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Article Archive for April 2011

Pasta Carbonara-esque
Pasta Carbonara-esque

Passover is over and I am craving pasta…and lots of it! This comforting dish is a snap to put together and most ingredients are a staple, which means that you probably already have them.

Women Who Work
Women Who Work

In 1993, Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation for Women initiated the “Take Our Daughters To Work” program (in 2003, it became “Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work”) with the intention of boosting the self-esteem of girls by showing them that they too could do all types of work.

The question of working women was, in fact, not a question in the days of the Talmud. Marriage then was an economic arrangement, and it was assumed that a woman would work along with her husband, whether farming crops or shearing sheep. Without question, running a home in the days of the Talmud was a much more labor intensive task than it is in our age of microwaves and washing machines. The Mishnah actually lists some of the Jewish woman’s basic obligations for maintaining a home: grinding corn, baking bread, washing clothes, cooking, making the beds and working in wool (Ketubot 59b). A woman, however, could live a more leisurely life if, according to the Mishnah, she brought bondswomen with her into the marriage: “If she brought him one bondswoman she need not do any grinding or baking or washing. [if she brought] two bondswomen, she need not even cook…If four, she may lounge in an easy chair” (Ketubot 59b).

The Ketubah, Jewish marriage contract, stipulates that a husband must provide for his wife’s basic needs. But, Jewish law also allows a woman to be mochel (literally forgive or cancel) that obligation. “If, therefore, she said, ‘I do not wish either to be maintained by you or to work for you,’ she is entitled to do so” (Ketubot 58b).

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

The Best is Yet to Come
The Best is Yet to Come

But I didn’t join JDate to “date.”  I joined because, over the course of a bad marriage, I had completely lost myself and forgotten what it was like to connect with other people.  All of my friends were married and I wanted to find other like-minded single people (and if they were cute guys, all the better…) who had the same interests and were potentially free on a Saturday night for lasagna and a movie.  Besides, I had three kids and I had no interest in dragging them through the “dating game.”

Mimouna
Mimouna

Jews rejoice on Passover to celebrate their redemption from slavery in Egypt. Because of Passover’s connection to redemption, there is much hope that the final redemption will soon be at hand (thus the inclusion of Elijah’s cup at the Seder). At the end of the week-long holiday, on the day after Passover, in order to prolong the rejoicing and, many say, as a means of asserting their faith in the final redemption, Jews of North African origin celebrate a unique holiday known as “Mimouna.”

While some have suggested that the name Mimouna derives from ma’amoun, the Arabic word for wealth and good fortune, others connect it to the Hebrew word emunah, faith. Taking the latter opinion one step further, the name may be an Arabic adaptation of the phrase, “Ani Ma’amin” (I believe).

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides, Rambam, 1135-1204) set forth the Thirteen Principles of Faith, each of which begins with the phrase “Ani Ma’amin.” The twelfth statement of faith is: “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry, nonetheless, I wait every day for his coming.” The connection between the Thirteen Maimonidean Principles of Faith and Mimouna is further confirmed since Mimouna is celebrated on the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Maimon ben Joseph, the Rambam’s father (a great scholar in his own right).

The Mimouna holiday, which is most often associated with Moroccan Jews but is customary among many North African communities, has no specific halachot (laws). The customs, however, reflect the community’s exuberant, joyful nature. Tables are decorated, often with symbols of luck and fertility (golden rings hidden in bowls of flour, items set out in sets of five, and sometimes live fish in bowls). Sweet delicacies (made of chametz) are served, particularly mofletta, a special pancake served with honey.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

After seven years, still no luck. What am I doing wrong? After seven years, still no luck. What am I doing wrong?

Even if you were physically (but not legally) separated during all these years, I suspect it is here that you have your answer. If you’ve been in a painful and difficult separation process for the past half decade, any person you may have encountered dating probably went running in the opposite direction. Why would someone start a romantic relationship with you, if you are still emotionally / physically / financially tied up with another person?

Holiday Entertaining: Keeping it Solo-Friendly
Holiday Entertaining: Keeping it Solo-Friendly

4.      Choose Foods Wisely: Holiday foods such as gefilte fish and chopped liver or roasted ham and pork are not for all crowds.   Try to anticipate guests’ dietary and food preferences and make sure to have substitutes to satisfy individuals who are vegetarians, kosher, highly allergic or unfamiliar with certain dishes.  And don’t kill yourself cooking everything from scratch! Scour local gourmet food shops for prepared entrées, side dishes or desserts and make sure to put in your orders in advance!

The Song of Songs
The Song of Songs

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils, your name is ‘oil poured forth.’ Therefore, the maidens loved you. Draw me, we will run after you…” (Song of Songs 1:2-4).

And people say the Bible is boring…

Shir Hashirim, (The Song Of Songs), the Biblical love song attributed to King Solomon, is understood by the rabbis to be a prophetic allegory about the relationship of God and the Jewish people.

The poetic work describes a beautiful maiden who loves, and is loved by, a handsome youth. When he pursues her, however, she sends him away with various excuses, only to realize too late that he was her true love. Devastated at the thought that she has alienated and probably lost him, she wanders through the city streets looking for her lost lover and, in the process, suffers shame and embarrassment. Finally, the lovers are reunited and are joined by their sincere love.

Shir Hashirim is one of the five megillot (scrolls of canonical works) from the Ketuvim (Writings) section of the Bible. On the Shabbat of Chol HaMoed* Passover, it is customary for Shir Hashirim to be read in the synagogue.

Shir Hashirim was chosen as the Passover reading because the story of the Exodus demonstrates God’s patience with His beloved–the Jewish people, as represented by the maiden. Despite having witnessed the many miracles that God performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, the Jews strayed from their commitment to God. Eventually, God withdrew His favor from the Jews (Hester Panim), and they have since wandered the world trying to make amends for the damage caused to the relationship. The reunion of the lovers is a prophecy for the Messianic era, yet to be fulfilled.

*Passover is an 8 day holiday. The first two days and last two days are Yamim Tovim – days that are observed like Sabbath (except that one may cook on an existing flame, and carry in public areas). In Israel, Passover is only 7 days, and only the 1st and 7th day are Yamim Tovim. The in-between days are known as Chol HaMoed – weekdays of the festival.

This Treat was originally posted on April 7, 2009.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

Grilled Nicoise Salad
Grilled Nicoise Salad

I love Passover and the relaxed pace of the holiday. It is a great time to visit with family and friends. It is also a week long food fest. It seems as though all we do is EAT. This light supper salad is easy on the waistline while still very satisfying and delicious.

A Poet and A Martyr
A Poet and A Martyr

Hannah Senesh (Szenes) was born in Budapest, Hungary, to an assimilated, middle-class family. An avid diarist from the age of 13 until her death, Hannah maintained a personal journal that reflected the literary talent she had inherited from her father, Bela, a playwright who died when she was six.

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