Category Archives: Judaism

Lorri M. News-April 19, 2016

sundown

It’s Tuesday! Yes, indeed! Tuesday is here! Not that there is anything special occurring in my life, but I wanted to begin this post in a positive manner!

I do have some news to share, since the last time I posted: The April 2016 Jewish Book Carnival is up, hosted by Heidi Estrin on The Book of Life! There is so much to browse through! Go visit!

The Pulitzer Prizes were announced this past Monday, April 18, 2016. You can view the winners, here. I absolutely loved the fact that the Play, ‘Hamilton’, by Lin-Manuel Miranda, won in the ‘Letters Drama and Music category! The play has sparked much enthusiasm across America!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

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Sunday Scenes: April 10, 2016

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Passover is almost upon us. I always enjoy spreading hummus on a piece of matzah. I do this throughout the year, but during Passover, matzah is significant to the Jewish population. To put it very simply, Passover signifies the the release by G-d of the Jews from slavery and captivity. There was no time to allow the bread they were baking to rise, as they had to leave quickly. So, this bread of ‘release from slavery and captivity’ is embedded in the Passover Seder meal ritual.

Here is a recipe for hummus, one that can be made quickly, and one where you can delete or add spices to your taste.

Ingredients:
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed-save the juice.
1 clove of minced garlic (1 1/2 for spicier)
1/4 cup of olive oil-Keep more aside for serving purposes
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt (or a bit more depending on taste)
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
2-3 drops of tabasco sauce (if you want spicier hummus)
2 tablespoons of tahini-optional

Directions:
Puree the chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, ground cumin, kosher salt, and/or tabasco sauce and tahini if you are using them, until the texture is smooth and creamy. Add 1-2 teaspoons of water or the saved juice from the chickpeas to get to your preferred consistency. Some like a thicker texture, so go by your standards.

Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the hummus, and sprinkle the paprika over it. If you want, swoosh the olive oil and paprika very lightly with a toothpick or the side of a knife to give it a visual flair.

If you are not serving it immediately, refrigerate it, covered.

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Unleavened Pound Cake

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar (I use sugar substitute)
4 eggs (I use egg substitute for cholesterol purposes)
1 1/2 tsp.vanilla + a dribble more
1/4 tsp.nutmeg
2 c. flour (for Passover I used 5 /8 cup of potato starch for each cup of flour mentioned in unleavened recipe)
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:
Cream butter, gradually adding sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time. Sift together flour, salt and nutmeg.

Gradually add dry ingredients to egg mixture and beat until thoroughly blended. Turn batter into greased loaf pan or bundt cake pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour. Cool cake in pan. Check after 50 minutes to make sure it doesn’t overcook, as ovens vary. Makes one loaf or bundt cake.

Don’t be alarmed that it won’t turn out to be as high as normal, remember, it is an unleavened pound cake.

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Please take a moment to look up to the skies, and to the nature surrounding you, and reflect on events that have transpired where you live, in your personal life, in the world, and within your family. Be well, stay safe.

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Pre Passover Kosher Cooking Carnival & More

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-Batya – A Jewish Grandmother – is asking for links for her planned pre-Passover Jewish Cooking Carnival.

She wants “links to your favorite Passover food posts, or your recipes, tips etc.”  You can read more about it, here.

-Nobel Prize-winning author Imre Kertész died on March 31 at age 86.

-David Grossman’s novella ‘Falling Out of Time’ will make its world premier on the Theater J stage.

The 90-minute meditative drama, which runs through April 17 in the Goldman Theater of the Washington, D.C., Jewish Community Center, is in parts thought-provoking, wrenching and captivating.

I have read ‘Falling Out of Time, an extremely compelling,  intense and poetic novella, several times over, and cannot fathom the intensity a stage adaption will bring to the audience.

-‘Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American‘ is an exhibit opening on April 7th, at the Skirball Cultural Center, in Beverly Hills, CA.

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Review: The Coffee Trader

The Coffee Trader, by David Liss, is a book of intrigue and an absorbing historical nove.

I became so wrapped up in the historical aspect that I felt as if I had traveled back in time and place. My senses were infused with Liss’ extremely detailed prose. With his strong word-imagery, Liss transports the reader to Seventeenth Century Amsterdam. It is the aftermath of the Spanish Inquisition, and the Dutch city is streaming with Jews who fled Spain. In fact, many others, from all over Europe have come to Amsterdam to try to make some money.

Much of the money is earned through scheming within the commodities exchange in the city. It is the first of its type in the world. The exchange is very active, not only with honest individuals but also with schemers and villains who try to scam those looking to invest their money securely and/or invest in an honest, yet, quick return (Does any of this sound familiar?).

Miguel Lienzo is a Portugese Jew, one of the refugees who managed to flee the Inquisition, and reside within the Sephardic Jewish community. He has invested his money unwisely as of late, finding himself in financial distress. Not only that, but he has gained enemies along the way, after encouraging others to follow suit with his advice.

There is also another person, a client of Miguel’s who feels he was unjustly sent into poverty through dealings with Miguel. He wants what he deems is his share of the money invested returned to him. Miguel avoids him whenever possible, and feels he owes him nothing. Investments are risky, and you take a risk when involving yourself in them.

Miguel’s financial status leaves him basically broke, and he goes to live in the basement of his brother’s home. Daniel, his brother, is married to Hannah, who seems to be a passive woman. Not all is what it appears to be.

Miguel has become friends with a Dutch widow named Geertruid Damuis. Together, he and Geertruid plan to gain the upper hand of the coffee market, a new offering in the commodities market in Amsterdam. They keep their enterprise a secret, as they want to succeed in their venture.

This is seemingly Miguel’s last chance at success, and if he fails he will become an outcast, not only within the market but the Jewish community and the Amsterdam commodity community.

Trust becomes an enormous issue within the commodities exchange. Many questions arise, lening themselves to today’s financial arena, with the ongoing elevator ride of speculations and the stock market. Drama is abundant, and deceitful practices are plentiful in Amsterdam.

Times and situations don’t seem to have changed much in the 350 plus years that have elapsed since then.

Does he fail? Does he succeed? It is up to you to find out, as I don’t want to insert any spoilers in this review.

Suffice it to say that Liss is brilliant in his writing, and his details to the most minute areas of life in Amsterdam are impeccable. Considering the time period, the fact that he manages to portray daily life so extensively is incredible, almost overwhelming. He read over thirty books in order to paint the setting accurately, and it shows in his masterful and beautiful prose. This reader became totally involved in The Coffee Trader due to David Liss‘ sense of time and ability to create imagery that depicts seventeenth century Amsterdam with perfection.

I was enthralled and recommend The Coffee Trader to everyone.

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Bridging

bridge

The February Jewish Book Carnival, hosted by Yael Shahar at A Damaged Mirror, is up! Go take a look at all of the links!

The links are varied, from book reviews for adult reading to book reviews of children’s books. There is a link to a free three-part discussion series, and also two links to interviews with authors.

Thank you for including my link! Thank you for hosting!
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Read the poignant farewell to Antonin Scalia, written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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Ostend: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, and the Summer Before the Dark, sounds like a fascinating read.

I enjoyed reading about ‘Hummus in Hanoi‘!

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Review: A Changed Man

A Changed Man, by Francine Prose, is a well-written novel with seemingly opposing characters.

From a self-claimed Neo-Nazi to a Jewish Holocaust survivor, the male characters do not seem to dramatically change, in my opinion, although they do reach a form of acceptance with each other.

On one hand, we have Vincent Nolan (a Timothy McVeigh look-alike), who professes to be using the “World Brotherhood Watch” organization to help “save guys from becoming guys like me”.  He literally uses the premise of the organization to help him survive…they feed him, clothe him, etc.  He is in need of a place to live, has no funds to find a place, and decides on a plan, whereby he convinces Maslow that he is trying to do good.  He in turn gives Meyer Maslow (the founder and head of the organization, and a Holocaust survivor) the boost that is needed to help promote the organization, and to promote his latest book (which is not selling well).  Nolan becomes the poster boy for Maslow’s foundation.

Maslow convinces Maslow’s assistant, Bonnie, to take Nolan in and give him a roof over his head. Bonnie has two children, and her family is rather dysfunctional.  Maslow, himself, contorts the fact that he convinced Bonnie to take Nolan in, by stating to himself (over and over again), and to others, that Bonnie volunteered to take him in.

Maslow uses the organization to help those in need, but he also uses any opportunity to promote his own image…that of being a man of honor, trust and a man who is trying to save the world, a person at a time.  He even questions his own motives for doing what he does, wondering if it is for the right reason.  At one point he claims that material things do not matter to him, because he has experienced the worst of life without them, yet he is married, lives in a mansion, and dresses in Aramani suits (proudly).  Nothing but the best for him.  Often those who have done without, and have lived on the edge of death exhibit this form of behavior.

For me, A Changed Man could have exhibited characters with a bit more depth, but then again, emotional and traumatic pain is often camouflaged by what appears to be a cold and rigid exterior.  Survival of the fittest tactics are often subconsciously used, while inside the person is going through their own turmoil, their own emotional and hellacious Holocaust.  I think that is what Francine Prose was aiming for.  If so, she did an excellent job, and A Changed Man is a must read book, in my opinion.

This was my second reading of the book, reading it again for a book club.  I initially read it about six years ago.

 

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