Self vs Tradition


Eliette Abécassis‘s latest novel, Sépharade, deals with what it means to be a young Sephardi woman in contemporary France.

Unlike her previous novels, this one is partly autobiographical. Esther Vital, a young Moroccan Jew who was born in Strasbourg, decides to marry Charles Tolédano – who is also of Moroccan Jewish descent – against her parents’ will

On the eve of the wedding, Esther discovers that the two families were linked in the past and that her union is doomed. She tries to understand what is happening to her and her investigation focuses on different characters in the novel. Through this quest for origins, Eliette Abécassis explores the history of Moroccan Jews with passion and erudition.

While telling the story of Esther Vidal, Eliette Abécassis also explores, with warmth, humor, and passion, the universal dilemma uniting the quest for individual identity with the desire for tradition. Through self-exploration Esther tries to make sense of her multiple identities. Jewish, Sephardi, French, and Alsatian; she feels traditional and modern. She is a loving daughter but wants to break free from her family.

Throughout the novel, Esther’s quest for a personal identity within a strong tradition strongly resonates with the reader’s own questioning.

Last Minute Weekly Review


On My Blog

Photo Memes:
Red Shed for Ruby Tuesday
My Grandmother in Sepia for Sepia Scenes

Teenagers and their Peers

A Book and a Film

Weekly recipe: Sweet and Sour Salmon

Use Words Carefully

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

Batya hosts the 50th edition of KCC (the Kosher Cooking Carnival)

Hannah interviewed me about my cooking

Shimshonit lists the Top 10 stupid reasons not to make aliyah

Check Leora’s weekly review for some great links

Sorry I haven’t had much time to visit your blogs at the end of the week.

Shabbat Shalom!

Use Words Carefully


One of Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s preoccupations is to make his reader aware of the constructive or destructive power of words. Most of his ideas on the subject can be found in his book Words that Hurt, Words that Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well. However his ideas are also developped in his other works.

I have just reread some advice that seems very sound. Thus Rabbi Teleshkin suggests that if you are angry with someone and want to voice your anger, you should concentrate on the person’s actions, not his/her personality.

Therefore you should be careful not to use words such as “always” (you are always messing up everything you do) and “never” (you never care about anyone except yourself). Such words will demoralize the person you are talking too.

In my opinion if you make such definitive statements, your message will be lost as the person won’t recognize himself/herself in the portrait you draw.

Rabbi Telushkin suggests that to be more efficient when expressing discontent you shoud “restrict you anger to the incident that provoked it”.

Sweet and Sour Salmon


1lb salmon, cut into small portions (2″x 2″)

1 onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/6 cup vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/3 cup raisins

Combine everything in pot, except fish. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Add fish a piece at a time, cover and cook on low 8-10 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Like Asian Salmon, this recipe was found on Elisheva Blogs, a blog which no longer exists. I still wish to thank Elisheva for her wonderful and tasty recipes.

Red Shed


I had planned to take new photos for today but the weather is so gray that they would just be disappointing. So I looked at my folders and found one that I like and had previously shown.

On Tuesdays, just post any photo you like (it must be one of your own) that contains the color RED and then link to this blog.


This lovely new badge was created by Leora from Here in HP.

A Book and a Film


I have almost finished The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, the author of She’s Come Undone. It is a good novel with a fine storyline. The narrator is an English teacher at Columbine, Littleton whose wife barely escapes the massacre. Although she survived her existence becomes miserable and from then on their lives is a series of ordeals. The man character is not as cleverly crafted as Dolores in She’s Come Undone but the book is still a pageturner.

The movie I saw – The White Ribbon – is totally different and not a light one. If you decide to go and watch it, you need to be aware that you will probably be haunted by the implicit and explicit violence it contains.

The story is set in a Protestant village in Northern Germany in 1913. A community which is ruled by the baron, the pastor and the doctor, in that order. Strange things happen and we witness how different people in this close-knit community react.

Because of the slow pace, the sobriety of the language and the choice of black and white, the film powerfully conveys the atmosphere of the stifled and stifling community.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde on 10/20/09, published on 10/21/09, Michael Haneke explicitly and unequivocally declared his intentions in making this movie:

He intended to make a movie about the roots of evil. He explained that he believed that the environment of extreme, punitive and sexually repressive protestantism in Germany, had laid the groundwork for Fascism and Nazism. He added that he saw the same patterns developing in fundamentalist Muslim societies today, and that it is those societies that today were spawning terrorists and suicide bombers. Finally, he expressed the sentiment that The White Ribbon is a movie against all extremisms.

Teenagers and their Peers


As a teenager I had a few close friends, not many but some I knew I could rely on. Today my students appear to have tons of friends but I often have the feeling they know virtually nothing about them outside school and seldom seem to care.

Thus they spend ample time on their cell phones textmessaging their peers, even during lessons when I have to battle to make them put the wretched thing in their bags and often have to fight again so that it actually stays there. They always seem to have a wonderful piece of news to share with someone. Similarly if I look at their Facebook page they have hundreds of so-called friends.

Yet whenever a kid is absent from school, nobody seems to know what has happened to them. During the day nobody takes the time to send a message so as to find out. If I hand out photocopies, they very rarely ask one for the absent student. Even after a few days the kid’s absence is often still a mystery. It is almost as if by being absent the student no longer existed.

One incident last week made me wonder about the sort of relationship they have with each other. Once a week, I help and supervise a class where the students work in pairs on a common project for half the year. It was snowing outside and a few kids hadn’t made it to school. As usual I went round and took down the names of the kids who were not in school for the administration. One boy was on his own and when I asked him if the girl he was working with was absent because she lived in the country, he answered he had no idea. Another boy has been missing since the beginning of the month and the guy who works with him still hasn’t contacted him to ask whether and when he was coming back.

Maybe I am embellishing the past but I seem to remember that in similar circumstances we contacted each other, inquired about our friends’ health and informed them about school work.

Late Weekly Review


On My Blog

Photo Memes:
Greengrocer Today for Ruby Tuesday
Pier Windows for Window Views

Assessment – Feedback Welcome

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a book review

Weekly recipe: Belgian Beef Stew

Parshah Thoughts and Questions – Bo

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

To be a convert, a post by Shimshonit

Mom in Israel interviews Fern Richardson for Cooking Manager

Take the week off, Mrs.S; reflects on the meaning of shavuah

Leora introduces 7 Social Media Blogs for Small Biz

Shabbat Shalom!