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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘candles’

Barren Beauty

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005

Ever since I can remember, my husband’s practice has been, like many men, to buy me a lovely bouquet of flowers for Shabbat. Tastefully, he arranges them on the Shabbat table, as his show of appreciation for the extra pre-Shabbat preparations and week-long exertions.

He never fails to delight me with his innovations. Sometimes, it is an exotic bunch that I have never seen before, exuding an irresistible perfumed aroma. Other times, it is the allure of the strikingly bold color co-ordination that stands out. While yet, other times, it is the novelty of an artistic vase housing the brilliant bunch.

This past Shabbat was no different. As I scampered into the dining room to kindle the candles, just moments before the appointed time, I couldn’t help but notice a captivating array adorning our table.

This time, however, the arrangement was more unique than any of its many predecessors.

About a dozen or more, simple, thin, redwood branches stood elegantly in a narrow clay pitcher, glazed to an olive green, earthy tone. The branches were naked of any of their leaves or flowers, very much resembling the barren, wintry outdoors.

The arrangement was definitely distinct from the colorful blooms and leafy greens I and my children had become accustomed to. And, at first my children protested to having them on our Shabbat table.

But looking at the mahogany colored branches, I discerned a distinctive beauty, a certain essence, bereft of adornments, detached of scent, stripped of garments or presentation.

This was not the attractiveness of dazzling flowers or the thick foliage of blooming trees standing in their full height and glory, exulting in a sun’s bathing rays, surrounded by chirping birds and children merrily and boisterously playing.

This was rather the exquisiteness of a barren, winter day, of a gray horizon surrounding raw trees in a vast, empty landscape trapped beneath layers of white icy snow.

It symbolized the splendor found within the desolate, dark period of our lives, in the wonder of finding ourselves and exposing our potential – within our hardships and our pains.

This was a steadfast, veiled beauty that does not wilt with the decaying rose buds nor evaporate with the flaccid, spicy leaves-like the successes of our lives which become obsolete with the passages of time.

My children found it difficult to appreciate.

“Are you really planning to keep this?” My youngsters queried at the end of Shabbat as they noticed me placing the branches as an artsy keepsake on the side table of our living room.

But, I realize that this is a kind of beauty that takes the maturity and the experiences of living to recognize.

Only after riding the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride we call the wheel of life, can one fathom a beauty in the downs as well as the ups. Only after experiencing the immense barrenness of the desert can one perceive the dramatic charm in the grooves of its landscape.

To me, these dozen or so, simple rosewood branches represented not the colorful, eye catchy charismatic beauty of doing, succeeding and accomplishing but rather the simpler and stark, pristine purity of being and living.

And that held an unmistakable beauty.

Chana Weisberg is the author of four books, the latest, Divine Whispers soon to be released by Targum/Feldheim. She is the dean of the Institute of Jewish Studies in Toronto and is a scholar in residence for www.askmoses.com. She is also a columnist for www.chabad.org‘s Weekly Magazine. Weisberg lectures regularly on issues relating to women, relationships and mysticism and welcomes your comments or inquiries at: weisberg@sympatico.ca

Kneidlach And Machine Guns

Friday, January 30th, 2004

Kneidlach And Machine Guns: G.I. Joseph - Ours To Fight For: American Jews In The Second World War’


The Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

18 First Place, Battery Park City, N.Y., N.Y.; (212) 509 6130.

Sunday-Wednesday, 9a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, 9a.m.-3 p.m.
$7 adults, $5 children.

Introducing Menachem Wecker, Guest Columnist, who will henceforth appear regularly on this page.

The wide variety of bric-a-brac that fills a soldier’s pockets, backpack and other gear becomes the medium of exploration in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” his examination of Vietnam era soldiers. A writer who fought in Vietnam and who now is a visiting
creative writing professor and endowed chair at Southwest Texas State University, O’Brien uses the things soldiers carry as a window into the soldiers’ innermost desires and dreams.

The special exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage “Ours To Fight For: American Jews In The Second World War” pursues a similar tactic concerning the Jewish soldier at war, with particular attention to the 550,000 Jews who fought in World War II. Jewish soldiers, to be
sure, found a twofold struggle confounding them; beyond the horrors of war that O’Brien describes, anti-Semitism arose all too readily, while kashrus was much harder to come by.

“Ours To Fight For” casts a spotlight on candles lit in foxholes along with wine and salami sent by Mom to welcome the Sabbath. The Jewish military paraphernalia - Tefillin, candles, and assorted other ceremonial objects - show how dearly some cling to religious identity, even
amidst chaotic machine gun fire.

Rather than preserve the traditional, remote observation point, the exhibit makes some fascinating curatorial decisions, which heave the viewer directly into battle. The viewer becomes eyewitness in a journey that calls for navigation through a life-sized diorama of tight,
claustrophobic spaces of wooden-planked barracks, a uniform closet, an old-style movie theater and caged, jail-like structures, all set on cold, concrete floors.

On the waterside in Battery Park, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is divided between a permanent collection in one building - which contains three chronologically arranged floors addressing the pre-war era, the Holocaust and then Zionism - and a newly opened building which houses special exhibits in the Robert M. Morgenthau Wing. A memorial rock garden
that uses stones, trees and soil to express the purity and primacy of nature, Garden of Stones surrounds the museum and lends it a sculptural feel.

Where the younger generation finds World War II reducible to a set of old photographs, assorted memoirs and The Diary of a Young Girl, the Museum of Jewish Heritage clings fiercely to Holocaust images that sadly fade away with every survivor’s passing. The Museum
employs a multimedia network of video and sound documentation to enliven and to personalize the historical data, but as viewers walk from room to room, they feel that they see merely a small part of the whole, while video reels and sounds permeate the space. Unfortunately, one never sees or hears everything.

This distinct feeling of partial portraits tragically neglects the unknown masses of victims. This omission seems especially important now to American Jews in the wake of the war on terrorism. The viewer will do well to forget the questions of war, though. “Ours To Fight For”
pays tribute to the soldiers, who unfortunately walk too often in anonymity. “My feeling was, I wanted [the Germans] to know that the bombs that were dropping,” said Bernard Branson, U.S. Army Air Corps, “there was a Jew up there doing it.”

As the viewer sifts through a closet of uniforms, army boots and helmets, with glass cases of Kiddush cups, Tefillin, candles and mezuzahs embedded within, he distinctly relates to the torn identity of the Jewish soldier. “I saw more men die cursing or asking for their mothers, than praying,” says Photographer’s Mate 2C Paul Guttman, US Navy.

An unlikely juxtaposition further complicates matters. T4 Marvin Weissman’s bag shows a tool of war irrevocably intertwined with one of beauty. “I had room for my clarinet and my Tommy gun on a little shelf to the right,” he says. This installation recalls a case in the museum’s permanent collection featuring a Talith and violin. Symbolically, one sees Jewish identity, hope and the stark evils of war, thrown together in a distinctly realistic manner. The Goya-like pragmatism frightens and inspires. In an interrogation with an anonymous German POW, Captain Bentley Kassal, U.S. Army Air Forces asked if he ever anticipated capture by a Jewish soldier. “I could tell the animosity and hatred in his eyes,” he said. “I made my point.”

And that point still endures today. Through the accounts of capture as “my vision of Dante’s Inferno,” through the indescribable “sense of what it’s like to be in fear, every day, all day,” Jewish soldiers stand firmly, not to mourn, but to remind and to teach. “You just don’t
have an opportunity to mourn,” says Pfc. Marvin Margoshes, US Army. “You just don’t have time.”

Images of the powerful Jew - the armed Jew – overflow from the museum’s third floor permanent collection on Zionism, into the special exhibition hall. Underlying all the pain and the sadness and the losses that can never be repaid, stands the modern Israeli soldier that Rav A. Y. Kook never saw, but dreamed of.

The exhibition closes with the testimony of the troops who liberated the camps. One soldier recounts speaking with a nun who was so visibly shaken upon discovering he was Jewish, that he knew something awful had occurred. Like that soldier, the viewer learned as if for the first time, of the unfathomable horrors of the death camps, and thus, the exhibit truly leads the viewer through the soldiers’ experiences. It further underscores the help Americans provided to survivors in the war’s aftermath.

And finally, the Robert M. Morgenthau Wing opens onto a sunlit room with tall windows overlooking the Statue of Liberty. The beautiful waves and symbolism offer hope in the wake of a frightful war that – close to 60 years later - we are still fighting.

Visit the MJH online at http://www.mjhnyc.org/index.htm and for more information on “Ours To Fight For” including short videos, see http://www.ourstofightfor.org/index.jsp

Menachem Wecker edits the Arts and Culture Section of the Yeshiva University Commentator. As an artist, he has trained at the Massachusetts College of Art.
He may be reached at wecker@yu.edu  

The Latest In Kosher Food: Perfect Gefilte Fish

Saturday, June 8th, 2002

What comes to mind when you think of Shabbos? The glow of candles, the beauty of the Shabbos table and the mouth-watering taste of special foods; freshly baked challah, simmering chicken soup and of course, gefilte fish.

Years ago, your grandmothers went to the fish store to buy various types of ground fish. They would form loaves and cook it with carrots, onions and pepper. Today, with the help of one particular company you can have the taste of the old world with the ease of the new.

A&B Famous Gefilte Fish has a selection of fish that even your grandmother would enjoy. Made with fresh fish, onions and seasonings they are 100% natural and preservative free.

A&B took the time and trouble to deliver two ready-made loaves to our office a couple of weeks ago. Just the presentation itself was an indication of the quality and care they add to each product. We received an insulated carton, which had inside an aluminum tray. Inside the tray were two loaves of fish, two carrots and two small containers of horseradish. We tried the regular and the salmon loaf and found them both to be amazing. Let's just say that until this day the thought of the sumptuous salmon still lingers in our minds. Even those people in our office who normally shy away from salmon came back for more. Within a few minutes both loaves had been finished. The fish is also available in ½ sweet and sugarless.

So, as you begin to prepare for Shavuos, keep A&B Famous in your mind and on your shopping list. They can be found in kosher groceries and major supermarkets. Enjoy!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food/jewish-fress/the-latest-in-kosher-food-perfect-gefilte-fish/2002/06/08/

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