them a lot,” Arvind says. “Jewish people is same like my family —mishpachah.”
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The Neighborhood Harvest delivers Local company delivers community supported agricultural produce to doorsteps local farms by paying a seasonal fee to receive fresh local produce, Community harles Dudley Warner once said, Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs “Lettuce is like conversation; it usually have subscribers pick up the harmust be fresh and crisp, so spar- vest at one of the several pickup points. kling that you scarcely notice the bitter in However, Stein has developed his own it.” The lettuce and micro-greens grown system that delivers freshly picked produce right here in Tidewater on a hydroponic to directly to homes. The Neighborhood Harvest does not farm are so crisp and sparkling that it’s all just provide green product, their transporanyone can talk about. John Stein, owner of Baker’s Crust, is tation is also green. When asked about his inspiration and growing organic, sustainable, pesticideand GMO-free varietal lettuces, greens, and intentions for founding The Neighborhood Harvest, Stein’s answer is as clean and herbs on a greenhouse farm in Suffolk. Stein’s innovative start-up com- refreshing as his crops, “Sustainability and pany is aptly named, the Neighborhood our drive to source our products with the Harvest, for incorporating the principles of highest level of integrity and quality. A lot of our produce and lettuce come from California Community Supported Agriculture. A program in which consumers support and other countries and we wanted to figure a better way of getting fresh produce to the tables of our community members.” By sourcing product locally, less CO2 is emitted into the earth’s atmosphere, the shelf life of the product is extended because the harvest is picked the day before delivery, and even the packaging is ecofriendly and smart. Janet and Bobby Chenman, two subscribers of The Neighborhood Harvest, tried the program at the suggestion of a friend, who told them about the delivery service. Owners of SmartBasil Farms and The Neighborhood Harvest: Eric Coble, John Stein, by Gaby Grune
and Thomas Vandiver.
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“We like the convenience of it, and knowing that the greens are locally grown, just harvested and so fresh,” says Janet Chenman. “The flavor is phenomenal, particularly the arugula, which is spicy and light. That’s what got me really hooked.” Chenman says whatever is delivered on Tuesday is often part of the couple’s evening meals. At least two other neighbors on their block in Virginia Beach get greens delivered to The Neighborhood Harvest cooler placed at their house. The Chenmans have recommended the service to many of their friends, who have also signed up for deliveries. Stein’s dream, to provide as much micro-greens and lettuce to as many people in Tidewater as possible, is coming to fruition. Families and singles across the region are taking advantage of this healthy and convenient opportunity. Delivery areas already include: North and East Virginia Beach including Towne Center area, Kings Grant, Little Neck, Northampton Blvd. to Shore Dr., Shore Dr. at Northampton to the Oceanfront, Oceanfront to Laskin Rd. to Great Neck corridor; Suffolk city, north Suffolk and Western Branch. The sustainable yields are energizing and educating consumers on how a community can improve the environment, agriculture, and daily lives. This environmentally conscious
company’s origin story happens to be rooted in academia. A few years back, Stein hired interns from the William and Mary Mason School of Business to work alongside him to learn about entrepreneurship and sustainability. In the process of teaching these students, Stein realized he should be farming his own produce to supply his restaurants and the community with local greens. Staple greens were the clear choice of crops to grow. “Lettuce and micro-greens are the staples of everyone’s meals, they are the baseline ingredient people use in their salad so it is essential to a huge demographic,” Stein says. But Stein has not limited himself to strictly baseline ingredients. The farm has grown and distributed a variety of veggies and herbs: Dill, parsley, cilantro, arugula, baby kale, red leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, mesclun, and their newest features include baby collards and candied pecans salad toppings, just to name a few. For those interested in cooking, a stirfry blend is available; for those who’ve caught onto the juicing craze, a juicing blend is available. These green essentials allow any person with any lifestyle to improve their daily nutritional intake without having to go shopping. For more information go to www.theneighborhoodharvest.com or call 757-809-3577.
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Home Olive Oil, Almond and Candied Ginger Mandelbrot Jeremy Krupnick
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by Rebecca Firkser
(The Nosher via JTA)—Growing up in a Jewish-Italian family in New Jersey, I’ve taken to calling myself a pizza bagel. My heritage rendered my childhood kitchen an epicenter for piles of challah French toast, saucepans of bubbling tomato sauce and more than anyone’s fair share of cookies. One crumbly treat in particular graces my oven time and time again: mandelbrot. In my world, this cookie has two names. When my dad’s side of the family makes them, they are called mandelbrot. When my mom’s side gets together for dessert, we’re munching on biscotti. Technically, the recipes for the twice-baked loaf cookies are different, yielding slightly different textures. Mandelbrot has a higher fat content, making them a little softer than their crunchy Italian counterpart. Considering that I’ve now made different recipes for each cookie dozens of times, my final product’s crunch level is somewhere between
the two. You won’t risk breaking a tooth, but don’t dunk it in your coffee for too long. My mandelbrot get their tender, crumbly texture from my favorite Italian ingredient: olive oil. Adding subtle fruity and peppery notes to the dough, the olive oil echoes the stronger flavor profile of the candied ginger. The cookies wouldn’t be true mandelbrot without the addition of roasted almonds, as the name literally translates to “almond bread.” Not only do the almonds add a satisfying crunch, they also provide a rich, creamy compliment to the sweet and spicy ginger. I like to use coconut sugar in this recipe because, compared to white sugar, the slight caramel flavor allows the eater to place their attention on the dessert as a whole, not only on the treat’s degree of sweetness. —Rebecca Firkser is a New Jersey-based food writer and blogger. She blogs regularly at Spices and Spatulas.
Olive Oil, Almond and Candied Ginger Mandelbrot Recipe Ingredients
2 eggs, at room temperature
¹⁄ 3 cup roasted almonds
½ cup blonde coconut sugar
¼ cup candied ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon orange zest
pinch of kosher salt
½ cup olive oil
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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Chop roasted almonds and candied ginger finely and set aside. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl,
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whisk eggs until smooth, then whisk in coconut sugar until dissolved. Add extracts and orange zest, then slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking the entire time. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until incorporated, then fold in the almonds and candied ginger. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and form it into a ball. Divide into 2 sections and roll the dough into logs, each about 12 inches long. Transfer
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to prepared baking tray and flatten slightly. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven until slightly cooled. With a serrated knife, cut logs into ½-inch slices on a diagonal. Return mandelbrot to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then flip the cookies over and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Home HotMat, new Shabbat hotplate, eyes design and safety appeal
by Uriel Heilman
NEW YORK ( JTA)—First there was KosherLamp, the bedside light that could be turned on and off on the Sabbath. Then came KosherSwitch, the controversial toggle that allows users to control lights and other electronic appliances on Shabbat. Now there’s HotMat, a new foldable hotplate designed to give observant Jewish consumers a safe, portable and rabbinically sanctioned method of heating up food on the Sabbath. HotMat is hardly the first Sabbath hotplate on the market. But after a malfunctioning hotplate was blamed for a tragic Brooklyn fire a year ago that killed seven children from a Jewish family, HotMat provides fresh safety features and functionality. For one thing, it’s the first foldable hotplate on the market, making it ideal for travelers – religious Jews or otherwise. It also offers four separate surfaces for heating food—two that get hot, and two that get warm. (“So you don’t burn your rice,” says creator Rafi Gabbay.) Jewish law forbids cooking food or using fire on the Sabbath. However, food may be heated or kept warm on Shabbat under certain conditions: The heat must be indirect and non-adjustable, and cold liquids may not be heated at all. HotMat has been certified for Shabbat use by the Zomet Institute, Israel’s leading designer of electronic devices for use on the Jewish Sabbath, and has been safety-certified by TUV labs, a German safety certification company. Gabbay, the 37-year-old entrepreneur from Jerusalem who invented HotMat, says
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includes IRA certificates creating the product was a way to combine his training in industrial design with his interest in Jewish philosophy. “I’ve been tinkering with this concept for years,” Gabbay told JTA in a telephone interview from his home in Israel. “The standard Shabbat hotplate is a product a lot of people don’t like,” he said. “It’s heavy, bulky, often burns the food, and then there’s the issue of safety. It’s a very dangerous product.” H o t M a t aims to address those deficiencies. The patented product went through two years of lab testing and refinement to achieve its high safety ratings. The multiple surfaces with varying heat levels are designed to keep soup hot without burning kugel soufflés (in accordance with Sabbath restrictions, the temperatures are not adjustable). The Teflon-coated aluminum heat surfaces are designed to be easy to store and clean. HotMat weighs about 5 pounds, far less than standard Shabbat hotplates. HotMat retails for $129 and is newly available in the United States at hotmathotplate.com. After the HotMat went on sale in Israel and Europe last year, the product quickly sold out.
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by Laine Mednick Rutherford
or approximately 10,000 children in Israel, home has come to mean life in a place where initially there may be no biological family members, no known objects and unfamiliar spaces. Soon however, they can begin to learn what home means: a safe, secure shelter, where they have daily meals, clothes of their own and adults who can be trusted. Neve Michael Children’s Village is one of Israel’s residential facilities that provide a temporary, or sometimes permanent, home for children who have been removed from their parents’ care—usually under traumatic circumstances. Located in Pardes Hana, Neve Michael provides a home for 250 children. The majority of the children are victims of mental, physical or sexual abuse. Ages range from four to 18 years old. The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater provides Neve Michael with funding that enables staff there to provide the children with food, clothing, support and opportunities that will allow them to grow into healthy adults. The funds are provided through generous gifts made to the UJFT’s Annual Campaign. Stephanie Steerman and her husband Sam traveled to Israel last summer on a mission trip with the UJFT Young Adult Division’s Hineni! program. The first stop on the Tom Hofheimer Young Leadership Mission was to Neve Michael, where the Steermans and the rest of their group met with Hava Levene, Neve Michael’s director of public relations. “We got a chance to meet some of the kids, and see where and how they live,” Steerman says. “The biggest impact for me came hearing Hava’s stories about the children, and finding out no matter what time of day or night, Neve Michael takes them in and gives them a home. “Some kids arrive with only the clothes on their back, and they need everything— clothes, food, shoes, love. Neve Michael gives it to them. “One of the stories Hava told us was
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about seeing a young soldier while she was waiting for a train. He was on the other side of the tracks, but called out to her and let her know that he was in the Army, and doing very well. ‘I’m successful, and it’s because of you,’ he told her. Stories like that make us so aware of the impact we have in people’s lives, through the Federation.” Along with providing resident in his room at Neve Michael Children’s Village. Located refuge and a loving home, Ain young Pardes Hanna, Israel, Neve Michael provides a home for more than Neve Michael has a 24-hour 250 children ages 4-18. Emergency Crisis Center, the first teenage girls’ crisis center in Israel, an to send him to jail (which did happen). elementary school on the premises, and Batya wanted to be a princess for Purim day care facilities serving disadvantaged and received a costume of a princess dress. children in the area. Also, there is a therapy But Batya continued to wear the costume enrichment center tailored to meet individ- even after Purim, especially on days that ual needs, and an external crisis center and were “bad” days for her that had painful therapy counseling unit which helps keep at memories. risk families intact. Once Batya wore the princess dress it Levene recently sent the following story made her feel better and beautiful. The about a young girl she calls “Batya,” to share dress was on a chair beside Batya’s bed, with the Tidewater Jewish community: always ready when needed. I saw Batya wear the dress so often rom Rosh Chodesh Adar to Purim, those first months at the Emergency Crisis there are fun activities in Neve Michael. Center, even when she played outside on The children in Neve Michael are a mosaic the sports field. Soon after Yom Kippur, of Jewish culture and traditions includ- Batya ran over to me to tell me that she is ing Ethiopian, Israeli, Russian, Moroccan, so excited because they found a new, good Libyan etc. We try and make sure to mother for her and she is going there for encourage the uniqueness of each culture Shabbat. After many visits to her new family, through songs and traditions. Batya arrived at the Emergency Crisis Batya came to the director of the Emergency Center in Neve Michael Children’s Village. Crisis Center and told her that she doesn’t A small, frail little girl with long brown need the princess dress anymore and that hair and sad brown eyes, just nine years she should wash it and keep it for any new old and already a four-year victim of sexual girl that comes to Neve Michael who will molestation by her father. Unfortunately, need it. Batya’s mother is mentally unwell and incapable of protecting her. Her three younger Hava Levene sent a thank you message to siblings were taken to foster care, but Batya Tidewater, which can be viewed at www. came to us for therapy, treatment and, most youtube/UJFTidewater. To help make a difference in the lives of the important, for love. In addition, the authorities wanted children who will be arriving at Neve Michael Batya to be in a protective, healing envi- tomorrow, next month and next year, donate to ronment before they questioned her to get the 2016 Annual Campaign at www.jewishva. enough evidence to convict her father and org/donation.
Home The Big Short and the responsibility of homeownership
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by Shikma Rubin
he Academy-award nominated film, The Big Short, which uses an all-star cast to chronicle the 2007 collapse of the U.S. housing market, has a warning for all future homebuyers: understand the contract before you sign. One particular scene underscores the point. In the lead-up to the housing crash, a hedge fund manager, Mark Baum (played by Steve Carell), visits Florida to see the housing bubble firsthand. He speaks to a young woman and learns she owns five homes. But here’s the kicker: the woman doesn’t realize that when her adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) goes into effect in 2007, it will likely increase her mortgage payments more than 200 percent. In that moment, Baum comes to a shocking realization: a housing crash is imminent because too many people have mortgages they likely can’t afford. The real life collapse of the housing market had a chilling effect on the economy and made people fearful of major investments such as the purchase of a home. Flash forward to 2015. This past October, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) simplified the loan process when it condensed four different disclosure forms into two and made the lending documents easier for homebuyers to comprehend. Still, it’s important for homebuyers to ask their lender the right questions before signing on the dotted line. Questions include: • Is my mortgage rate fixed or adjustable (meaning, will the rate change over time)? • What’s included in my monthly mortgage payment? • A m I being charged origination or discount points for my mortgage rate? • Do I have mortgage insurance, and if so what are the terms? As a lender who regularly walks people
Shikma Rubin. through the mortgage process, I can confirm that the system today is highly regulated and designed to protect both the lenders and homebuyers. Buying a home is still one of the best (if not the best) long-term investments. That’s why I believe The Big Short isn’t meant to scare people away from homeownership. If anything, it demonstrates how far the system has come, and why people should again have confidence in lending institutions. When beginning the home buying process, gather recent salary and tax documents and be prepared for a thorough financial history check. Be sure to ask lenders the questions outlined above and anything else that doesn’t make sense. Bottom line: Lenders need to be 100 percent sure buyers can pay their mortgage. And before signing and picking up the house keys, buyers need to be certain, too. Shikma Rubin is a loan officer at Tidewater Home Funding in Chesapeake, Va (NMLS #1114873). She specializes in lending for the millennial generation. Visit shikmarubin.com for a free copy of her ebook, “15 Things Millennials Want from the Home Buying Process.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tips to make Spring Ceaning safer and easier (StatePoint) For those who love the results of Spring Cleaning, but not the process, it could be that the methods and tools being used to get the job done are making the work harder than it needs to be. To get those to-dos done with less effort, consider these tips.
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Make it fun Before getting started, take steps to prepare for an afternoon or day of chores. Turn on some music for motivation. Open the windows to get some fresh air. Eat a solid meal to be fueled for the tasks at hand. Already in a much better mood? Avoid harsh chemicals One of the less savory aspects of cleaning
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can be the exposure of one’s eyes and skin to harsh and irritating chemical formulas. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In some cases, it is possible to get the same results with natural alternatives and, at times, just water. For example, microfiber is designed to pick up and trap dust, dirt, fingerprints, and grime from furniture, woodwork, and cabinetry without scratching surfaces. Brands such as Casabella offer an array of cleaning supplies made of this material, including cloths, chenille mitts, mops and dusters, which offer deeper cleaning with just a little bit of water. Avoid Reaching Cleaning can be a pain in the neck—and back, and everywhere else for that matter. Treat cleaning like a workout. Stretch neck, shoulders and torso beforehand. Also, look for implements that “do the reaching for you so you don’t have to.” For example, a versatile tool like the Everywhere Duster, with its washable microfiber head, pivots to work in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies
from floor to ceiling, such as windowsills and molding. Work smart Mopping can be a tricky task when using a conventional mop and bucket. Rather than push an ever-increasingly dirty mop around the floors, seek out smart cleaning tools. A built-in washing spinner at the bottom of the bucket can help keep things cleaner along the way. For example, the Spin Cycle Mop features two spinning mechanisms—one to wash and one to dry—so there’s no dripping dirty water on the floors that are being cleaned. Use microfiber cloths and dusters that hold onto the dirt they gather so there’s no trail of dust from room to room. These materials are machine washable, so post-cleaning tasks are a cinch as well. The fresh feel that Spring Cleaning affords does not need to come at a great cost to happiness. With a few tweaks to the routine, it’s possible to make it simpler and more enjoyable.
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