High Holidays 5773 Supplement to Jewish News, September 17, 2012
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful year.
New Year’s holidays offer a universal message by Adin Steinsaltz
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JERUSALEM (JTA)—The start of the Jewish New Year, the month of Tishrei, is filled with holy days, among them four foundational celebrations: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat TorahShemini Atzeret. They are quite different from one another. Yet we may also think of all four holidays as two pairs of two. The first two—the day of memory and accounting and the day of atonement—are awe inspiring and grave compared with the last two festivals, which are days of joy. At the same time, the first three holidays do have a common denominator: As much as they are Jewish holidays, they carry a universal message. Embedded within them are three of humanity’s cardinal touchstones: accounting and judgment; mercy and atonement; and the joy of life. These attributes and qualities are essential to the lives of every human being. We mark the New Year by commemorating creation on the one hand and celebrating the Kingship of the Lord on the other. Both creation and God’s sovereignty pertain to all humankind and are not specifically Jewish. The Day of Atonement, too, is relevant to every human being. Life is full of mistakes and transgressions. Without atonement it would be unbearable to go on living with the unresolved and painful pieces of our past.
Sukkot at first glance seems to be far more connected with Jewish history. Yet at its essence, the holiday is actually a festival of thanksgiving for what we have. We acknowledge the tranquility in our lives and express our gratitude for Divine gifts. Moreover, our sages teach us that during Sukkot—in the days of the Holy Temple—70 bulls were offered to God in the name of the 70 nations of the world. As the prophet Zachariah foretells, in the days to come it is on Sukkot that all the peoples of the world will come as pilgrims to the Temple in Jerusalem (14:16-21). This combination of the particular and the universal is not just one more interesting point; it is the key for understanding the meaning of these three holidays. In all our other celebrations, and perhaps in Jewish religious life in general, we stress the specificity of Jewish existence. Most of our holidays and memorial days are deeply connected with our own history. In Tishrei, however, we focus on our fundamental humanity, on the fact that we are human beings with great problems. In this context, humanity is not defined as a group of human beings. Here we speak of our basic humanity— humanity as a quality. The very touchstones that we mark in Tishrei are what make us human. The essence of the universality of these holidays, then, is not in the point of sharing with others, it is in delving into ourselves in order to
to be more
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Yet, in its essence, the holiday is
actually a festival of thanksgiving for what we have.
H i g h H ol i d ay s 5 7 7 3 Rosh Hashanah—Sept. 16–18
• Yom Kippur—Sept. 25–26 • Sukkot—Sept. 30–Oct. 7 • Simchat Torah—Oct. 7–8
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Cheering the tummy after atoning Breaking the Yom Kippur fast ROASTED PEPPER PANZANELLA Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Ready time: 25 minutes Servings: 6 In g redien t s 1m edium loaf whole wheat rustic bread, crust removed and cut into 1-inch cubes 1 cup sliced cucumber ½ cup sliced red onion 1 roasted red bell pepper, thinly sliced 1 roasted yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced 1 large tomato on the vine, cut into wedges 1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed (8-ounce) 12 large leaves basil, torn ¼ cup olive oil 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper P repa r at ion Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread out cubed bread on a large sheet pan in a single layer and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until dried out and crispy. Let cool. In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, onions, peppers, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil and toss to combine. Add bread, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and stir to coat well. Serve immediately or let sit up to 30 minutes so bread soaks up the dressing.
(JTA)—Yom Kippur, the most somber day of the Jewish year, is also called the Day of Atonement and reminds us that we are all accountable for our actions. The concept of New Year’s resolutions that mark our secular New Year’s Day comes from the Jewish idea of repentance at the start of a new year. As we reflect on the mistakes we’ve made over the past year, we resolve to be better people. One element of repentance is fasting, so Jews are not permitted to eat or drink on Yom Kippur. But boy do we prepare ourselves for the fast! We serve full, balanced meals—light on the salt and thirst-inducing spices—just before the fast. When it’s over, we give thanks and dig in once again. The post-Yom Kippur meal may not contain every dish you fantasized about during the fast, but it’s sure to be satisfying. —Jamie Geller is the author of the bestselling Quick & Kosher cookbook series, creator of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine and host of Quick & Kosher online at youtube.com/joyofkosher and on-air on JLTV. Join Jamie and the world’s largest kosher food community on joyofkosher.com to discover 5,000 FREE kosher recipes, inspiring menu ideas, how-to videos, and more.
SMOKED SALMON OMELET This recipe only makes one omelet because you really can’t make more than one at a time. If you are serving several for brunch, make them all beforehand and keep them whole. Warm the prepared omelets on a greased sheet pan in the oven, warming drawer or on a hot plate. Then, cut in half just before serving. Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 2 hours Ready time: 2 hours, 10 minutes Servings: 2 In g redien t s 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 small red onion, thinly sliced 5 large eggs, beaten ½ teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped chives 1 tablespoon capers 3 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon 1 everything bagel, cut in half 4 tablespoons cream cheese P repa r at ion Heat olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until tender. Add eggs, salt and pepper, and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until just set in the center, tilting the skillet and lifting the edges of omelet with a spatula to let uncooked portion run out to edges. Sprinkle with chives and capers and lay salmon over half of the omelet. Using a spatula, fold the omelet half without the salmon over the half with salmon to enclose it, and slide the omelet onto a plate. Cut in half crosswise and serve on an open faced bagel with cream cheese.
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L’Shana Tova Best wishes for a happy and healthy year with shalom. La Promenade Shoppes 1860 Laskin Road Virginia Beach, VA 23454 757-491-1111 757-491-0597 fax www.aldosvb.com
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year
SWEET KUGEL WITH DRIED FRUIT Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes Ready time: 55 minutes Servings: 12 In g redien t s 1 pound wide egg noodles ¾ cup dried cherries ¾ cup dried apricots, diced 2 cups plain soy milk 5 large eggs, beaten ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 2 cups cornflake cereal, crushed 3 tablespoons margarine, melted P repa r at ion Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well and let cool. In a large bowl, combine cherries, apricots, soy milk, eggs, ¾ cup sugar and vanilla. Add noodles and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-by‑13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine crushed cereal with margarine and remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Scatter the mixture over the noodles. Bake 45 minutes or until set and the topping is golden.
ORANGE GINGER POACHED PEARS Poached pears are a great lighter alternative to a rich heavy dessert but still have loads of flavor to satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth. Serve with your favorite non-dairy ice cream and experiment poaching different kinds of fruit. Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 18 minutes Ready time: 23 minutes Servings: 4 In g redien t s 2 cups orange juice 1 cup water 2 tablespoons sugar 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced ¹⁄8 teaspoon salt 2 Anjou pears, peeled, halved and cored 2 cups vanilla soy ice cream P repa r at ion In a saucepan, combine orange juice, water, sugar, ginger and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add pears. Simmer until just tender, about 8 minutes. Remove pears and set aside.
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Bring mixture to a boil and reduce until a little thicker, about 10 minutes. Strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Serve each pear half with a scoop of ice cream and a few tablespoons of sauce.
On Yom Kippur, secular Israelis pray with modern songs and bike on open roads By Ben Sales
TEL AVIV (JTA)—With its lively beaches, all-night clubs and restaurants serving ham and shrimp, Tel Aviv is a city known more for its Speedos than its spirituality. And while the Orthodox may spend Yom Kippur praying in synagogues, secular Jews are more likely to spend the Day of Atonement watching videos and biking through the city’s empty streets. Options are opening up across the city and the country for non-Orthodox Jews seeking a meaningful way to observe the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Secular Israelis who attend synagogue usually go for Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur eve or Neilah, the holiday’s closing service. But the services are rarely meaningful to Jews who hardly ever enter a synagogue during the rest of the year, says Eran Baruch, head of Bina, a secular Tel Aviv yeshiva. “Most young people usually don’t feel connected, don’t know how to pray,” he says. “They usually have some alienation to what’s going on.” Bina has been countering that alienation since its 1996 founding by crafting a Judaism with prayers, texts and values that secular Jews can appreciate. On Yom Kippur eve this year, the yeshiva will host study sessions, discussions and a rooftop service that Baruch says will attract 400 people. The service will feature some classic selections from the prayer book, such as the Kol Nidre prayer. But the service cum study session also will include recent texts, such as poems by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai or American Jewish musician Leonard Cohen’s song “Who by Fire,” which is inspired by U’netaneh Tokef, a High Holidays prayer that describes the process and consequences of divine judgment. The service also will include an opportunity for personal confession; Bina will hold confessional services the following day and night focusing on community and nation. Yom Kippur lacks an element of national heroism central to such holidays as
Chanukah and Purim, which many secular Israelis observe. But while Bina does not ask its students to fast or perform any particular rituals, Baruch says the ideas of self-improvement and forgiveness should resonate with everyone. “There are many traditional texts that ask very deep questions—Job, Jonah and Ecclesiastes,” he says. In its study sessions, Bina’s students also will read Abraham Joshua Heschel and the diary of Hannah Senesh, a Jewish paratrooper killed by allies of the Nazis. The Jerusalem-based organization Elul also aims to engage nonreligious Jews in Yom Kippur by fostering dialogues and discussions between secular and religious Israelis. Like Bina, Elul will hold study sessions mixing traditional and religious texts leading up to the holiday, although it will be closed on Yom Kippur itself. Roni Yavin, Elul’s executive director, says that most secular Israelis observe the holiday, although their Yom Kippur may not include prayer or ritual. “They will celebrate Yom Kippur by reading books, by meeting friends, by having a study session,” she says. “It’s a meaningful day for study, for thinking about identity, for thinking about what happened this year, what I want for next year.” Yavin says that since 1973, the day also has become an opportunity for Israelis to commemorate the Yom Kippur War. Secular Tel Aviv residents also may attend a Yom Kippur yoga session (white clothes and a bottle of water recommended), while a learner’s service will take place in nearby Herzliya. A blurb about the service advertises that it will not have assigned seating for regular worshipers, “which alienates secular Jews.” After the holiday, Tel Aviv residents may choose from a break fast with several options—a 1970s-themed party, a stand-up comedy show or a restaurant that is advertising an 11-pound steakto share with five people. The most popular Tel Aviv-area activity remains bicycling. Tel Aviv bans private
The ideas of
vehicles from the road on the holiday, meaning that the city’s streets and even its highways fill with cyclists. “I have quality time with my family,” says Charlie Anstiss, 61, a non-Jew who moved to Israel in 1983. Anstiss, who lives north of Tel Aviv, has cycled competitively here. He used to ride
70 miles up the Mediterranean coast on Yom Kippur, but now he takes a shorter trip with his children and grandchildren. “When you get to the city center, you have to be very careful because all the kids are on the road,” he says. “I don’t know why their parents let them out. It’s quite dangerous.”
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Why kosher cooking is good for the soul by Helen Nash
NEW YORK (JTA)—Cooking has been a passion for me, and passing on my knowledge and experience to a new kosher audience one of my greatest joys. When my two earlier books were published—Kosher Cuisine and Helen Nash’s Kosher Kitchen— that joy was mingled with regret at having to exclude so many more appetizing dishes and ideas about cuisine, nutrition, and a healthful approach to everyday meals. At the time, though, I couldn’t imagine going back to the arduous process of developing, refining, testing, and retesting new recipes. But then a personal tragedy gave me a compelling desire to start working on another book. My husband of five decades—a brilliant, visionary, and passionate man with great generosity of spirit—suffered a massive stroke, and for many years he was ill and homebound. Jack loved good food, and one of the ways I tried both to give him pleasure and keep him relatively healthy was to cook for him. As everything about our life changed, cooking creatively also became a way for me to maintain a positive attitude.
And in trying to keep Jack’s spirits up, I raised my own. I discovered that even when Jack was ill, he was receptive to new tastes. So I began experimenting with novel kosher ingredients that were just coming to the market. Wasabi powder, miso, panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), balsamic and rice vinegars, and a variety of oils—truffle and sesame— hadn’t been available to kosher cooks when I wrote my first two books, so Jack and I became acquainted with them together. In coming up with new dishes, their nutritional value was, of course, a decisive factor. But so was their appeal to the palate and to the eye. Until the very end, Jack looked forward to the meals I made for him, so I counted my experiments a success. Yet as his illness progressed, comfort foods—meatloaf, soups, frittatas, risottos, vegetable burgers, tuna burgers, turkey scaloppini, and most chicken dishes—were more to his liking than some of my more modern innovations. Whether you and your loved ones opt for the familiar or the exotic, eating well on a daily basis requires good planning, portion
control, and nutrition. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to select ingredients of the highest quality and, whenever possible, seasonal products. Indeed, if I have one rule for both cooking and eating, it is that what is best and freshest at the market—fish, vegetables, fruit, and meat— should dictate the menu. The better your ingredients, the better your results. But in the end, keeping kosher is more, to me, than just a sensible way to live and to eat healthfully. The ancient Jewish dietary
Teri and I wish you and your family an easy and meaningful fast. G'mar Tov from our family to yours.
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laws help to organize my life around family, Friday nights, and holidays. They remind me of the importance of community and anchor me to the other rituals of our religion. Their observance inspires me to study our texts more deeply—a search for meaning that, in turn, heightens my respect for human nature. The Torah says it all in its reverence for life. And one way we can bring that reverence into our lives and our homes is with a well-planned, homecooked, nutritious kosher meal. —This article was adapted from the introduction to the forthcoming cookbook Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine (Overlook Press).
Notes removed from Western Wall JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Western Wall was emptied of layers of notes from its cracks and crevices for the New Year. The notes were removed Monday morning, Sept. 10, under the supervision of the rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, who ensured they will remain confidential. They will be buried. At the time of the removal, the rabbi said a prayer asking God to fulfill the requests contained in the notes. The notes are removed from the wall twice a year, before Rosh Hashanah and Passover.
Israel will not receive lulavs from Sinai JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel likely will not have palm fronds from the Sinai for this year’s Sukkot lulavs. Terror in the Sinai and a lack of communication between Israeli and Egyptian agricultural agencies are the reasons that the palm fronds will not be imported, Israel National News reported. They are grown in the Sinai’s al-Arish area, located west of the Gaza Strip. Last year, Egypt banned the export of the palm fronds to Israel, leading to fears of a lulav shortage for the holiday and higher prices. Israel’s Agricultural Ministry then encouraged local palm farmers to increase production. Avner Rotem, manager of date palms on Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi in the Beit Shean Valley, told INN that there should be enough lulavs grown in Israel to meet domestic needs and for export. Israel previously had imported about 700,000 palm fronds a year in the run-up to Sukkot, which is about 40 percent of the annual demand. Another 700,000 of the
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With well wishes 2 million lulavs used in Diaspora Jewish communities also came from Egypt. (JTA)
Israel Action Network making High Holidays outreach effort to 5,000 rabbis NEW YORK (JTA)—The Israel Action Network is reaching out to 5,000 rabbis during the High Holidays season as part of an ongoing campaign to counter the delegitimization of Israel. The network, a project of the Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, announced the initiative will include sermon inserts and a resource guide for educating congregants that will promote peace between Israel and its neighbors. Among the rabbinic organizations partnering in the distribution of materials are the JFNA Rabbinic Cabinet, The Association of Reform Zionists of America, the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.
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L'SHANA TOVA jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays 5773 | September 17, 2012 | Jewish News | 39
Your guide to a sweeter new year in 5773 be in the present with a good meal, good people—and a good nap.
by Cindy Sher
CHICAGO (JUF News)—Ready for a clean slate? We Jews are lucky to get a chance to start over every fall as the shofar sounds a wake-up call in each of our lives. With the changing leaves, the crispness in the air and new Justin Bieber Trapper Keepers in the back-to-school aisle comes a promise for a fresh start in 5773. Since the sum of 5, 7, 7 and 3 equals 22, I offer you 22 tips for a sweeter new year. L’shana tovah tikatevu! 1. Give thanks. No matter what you’re doing, take at least a moment every day to stop and say thank you to God, to your parents, to the love of your life, to your kids, and to that barista at your local coffee joint who greets you with a smile and a “halfcaff-skim-latte-easy whip” every morning. We get so wrapped up in the chaos of our days that we forget to give thanks for all the blessings, big and small, in our lives. 2. Make Shabbat special. Whether you keep Shabbat or not, it’s a nice time to
3. Get inspired. Go online and click on one of those TED talks, listen to an uplifting sermon by your rabbi, take in a sunset, watch a Spielberg flick—whatever moves you. 4. Learn about your roots. Ask an older member of your family to tell you a story stemming from your family tree. My grandparents just recently told me how they met. Long story short, I might not be here if it weren’t for my grandma’s canasta game with my great aunts, Faye and Gertie, who put the shidduch together. How’d your grandparents meet? 5. Spend time with people who you really like and love. And spend less time with people you don’t. Life’s short. ’Nuf said. 6. Raise your heart rate. They say sitting at your desk all day can shave years off your life. It’s a pity I write these words as
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I sit at my desk. So whenever you can, get up and move. Walk, don’t drive, the mile to the store. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Do yoga. Shoot hoops. Just move. 7. Never text and drive—capiche? And while we’re on the subject, texting and walking is dangerous, too.
400 times a child laughs each day
8. Laugh more. In the book The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin says that a small child typically laughs more than 400 times each day, while an adult laughs only 17 times. Raise that average. 9. Look up at the sky and down at the earth. Pay attention to the sun, the moon and the stars, and plant something in the ground.
10. Take up space in the room. Last year, I attended a Jewish women’s empowerment seminar, where we talked about this concept, but it applies to both men and women: Who you are and what you have to say matter. Own it. 11. Commit gemilut hasadim, deeds of loving kindness. Mentor a kid who needs a friend or volunteer at a senior home, for a project to feed the hungry or elsewhere. 12. Devour a book—for fun. Read it on your Kindle or the real kind made of actual paper. 13. Give yourself a break. So many people, especially among MOTs, are taught to excel and to make everyone around them happy all the time, whether by making the honor roll, getting that promotion or saying yes to a project you know you don’t have time for. But you know what? Sometimes it’s OK to take a day off from perfection. I give you permission.
14. Eat broccoli, beans and blueberries. Incorporate superfoods like these into your diet to improve your overall health.
15. …But eat ice cream, too. I know these last two tips sound contradictory, but it’s not like you’re training for the Olympics. Yes, eat your vegetables, but every once in
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40 | Jewish News | September 17, 2012 | High Holidays 5773 | jewishnewsva.org
a while, go for those two scoops of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. 16. Visit somewhere you’ve never been. That may be Israel, India or Indiana, or it could be your local gym or a botanic garden. Visit uncharted territory next year.
17. Talk about real stuff. Again, we get bogged down in the details of life, logistics and work, but take some time to really talk to the people in your lives about what really matters. 18. Dance more. So you’re not exactly Mikhail Baryshnikov or J. Lo. Well, chances are neither is the guy next to you on the dance floor at the club or dancing the hora alongside you. 19. Find joy in every season—even winter. Revel in the varied seasons—whether you’re seven years old or seven at heart. In the fall, jump in a pile of leaves. When it’s cold, make a snow angel. Meander through the rain without an umbrella in the spring. And next July, jump into the lake— when the E. coli levels are low. 20. Be more Zen. I’m a work in progress on this one. Your friend is 11 minutes late for your coffee date. The forecast calls for storms on your wedding day. Your daughter just drew a picture of the dog with a brown Sharpie on the coffee table rather than on her plentiful construction paper. Don’t freak out about things beyond your control. OK, maybe freak out a little about the Sharpie stain. 21. Do something a little scary. No, not necessarily bungee jumping. My mom would kill me—and she’d probably kill you, too. But get out of your comfort zone and do something new that seems easier not to do. 22. Turn off your phone every once in a while. Wouldn’t it be nice every so often—maybe on Shabbat—to not text, not email, not status update and not tweet—to just be? —Cindy Sher is editor of the JUF News in Chicago.
Cooling the rhetoric in your sukkah of peace by Edmon J. Rodman
LOS ANGELES (JTA)—In an election year, a sukkah divided against itself cannot stand. Especially in the swing states, where each party is basically claiming that if the other wins we’ll all be living in sukkahs, political dinner conversation this Sukkot could really topple an already shaky house. With potential verbal sparring over which candidate is best for Israel, health care and increasing Uncle Bernie’s chances of finally landing a job, the evening has all the hallmarks of a below the Beltway battle. For the festival, we are supposed to build a “sukkah sh’lomechah”—a sukkah of peace. But how much peace can there be in the confines of small hut when your family or friends are divided about who is getting their vote for president? In our season of joy in this election season, will our guests be unhappy and at odds like the lulav and etrog before they are assembled—willow, myrtle, palm—disparate elements seeking a whole? As Lyndon Johnson said in quoting Isaiah, “Come now let us reason together.” How best can we come together over our differences and keep a holiday sense of joy and camaraderie? Should we be politically correct with the ushpizim—the guests from the Bible that are symbolically invited, one each night, into the sukkah—and for every liberal Hillel ask in a conservative Shammai. Politics and family dinners seldom seem a good match. As a child, I remember a Passover when two of my uncles nearly came to blows over what my mother described later simply as “politics,” and another seder that was almost ruined when my mother and her brother tussled over the morality of Woody Allen. How about just invoking and enforcing the universal table rule of no conversations about politics, religion or sex? It’s a plan, but just try selling that to your libertarian dentist uncle, former flower child aunt or brother-in-law home for a visit from the West Bank. Where is all this division coming from? Despite our disagreements, aren’t Jews more or less a political bloc?
Looking for advice about how to prepare for a politically divided sukkah, I contacted an expert on political issues and American Jewish affairs—Steven Windmueller, emeritus professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. A sukkah filled with Jews of divergent opinions was no surprise to Windmueller. Going against the commonly held view, he already had written that the “Jewish vote” was actually a “series of voting constituencies.” According to Windmueller, sitting around our sukkah tables we might find a mixture of these five groups: • Southern and Midwestern Jews, “who have longstanding family ties to these regions and their respective home communities,” he said. • Immigrant Jewish communities, who arriving from Iran, the former Soviet Union or other societies “frequently identify with the foreign policy principles of the Republican Party.” • Traditional religious Jews, who “emulate the political patterns of the Christian evangelical community.” • Red diaper baby voters, who like their grandparents identify with “socialist causes and left-wing political ideas.” • Urban Jewish elites, who are supportive of Democratic Party candidates and identify with “an array of liberal organizations and often high-profile social causes.” Imagine a sukkah filled with one from each group trying to sway your lulav. When I explained to Windmueller my fears about a politically divided sukkah, he suggested that we each “Come to the table with an open hand.” And to be on the safe side, he also advised, with a laugh, to keep any knives off the table. Windmueller said the more recent division among Jews is not a result of turning Republican or flocking to the Democrats as much as becoming independents. He sees younger Jews especially as being tied less to the political orientation of their families. As to whether Jewish voters are turning away from President Obama, “The amount of movement we are seeing is actually small,” said Windmueller, which he estimated this election cycle at between 9 and 12 percent. He doesn’t see a dramatic change in the Jewish vote like in 2004 for
dinners seldom seem a good match.
Reagan or 2008 for George H. Bush. Windmueller adds that the issue of Israel, which has been receiving much partisan coverage in the Jewish media and has the most potential to cause a Sukkah conflagration—is “not a top priority for many Jewish voters.” “Not even in the top five,” he said, listing the economy, health care, Social Security and international terrorism as among the priorities of Jewish voters. As to how to help keep the holiday peace in this charged-up season, Windmueller suggested coming to the table “prepared” with more than just the usual political slogans. “You don’t want to lose friends and family over an election,” he said. “People are scared to have their minds changed,” said Windmueller, who rarely talks about politics at the dinner table and has found that even at temple speaking engagements, organizers often are nervous that he will sneak in an endorsement. For a more congenial evening, he also suggested sticking close to issues on which many Jews can still come together—the Iranian threat, the concern over civil order and the health of our society.
May your year be filled with peace, health, and happiness.
Shaking those subjects together in each political direction might not bring an evening of peace, but at least we’d be talking. —Edmon J. Rodman is a JTA columnist who writes on Jewish life from Los Angeles. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays 5773 | September 17, 2012 | Jewish News | 41
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Sukkah, Do It Yourself
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happy &NEW healthy YEAR!
42 | Jewish News | September 17, 2012 | High Holidays 5773 | jewishnewsva.org
by Mark Mietkiewicz
f ever you’ve wanted to release your inner (Jewish) handyman/woman, there’s no time like the present. Sukkot is almost here and rather than shell out for a pre-fab kit, why not consider building one yourself? Plans abound online as do people who would be happy to have you walk in their footsteps. One of the groundbreaking publications for taking Judaism into your own hands is The Jewish Catalogue: A Do-It-Yourself Kit, edited by Richard Siegel, Michael Strassfeld and Susan Strassfeld. Their classic Sukkah plans are reprinted online. And there’s also a link to a “quick and easy do-it-yourself Sukkah that uses piping from your local home improvement store.” [http://bit.ly/ sukkah102] Wow! Jerome Danoff of Congregation Beth El of Bethesda has really outdone himself. He has uploaded a 24-page(!) pdf with extremely detailed instructions for building an 8' x 8' Sukkah. And then, if you have time—and space—on your hands, you can then try out the Instructions for Adding a Sukkah Extension to convert to a more spacious 8' x 12'. [http://bit.ly/sukkah106] And if you’re looking for even more legroom, Gary Garb has provided plans for a mammoth 8' x 16' Sukkah. [http://bit.ly/ sukkah104] Here’s one which claims you don’t need to break the bank and can Build a Sukkah for Under $40. Rabbi David Seidenberg writes, “Sukkah kits cost upwards of a few hundred dollars! A homespun Sukkah is way better, for the earth, for the wallet, and for the spirit.” His caption under a photo of his Sukkah: “This is the Sukkah frame I made according to this plan, still standing at Purim after a hard winter.” [http://bit.ly/ sukkah105] And if time is at a premium, architect Tom Norris has provided plans and advice on “How to build a Sukkah in 30 minutes.” I should hasten to add that architect Tom Norris practices his trade—and built that Sukkah—in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. [http://bit.ly/sukkah108] Would you trust plans found a website titled Chelm.org? Actually, these look fine but once again they are really intended for warmer climes. [http://bit.ly/sukkah110] Why settle for a Sukkah that has three or four rectangular walls, when you can
build ones that’s shaped like a “polyhedron with eight triangular faces?” Without a doubt, the plans for the most unique Sukkah I came across online is for KOSHO, an entry in New York’s 2010 Sukkah City Competition. [http://bit.ly/sukkah111] [http://bit.ly/sukkah111 <http://bit.ly/sukkah111]%20[http://bit.ly/sukkah111> ] Imagine massive triangular walls, each one of which has several planks fanning out from one corner to the opposite base. After assembling these triangles, you create a structure which when viewed from above takes on the shape of a Star of David. Although the shape is unorthodox, a note on the site explains that KOSHO is kosher and meets halachic requirements. [http:// bit.ly/sukkah112] And that brings me to the next site explains the basic halachot for building a Sukkah. It includes the critical rules about size and location, and about the makeup of the schach which forms the roof or canopy. [http://bit.ly/sukkah101] No matter how skilled you are, while taking on a project like this, things can sometimes go awry. That’s when you want to take advantage of the Sukkah plans— and generous offer—courtesy Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman at Chabad of Richmond, British Columbia: “free advice in case you run into problems: click here.” [http://bit.ly/ sukkah113] As to why building a Sukkah may be the perfect activity for any Jew, no matter your level of observance, I’ll leave the last word to Bruce at the blog, Three Jews, Four Opinions: “Everyone can do what they love. Orthodox Jews can focus on lots of technical halachic details, like how much wall flapping is permitted. Reform Jews can think about social justice issues, like people who have no home at all, let alone a Sukkah. Conservative Jews can agonize endlessly over which Sukkot rules to change, if any, and who should make that determination, and how, and after considering what, and … And if they are using their Sukkah from last year, Reconstructionist Jews may literally be reconstructing.” [http://bit.ly/ sukkah114] Whether you build one from a kit, dine at your neighbor’s or DIY, have a wonderful time in your Sukkah. —Mark Mietkiewicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the New Year, American Jews grapple with balancing faith, work and school by Charlotte Anthony
NEW YORK (JTA)—Last Yom Kippur, a fasting Brenda Rienhardt sat in the hallway outside her classroom studying for a test while watching online Yom Kippur services on her laptop. “I wanted to keep up with what was going on religiously and not fail my test,” says Rienhardt, 26, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident who was then a senior at Florida Atlantic University. “It was just a challenge because I was balancing what I should do with what I needed to do.” For many American Jews like Rienhardt, the High Holidays mean balancing the demands of the American workplace and school with their Jewish observance. Lisa Vaughn, who has worked as an urgent care and emergency physician for 17 years, said that being on call doesn’t give a lot of opportunities to take days off. “When you have that job, you work every shift, holiday or not,” says Vaughn, 51, of Massillon, Ohio. “You hope God understands because you know your employer doesn’t.” Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, says the High Holidays are a time when Jews are conflicted with their identity. “I think because there are many nonJews who know about the High Holidays and wonder if a Jewish person doesn’t celebrate them…Jews find themselves confronting the tension between identifying with the Jewish community or identifying with the general community,” Sarna says. “It’s not about the High Holidays but about one’s larger identity as a Jew different from the rest of America.” Shawn Green, a now retired Jewish professional baseball player, sat out a 2001 Los Angeles Dodgers’ game on Yom Kippur for just that reason. It was the first time in 415 games that he chose not to play. “As a baseball player, it’s a little different, you don’t have the luxury of picking several holidays. But if I was going to pick one holiday to sit out, then that’s the one,” Green says about Yom Kippur. ”I felt that as one of the few Jewish athletes, it was important to acknowledge my connection to my heritage.” His first major challenge came in 2004 when the Dodgers were locked in a tight battle with the San Francisco Giants for the division title. With only 10 games left in the
season and two of them scheduled for Yom Kippur—one on Kol Nidre, one on Yom Kippur afternoon—Green faced a dilemma. “I was in a no-win situation because if I miss both games, that would be a little hypocritical because I really wasn’t very religious, but at the same time I wanted to acknowledge my connection and heritage,” Green said. “So I opted to play one and to sit one game as a compromise just to say look, I am acknowledging my Jewish roots, but at the same time I also have a responsibility to the team and to my fans at the Dodgers.” Most Jews don’t face such public dilemmas and often can adjust their schedules. That’s true for Meyer Koplow, executive partner at the Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz law firm in New York. “Most of the things you do as a litigator involves either briefing matters, taking discovery, trials and other court appearances. You almost always know well in advance what the schedule will require for each of those tasks,” says Koplow, 61. “It’s usually very easy to schedule them around the holidays so that holidays are not a problem.” For some people, it’s not getting time off for the holidays that’s problematic, it’s the stress of being disconnected that causes tensions. Take Stu Loeser, who recently left his job as press secretary for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Loeser says that with his BlackBerry turned off during holidays and the Sabbath, he doesn’t necessarily know about breaking news. “When you pick up the newspaper the next day, then you can be in for quite a surprise,” says Loeser, 39. “I find it especially stressful and nerve-wracking. I have a deputy who steps in for me, but even though you have phenomenally competent people filling in for you doesn’t mean that it’s not stressful.”
For Loeser and other observant Jews, however, it’s the lesser-known holidays, such as Shemini Atzeret and Shavuot, that can be most challenging in terms of taking days off. “Everyone’s heard of Rosh Hashanah and people understand that there are people who observe and some people who sort of observe,” Loeser says. It’s the other 10 days—Simchat Torah, Shemini Atzeret , two for Sukkot, the first two and last two of Passover and two for Shavuot— that are the most difficult. “People start thinking that you are taking the same two days off a month because people have never heard of them.” David Barkey, the Anti-Defamation League’s religious freedom counsel, says much of the confusion surrounding the holidays arises because not all people observe the holidays in the same way. “You might have employers that look on the calendar and see that Yom Kippur is on Wednesday and not understand why an employee needs to leave on Tuesday night or why one employee takes two days off when another takes a week,” Barkey says. Sippy Laster, 24, a recruitment coordinator at JPMorgan Chase in New York, does her best to compensate for the time that she takes off. “I spend a lot of time working later, and the days leading up to the days that I have to take off, I end up spending later nights at work so a lot of preparation goes into it,” she says. Barkey says that while most employees are able to observe holidays by trading shifts and talking with their employers, religious accommodation issues are still a problem. There was a 32 percent increase in religious accommodation charges filed by Jews from 1998 to 2011, according to the Equal
identifying with the Jewish community or identifying with the general
Employment Opportunity Commission. While Jews comprise 2 percent of the U.S. population, they represented 14.9 percent of all 2011 religious accommodation charges. While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides the primary protection, Barkey says there is no absolute requirement for an employer to give time off. “If you have a religious conflict, especially if you know far in advance, you have a duty to tell your employer in advance,” he says. “A lot of complaints we get are from employees who waited two or three days before the holidays to ask for time.” Jacqueline Simon, public policy director of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing government workers, says the problem often isn’t getting the time off but feeling left out. “I think people are tolerant of someone taking time off for religious observance, but much less willing to alter the schedule of a group to accommodate one or two people,” she says. Rienhardt has seen that firsthand. “If you go to the dean and make a fuss, yes, you can have the day off, but if you have a test, you are going to be at a disadvantage,” she says. “When they have tests scheduled, teachers tend to be less forgiving.” Many Jews believe that clients and coworkers view their decisions to take time off positively. “For a business that is all business all the time, I think a lot of [my clients] respect that there’s something else that’s important to me than just the business,” says Cory Richman, 34, a partner at the talent management firm Liebman Entertainment in New York. “It keeps me grounded and I have morals.” Rabbi Abigail Treu, a rabbinic fellow and director of planned giving at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, says that for people who absolutely cannot take time off, there is an understanding built in to the tradition. “I think that there is a respect in the tradition for parnassah, the need to earn a livelihood, so certainly if the choice is between losing one’s job and not being able to support oneself and one’s family versus celebrating the holiday in the traditional way,” Treu says, “then the tradition encourages us to keep our jobs and being able to support our families.”
jewishnewsva.org | High Holidays 5773 | September 17, 2012 | Jewish News | 43
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THEN YOU MUST SEE THE DOCUMENTARY
2016: Obama’s America
L’Shana Tova Ann & Bobby Copeland
44 | Jewish News | September 17, 2012 | High Holidays 5773 | jewishnewsva.org
High Holidays 5773