Archive for December, 2010

Two Recipes That Will Sweeten Your Shabbos Table

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When I was growing up, there was no such thing as carrot kugel or apple crunch. And if there was, it was called Dessert. But about 10 years ago, they were introduced to me as part of the Shabbos menu, right there alongside chicken and veggies. And these dishes are so yummy, that I’ve never looked back!

So in honor of Shabbos, here are my favorite recipes for carrot kugel and apple crunch. They are both incredibly easy and absolutely delicious. And best of all, kids love them!

Carrot Kugel

3 four-oz. jars of baby carrot food (“Stage 2” from Beechnut is OU-Pareve)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil (or applesauce for low fat version)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Preheat to 350 degrees.
Mix everything together in a bowl.

Two Options:

Loaf pan – Grease a pyrex loaf pan, pour in batter, bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Muffin cups – (No need to grease.) Fill cups to 3/4 full, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. (I highly recommend Reynolds “Baked for You – Stay Brite” muffin cups. They stand on their own on a cookie sheet—no need for a muffin pan—and they peel off beautifully.)

Use toothpick in center to tell if it’s done. You want it to be a touch “underdone” for best yumminess (and the blech).

Delicious at any temperature. Muffins may be stored at room temperature for 2 days in a sealed bag.

Apple Crunch

Crunch Mixture
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup shortening (or one stick maragarine)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Other Ingredients
1 can Comstock sweetened apple pie filling (can also use two smaller cans)
Cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat to 350 degrees.

Mix all crunch ingredients until it turns crumbly. (I find two methods work best for this: either a large bowl and a potato masher, or the sealed-bag-mush method. Either way is fine.)

Spread half of crunch mixture onto bottom of 11×7 (or 9×13) inch pan. Spoon apples from can onto crunch evenly. Top with rest of crunch mixture. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar lightly on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until the apples are boiling up the sides of the pan.

…And don’t worry, if you still think of these dishes as “dessert,” that’s ok, we’ll eat them any time!

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Why I Wish I Lived in Newark!

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The most revered ancient leaders carried scepters. This leader carries a snow shovel.

Enter Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ and the hero of Blizzard 2010.

I admit, I read every one of Cory Booker’s tweets during this storm cleanup, and I am truly amazed at his leadership and personal effectiveness. Not only was he out there, literally, in the trenches, but he used twitter to cut out the bureaucracy of government. Government became accessible, and actually helpful.

Cory’s tweets did three things that Newark needed desperately:

  • Immediate Response to Crisis – People tweeted for help, and Cory Booker responded. Someone said they can’t get out and they need diapers. An hour later, he showed up at their doorstep with diapers. Each night, Cory Booker was up until the wee hours of the morning, helping dig out people’s cars, emergency vehicles, NJ Transit buses, whoever was stuck. He also spent a lot of time on his cell phone, talking to Newark residents, and sending over help. This kind of leadership today is very rare.
  • Encouragement – Cory Booker wrote things like, “Extraordinary challenges call for extraordinary effort, its the only way to get extraordinary results. Please help someone out today.” Wherever he went, he encouraged volunteers, and this was incredible. People really came out and helped pure strangers dig out of the snow. I don’t even live in Newark, but I feel the sense of unity he created.
  • Appreciation – Cory Booker didn’t forget to give credit where credit was due. He tweeted things like, “So grateful for the hard work of police officer who has been with me much of last 2 days. He is a superstar. Go Det. John Olivera” and “Here in the South Ward – grateful for residents on Aldine coming out past midnight to help. We have great ppl in Brick City.”

This was truly amazing leadership.

NYC got a lot of negative press for the time it took sanitation crews to get to all its streets. But as Cory Booker points out, in a tweet, “People far 2 rough on @mikebloomberg – still fighting 2 clear snow in NWK & we are 1/29th size of NYC.”

So Newark wasn’t plowed any faster, but the fact that Cory Booker was on the streets shoveling, calling people, and tweeting to the public made all the difference in the world.

Bloomberg came out of this storm at first defensive, and then threw his own crews “under the bus” (pun intended), saying, “We did not do as good a job as we wanted to do, or as the city has the right to expect.” Bloomberg, however, said the time to grill sanitation bosses on what went wrong is not at hand – that comes once all the streets are cleared.

But Cory Booker came out a hero.

From beginning to end, he was there, he was responsive, and he made people feel taken care of. Just shows you what real leadership and twitter can do.

What did you think about Cory Booker’s tweets?

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The New Anti-Semitism: Blurring the Lines with Anti-Israel Political Sentiment

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While anti-Semitism rages all over the world, we may be blind to the fact that it’s also growing right here in our own backyard. We thought America was PC—that anti-Semitism wasn’t cool anymore—and that this would protect us from it. Unfortunately, that was only a fad, and anti-Semitism is back. And it’s pretty ugly.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at this. According to JTA, in the last month, the following incidents occurred in the United States:

  • Rocks were thrown through windows at Indiana University, including at the Jewish Studies building, and at a Chabad center off-campus. At the library, Judaic Studies books were brought to the bathroom and urinated on. (Nov. 29, 2010)

    Helen Thomas

    Helen Thomas

  • At the University of Florida Hillel, a large outdoor menorah was removed and thrown down. Some of the lamps were damaged. The vandalism came after an incident the previous evening in which about 10 people shouted an anti-Semitic epithet and kicked over a fence on the property. (Dec. 2, 2010)

  • Former news correspondent Helen Thomas continued to mouth off after she resigned from Hearst over previous comments. This time she said, “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion.” At least her alma mater, Wayne State University, had the sense to withdraw their Spirit of Diversity Award. (Dec. 2, 2010)
  • 200 headstones were toppled at the Jewish Washington Cemetery in Borough Park, Brooklyn. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime. (Dec. 20, 2010)

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in the United States. In 2006, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said that anti-Semitism had become a “serious problem” on many campuses across the country. (JTA, Kenneth L. Marcus, Dec 8, 2010).

But here’s what’s new this time around. Often, the anti-Semitism is cloaked in anti-Israel political sentiment. And somehow that makes it okay.

Here are some examples:

  • In the first Helen Thomas incident (an interview with, she felt perfectly comfortable saying that that the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home.” (May 27, 2010) Watch the Video. One could have argued that she was simply stating a political opinion. However, her second comments (above) show her real beliefs. You can’t mistake her “Zionists” comments as anything but anti-Semitism. Thomas is of Lebanese descent.
  • When Israeli Sgt. Kenny Sachs spoke at the University of Massachusetts Amherst about his injury from a terror attack, he got a hostile welcome from protesters, who would not even let him speak. Thankfully, the professor managed the situation well, and the protesters left peacefully. Watch the Video. The incident could be seen as only anti-Israel, but their “heil Hitler” kind of salute certainly smacked of anti-Semitism. A comment on the protestors’ own video of the event said, “Whoever is saying that this act is anti-semitic, well i tell them: if the Semitic values allows you to kill children of Gaza and steal land from others and commit massacres to defend your right of occupation .. then i am A PROUD ANTI-SEMTIC….”  (Dec. 2, 2010)

Again, the lines are blurring, and apparently, at least to some people, anti-Semitism is now something to be proud of.

  • A bus ad was planned for 12 Seattle Metro Transit buses. The ad was going to feature a group of children looking at a demolished building under the heading “Israeli War Crimes: Your tax dollars at work.” There was enough of an outcry that Seattle decided the ads were no longer legal, as they would pose too great a security risk to the transportation system. (Dec 24, 2010)

What is going on here?

Israel has close ties of friendship with the United States. But that doesn’t mean that people in America can’t protest against Israel. Legally, they can. The problem is that it insults our sensibilities as Jews. We are so identified with Israel that insulting Israel is a direct insult to us. Whether justified or not, we do often think of this last group of incidents as anti-Semitic. And these kinds of incidents are on the rise as well.

I don’t think previous administrations would have stood for any of this nonsense one bit. However, President Obama’s own left-liberal stance has allowed this sentiment to flourish in America. They use words like “human rights,” “religious freedom” and all kinds of butchered American values to justify their arguments. And unfortunately, many otherwise good people, including many liberal Jews, fall into their trap.

The irony is that if these people only put things in perspective, they would see how life-affirming, growth-oriented, and progressive Israel and the Jews actually are. They would see how life-loving and generous we are as a people, and how much we further world peace, religious freedom and human rights for all.

There’s something very ugly about this new anti-Semitism. Things are being said that would never have been said just a few years ago. Helen Thomas waited until she was 90 years old to show her true anti-Semitic colors. Which public figure will be next?

On the international scene, this new kind of anti-Semitism comes from high-profile sources, and goes hand-in-hand with anti-Israel political sentiment.

According to the JTA, here are some of the most recent international incidents:

  • A University of Toronto thesis argued against Holocaust education programs, saying that the “construction of a victimized Jewish identity,” is intentional; it produces “effects that are extremely beneficial to the organized Jewish community” and to “apartheid” Israel. Irving Abella, a well-known Canadian historian and former president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, told the Toronto Star that the thesis is “not scholarship, it’s ideology. It’s totally ahistorical; I found it full of untruths and distortions and held together by fatuous and very flabby analysis. It borders on anti-Semitism.” Unfortunately, the writer of the thesis was a Jew. (Dec. 7, 2010)
  • An Iranian-born elected official in Quebec joined a boycott of Le Marcheur, a Montreal shoe store, because it sells Israeli-made products. Amir Khadir, a member of the National Assembly in the province, took part in a demonstration over the weekend in front of the store, handing out flyers and asking customers to boycott the shop. The store owner, who is not Jewish, said, “I don’t care where my products come from, I only care about comfort and quality.” The Jewish community in Montreal has been especially supportive of the store. (Dec. 20, 2010)
  • A high-level priest on the morning show of the largest television station in Greece blamed world Jewry for Greece’s financial problems. Metropolite Seraphim said during an interview that there is a conspiracy to enslave Greece and Christian Orthodoxy, and he accused international Zionism of trying to destroy the family unit by promoting one-parent families and same-sex marriages. (Dec. 21, 2010)
  • A Chilean Senator, Eugenio Tuma, said that prominent Jews, including the country’s interior minister, are agents of the Israeli government. Tuma, who is of Palestinian descent, also said that Chilean Jews are responsible for holding back the country’s recognition of a Palestinian state. (Dec. 27, 2010)

Physical attacks against Jews are also on the rise in Europe. Jews in Holland, Hungary, Austria, France, and even England are questioning the future safety of their communities. Sadly, nobody can guarantee Jews a truly safe place to live. Terrorism, Anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism are taking hold around the world—and yup—in our own backyard, the US of A.

What do you think about anti-Semitism taking on this new form and increasing around the world?

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