Archive | December, 2019

Holiday notes: an intimate pick-me-up

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

Hanukkah started for me this year with a holiday letter from my old friend Tom. That’s what I’ve always called him, although for many years as a Protestant minister, he’s been more properly referred to as “Reverend.” We met when both of us were teenage delegates to the Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth.
The above was a once-in-a-decade event originated by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909; it continued until 1970, with the last during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Somehow or other, Pennsylvania chose us in 1950 — probably recognizing Tom’s work with youth in his church and mine with groups at my local Jewish center. And so, off we went to Washington.
What did we know, in our solidly middle-class homes, about the problems of America’s youth? We dutifully attended meetings and workshops, took copious notes, later made required reports of our scanty learning to the leaders of our sponsoring entities. But Tom and I have agreed, over these many years, about how futile it was to include “youngsters,” which as high schoolers we very much were, in discussions of policy recommendations.
We traveled by train, were housed in a hotel with other young delegates from across the country — under careful chaperonage, of course — and what I’m sure was remembered best by all of us was shaking the hand of President Harry Truman!
Tom was two years ahead of me in his high school, a fair distance from mine on the other side of Pittsburgh. But I went to his graduation and he came to mine when he was already in seminary, preparing for his lifelong calling. Each year since, we’ve had annual “reunions” through our exchange of holiday letters.
This year’s information was more poignant than usual because of two losses: my sister, and Tom’s wife Lois, his organist throughout their decades at the Orthodox Presbyterian church in Rhode Island which called Tom to minister after his ordination. When they retired several years ago from full-time work, they frequently filled in for ministers and organists at other New England churches, also finding new delight in volunteer ushering for concerts and theaters in venues close to their home.
But eventually the time came for “real retirement,” and at the urging of family — mostly children and grandchildren who had somehow wound up in Minnesota — they migrated to a suburb of Minneapolis, enjoying a relaxed lifestyle in the senior-care Christian home that met all their needs, including most especially the religious ones.
But the old saying rings true: “All good things must come to an end,” as did the life of my friend’s dear wife. However, although Tom is saddened, he managed a bit of wit in this year’s letter, saying how he especially misses Lois now because they had always written previous messages together. Then he proudly pointed out how his family order has continued: His father was the first Tom, so my friend became Tom, Jr.; in the years since, Tom III and Tom IV have been born; most recently, there was the arrival of Tom V, the first — but surely not to be the last — great-grandchild.
I’ve just read an article in Good Housekeeping in which a woman details her many reasons for no longer sending Christmas letters or even cards with brief notes: They cost too much to buy, duplicate, and stamp for mailing when so many faster, easier, cheaper and kinder-to-the-environment (think the loss of trees) means for holiday communication are now universally available. She even rails against family photos, since they can be exchanged easily and often by cellphone. And she is absolutely right! However, I will continue to cherish the old-fashioned way, writing with a pen the personal messages I send to many whom I care about — especially those I can count on to send the same kind of personal messages, some even with pictures enclosed, to me.
May Tom and I live on — apart but still together — through our holiday letters!

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A movie marathon for all 8 nights of Hanukkah

A movie marathon for all 8 nights of Hanukkah

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Collage by Alma

By Elana Spivack
(Alma via JTA) — Fry up some latkes and fulfill the 11th commandment by observing a movie marathon for each day of Hanukkah. Here are some Jewy suggestions perfect for the occasion:
Night 1: ‘Little Fockers’
This third installment of the “Meet the Parents” saga is a phenomenal way to start the holiday for five reasons:

  1. Barbra Streisand
  2. Barbra Streisand
  3. Barbra Streisand
  4. Barbra Streisand
  5. The classic trope of neurotic Jewish family meets Waspy family for the holidays, and chaos ensues.
    (Available on Amazon Prime and YouTube)
    Night 2: ‘An American Tail’
    Steven Spielberg’s first animated production tells the story of plucky young Fievel Mousekewitz. The film opens with a Hanukkah celebration where Papa Mousekewitz gifts Fievel his hat before they embark to America. Oh yeah, and it’s a musical. Bring latkes and tissues.
    (Available on Amazon Prime and Netflix)
    Night 3: ‘Full-Court Miracle’
    I’m livid this Disney Channel original movie hasn’t reached the heights of “High School Musical” or “Cadet Kelly.” Based on a true story, this uplifting 2003 movie puts a modern-day spin on the story of the Maccabees as a Jewish boys’ basketball team searches for a coach to lead them to victory.
    (Available on Amazon Prime and YouTube)
    Night 4: ‘Hitched for the Holidays’
    Would any holiday season be complete without a Hallmark TV movie? This cheesy romance from 2012 shows yet another Hanukkah-meets-Christmas, but with a twist: Julie finds a temporary boyfriend, Rob, to placate her Jewish mother for the holiday season (#relatable). Will the nice Jewish girl really fall for a Catholic schoolboy? Yes. Obviously. It’s a Hallmark TV movie.
    (Available on Amazon Prime and YouTube)
    Night 5: The TV specials
    Binge these excellent holiday specials and skits all at once! Here is the absolute correct order in which to watch them:
    “Saturday Night Live”: “Hanukkah Harry”
    “Saturday Night Live”: Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song”
    “Friends”: “The One with the Holiday Armadillo”
    “The OC”: “Best Chrismukkah Ever”
    “Rugrats”: “A Rugrats Chanukah”
    Night 6: ‘Hanukkah the Movie’
    Consider this the experimental day of Hanukkah. Give the gift of funding the Indiegogo for this bizarre Hanukkah-slasher film. Then go call your parents.
    Night 7: ‘The Hebrew Hammer’
    This Jewish sendup of Blaxploitation films gives us the perfect Hanukkah hero. Or at least a Hanukkah hero.
    (Available on Amazon Prime)
    Night 8: ‘8 Crazy Nights’
    You knew this one was coming. It sums up the last eight days: animation, basketball, Adam Sandler, Hanukkah and lots of grown-up humor.
    (Available on Amazon Prime and YouTube)
    Elana Spivack is a New York City-based writer.

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‘Goodnight Bubbala,’ other Hanukkah-themed kids’ books

‘Goodnight Bubbala,’ other Hanukkah-themed kids’ books

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Penguin Random House
“Goodnight Bubbala” puts a Yiddish spin on “Goodnight Moon,” the beloved bedtime classic.

By Penny Schwartz
BOSTON (JTA) — As a child, Sheryl Haft was captivated by the sounds of her grandparents speaking Yiddish.
Sing-songy terms of endearment like “bubbala” and “mamleh shayne” sparked joy when her grandmother used them. Grittier words like “shmendrick” and “kvetch” tickled her funny bone.
Now Haft has captured that passion in a new children’s book that puts a delightful Yiddish spin on “Goodnight Moon,” the beloved bedtime classic by Margaret Wise Brown.
“Goodnight Bubbala: A Joyful Parody” is set during Hanukkah. With bright and lively illustrations by Jill Weber, the lovingly zany story glows with the warmth of family holiday celebrations. The book includes a glossary of Yiddish words and a latkes recipe from master Jewish chef Ina Garten, an early fan of the manuscript. Garten is scheduled to discuss both the recipe and the book on NBC’s “Today Show” on Thursday, Dec. 19.
“Goodnight Bubbala” (Penguin Random House, for ages 2 to 5) is among a handful of new children’s Hanukkah books out this year. Others include a Sesame Street board book for toddlers, two other picture books and a couple of chapter books for older readers.
Hanukkah starts this year on the evening of Dec. 22.
Like the original “Goodnight Moon,” Haft’s reimagined story opens with a sleepy bunny in pajamas preparing for bed. Instead of the great green room, there’s a small blue one, and this baby bubbala has a little worn blanket and stuffed gorilla.
But once that first page is turned, the quiet hush of the original is upstaged by the arrival of the whole raucous family who have come to celebrate Hanukkah. There’s music and dancing, dreidels, bagels, a pot of kneidels — and of course, latkes.
The simple verse is brimming with Yiddish words like “plotz,” “tchotchkes,” “kvetching” and “verklempt.” Page after page is filled with colorful illustrations, with nods to the original art by Clement Hurd.
As the festivities wind down, it’s time to say goodnight. A tired “zaydie” nods off in a chair. When the family heads out under the wintry stars, the bunny falls asleep as the glow of the night sky shines through the window.
“I just loved the sound of the Yiddish language,” Haft said. “It always made me laugh.”
The author of “Baby Boo, I Love You” and the upcoming “Amazing Mazie McGear, Kid Engineer,” Haft wanted to share that sparkle in a book that reached a broad audience of young children.
Rereading “Goodnight Moon” struck a chord for her, and she wondered what the story would look like if it were her family. She envisioned a mashup of Brown’s book with “Fiddler on the Roof” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
“Oh my gosh, no one is ever quiet,” Haft said. “It’s always a big joyful noisy gathering.”
For Weber, an award-winning illustrator whose many books include “The Story of Hanukkah,” by David A. Adler, the boisterous family scenes in Haft’s manuscript conjured images of long-ago childhood visits with her grandparents.
“When we were there, from the first thing in the morning, in came the great-aunts and the food,” Weber said by phone from her home in New Hampshire. “It was this trail of people.”
Weber said she is honored to have a part in a book that presents Jewish culture to a broad swath of Americans during a time of divisiveness.
“It’s important to take this culture … and be proud and to encourage other immigrants to do the same,” she said.
At book events across the country Haft, who splits her time between New York and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has been surprised by the warm reception from older generations of Yiddish speakers who are eager to share the book with their grandchildren. One woman bought copies for her senior reading group.
“I am enjoying people sharing their favorite Yiddish words and phrases, as well as the excitement families are having around teaching these words to their children,” she said in an email.
Haft hopes the book succeeds in bringing Yiddish to a diverse audience and inspiring children of all backgrounds to “be a mensch.”
Here are some more new Hanukkah books for children of all ages.
‘Grover’s Hanukkah Party’
Joni Kibort Sussman; illustrated by Tom Leigh
Kar-Ben (ages 1-4)
The latest in a series of Shalom Sesame/Sesame Street board books for toddlers is all about the number 8, for the eight nights of Hanukkah.
‘Barnyard Bubbe’s Hanukkah’
Joni Klein-Higger and Barbara Sharf; illustrated by Monica Gutierrez
Kar-Ben (ages 1-4)
What will “bubbe” do with eight night’s worth of curious presents left for her by the whimsical farm animals? Make latkes, of course!
‘Kugel for Hanukkah?’
Gretchen M. Everin; illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown
Kar-Ben (ages 4-9)
Each night, as a young girl celebrates Hanukkah with her family, they light the menorah and exchange small gifts. The young girl dreams of getting a pet, but her grandmother’s gifts turn out to be the ingredients for a sweet kugel. The unusual gifts are a mystery — until the last night.
‘The Hanukkah Fable of Little Dreidel and Silver Menorah’
Sylvia Rouss; illustrated by T.L. Derby
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing (Ages 3-7)
A sweet tale with a touch of magic about a plain wooden dreidel that longs to stand out like the shiny menorah. A warm and engaging story by Sylvia Rouss, award-winning author of the hugely popular Jewish children’s “Sammy Spider” series.
‘A Dreidel in Time: A New Spin on an Old Tale’
Marcia Berneger; illustrated by Beatriz Castro
Kar-Ben (ages 8-13)
In this page-turning chapter book, a magical dreidel takes a brother and sister back in time from their home in Los Angeles to ancient Israel, placing them bravely in the center of action in the Hanukkah story.
‘Bold and Brave’
Shainy Peysin; illustrated by Michael McFarland
Hachai Publishing (ages 7-10)
Part historical fiction, part religious adventure story featuring a brother and sister who live in ancient Israel under the rule of King Antiochus, the ruthless ruler of the Hanukkah story. As their beliefs are tested, the religiously observant siblings find courage.

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Holiday entertaining with a Hanukkah twist

Holiday entertaining with a Hanukkah twist

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

Puff pastry stuffed by camembert and berries, delicious food

By Tina Wasserman
You can choose to spend a lot of money on catalog or specialty store prepared food or you can make your own. The following are a few recipes to get you through the rest of the month of holiday parties and Hanukkah celebrations when latkes aren’t the only thing you eat.
The following recipe uses cheese in homage to Judith and her heroic use of cheese and wine to save the Jews in her town from Holofernes’ army
Stuffed Brie en Croute
1 14-ounce wheel of Brie cheese
1 10×10 sheet of prepared frozen puff pastry (1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

  1. Thaw the sheet of dough for 30 minutes and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll out one sheet of dough into a 14×14-inch square. Combine the egg and water and brush over the sheet of dough.
  3. Evenly cut the Brie in half horizontally and place one half cut side up on the egg-brushed dough. Place filling of your choice over the cheese and then top with the other half of the cheese, cut side down.
  4. Fold up sides of the dough over the cheese, brushing dough with extra egg wash to “glue” the dough and trimming any excess dough. Press edges to seal and then place seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Brush the top and sides of the dough with the egg wash and use any remaining dough to decorate the top. Brush decoration with egg wash as well.
  6. Either freeze at this point, or bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cheese to sit at least ½ hour before serving. Serve with toasted French bread or crackers. Serves 12-15.
    Apple-Cranberry Filling
    1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
    2 tablespoons orange juice
    1 small Gala apple
    1 teaspoon unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon Applejack or Grand Marnier
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
  7. Place dried cranberries in the orange juice and microwave on high for 1 minute. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the filling.
  8. Thinly slice the peeled apple and sauté in a nonstick pan in the teaspoon of butter until slightly golden and soft. Add the soaking cranberries and the juice to the pan and gently sauté until the juice is absorbed.
  9. Add the Applejack and the cinnamon and reduce mixture over high heat until liquor is incorporated into the fruit. Add chopped pecans, stir and set aside while preparing dough.
    Mushroom-Chive Filling
    ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 clove finely minced garlic
    8 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    1-2 tablespoons cream sherry
    6 8-inch stalks of fresh chives, finely chopped
  10. Melt the butter in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Add the garlic and sauté over medium heat for 30 seconds or until garlic is soft. DO NOT BROWN THE GARLIC OR IT WILL BE BITTER.
  11. Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste and sauté over medium heat until soft and lightly browned.
  12. Add the cream sherry and increase heat to incorporate the sherry and reduce the sauce to less than ½ tablespoon.
  13. Turn off the heat and add the chopped fresh chives. Stir and set aside while you prepare the dough.
    Potato-Mushroom Strudel
    Potatoes don’t have to be in latkes to be enjoyed this holiday season! This delicious dish can be served as an appetizer or a side dish.
    2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (approximately 4 potatoes)
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    2 medium onions, diced
    ½ ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
    4 ounces Crimini or Baby Bella mushrooms
    1½ teaspoons truffle-scented flour or all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons parsley
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    1½ teaspoons salt
    Freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1 stick unsalted butter, melted
    ½ pound phyllo dough
  14. Cook the whole, unpeeled potatoes in boiling salted water to cover for 25 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the potato. Drain and cool until easy to handle.
  15. Place the Porcini mushrooms in a 16 ounce bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Allow mushrooms to soak for 10 minutes or until soft. Gently squeeze some of the excess moisture out of the mushrooms and reserve the liquid for later. Chop the Porcini into fine pieces. Set aside.
  16. Chop the Crimini into ¼-inch dice. Set aside.
  17. Heat a 3-quart saucepan over high heat for 15 seconds. Add the oil and heat for 10 seconds. Add the diced onions and stir to coat with oil. Cover, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and then sauté over medium heat until golden brown.
  18. Add the Crimini mushrooms to the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped Porcinis and ¼ cup of the soaking liquid. Be careful to remove the liquid from the top of the bowl to prevent inclusion of sediment from the bottom of the bowl. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the flour. Stir to combine and then cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
  19. Peel the potatoes and mash until smooth. Add the onion-mushroom mixture, parsley, egg, salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined. Check for seasonings.
  20. Place one sheet of phyllo dough, short side facing you, on a clean, large towel and brush with some melted butter. Place a second sheet of dough to the right of the first but overlapping the first sheet by 2 inches. Brush second sheet with butter.
  21. Place a third sheet of dough directly below the first sheet but overlapping it by 2 inches and then brush with melted butter. Place the fourth sheet to the right of the third sheet overlapping the bottom of the second sheet and the right side of the third. Brush with melted butter.
  22. Place a 1-inch-thick line of the potato mixture 1 inch above the bottom of the dough and 2 inches in from each side. Fold bottom up over the filling and then fold the sides in over the filling to conceal. Brush the edges with some butter.
  23. Tightly roll the dough up from the bottom and place the log of strudel on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Brush top with some melted butter.
  24. Lightly score the dough in 1 inch intervals and then liberally sprinkle water all over the dough so that some of the water pools in the bottom of the pan.
  25. Place in a 375-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes or until strudel is golden brown.
  26. When ready to serve, cut log into 1 inch pieces and serve.
    Phyllo dough can be cut into 2 inch wide strips, brushed with melted butter, and then folded like a flag into filled triangles.
    NOTE: Can be served with some sour cream to which some chopped chives have been added.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• When working with phyllo dough it is important to work fast and protect any remaining sheets that you are not using. The best way to do this is to cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and then cover with a slightly damp paper towel. Do not let the towel touch the dough.
Easy Tahini Sufganiot
I was very lucky to be in Israel before Hanukkah a few years ago. With sufganiot sold everywhere one could try different flavors. My favorite was a sweet tahini-filled doughnut with shredded halvah on top. The following is a recipe I created and just premiered at the URJ Biennial in Chicago. Happy Hanukkah!

1 dozen unfilled yeast doughnuts or 2 dozen yeast doughnut holes

Filling:
½ cup tahini (unflavored, pure)
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon or Bharat
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Glaze:
3¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup tahini
½ cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Shredded halvah for topping

  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients together. Place mixture into a pastry bag with a ¼-inch plain tip.
  2. Puncture a small hole in the side of a doughnut with a straw or small, sharp knife blade.
  3. Twist the end of the pastry bag shut and gently insert the tip of the bag into the opening of the doughnut. Squeeze gently until you feel some pressure on the outside of the doughnut.
  4. Meanwhile combine all of the ingredients for the glaze in a bowl over warm water.
  5. When glaze is smooth, dip the top of the doughnut directly into the glaze, lift it and with a quick little twist turn it right side up.
  6. Place on a rack over a baking sheet or directly onto parchment paper. Sprinkle with halvah and allow the glaze to set for 5 minutes if you can wait that long!

Tina’s Tidbits:
• If you can’t find shredded halvah, just run a fork over a piece of halvah to break it into small strands or pieces and then sprinkle on the glaze while it is still somewhat moist.
• Yeast doughnuts are much easier to fill than cake doughnuts; however, if you don’t want to fill the doughnuts you can glaze and top a cake doughnut instead.

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Legacy Willow Bend knitting ladies donate items

Legacy Willow Bend knitting ladies donate items

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

The Legacy Willow Bend and 12 recipient organizations.
Record 3,887 handmade treasures given to 12 organizations

Submitted Story
PLANO — The Ladies of The Legacy Willow Bend made their annual donation of handmade knitted goods to 12 Greater Dallas and Plano organizations Dec. 12. This year’s gift included 3,887 scarves, hats, dolls, blankets and washcloths that were distributed at the event to representatives from Christ United Methodist Church, Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church, Dallas Police Department, Hope’s Door, Jewish Family Service, Plano Independent School District, Plano Police Department, Minnie’s Food Pantry, National Council of Jewish Women, Streetside Showers, Trinity Basin Preparatory and Vickery Meadow Food Pantry and Clothes Closet.
The Legacy Willow Bend, Plano’s only life care retirement community, is home to The Ladies of The Legacy Willow Bend, the community’s knitting group that has created 24,877 pieces since its inception. The group of knitters, who live at the Jewish-sponsored community, also worked this year with Girl Scout Troop 3537 to make pompoms for each of the 1,724 hats. After the troop completed its 50-hour service project, Bank of America employees stepped in to continue the work.
“Our knitters do such a wonderful mitzvah,” said Rivae Campo, volunteer coordinator at The Legacy Willow Bend. “These women knit and crochet every Monday as a group, and work individually in their spare time, to create these precious articles intended to give warmth, joy, and comfort for those that need it most. We loved seeing their passion attract others to their efforts this year — sometimes the opportunity to serve is the greatest gift of all.”
The Ladies of The Legacy Willow Bend are passionate about the importance of volunteering and giving back to the greater community, and see the annual distribution event as a culmination of their dedication and efforts. This year’s donation also included toiletry kits with handmade washcloths, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
“Coming here is a very emotional experience; it really does make you want to keep doing what you’re doing,” said Karen Kurzman, one of The Ladies of The Legacy Willow Bend. “Everything you do is very much appreciated and you have a sense of giving back.”
In addition to Kurzman, the group of resident knitters consists of Ailsa Kull, Christina Chan, Dottie Lombardi, Eda Narosov, Jo Frie, Marilyn Lemont, Nancy Hofstetter, Ruth Altman, Sundra Culver, Vicki Shepard and Vy Hansen. Non-resident knitters also join the group on Mondays at 3 p.m., including Carol Sobol, Ellen Davis, Jean Spencer, Karen Nathan, Leena Dominick, Susan Friedman and Susan Moger
If you are interested in supporting The Ladies of The Legacy Willow Bend in their work and would like to support their efforts, consider donating yarn. The group works with medium worsted weight yarn, and would appreciate any support from the community. Donations to the group may be dropped off with the concierge at the front desk at The Legacy Willow Bend.

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‘Uncut Gems’: No kidding around, Sandler gets serious

‘Uncut Gems’: No kidding around, Sandler gets serious

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy of A24
Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner in “Uncut Gems.”

By Susan Kandell Wilkofsky
It’s safe to say that Adam Sandler entered our collective psyche as a comedian who tickled our funny bone “Saturday Night Live.” Who could forget his rendition of “The Hanukkah Song” which rhymed the word yarmulke with Hanukkah? He’s back with another present for you for this holiday season. But before you unwrap this gift, I give you fair warning — it’s not the elemental Adam Sandler you’ve come to love. He’s driven you to a new territory — 47th Street. Welcome to the neighborhood! No laughs — but plenty of salty language liberally sprinkled throughout.
This isn’t to say that Sandler hasn’t experimented with drama before. He has steered into the sphere of drama with roles in “Spanglish,” “Punch-Drunk Love” and most recently “The Meyerowitz Stories,” which was well received by fans and critics. But “Uncut Gems” ventures into new territory beyond the pale.
Directed by brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a Jewish jewelry dealer with a showroom on 47th Street that caters to a bling lifestyle. He’s a real yutz, sometimes a schnorrer bordering on gonif. Take your pick! You get the picture — a real operator who is always looking for the big score. He’s also a family man (with a girlfriend on the side), a gambling addict and major basketball fan. One day, Kevin Garnett — yep, the real NBA all-star — ventures into his showroom, and sets the wheels of “Uncut Gems” in motion. Ratner has procured an enormous opal-encrusted stone mined in Ethiopia and anticipates that this will be his salvation while Garnett covets the stone for luck.
Now is a good time to strap on your seat belt as you follow Ratner from one stressful moment to the next while accompanied by the pounding beat of the soundtrack — masquerading as another character in the film. His monumentally poor decision-making leads him down a dark path while the Safdie brothers ratchet up the tension. During the height of my adrenaline rush, a strange new element overtook my senses and I began to root for this loathsome character. Truly a testament to great filmmaking!
Although I won’t be placing “Uncut Gems” on my “Best of 2019” films (the violence is too far over the top), I do think Sandler may walk away with a Best Actor nomination. The camera never leaves his face, which is an amalgam of pain and hope. Sandler continues to surprise me, selecting roles that challenge our perception of his ability as an actor. Like a 3-point shot in basketball, he takes some risks, but when he hits, he scores big!

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Federation’s CJE brings escape room to town

Federation’s CJE brings escape room to town

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Sara Mancuso, Akiba Yavneh
Akiba Yavneh faculty and escape room facilitator, Peta Silansky.

DALLAS — How quickly can you solve different challenges to find the launch code and send SpaceIL’s lunar spacecraft to the moon? That’s the question groups across Dallas are asked in a unique portable “escape room” experience. In this one-hour escape room, small groups solve various challenges to find the launch code and send SpaceIL’s lunar spacecraft to the moon. As the clock counts down, participants learn about Israeli history, arts and culture, Jewish mysticism, STEM — and how to accomplish a challenging mission as a team.
This program was introduced to the Schultz Fellows program and was purchased as a community resource by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s Center for Jewish Education (CJE). This Escape Room experience has been shared in Dallas with more than 200 people, including community educators, leaders, students and families.
According to Melissa Essler, assistant director at URJ Greene Family Camp, the escape room was more than she expected, “This was the surprise hit of Family Retreat! Even young kids loved it and families enjoyed working together.”
Developed by The iCenter for Israel Education, the SpaceIL-themed escape room offers a different kind of Israel education. The iCenter, which serves as the North American educational partner for SpaceIL, has experimented with this approach to education for years. The SpaceIL escape room has been used with all types of audiences, including Jewish summer camp directors, educators and leaders at day schools, congregational schools, rabbinic programs, teens and college students.
“Escape rooms spark creativity, develop teamwork skills, and engage learners in new and different ways,” said Dan Tatar, who runs escape rooms for The iCenter. “These immersive experiences activate problem-solving skills, tap into curiosity, and are really fun!”
Participants describe the escape room as entertaining, challenging, team-building and collaborative. Middle School students at Akiba-Yavneh challenged one another to complete the challenge in the least amount of time.
SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, succeeded in getting its Beresheet craft to the surface of the moon last April in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries. Although Beresheet crash-landed, plans already are in place for a future Beresheet 2 mission.
The “Escape Room-in-a-Suitcase” is available for loan to area schools, youth groups, adult groups and more and is ready to launch at a location near you. For more information on bringing this unique and immersive experience to your group, contact Melissa Bernstein at mbernstein@jewishdallas.org.
FLY ME TO THE MOON Escape Room is made possible by funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s Center for Jewish Education in partnership with The iCenter.

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Carvey will headline Federation’s ONE Night Jan. 26

Carvey will headline Federation’s ONE Night Jan. 26

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

DALLAS — The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas will host its fifth annual communitywide event featuring celebrated comedian and actor Dana Carvey, ONE Night with Dana Carvey. The event, generously presented by BB&T and underwritten by The Leo and Rhea Fay Fruhman Foundation/Beverly and Joe Goldman and Dalfen Industrial, is chaired by Sherry and Ken Goldberg, Fay and Brian Lidji, and Marissa and Rob Solls. ONE Night with Dana Carvey will take place on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, starting at 7:30 p.m. at McFarlin Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus.
ONE Night with Dana Carvey will bring together the Dallas Jewish community as it celebrates the event’s theme, “ONE Night, One Event, One Community.” ONE Night is the Federation’s largest annual fundraising and outreach event of the year, supporting the Jewish community in Dallas, in Israel and in more than 70 countries around the world. Last year’s ONE Night with Martin Short was a huge success, with more than 1,000 in attendance raising over $1 million.
There is no charge to attend the event but a minimum gift of $180 per person to the Federation’s Annual Campaign is suggested. More information can be found at jewishdallas.org/onenight.
“I am so excited about co-chairing ONE Night this year,” said Sherry Goldberg, ONE Night event co-chair. “Without the Federation’s mission, we wouldn’t have the resources to enhance our local community as well as Jewish communities in Israel and around the world. I couldn’t be more proud to be involved in supporting this worthwhile event.”
Brian Lidji, ONE Night event co-chair, commented, “Having Dana Carvey entertain the Dallas Jewish community while we all have the opportunity to support the important work of the Jewish Federation, is really special; I’m looking forward to a great evening.”
A.J. Rosmarin, Federation board chair, said, “It’s always an exciting evening when we can come together as a Jewish community to see and hear the impact our Federation has in the Dallas area, Israel and around the world. This is the power of the collective. Every donor who joins us for ONE Night can be guaranteed a night of laughter and will know they are making a difference.”
The evening’s highlight will be comedian and actor Dana Carvey. Carvey currently serves as the “expert-in-residence” in USA Network’s new comedic half-hour series “First Impressions.” The show pits America’s best amateur impressionists against each other in a weekly battle of celebrity impressions with Carvey mentoring each contestant. An Emmy-award winning comedian, Carvey is best known for his “Saturday Night Live” characters such as the Church Lady; Hans, of the Hans and Franz body building duo; Garth, Wayne Campbell’s (Mike Myers) “Excellent Co-Host” on popular sketch “Wayne’s World,” and Weekend Update’s Grumpy Old Man. Dana has received praise for his comedic impersonations of political figures as ex-President George Bush, H. Ross Perot, Jerry Brown, David Duke and Bob Dole. He also does impersonations of George Burns, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Stewart, John McLaughlin, Mickey Rooney, Casey Casem, and Regis Philbin.
Carvey can also be seen in Alan Parker’s “The Road to” for Columbia Pictures, Richard and Lili Zanuck’s “Clean Slate” for MGM, and Twentieth Century Fox’s “Trapped in Paradise.” His early film work includes his debut in “This is Spinal Tap,” “Racing with the Moon,” “One of the Group” where he portrayed Mickey Rooney’s grandson, “Blue Thunder” with James Farentino, “Tough Guys” with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, and the comedy “Opportunity Knocks.” In 2004, he starred in “The Master of Disguise,” a comedy fantasy for the whole family which features Carvey in 36 different identities and speaking 14 different languages as the hapless and heroic Pistachio Disguisey.
Carvey won an Emmy Award in 1993 for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. He has received a total of six Emmy nominations, one of which was for a guest appearance on “Larry Sanders Show.” He was also honored with The American Comedy Award as Television’s Funniest Supporting Male in 1990 and 1991.
To get tickets to ONE Night, visit www.jewishdallas.org/onenight. Tickets are non-transferable and online registration is required.

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Caring for the sick, homebound with nourishing food

Caring for the sick, homebound with nourishing food

Posted on 11 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Ethel G. Hofman
“Gesundheit Kuchen” (aka, “blessing” cake).

By Ethel G. Hofman
(JNS) December is a busy month filled with joy and celebration. But every year, it brings sad news, too. Someone may be sick, homebound or otherwise unable to come to the festive table; accidents and emergencies occur that result in hospitalization; deaths occur and shiva needs to take place. In the Jewish tradition, family and friends rally around community members. Bikur cholim, visiting the sick, is a mitzvah and a comfort to others. The Hebrew words serve as a testimony of the Jewish tenets of caring, compassion, devotion and the incentive to heal.
When these situations pop up and there’s no time to cook, I’ve often resorted to bringing a selection of packaged teas or coffee, or some staples like nuts and dried fruits, placed in a basket or similar container. Still, there’s nothing like a homemade soup or casserole to warm those in need or not home to prepare a proper meal.
You won’t be caught short if you plan ahead. Make a soup, casserole or cake, wrap well and place in the freezer for those times when you can be there to give. The “thanks” is built in.

Tips for safe freezing:
*Freezing prevents food spoilage. It doesn’t kill foodborne bacteria, but it greatly slows down their ability to reproduce. Once thawed, it’s time to cook that food.
*Do not use glass. Glass can crack when subjected to rapid temperature changes.
*Freezer and sandwich bags are not the same thing. Freezer bags are made of thicker plastic and should be used for freezing foods.
*Freeze items like soups in smaller containers. It speeds defrosting and avoids waste.
*Cool cooked foods completely before freezing. Putting something hot into the freezer warms the other foods, causing them to defrost and become unsafe.
*Do not defrost frozen meats, fish or poultry at room temperature or using hot or warm water. This can lead to food poisoning. Move to the refrigerator overnight to defrost.
*When there’s an abundance of fresh herbs, snip or chop, mix with a very little bit of olive oil and divide into ice-cube trays. When frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and zip shut.
*To wrap a frozen casserole: Line the casserole dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Then add a layer of plastic wrap. Leave several inches hanging at the edges so that it can be pulled over the top to cover later. Transfer the food to the dish and freeze. Once frozen-solid, lift the lined food out of the dish. Wrap it up with the hanging plastic wrap and foil to cover tightly. Place in freezer. Wash the pan and store for another day.
*Label the frozen casserole with heating instructions: Remove the foil and plastic wrap and place in baking dish. Defrost in refrigerator for 24-36 hours before cooking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover thawed casserole loosely with foil. Bake until heated through and bubbly at edges. The final temperature should reach 160 degrees.
Split Pea Soup With Franks (Meat)
Serves 10-12
Cook’s Tips:
*Squash and onion are available all cut up and ready to cook.
*Beef broth and hot dogs can be purchased in a supermarket’s kosher section or at a specialty store.

Ingredients:
4-5 frankfurters, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ cups diced onion or 2 medium onions, diced
1¼ cups dried split peas, rinsed and drained
12-14 baby carrots, cut lengthwise
2 cups coarsely chopped squash
8-10 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper

Directions:
In a large pot, fry frankfurters in hot oil over medium-high heat until slightly browned at edges, about 5 minutes.
Add onion, split peas, carrots, squash and 8 cups broth. Bring to a boil, skimming off any froth. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender and peas are broken down.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If too thick, add a little more broth to desired consistency. Cool completely.
Pour into two containers, cover tightly and freeze.
Triple Mac ’n Cheese (Dairy)
Serves 10-12
Cook’s Tips:
*May substitute any other hard cheese for sharp cheddar.
*Substitute Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning for nutmeg.

Ingredients:
2 packages (8 ounces each) elbow macaroni
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups small curd cottage cheese
½ cup milk
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
2 large tomatoes, each cut in 12 wedges

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and run cold water through.
Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick baking spray.
In a large bowl, mix the macaroni, mustard, seasoning, cheddar and cottage cheeses, milk and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
Arrange tomato wedges attractively on top. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake in preheated oven till heated through and beginning to brown, 20-25 minutes.
Cool thoroughly before wrapping, label and freeze.
Loaded Chicken, Peppers and Mushrooms (Meat)
Adapted from a recipe generously shared by my friend Shani Feinstein.
Serves 8-10
Cook’s Tips:
*Diced onions and peppers are available in refrigerated section of most markets
*Save time and money by coarsely chopping 3 to 4 onions in the food processor. Then divide into plastic bags and freeze. Ready to use as needed (this tip shared from Patti Saddler, my 80-year-something ElderNet client).
*Rinse mushrooms by running cold water over, removing any soil. Pat dry with paper towels.

Ingredients:
12 chicken thighs (about 3½ pounds), skinless and boneless
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup diced onions
2 yellow and green bell peppers, diced, about 1½ cups
2 teaspoons bottled chopped garlic
3 (8-ounce) containers of sliced mushrooms
1½ cups ketchup
1/3 cup wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 teaspoons hot sauce or to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange chicken in one layer in large baking dish. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, peppers, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté over medium heat until softened.
Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Cool slightly before pouring over chicken. Cover loosely with foil. Bake in preheated oven 1½ hours or until no red juices appear when chicken is pierced with a sharp knife.
Cool, wrap and freeze.
Doc’s ‘Dump and Mix’ Vegetarian Chili Pie (Pareve)
An updated version of Dr. Walter Hofman’s prize-winning chili.
Serves 8-10
Cook’s Tips:
*Personalize: Add dried cranberries, grated tart apple or even a spoonful of creamy peanut butter, if desired.
*Pepperidge Farm puff-pastry sheets are OU pareve.
*Keep those kitchen shears handy. Snip cilantro, parsley or any herbs.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup diced onion
1 can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes, Italian style
1 can (15½ ounces) great Northern white beans
1 can (15½ ounces) red kidney beans
2 cups bottled Bloody Mary mix
1 package (1.25 ounces) Tex-Mex chili seasoning
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon snipped cilantro or parsley
1 package (12 ounces) veggie ground round
1 sheet prepared puff pastry

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion. Sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not brown.
Add all remaining ingredients, except pastry, crumbling the ground round. Stir and bring to simmer.
Transfer to a 9×12-inch baking dish. Cool slightly.
Cut the pastry into 1-inch strips. Arrange in a loose lattice pattern on top of chili.
Bake in preheated oven until chili is bubbly and pastry is golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool completely before wrapping, labeling and freezing.

Vegetable Frittata with Tomatoes and Basil (Pareve)
This can otherwise be known as a Sephardic kugel.
Serves 6
Cook’s Tips:
*1 large baked potato yields about 1 cup mashed.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup pareve mashed potato
1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon salt
3-4 grinds black pepper
6 eggs, lightly beaten
8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray an 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick vegetable spray.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and mixed vegetables. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the potato, basil and salt and pepper. Mix well.
Whisk in the eggs until combined with veggies. Transfer mixture into prepared baking dish. Arrange tomato on top, skin-side up.
Bake in preheated oven 25 minutes or until firm in center.
Cool completely, wrap and freeze.
New Homestyle Meatloaf (Meat)Serves 6-8
Instead of all beef, the combination of turkey and beef make for a moist, lower-calorie loaf.
Hard-cooked eggs in center, boost protein, look attractive when sliced thickly.

Cook’s Tips:
*21 Seasoning is available from Trader Joe’s. Eliminates measuring out half a dozen seasonings.
*Chili sauce may be substituted for ketchup.
*Keep a supply of latex gloves handy to mix items like meatloaf or to toss a big salad.

Ingredients:
¾ pound ground beef
¾ pound ground turkey
1 cup matzo meal
¼ cup seltzer water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons 21 Seasoning
½ cup ketchup, divided
2 hard-cooked eggs, shells removed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the beef, turkey, matzo meal, seltzer water, beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce, seasoning and ¼ cup ketchup.
Press half the mixture into a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
Place the hard-cooked eggs, end to end, on top. Carefully press the remaining meat mixture on top. Spread the remaining ¼ cup ketchup over top.
Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 65 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a knife.
Cool completely before wrapping, labeling and freezing.
‘Gesundheit Kuchen’ (Dairy)
A Hofman family favorite, this “blessing” cake recipe was brought over by German Jews in the early 1900s. Rich and moist, it was served at a bris, engagement party and other celebrations.
Serves 15-18
Cook’s Tips:
*Cream cheese no longer comes in 3-ounce packages. Use an 8-ounce package, plus a rounded tablespoon of cream cheese.
*Wondra flour works well. It’s OU pareve. Or sift all-purpose flour before adding.
*No need for a tabletop electric mixer. An electric hand mixer is all that’s needed.

Ingredients:
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
9 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
Powdered sugar to sprinkle

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick vegetable spray.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and sugar until pale and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, with 1 tablespoon of the flour to prevent curdling, beating after each addition.
Add vanilla, baking powder and remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Spoon batter into prepared Bundt pan.
Bake in preheated oven until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool 5 minutes in pan.
Loosen edges with a round-bladed knife before turning onto a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Wrap, label and freeze.

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The Stars will shine for Kosher Game Day

The Stars will shine for Kosher Game Day

Posted on 11 December 2019 by admin

Twenty Kosher Game Day raffle winners will, like these guests in 2019, go on a tour of the American Airlines Center’s underground and a chance to high-five the Dallas Stars players at the March 22 game. Visit dallasstars.com/kosher for tickets.
Photos: Courtesy Kosher Game Day

By Deb Silverthorn

Regardless of the final score, the Sunday, March 22, National Hockey League match-up between the Dallas Stars and the Winnipeg Jets will be a winner when the American Airlines Center hosts its Third Annual Kosher Game Day. The afternoon begins at 4 p.m., with a Food ‘n’ Shmooze Party on the Plaza; the AAC doors open at 4:30 p.m.; and the game starts at 6.
Those purchasing tickets by Jan. 1 will receive a Dallas Stars cap and one entry for the Tunnel Ticket raffle. The 20 guests who win the right to take the behind-the-scenes tour will be notified by email, in advance of game day, with instructions.
“It’s a great event to get Jews from all different types of backgrounds from around the Metroplex to come together and enjoy a hockey game together, while at the same time donating proceeds to families in need,” said Kosher Game Day’s Lon Cherryholmes. “It turns this fun event into tzedakah and a mitzvah!”
Kosher Game Day is the only day of the year that the AAC allows an outside vendor to sell on-property. The Palate Grill (of Kosher Palate) food truck will be parked outside the AAC with hotdogs, hamburgers and chicken tenders or chopped beef baskets, with sides of coleslaw, corn, fries and beans for sale. The food sold by Palate Grill will be allowed into the AAC at its closest entrance.
“This is an exciting event with Jewish families, and the community-at-large from throughout the Metroplex, to root for teams and to be able to do so while enjoying great kosher food,” said Kosher Palate and Palate Grill owner, Chaim Goldfeder. “Enjoying the atmosphere and experience of a hockey game, with a side of great Texas barbecue. Great sports, great fun and great food — all for a good cause.”
“Tunnel Ticket” sponsors Daniella and Frank Storch and Larry and Shirley Strauss have provided the opportunity for 20 raffle winners to take an exclusive tour of the AAC’s underground and a chance to high-five Stars players as they skate out to the game’s second half.
Kosher Game Day, with Dallas Area Torah Association of Plano, will share proceeds from the event with local families in need.
“The game will last hours, but the support and impact that comes from us all coming together will be lasting,” said DATA of Plano’s Director of Outreach Rabbi Yogi Robkin. “Usually we are able to do something that is meaningful, often on the serious side — or something fun, on the entertaining side. At Kosher Game Day we will bring meaningful, fun and entertainment together and it’s all those things.”
Additional sponsors of the 2020 Kosher Game Day are Amazing Therapeutic Touch of Eden, Autobahn Service Center and United Texas Bank.
“Hanukkah is around the corner and an afternoon out with friends and family is a terrific gift with memories that will keep on giving,” said Dallas Kosher Executive Director Meira Naor. “The spirit for the event, and the opportunity to have kosher food to enjoy, is a win-win and we look forward to welcoming the community.”
Tickets are on sale now at dallasstars.com/kosher. Once a ticket order is placed, the purchaser will receive a unique link to share with others to ensure nearby seating with friends and family.
To volunteer at Kosher Game Day, or to sponsor future events, email info@dallaskosher.org.

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