Tag Archives: Jewish Life

Sunday Scenes: October 4, 2015

dairy and vegg

In all actuality, this ‘Sunday Scene’ occurred on Friday evening the Synagogue. The first part of the evening saw a lovely ‘Shab-BQ’ dinner, as I stated in my previous post. Yes, our congregation had the dinner beforehand, unlike some synagogues where the dinner is held afterwards.

The above photo shows a small portion of the vegetarian and dairy dinner items. The beet salad was scrumptious, as were the barbecued potatoes, the latkes and applesauce, the dates and figs (not shown), the egg salad and other items not shown.


Once the dinner items were entirely cleared and cleaned, the tables were folded up and put away.


Then chairs were arranged in the Succah, for our Shabbat Service. During the service the addition of the Yaaleh Veyavo was sung by the congregants, as were other prayers related to Sukkot.


All in all, it was a meaningful and lovely evening.


Filed under Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography

Skirball Cultural Center

The Skirball Cultural Center in Beverly Hills, CA, is a place I frequently visit. I go there for special events, exhibits, and to just feel surrounded by an atmosphere devoted to Jewish history and cultural arts.

This is the front entrance to the Skirball.

Near the front entrance.

The pathway to the parking lot as you exit the Skirball.

For updates on upcoming exhibits, events, etc., visit their website.

All photography is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express permission.


Filed under Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Uncategorized

Lorri M. Review: The King of Schnorrers

The King of Schnorrers, by Israel Zangwill, is quite comical. The bantering back and forth really cemented the schnorrer aspect, and gave it an in depth perspective on those who were schnorrers and how they defended and justified themselves, verbally. It also portrayed the territorial aspect of the schnorrer, and how strongly they had to discuss issues in order to gain money.

Attitudes are definitely illuminated. How one perceives themselves in regards to others is depicted vividly. One with airs is really no better than any other schnorrer. A schnorrer is a schnorrer, no matter what, although some tend to eke a better living than others.

De Costa, a schnorrer, was extremely confident, clever, sly, sharp-tongued, quick with responses. Yankel, was the same way, but had to struggle against the verbal strength of De Costa. And, so it went, on and on, almost nonstop, and the witticisms were brilliantly written by Zangwill.

Schnorrers used guilt in order to gain favors from those whose doors they knocked on, or those who they met on the street and managed to stop and corner. The wealthy Jews were hounded, and the poor were hounded, also, to “donate”.

Donations ranged from the monetary to clothes to household items. Usually the schnorrer sold whatever was donated, as far as material/tangible items went. This upped his financial ante for his household. Whether a family man or a bachelor, money was the link to survival.

The King of Schnorrers
is written with a large portion of it in broken English, or English written phonetically with an immigrant’s accent, as spoken by a Jewish man. Such words as “with” are pronounced “Vid”, or the word “will” is pronounced “vill”, for example. I am always mindful of the time period and the individuals speaking, so for me it was not an issue. This book was published in 1894, and I kept that in mind while reading it.

Also, euphemisms that are not used often in today’s world were used then. Some Yiddish is within the pages, but the reader is given an English translation. One must take the variables into consideration, when reading this masterful novel.

I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book. Yet, within the humor, there is a serious undertone regarding Jewish society and its financial diversities. Responsibility for others is a strong theme.

Another thought that came to mind was the fact that the schnorrers of long ago are not so different in interactions than those who we see begging, holding up signs, and/or entertaining on the street in order to gain a coin.

I enjoyed The King of Schnorrers immensely.


Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog

Hanukkah is Almost Upon Us

Menorah Artwork hanging on exterior wall at Skirball Cultural Center

Menorah Artwork hanging on exterior wall at Skirball Cultural Center

Hanukkah is almost upon us. The house has been decorated by my grandies, and looks festive with its blue and white illuminations, with a touch of silver thrown in, here and there. Hanukkah books related to their age are spread on various tables for them to look through, read, and/or have us read to them.

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening’s forehead o’er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
~Emma Lazarus, “The Feast of Lights”



The miracle, of course, was not that the oil for the sacred light –
in a little cruse – lasted as long as they say;
but that the courage of the Maccabees lasted to this day:
let that nourish my flickering spirit.

~Charles Reznikoff, “Meditations on the Fall and Winter Holidays”

Menorah at Skirball Cultural Center

Menorah at Skirball Cultural Center

Books recently finished reading:

The Perfume Collector

The Paris Architect

The Book Thief

The Grandchildren of the Ghetto


Filed under Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography

Easy Fast

This post was written two days ago. I hope everyone has an easy fast, today.

Remember those who came before us, and remember the breaching of the walls, and the destruction of the two Temples that followed. Remember Moses breaking the two stone tablets. Remember…


I miss and love you mom, more than words can say, not only today, on what would be your 94th birthday, but every day. May your memory be for a Loving Blessing. Zikhronah Livrakha.


Filed under Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Uncategorized

Lorri M. Review: Who By Fire

whobyfire3 Who By Fire, by Diana Spechler, is a moving novel about a dysfunctional family, a secular Jewish family, a family trying to recover from the loss of Alena, the youngest child, who was kidnapped when she was six years old. They have not been able to move forward.

The Kellermans are still in a state of limbo, thirteen years after Alena’s kidnapping. Their alternating stories are told in the first person narratives, and this works efficiently and nicely within the novel’s structure. The family is trying to deal with their impaired emotions. Bits (Beatrice) is the oldest daughter, while Ash/Asher is the son (middle child), and Ellie is their mother. Their lives still revolve around the loss of Alena, and Who By Fire demonstrates how each family member tries to find a connection to fill the void. Their resulting actions are fanatical, and often feel as if they are swimming against the current of life in the family tapestry. Their despair is a prevalent force behind their decisions, decisions that are not always good choices.

Bits exhibits damaging behavior with her promiscuity, sleeping with total strangers. She is aware of her behavior, and doesn’t seem to want or be able to control it. She is cognizant that her relationships are fleeting. Being the older sister, she also feels a responsibility to try to salvage and rescue her brother from the grips of a yeshiva in Israel, so he can return home and attend a funeral for Alena, whose remains have been discovered. How she manages to travel to Israel is another issue, and the dynamics and justification behind it are somewhat comical, yet not morally sound. She is self-absorbed and she is on the verge of emotional ruination, due to the guilt she feels.

Ash/Asher has decided to alienate himself from Bits and his mother, by fleeing (literally) to Israel, in order to try to escape the blame he feels for Alena’s kidnapping. He is seeking forgiveness within Orthodox Judaism, and tries to find release within a yeshiva compound, and within the walls of Jerusalem. He meets a quirky young woman, who seems to have a desire for him. His concentration is often diminished, and his mind wanders regarding women and sexuality. His obsessive religious behavior creates more friction and turmoil in his life, and most of it is unexpected and self-inflicted. His feelings of self-absorption and guilt are ever present, looming ominously and constantly surrounding him.

Ellie, the mother is a character in herself, and one in which Spechler doesn’t delve as deeply into as she does with Bits and Ash. She has become the paranoid mother, always wanting to know where her adult children are, and wanting them close by. She will do anything to protect her children. She meets up with a man who she hires to find Ash and bring him back home, because of her thoughts on yeshiva life, and how she feels it is a cultist environment. She immediately seeks comfort from the man, to replace the years she has spent isolated and alone.

Judaism and affiliation is a strong theme, and we see how a secular family reacts to one member becoming a Ba’al Teshuva (BT). Bits and Ellie are judgmental in their negative response to Ash’s lifestyle. Ash is just as judgmental regarding his sister and mother, and judgmental regarding other Jewish sects. He seemingly thrives in his new and rigid environment, and can’t see beyond the borders. We are given snippets of the yeshiva life, the mores, rules and regulations of the Orthodox culture.

Who By Fire
is a book with an excellent focus on familial dysfunction, love and loss, and manipulation. It brings to the forefront the lack of honesty each character has within the family unit…each one lying to the other for their own gratification, and each one acting deceitfully as a means to an end. They often delude themselves into thinking they are doing it to protect the other family members. The result isn’t always what they expect it to be. Bits seemingly is trying to rescue Ash, but is she really trying to rescue herself from her self-hate and guilt? Ash is trying to rescue and forgive himself through redemption from guilt, by escaping to the yeshiva, is it effective? Ellie is trying to rescue her children through her manipulations, does she lose herself in the process? From Boston to Israel, and back, the characters are in a state of continual flux, fanatically and unknowingly trying to seek their own identity, their own sense of self, their own resolution to their family history.

Spechler brings us a story of dysfunction and deliverance. She has weaved a story with more than one narrator, multiple characters and a story filled with multi-layers, each layer of the tapestry important to the whole. Bits, Ash/Asher and Ellie are controlled by the past, and time has stood still. In their quest to save each other from their bondage to the past, they have strained their familial relationships even further, through their lack of communication.

For a first book, I found Who By Fire to be extremely well-written, with amazingly vivid-word images, that hold the reader’s interest. The issues of family dynamics that Spechler delves into are not unique or new ones, but ones that are found in most families, although the Kellermans are an extreme example, due to the kidnapping. Diana Spechler’s use of narration is what held my interest, and I found the alternation of the characters to be extremely effective. She gives the reader much to ponder, within the pages. Who By Fire is a book I highly recommend, not only to the Jewish community (no matter the affiliation), but also to any person who is interested in the subject of family dynamics, and the threads that bind their familial tapestries together.

April 24, 2013 – 14 Iyyar, 5773


Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels