Too Hot for Some

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For more shots Straight Out of the Camera:

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For more Summer Stock:

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Weekly Review with Boats

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On My Blog

Photo Meme:
Macerated Cherries with Cookbooks for Ruby Tuesday

Weekly Interview: Michael

Weekly Recipe: Feta Tigagnito

Three for Two

If I Can Be of Any Help

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

A divisive blow to Judaism by Rabbi Avi Weiss

Speak, Memory by David Hazony

We Did it on Tisha B’av. You Can Too, a post by Yosef Kanefsky

Grandfather and Woolens, Leora shares a family photo

Name That Country! a post by Mrs.S.

Ruti shows why It’s just a nice place to raise your kids up

Shabbat Shalom!

If I Can Be of Any Help

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After much planning and unplanning, we seem to have finally decided where we’ll go for this year’s summer vacation. First we wished to go to the Italian Lakes, Lake Maggiore to be precise, but since we are already going to the South of France at the very end of August we settled for a different direction. Another factor in the decision is that the a/c on my car has broken down and my reliable auto mechanic is on holiday himself; thus going to the North seemed wiser.

So Hamburg, it will be. The reason why I am posting this is that we will visit BallinStadt, the Migration Museum of Hamburg which recalls that Hamburg was the departure port for most Germans and Eastern Europeans to emigrate to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The museum has preserved passenger lists of the more than five million people who went to the New World from BallinStadt. So if you know or think that some family members headed for America via Hamburg, feel free to ask me to check names, dates and other data or to take photos.

Three for Two

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Since I am on holiday, I tend to cook and read a bit more and write less; which means that in the coming weeks you’ll probably find mostly recipes, and maybe a few book reviews too, on this blog.

Here are the links to my three favorite recipes for challah:

Quick Challah at Frugal Kosher

Claudia Roden’s classic

Ima’s Challah (not my Ima’s) at Not Derby Pie, my latest find but also my favorite now

Feta Tigagnito

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Feta Tigagnito:
Serves 6 people
– 6 bell peppers (red ones are sweeter but others will add colors to your dish)
– a slab of feta cheese
– a handful of cherry tomatoes
– 1 onion
– olive oil
– oregano
– salt and peper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F°.

Thinly slice the onion and peppers. Put them into a baking dish with the cherry tomatoes.
Sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper (I used “spirit of fire” a mixture of black peppercorns, crushed chilies, sweet bell peppers, peppadews and ginseng). Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
Add the cubed feta cheese and put back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

Eat on its own or with rice or pasta or as a side dish with grilled fish.

Weekly Interview: Michael

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I met Michael a while ago, before he had his own blog, via a comment he left on mine. A conversation followed, then emails. Here is someone who never runs out of ideas and references if you wish to dig into a subject. Thank you Michael for your contribution, and for being the youngest participant in this series.

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

I grew up in Silver Spring, MD (the suburbs of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area), and grew up as a committed but mostly non-observant Jew. When I was 16 years old (specifically, the summer of 2004), I began becoming more observant, culminating in my becoming Modern Orthodox. Since my high graduation in 2006, I’ve spent the past four years learning in yeshivot in Israel.

What is your religious background (if any)?

As I said, I grew up “committed but mostly non-observant.” My family would do things like a hold a seder on Pesah and have a Friday-night Shabbat meal, and go to religious services on Rosh ha-Shana and Yom Kippur, but other than that, we didn’t “do” very much. On the other hand, because my mother is a convert (she grew up as an Evangelical Christian and converted first Reform and then Conservative), she was ideologically very committed to whatever she did do or believe, and so I was raised with a very strong Jewish identity, even if it was represented very little in actual ritual practice. I was raised to believe very strongly in what Judaism is and what its purpose in the world is – “ethical monotheism” and tiqun `olam and such – and that I was Jewish and was supposed to marry Jewish.

When and why did you decide to make aliyah?

I remember sitting in computer science class in either seventh or eighth grade (2000/2001 or 2001/2002)– I forget which – and thinking to myself, “Well, G-d gave us the land of Israel, and He’s letting us return, so nu – what am I waiting for? I’m making `aliyah!” Of course, what I had to wait for was my high school graduation. By the way, keep in mind that this was some two to four years (depending on when during seventh to eighth grade you count) before I became observant (in the summer of 2004).

Where in Israel do you live and is there a special reason you live there?

I live wherever the educational institution I happen to be attending is located. I lived in Jerusalem for three years (attending Machon Meir), Petah Tiqwa for half a year (attending Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tiqwa), and I plan to be living in Ramat Gan soon (for Bar-Ilan University). As for my reason, I feel that it is where G-d intends us to live. The Torah repeatedly tells us to keep the mitzvot “when you enter the land into which I am bringing you,” and the Gemara says that anyone who lives outside of Israel is nearly guilty of worshiping idols; that’s enough to convince me!

When and why did you start blogging?

Let’s see…the timestamp on my first blog entry is 26 January 2009, so I guess that’s when I started blogging! I started because I kept posting long notes on Facebook, and someone told me to open a blog, so I did.

Have you been surprised by the way your blogging activity has evolved over the years?

Not particularly. When I started the blog, I’d just post whatever happened to be on my mind at the time (whereas I had previously posted onto Facebook whatever was on my mind at the time), and that’s pretty much what my blog still is. I have no themes, no agenda, nothing. I just post whatever is on the top of my head.

To what extent do you feel your blogging activity reflects on the global perception of Israel?

My blog affects the global perception of Israel extremely little, I’d imagine, and only slightly more than my blog affects the global perception of China or the ground beef industry. I get very few readers, and still fewer of those readers spend more than literally a few seconds on my blog (according to Google Analytics). Furthermore, I do extremely little (if any at all) hasbara (defense of Israel), because that’s just not my thing. I have strong opinions on the justice of Israel’s actions – at least as far as I believe it ought to concern the rest of the world – but I think Alan Dershowitz and the WZO and whoever else is out there can do a better job of doing PR for Israel than I can. (The Israeli government itself, on the other hand, seems to have hired sea slugs to do its PR, because monkeys were too expensive.) Most of my discussions are more “preaching to the choir,” involving issues of Modern Orthodoxy or Israeli politics for those “inside” the circle. In fact, the same way I don’t hasbara, I also don’t try to present Orthodox Judaism to non-observant Jews. I’m simply not a propagandist; I have neither the aptitude nor the stomach. I’m more like an academic who analyzes issues and subjects for those who are already relatively involved and knowledgeable in the cases at hand. Some people are good at arguing persuasively and putting glitter and rainbows all over their words, to convert the uninitiated, but I’m better at talking verbosely about minutiae with a preponderance of scholarly footnotes.

What post(s) are you most proud of?

Oy, I’ve written so many, and I don’t know where to begin! Well, off the top of my head, I’m proud of what I’ve written recently about libertarianism, and of my posts on that subject, the most developed I’ve written have probably been Religious Coercion, or On John Locke and the Kehilla’s Right to Assess Tzedaqa and Judaism, Democracy, and Health-Care Reform: A Reply to Dr. Jonathan Tobin.

I’m also proud of an article I wrote and had published elsewhere, A New Hearing on Kol Ishah. I can mention that article because when it was published, I made a brief mention of it on my blog. 😉

Would you care to share a blog or two you enjoy.

The Cake Wrecks blog is simply spectacular for morning laughs.
Shimshonit’s blog is written by a good friend I know personally in Israel, but I met her initially via her excellent blog.

Last week’s interview

Weekly Review with Little Boy

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On My Blog

Photo Memes:
Bastille Day for Summer Stock and SOOC

Weekly Review: Tamar

Commemorating the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup

Tips for Sensible Fasting

Weekly Recipe: Chilled Melon Soup

Welcome to Heavenly Heights, a book review

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

For a bit of linguistic fun read Mrs.S.’s post: More Facebook Fun

A cultural lesson in an unlikely meeting, a beautiful post at Treppenwitz’s

Sweet Vegetarian Stew, a recipe adapted and posted by Leora

At Cooking Manager, Hannah draws up a list of Great Thinkers on Healthy Eating

Funeral Fiascos: Should Jews Rethink How We Honor the Dead?, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie writes for the Huffington Post

Hear O Israel: Thoughts on Parashat Va-et-hanan by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Shabbat Shalom!

Welcome to Heavenly Heights

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Since I didn’t feel like writing a traditional book review today, I decided to adopt a different format rather than not tell you about this book at all.

10 reasons why you should read Heavenly Heights by Risa Miller (some are much better than others):
– This novel is short.
– It was written by a woman and has a distinctively woman’s tone.
– The story is set in Israel.
– The main topic is alyiah.
– The plot focuses on one woman’s experience from the time her husband convinces her it is time for them to go and settle in Israel. It follows them as they move into a block of appartments and learn to adapt and adjust to their new life through their first year.
– The characters are olim and practically all live in the same building, which is why they get to know each other and interact.
– Through memorable portraits, the novel draws a picture of the characters’ new (and not so new) lives which is quite nuanced. To quote Wendy Shalit in The Observant Reader,”they have the same worries and petty jealousies as the rest of us”.
– This book is about relationships as much as it is about alyiah.
– It reminded me of Seven Blessings and The Outside World.
– It is well written.

If you have read this book and wish to add more reasons to this list, feel welcome to do so.

Chilled Melon Soup

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Chilled Melon Soup:
• 2 melons (I used a variety with lemon skin and green flesh)
• 1 tbsp honey
• 1 tbsp lemon or lime
• tiny bits of fresh or frozen ginger
• 20+ mint leaves (or so, just follow your taste)

Cut the melons in half, scoop out seeds. slice into wedges and cut of skin. Cut into cubes.
Place cubes in blender, add honey, lemon or lime juice, ginger and mint and puree. taste.
Chill and serve.

The original recipe suggested adding sugar but I skipped this altogether, which was fine.