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December 23, 2014 / 1 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

Chinese Lanterns In The Sukkah

Friday, November 16th, 2012

A Hong Kong symphony of sounds fills the air as local laborers shout across the shul courtyard in Cantonese while tossing bamboo in a pile for the sukkah: Filipino maids chatter in Tagalog hovering over the children in their charge, the radio of the Nepalese gurkhas, the Synagogue security, crackles and jackhammers provide the background music. The thick air and humidity within the walls of the partially constructed bamboo sukkah sharply contrasts with the crisp fall air of Sukkot in the northeastern corridor of the United States, where the sukkahs of my childhood were laden with dried fruit and autumn color. Dozens of colorful miniature Chinese paper lanterns dangle from the sukkah and here replace the burnt orange and golden gourds of autumn.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Lantern Festival or the Mooncake Festival, falls on the 15th day of the eighth Chinese month, which not coincidentally coincides with Sukkot every year. The Chinese calendar, also being lunar, has a familiar rhythm. Side by side, we celebrate our Jewish festivals with our local Chinese hosts. While they gaze up at the moon, we speak of seeing the night stars through the s’chach. Both of our festivals are reminiscent of the harvest, though we have both journeyed seemingly far from our agricultural roots living here beneath the shadows of Hong Kong’s glittering skyscrapers

Despite the exoticism that life in the Far East might evoke, our children and those of our friends certainly still sit on the floor and color, cut and paste to decorate the sukkah, just as they would had they still been living in New York, London or Melbourne. That being said though, our themes here do tend to combine more pop culture and modernity with the tradition that I remember. And while Sukkot brings about the sense of impermanence and wandering, for me it is somehow about everything but that. It is a time to reflect on the meaning of home. And to emphasize my point, this year’s Wizard of Oz themed sukkah at the Ohel Leah Synagogue features a giant banner bearing the words, “There’s no place like home.”

And for most of us, being high-rise city dwellers, the community sukkah is in fact our only sukkah. While empty it seems cavernous, but it will quickly fill with friends who are our family and congregants who are our community. As a result, we all have a sense of ownership over our synagogue’s sukkah.

And for all the talk of what my children miss by living in the Far East and in a large Asian city, I counter with all they have gained. While it is true that they will never have a sukkah in their backyard, nor will they ever have a backyard (which the British have influenced them into believing is called a garden), they live in a world where by age nine it is safe to wander around on your own and by 11 taking public transport and a taxi alone is the norm. They live in a place where they are immersed in a foreign culture, free from the dominance of Christian culture and holidays, void of anti-Semitism and where they are exposed to multiple languages on a daily basis.

They can also actually sleep in a sukkah, without freezing, so long as they remember the mosquito spray. They have an understanding of diversity and culture and don’t fear things they don’t understand. They are born travelers and adventurers and see possibilities as limitless. Living within five minutes from their Synagogue and school, and most of our closest friends, in many ways they live in a small town but with little risk of developing a small town mentality.

And Sukkot, for them, while it will certainly never conjure up a nostalgia for dried fruits and cranberries on strings, dried gourds and Indian corn, cool weather or fluttering crisp leaves painted with brilliant autumn colors, they won’t think of themselves as rootless as some think the expat experience suggests.

Sukkot, while maybe framed in memories of Chinese lanterns and bamboo, perhaps takes on a greater meaning for them. Aware that China is our adopted home, a “temporary” dwelling for them is in some ways played out here on a daily basis. Home for my children is not a solitary image. It is bigger than that. It will likely always remain somewhat fluid, not fixed to a singular place but a feeling they can carry with them. It will be connected to synagogue and Sukkot, Israel, China and the US; to the places where they can find common language and ground, where welcomed and where they are loved.

Many Gazans Less Than Peachy About Fruit Import Ban

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

With the exception of bananas and apples, fruit will no longer be brought from Israel to Gaza is, according to the Agriculture Ministry on Monday.

But the story is not one of the victimization of fruit-loving Arabs by the strong arm of Israel, but rather of a severe ban imposed by the  Hamas government on  locals for the purpose of “resisting” the Jewish state and causing Gaza residents to rely on Gaza agriculture to meet their need for produce.

The ban will result in a 50 percent cut in imports.  The estimated value of fruit sales to Gaza in 2011 was $26 million.

While Hamas says the ban is related to Israel’s refusal to allow Gaza to export its produce to the world, Israel categorically denied the claim, saying requests to export agricultural products from Gaza are almost never denied.

Gaza fruit importers decried the Hamas ban as difficult on Gazans who have little local fruit to choose from, and said that the advance payments they made to Israeli fruit suppliers would likely be lost.

Since the ban went into effect on Friday, the price of peaches doubled, with the price of dates rising 57%.

Be Happy, Now!

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

As we explained in the previous blog, people tend to place more value on the final achievement of a goal, rather than on the endeavor itself. For instance, many people focus on getting their salaries at the end of the week, rather than on their actual work. How happy they feel when the work week is over and they have their paychecks in hand! For them, their work is merely a means toward receiving their money. This phenomenon is known to cause anxiety and even depression on the job. It can even lead to accidents, when a worker, daydreaming about the future, stops paying attention to what he is doing.

If a person approaches t’shuva with this attitude, he will always focus on his shortcomings and sin, and not on his yearning and efforts to redress them. As the saying teaches, one should not focus on the half of the glass that is empty, but rather on the half which is full. Not understanding that his efforts to improve are what matter, and not the idealized vision of himself which he has not as yet achieved, he will always feel anxious, unfulfilled and forlorn.

Rabbi Kook explains that this misplacing of priorities between the means and the goal stems from the sin of the earth during the days of Creation. By understanding the depth of this teaching, we can learn to be happy, not only when we finally attain our goals and ideals, but also at every moment of our lives.

When G-d curses Eve, the snake, and Adam, in the story of Creation, the earth is cursed with them, as it says, “The earth shall be cursed on your account” (Bereshit, 3:17). The Midrash asks why? Rabbi Yehuda Bar Shalom answers that the earth transgressed God’s command that the ground should give forth fruit trees which are fruit — not only was the fruit to be edible, the bark of the tree was supposed to be edible too, with the same taste as the fruit. The earth, however, brought forth trees which produced only edible fruit. The bark itself was tasteless (Bereshit Rabbah, 5:9).

Rabbi Kook writes:

At the beginning of Creation, the taste of the tree was supposed to have the same taste as the fruit. All of the means which are needed to sustain any lofty, all-encompassing spiritual goal, should rightly be experienced in the soul with the same exalted pleasantness which we feel when we picture the goal itself. However, the laws of nature, along with the instability of human life, and the heaviness of the spirit when it is enclosed in a physical body, caused that only the taste of the fruit — the actualization of the final, original, ideal goal — is experienced as pleasant and sweet. The trees which produce the fruit, though they be indispensable in the growth of the fruit, have become hard, solid matter, losing their taste. This is the sin of the earth, for which it was cursed along with Adam. But every blemish is destined to be perfected. Thus we are assured, without doubt, that the time will come when the world will return to its original state, when the taste of the tree will be the same as the taste of the fruit. For the earth will return from its sin, and the necessities of practical life will no longer restrict the pleasantness of the ideal light, which is supported and brought into being by these preliminary, practical means (Orot HaTshuva, 6:7).

How is the gulf between means and the goal, between the imperfect and the ideal, to be bridged? Through t’shuva. What will cause all of the details of human endeavor and the final building to merge in pleasant harmony? T’shuva. The light of t’shuva penetrates all of the details of life, all of the stages of mending and repair, and fills them all with the taste of the final ideal.

The discrepancy in taste between the fruit of the tree and the bark represents a vast, cosmic concept. Originally, God intended that everything in the world would be perceived in the same deep, inner light. According to the intended plan, people would have experienced every moment with the same joy as the final goal. They would have understood that the means are as important as the ideal, that all of the incompleteness and detailed work which go into achieving something are a part of the whole. With the sin of the earth, mankind lost the ability to appreciate the small things in life. People talk about the ideal future, about world peace, about universal equality, saving the environment, and the like, but the housekeeper’s boycott against ozone- destroying aerosol cans is seen as something less grand. On the contrary, what joy and sense of accomplishment she should feel knowing that she is making the world a better place!

Healthy Family-Friendly Meals

Friday, September 7th, 2012

How often does your family ask you: “What’s for dinner?” Here are some great ideas for traditional family favorites simply with a healthy makeover. Instead of being a short-order cook, follow these guidelines to help you prepare nutritious, delicious dinners everyone will enjoy.

Macaroni and cheese: Every kid and adult can appreciate a comforting bowl of macaroni and cheese. To make a healthier version, use whole-wheat macaroni instead of traditional white-flour noodles. Avoid packaged cheese sauces; you can create your own using reduced-fat cheddar cheese, whole-wheat flour, and trans-fat-free margarine (vegetable-oil spread). To add color and fiber to the dish, include chopped veggies, such as broccoli, red bell peppers, and green beans.

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes: With a few substitutions, this homey favorite can be turned into a healthier dish. Choose lean ground beef or ground turkey breast and add fresh and/or dried herbs like parsley, chives, and basil to it. Serve the meatloaf with a mélange of sautéed veggies, like onions, bell peppers, and zucchini, along with a cauliflower mash instead of white mashed potatoes. You can also add whole-wheat bread crumbs to the meat or poultry mixture and serve with mashed sweet potatoes. I like to add wheat germ, rather than bread crumbs, with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal, into the mixture.

Burger and Fries: Give this favorite combo a healthy makeover by using lean ground sirloin, turkey breast, or chicken breast to create the burger. You can pass on the bun and serve the burger with celery or sweet potato fries baked in the oven, adding a dash of paprika or cayenne to boost flavor. I have used this substitute many times and, found my children did not miss the original! If you need the bun, try using a whole-wheat one, whole-wheat pita, or a whole-wheat English muffin.

Cheese Pizza: Hands down, pizza is the all-around family favorite. Instead of heading to your local pizzeria, though, prepare pizza at home using healthier ingredients. Choose a premade whole-wheat-flour crust, a whole-wheat tortilla, or whole-wheat pita instead of a traditional white-flour crust. The local supermarkets stock many Kosher varieties today. Top with no-sugar-added tomato sauce, shredded reduced-fat cheese, freshly cut veggies like red bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms, if desired. My vegetarian customers enjoy using a portobello mushroom cap as the “crust.”

TIP: When buying a larger package of shredded mozzarella, mix into it a tablespoon of cornstarch and store in a container in the freezer. You will have cheese to prepare an instant pizza whenever you want, since the cornstarch (which is tasteless), prevents the cheeses from sticking together! It will stay fresh for three months.

Four high-fiber breakfast kids will like

1. Sprinkle buttered whole-wheat bread with sugar and cinnamon.
2. Top a bowl of oatmeal with a piece of chocolate.
3. Combine their favorite sweetened sugar cereal with bran or other high-fiber cereal or flaxseed meal.
4. Instead of butter, spread a mashed avocado on toast.

Have children help you make a special cookie or snack recipe they can bring to school – it will encourage them to eat better. These snacks will arrive at their destination unbroken, intact, providing you store them in a small airtight, snack cup size container.

Mix and Match Energy Bars

Serves: 18

Ingredients

2 cups cereal, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup roasted unsalted nuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dried fruit, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup second nut or fruit
1/3 cup brown sugar, sugar, honey, or Agave syrup
1/2 tsp salt 2 egg whites, large
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract, optional

Instructions

Heat oven to 300°F.
Line 9″ x 9″ baking pan with foil.
Oil and flour the foil. (An 8″ x 8″ pan can be used. Just bake 5 to 10 additional minutes.)
Mix cereal, nuts, fruit, flour, and an extra, if using, in large bowl.
Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Whisk in egg whites and extract, if using. Pour mixture into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Pat into the prepared pan with moist hands or plastic wrap.
Bake until bars are dry to the touch, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on ingredients used. Cool completely.

Need a little inspiration? Try these tempting combos: Granola, cashews, strawberries, poppy seeds. Wheat flakes, pistachios, mangoes, wheat germ. Puffed rice, pistachios, pears, chocolate chips. Rice flakes, hazelnuts, figs, apricots. Wheat flakes, almonds, peaches, raisins. Granola, peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips.

Back To School Healthy Recipe Ideas

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Kids are going back to school, and that means getting them up earlier and trying to get them to eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research has shown that children who regularly eat breakfast have better test scores, better behavior and are less hyperactive than children who skip breakfast.

Here are tips and ideas for easy and healthy breakfasts:

Shake It Up! Studies show that children are not drinking enough milk to meet their needs for calcium and Vitamin D which are important for growth and development. Breakfast drinks are a great choice and are easy to make. Just open a packet and pour eight ounces of 1% milk into a shaker. Drinking a meal may be even faster than sitting down to a traditional one!

Make-Ahead Parfaits. Keep pre-prepared parfaits refrigerated and hand them to your children, as they’re running out the door. All you need is an eight-ounce plastic container with a lid, your child’s favorite yogurt, whole grain cereal, and a handful of berries.

Mini Sandwich On the Go. Send your child off with a cheese sandwich on a whole-wheat mini bagel. After all, kids love anything “mini!” Just wrap it in a napkin and aluminum foil to hold it together.

Some additional delicious, nutritious and super-fast breakfast ideas:

* A whole grain English muffin with peanut butter and apple slices.

* Hard boiled eggs

* Good old-fashioned cold cereal, especially whole grain with at least three grams of fiber per serving.

* A cheese quesadilla for a healthy meal that breaks up the monotony of breakfast

Eating breakfast is a habit that must be formed at a young age. Keep three things in mind:

1. Try getting your child up 15 minutes earlier to encourage breakfast.

2. Keep it simple.

3. A portable breakfast, such as a fruit smoothie, is a healthy start to the day. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is better than nothing at all.

Lunchbox Alternatives

The kids are back to school and that means packing their lunch boxes. Here are some tips to help children eat healthier during the school day.

1. Transform healthy foods into tasty foods: Sure we want them to eat their banana, but if we add a little peanut butter and a whole-wheat tortilla it might go down a little easier. Peanut Butter & Banana Pinwheels not only taste great but are a complete meal that includes protein, fruit and whole grains. These are fast and easy to prepare. Simply spread peanut butter inside a whole-wheat tortilla, place a banana in center, roll up and slice into pinwheels.

2. A cookie-cutter sandwich: Whole grains are important because of their fiber and antioxidant content. If your child is not quite ready to take the leap toward brown, whole grain breads, you can try whole grain white, or you can mix it up by using one slice whole wheat and one slice white. Simple tip: Invest in cookie cutters to transform a typical sandwich into fun shapes and puzzles. These are always a hit with smaller children.

3. Dip or dunk? Kids love to dip their food because it adds excitement to regular items like apples or grapes. A really cool recipe that the kids will love is fruit and cheese kabobs. All you need are small wooden skewers and large chunks of fruit, like grapes, pineapple, or strawberries, and cubes of cheese. These are easy enough for young children to prepare and are perfect to prepare ahead of time so they’re ready to go when you’re packing lunches in the morning. Use their favorite yogurt as a dip, and you’ll have both a fruit serving and dairy serving for the day.

4. Drinking a serving of veggies? Did you know that a ½ cup of basic tomato sauce counts as a full vegetable serving? Consider a warm lunch by heating up last night’s pasta dinner, adding a ½ cup of tomato sauce and a little Parmesan cheese for a delicious home-cooked lunch. Kids need the complex carbohydrate of pasta to provide energy for after-school activities as well as for normal brain function. This meal will stay warm for a few hours in an insulated thermos.

5. Pack what your child likes. There’s really no point in packing a healthy lunch that you know your child won’t eat. Take them to the grocery store, add some new foods to their diet gradually, ask them to help you prepare the new foods, and make sure you feed them a balanced and varied diet at home. Most children tend to eat healthy foods if offered different foods.

Israel: A Peacetime War or a Wartime Peace

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/israel-peacetime-war-or-wartime-peace.html

In the library’s history section all the shelves are crowded together. In the Middle East, opposing polemics are wedged up against each other. Alan Dershowitz rubs shoulders with Tony Judt who leans onto George Gilder who balances out Norman Finkelstein who flakes bits of paper on Benjamin Netanyahu. Though located in the history section, most of these books are not history. They are long opinion pieces, arguments for and against the Jewish State.

On the left there are vituperative diatribes and on the right there are earnest defenses. The Holocaust Industry contends with The Case for Israel, The Jewish Lobby with Start Up Nation. Every few months brings new combatants to the shelves. Shlomo Sand is swapped out with Peter Beinart who is swapped out with Noam Chomsky like a baseball team that is forever calling the same players off the bench to make the same plays.

Next year there will be another four books denouncing Israel for its settlements and its trickery in making the terrorists look like they don’t want peace by negotiating with them for twenty years. And next to them another four books asserting that Israel wants peace and has the right to self-defense.

The four-hundred thousand word argument can be summed up as, “Israel is bad and those who live there are bad people” and “No, they aren’t.”

The first argument is easier to make then the second, because all countries and people have their flaws, but the second argument has gotten easier to make once the first argument switched off to, “Israel is the worst country that ever existed (with the possible exception of South Africa) and those who live there are the worst people that ever existed.”

When the torchbearers of the Anti-Israel argument are the likes of Norman Finkelstein and Tony Judt, then anyone who appears less filled with violent hatred suddenly seems moderate by comparison. It allows opponents of Israel like Peter Beinart to rebrand themselves as Liberal Zionists because at least they aren’t claiming that the Prime Minister of Israel ritually eats four babies for breakfast every morning.

Few of the books are concerned with the reality of Israel. They are concerned with it as an ideal. The left tears apart the ideal. The right defends the ideal. There is a growing body of books by Jewish leftists who visit Israel, stop by a supermarket outside their hotel, visit one or two sites, cringe at the guns, take in a nightspot, visit the Western Wall, visit the Separation Wall, and transmit the whole thing into a miniature memoir expressing their disappointment with the experience.

The latest such offering, Harvey Pekar’s Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, a 70 year-old son of a Communist mother and Orthodox father who visited Israel for the first time and discovered that it didn’t live up to whatever mixed-up ideal his parents promised him. Pekar is already dead, but there is an entire conveyor belt along which the younger set rides to write critical books, graphic novels, blogs and tweets about their disappointing experience in the Jewish State.

Whatever books are on the shelves two years from now, it is likely that very little will have changed. The world as a whole, not just the occasional liberal brat, will continue being disappointed in Israel for not having magically and non-violently resolved the dilemma of people shooting at it no matter what it does. After all there’s already a book titled, How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less on the shelf. Why not just read it and do what it says?

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, two years from now a Secretary of State will be icily dressing down Israel for building houses in provocative places, using drones to kill terrorists and refusing to make peace. As the history section will bulge with eight more pro and con books; another member will have joined the choir invisible of James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. While the Democrats have been worse on Israel, each administration regardless of its affiliation, has accepted the precedents of the previous administration and eventually managed to top its attacks on Israel’s sovereignty.

Will Obama Destroy Socialism?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/will-obama-destroy-socialism.html

You can make corncob pipes, eighteen wheel trucks or microprocessors– but you can’t make jobs. Jobs are not a commodity or a service. They cannot be created independently through a job creating program. Rather they are the side-effect of a working economy. Trying to short circuit the economy with job creation programs is like trying to run a fruit orchard by neglecting the trees and instead buying fruit at inflated prices to resell to your customers at a lower price. It’s feasible, but not sustainable.

The government can promote job creation through subsidized education and training, but there is a ceiling on such efforts, since government programs still have to be paid for through taxation. It can encourage companies to do business locally through tax breaks, though this is an admission that the tax rates are an obstacle to job growth. But what it cannot do is create jobs out of whole cloth. Except for government jobs.

Just about anyone in the White House this term would have launched job creation programs. And like most such efforts they would have been a wash. But Barack Hussein Obama’s approach was different in that he did not even pretend to make the effort. His economic programs went by business friendly names, but invariably turned out to be concerned with only one kind of job creation. The creation of public sector jobs.

The spoils system has a long history in American politics, but it was never as spoiled as all this. There is no parallel in American history for the spoils system being used not just to rotate out supporters of the old administration and replace them with your lackeys, but to hijack the economy as your own spoils system to the tune of trillions of dollars.

Obama responded to an economic crisis by working to create two kinds of jobs. Government and union jobs. This was not about anything as simple as rewarding his supporters. The Black community got very little in exchange for supporting him. The Hispanic community similarly ended up with some token appointments, but not much to show for it. This was about shifting jobs from the private sector into the public sector and its feeders. To manufacture the types of jobs that feed money back into the Democratic party and expand the scope of the government bureaucracy.

No previous administration has as thoroughly disdained and tried to crush the private sector. But then none of them were nearly as clueless or irresponsible when it come to basic economics. The Democrats who had spent eight years mocking Reaganomics, practiced a Krugmanonics that treated money like an imaginary number. In Krugmanomics wealth is created through spending, and poverty is created by practicing wise fiscal management. The whole premise of Krugmanomics makes no sense, unless you have already decided that the private sector is a mythical beast with no room in the socialist bestiary.

This wasn’t even Keynesian, it most closely resembled the Bolshevik radicalism that destroyed the Russian economy, right down to the belated realization that only by assigning some limited role to the private sector could the situation be salvaged. Obama’s pre-election turn echoes Lenin’s New Economic Program. But like Lenin, Obama hasn’t embraced the free market. All he has done is tried to retreat to it after the spend and burn economics of his brightest radicals had ignited too much public fury.

Obama has only one idea. The same one idea that the left has beaten into the ground repeatedly. The monopolization of power. This monopolization is disguised behind organizations claiming to represent the people, community activists, unions and public interest lobbies, whose only message is the vital necessity of a government monopoly in every economic area of life.

It’s the old Soviet strategy writ large. Every red error brought back to life and pushed forward with cunning and brute force, but no understanding of why it failed last time around. The slower transition of Wells’ “Open Conspiracy” does not make them any better at running a country, than the radical armed revolts of the Bolsheviks did. Repeating the same mistakes at 1/20th the speed does not lead to a better outcome. Only to more chances to see that they are going the wrong way.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/sultan-knish/will-obama-destroy-socialism/2012/07/10/

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