Most Visited Posts of 2009

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Along with my most commented photo of 2009. Note that some of these posts were published before 2009.

Books:
New Siddur to Be Published Soon
Picking Out a Siddur
New Koren Siddur: First Impressions
Holocaust Project: Topics and Books
The Litvaks

Recipes:
My Vegeterian Biryani
Vegetable Lasagna
Brown Rice Recipes
Chulent Recipes
Quick Tomato Pie

Others:
Another Israeli Film
Flights and Kosher Meals
Séraphine
The Warsaw Ghetto Little Boy
Hasidic Judaism, Antwerp & Pictures

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Death & Birth – Musings & Questions

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– My friend was buried on Tuesday. Two friends read addresses they had written; they were beautiful and, strangely enough, comforting. Then her nephew read a letter she had written a few weeks ago to be read during her funeral. Obviously this was very moving.

As my friend was Orthodox (as in Christian Orthodox) and since there is no Orthodox church in my hometown, the funeal wasn’t in a religious building. At the cemetery, however, a priest said a few words in Greek.

A few years ago I questioned my rabbi about attending a non-Jewish funeral. Living in a predominantly Christian culture, I felt the need for clarifications so that I knew how to deal with the funerals of the people who are dear to me. His advice helped me deal with the issue Do you attend the funeral of non-Jews? What are your limits?

– A friend of mine and his wife have just had a baby girl. They are waiting for the rabbi’s approval before she can be named. They have submitted a name, a double one in fact, and should get his answer pretty soon. Is anyone familiar with this custom?

German Jews After World War II

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I have just read a fascinating book, L’impossible Retour (The Impossible Return,) by Olivier Guez, a French journalist and writer.

Before the Nazis came to power in 1933, about 600,000 Jews lived in Germany. – more than 160,000 in Berlin alone. At the end of the war, only 14,000 remained. Half of the German Jews had been exterminated, the rest had gone into exile.

However strange this may seem, some German Jews chose to remain in Germany and about 10,000 more settled there after the war. Olivier Guez decided to investigate and find out why these people had stayed there instead of settling in the USA or in Israel (then still called Palestine) like most Holocaust survivors.

The majority the Jews who stayed in Germany were very assimilated people who had very little contact, if any, with the Jewish community. Some had managed to survive thanks to their Gentile friends or non-Jewish spouses. They selected their friends and didn’t feel too uncomfortable living in Germany. Others just couldn’t envisage living elsewhere while they remained cautious about the Germans all their lives.

The people who settled there after the war didn’t choose Germany. They were DPs (Displaced Persons) – in other words refugees from Eastern Europe. The majority were inmates of Nazi concentration camps who ended up in yet other camps before they could find a place to call home. They had obviously no desire to go back to the countries they came from. A number of Western countries issued them visas, mainly the USA, Israel, Canada and the UK.

However some were too sick to travel or to get a visa and their children didn’t want to leave them behind. That’s why they finally settled in the very country which had tried to eliminate them. They had more ambivalent feelings towards their new country and the Germans – they did not share the same culture as those who had been raised in Germany. In addition they often felt guilty: because they were still alive and because they had remained in Germany. As a result they led a very secluded life and had no German friends.

Olivier Guez also met people who had tried to live in Israel but had come back to a country where they felt more at ease. Sometimes it was their children who later settled in Israel. He also met German Jews who had chosen to live or go back to GDR (East Germany) and who had a totally different – even if no better – experience. I’ll try to write about them in another post.

Apparently there is no English translation of the book, which is a shame, but its author gives lectures abroad.

Quick Cheese Sauce

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I came across this recipe a few weeks ago in Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz. I altered it slightly and have been making it several times since as it is so easy and quick.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
11/2 cup skim milk
1 bay leaf
grated cheese of your choice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine butter and flour in a glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Gradually add in milk. Add bay leaf.
Microwave on high 3 to 31/2 minutes, until bubbling, whisking about every 30 second. Discard bay leaf and add cheese according to your taste (the recipe suggests 1/3 cup). Season to taste.

This is a fine sauce to use for macaroni cheese, lasagne, vegetables or fish.

Goodbye My Friend

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How do you say goodbye to a collegue who was more than just a workmate?

I changed schools 16 years ago. After 7 years in a a junior high school I applied for a job in a nearby high school and got it. I was lucky to find a great team of English teachers.

My colleague also taught English and had been working in this lycée for quite some time. She was a respected and demanding teacher and her students knew they were in good hands. She was a keen linguist and was always striving for the most accurate word.

She fell ill about four years ago and left teaching one year early because of an operation and the chemotherapy treatment that followed. Last September she learnt that she was terminally ill. She died this morning surrounded by two very close friends of hers.

She was frank, sometimes even blunt, but also extremely generous. When I last phoned her, she asked me a lot of sensitive questions and did not wish to dwell on her own condition. A friend I phoned tonight told me she had given her a book for me, which deeply moved me.

Because of her generosity and strong personality she will be missed not only by her closest friends, but also by people like me who are proud and honored to have met her.

Baruch Dayan Emet

Late December Weekly Review

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On My Blog

Photo Memes:
Best Chanukah Picture for Batya’s meme
Snowman with Red Hat for Ruby Tuesday
Verona Synagogue for Window Views

National Identity, a controversial debate in France

Favorite Books of 2009

My Friends (and Nieces) Love Books

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

Leora is hosting the Fall Holidays Edition of JPIX

You just might be a Religious-Zionist, a post by Mrs.S.

National Identity, Shimshonit read my post and wrote her own responce on her blog

Shakshoukah, Mimi’s Way at Israeli Kitchen

Welcoming a “Chueta” back to his Jewishness, an article by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Shabbat Shalom!