Category Archives: Jewish Stuff/Judaism

Ill Timed Illness

Yom Kippur has come and gone for another year.

Fasting itself wasn’t as difficult as anticipated or as it was in years past.

Alas, I awoke Thursday morning with what seemed to be the makings of a upper respiratory infection (allergies?) Going into the holiday was thus less than pleasant with a mild case of laryngitis. But I survived. Just a case of bad timing.

I’m feeling better now though..and it’s time to prepare and shift my focus to the next chag!

Dissapointing? Bland? BLASPHEMY!

From Time Magazine: The Kugel Conundrum

I’m not sure how to say this without offending anybody. So I’m going to just blurt it out. Jewish food is awful. I say this with all respect. I’m Jewish myself — Joel Stein is practically a WASP next to me. But the fact has to be faced. And the question asked, isn’t there a way out of our culinary wandering in the desert?

Blasphemy I say!

“Jewish Food” (I assume he means traditional Eastern European Jewish dishes) are far from awful. In fact it’s the complete opposite. They’re rich and wonderful!

My grandmothers, mother, aunts, siblings and cousins would all tend to disagree with the author.

Sure, maybe the traditional Jewish foods aren’t anything fancy and don’t incorporate any new culinary trends, like “fusion cusine” or “molecular gastronomy”. come to mind. But what the author is missing is that there’s more to just taste to the dishes (which still taste fabulous) there’s tradition tied to them too. There’s a reason these dishes have become the staples of Jewish cuisine. They by and large also represent many of our ancestors [Eastern European] origins.

Sure, if you buy one of those off the shelf kugel or matzo ball mixes you may be disappointed (if not shocked at the amount of sodium present)–but try a traditionally cooked meal.

American Jews of my generation grew up eating: dry and flavorless brisket, cooked in a salty fluid of Campbell’s beef broth and Lipton onion soup mix.

I had never to this point in time heard of people making Brisket (yummy!) with Lipton onion soup mix and cambell’s broth. Much to the contrary, I’ve been at meals where people were sharing their own custom brisket recipes. [Note to self: make brisket some time soon].

Has the author never had a good cholent? Tried home made Gefilta Fish or chicken soup? Some fresh chopped liver on a home baked slice of challah.

While Eastern European cuisine may not necessarily be the ‘in thing” right now–it’s still got it’s own place in the culinary cornucopia.

Perhaps I have an “unrefined palate” as I don’t dine out much (if at all)–but I for one, still find “Jewish Food” to be very tasty.

Como se dice?

Como se dice “Oy Vey” en espanol?

Pilots lock down cockpit over praying passengers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pilots on an Alaska Airlines flight locked down the cockpit and alerted authorities after three passengers conducted an elaborate orthodox Jewish prayer ritual during their Los Angeles-bound flight.

Airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan says the crew of Flight 241 from Mexico City became alarmed Sunday after the men began the ritual, which involves tying leather straps and small wooden boxes to the body.

I stand corrected

On my post from Thursday night about the suggested Zodiac changes, my much more learned and wiser uncle commented

We find references in Tanach that astrology was used, although not always correctly. Avram looked in the stars and saw he wouldn’t have children; he didn’t realize a name change could occur. Pharaoh’s astrologers predicted the birth of Moshe, and that water would lead to his downfall.

I actually know of people who use it today. For example, one teacher I know of determined the sign (water, fire, earth, wind) of the person’s zodiac based on their personality.

I will defer to his opinion.

My error was not putting my post in the context in which I had it formulated in my head. I meant to suggest that I was not amongst the crowd who was “falling over themselves” (like I saw a few friends do on Facebook) over the change in their sign.

Hannukah Bush

The idea of my sister wanting to have a “Hannukah Bush” in the apartment, somehow came up at Grandma’s dining room table this weekend, amongst family.

To recap from last year, my sister wanted to get some little tree like plant to decorate for the apartment, which I vetoed faster than (insert analogy here).

So when the subject came up at Grandma’s, the table fell almost silent.

I broke the silence by saying that if I saw a tree or bush in the apartment, I’d instantly toss it out the window and or take it downstairs and set it aflame. This was greeted by nods of approval from the Relatives. My sister though tried to spin this as a fun little decorating idea. But no dice.

It’s one thing for our balcony to be strung in lights (the sister does it, I could care less) or to have “Hannukah lights” wrapped around our Bamboo Plant of Awesomeness. But a tree/bush would cross the proverbial red-line.

Field Trip

Headed out to Lawrence, NY this afternoon/evening for a SHeva Brahcos meal for the Mr and Mrs. Curious Jew

It was very simple, quaint and nice. The cool thing for me was that I even recognized a few faxes/names from the L’Chaim party many months ago in The Heights. [I'm horrible with names/faces].

An aside: yes, I know I’ve not yet put up posts about my (fun) sojourn to Borough Park or to the wedding in Chicago. Alas, I apologize for that, but I’ve been extremely busy at work as of late and haven’t felt much like typing once i return home (plus this past week’s travels had me catching up). I do promise to have those ready soon!

Trip to Chicago

I went to Chicago Tuesday morning for my cousins wedding.

It was an excellent time.

The kallah who is always an upbeat and happy go lucky individual, was radiating happiness and excitement. (The chassan was also very visibly excited and happy too)

It was a very simple yet elegant wedding that had a very diverse group of attendees present–from those with streimels on their heads to those without kippot. All gathered under one roof for the simcha.

Got to see my paternal grandmother and many relatives who I have not seen in person for a couple years.

I will write more later. Alas, the celebrations went late into the night–and I had a 6am flight to catch back to NYC. (Had to get to work…boo!) So I’m sleep deprived and running on Diet Pepsi (beverage of champions!)

Will write more, possibly this weekend. I do have to write a post about my trip to Borough Park for the aufruf as well. That is after I spend Shabbos catching up on sleep!

Mazal tov to C & H –may they only know happiness for the many years to come!


Another Yom Kippur has come and gone.

Psychologically things were okay for me. I find Kol Nidre to be one of the most moving and awe inspiring parts of davening.

Physiologically–well that’s a different story. Secondary to an underlying medical condition(s?) that I have fasting is not easy. More so on the not having fluids. Let’s just say the number of times I blacked out in shul was greater than the number of times we recited the vidui

Anyway, here I am today, with a clean slate desperately trying to re-hydrate my body. I do have some other things lined up to do as well today, but first things first.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, shul was very nice as usual. The Rabbi spoke extremely well (as he always does!) the Ba’al Tefilah did a wonderful job as well.

Shanah Tovah

Since I’m traveling tomorrow evening and won’t likely have much if any access to a PC on Wednesday, may as well take the time here to say Shanah Tovah.

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone, but with it comes a new beginning and a new slate of things.

With best wishes for the year to come!


Such was the subject line of an email I got today from my awesome cousin: The Curious Jew

On my post below about the Queens man “tech detoxing” in his bathroom (just scroll down–and then scroll back up to this post)–she was able to clarify

It turns out that it was the Vilna Gaon who studied mathematics in the bathroom. (I got that part right). She consulted a source who is not only leagues more knowledgeable than me, but has a much better memory as well. It turns out that the story may have been as follows:

But I heard the story that he used to study secular studies while in the bathroom. But not that he went to the bathroom to study secular studies.

Shows how shot my memory has become….

You should definitely read The Curious Jew’s blog too. She is a gifted wordsmith, whose blog is full of both stories and insightful posts about the world around. [Unlike myself (I write more in the terse science style)]

Bathroom distraction

Saw this story in AMNY today:

Queens man lives in bathroom to cut off tech addiction

Odd, but not as bad as say China where they have “tech addiction camps”.

Reminds me of a story one of my Rabbis once told our class about one of the great Torah scholars (I want to say of the Middle Ages–but I can’t remember exactly). The scholar was so focused on his Torah studies, that occasionally he would take himself into the bathroom to read and learn secular subjects–namely mathematics . (I think the individual was the Vilna Gaon?)

Costco Run!

Went up to Costco this morning, mainly because I wanted to purchase some more raw nuts for myself. (I get a better price on a 2lb bag then I would for two 1lb bags at Trader Joe’s)>

Here’s what I learned:

–They do indeed serve samples at this Costco (much to the Little Brother’s delight)
–Some things are so tempting to purchase–but the problem is, I’d have nowhere to put it.
–There’s a new brand of Kosher beef–instead of Colorado Kosher, there’s now “Crown Glatt” beef. (Anyone ever tried Crown Glatt? It appears to be from California)
–The bakery is fully Kosher. Who would ever imagine a Kosher Bakery in El Barrio [East Harlem?]
–There’s also all sorts of other Kosher goodies there too. Just that I don’t have the fridge/freezer space for them

Although as this is Manhattan, part of the Costco experience is schlepping ones purchases home with them, usually on public transportation or via a car service which has been set up at the plaza. (I of course opted for the former).

New Kosher Eats

The restaurant which I used to live accorss the street from was called “Turquoise”–and, while I lived across the street had been a treif (Non-Kosher0 place.

After I moved, it turned out the place got a Hechsher, (became Kosher), but I never dined there (I rarely if ever dine at a restaurant) and then it closed.

While on a stroll through the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a new restaurant called “Eighteen” had signage up. There was a hecksher/te’udah in the window–another Kosher eatery! Hooray!

Of course the place’s website is non-functional (sigh), but thanks to menu pages, I’ve discovered that the restaurant is a purveyor of cooked dead Kosher animals and fish! (A/k/a A fleishig place). This may very well necessitate giving the place a try!
(Not a big sushi person–I prefer my fish cooked–but bring on the meat and veggies!)

Now to find an adequate Kosher dining companion. I would invite the sister, but I’ve not seen her since Sunday morning (she’s more a night person while I do mornings)