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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘GREAT’

When Good Children Go OTD

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The problem seems to be far worse than anyone thinks. We may even be at an epidemic level. Everywhere I turn these days it seems, I find a family where at least one child has gone OTD (Off the Derech–away from the religious path). Or at least does not follow the Hashkafic path laid out by their parents.

Many of them are all from fine families. Exemplars of great parenting. Nothing dysfunctional about them. The parents have many children all the rest of which are the obvious results child rearing by 2 great parents. Most of their children do fine in the Hashkafic milieu in which they were raised and in which they live. And yet it seem to be increasingly the case that at least one child has no interest in towing the family religious line.

In the families that I know about it seems the problems tend to begin in mid to late elementary school or early high school.

The question is why is this happening? What is it that is driving this OTD phenomenon in good families? It is very understandable when this happens in dysfunctional families where physical or mental abuse exists either between parents; between a parent and child; or both. It does not take rocket science to see why a child associates their strife their parent’s lifestyle. If they are a religious family, then religion is associated with that strife.

But what about the good families with good children where one of them does not want to have anything to do with their family’s religious way of life? Unfortunately I know of far too many situations like these. Hashkafos don’t seem to matter that much. I know families with an OTD child that are very right wing, moderate Charedi, and right wing Modern Orthodox. None of them are so strict as to warrant the kind of rebellion they have experienced from at least one child.

I have no real explanation. But I suspect it has something to do with the current pressure that schools and thereby parents put on their children to excel in their religiosity, Limudei Kodesh or Limudei Chol. I am constantly hearing about how schools of all Hashkafos are ‘rasining’ their standards. That is impacted negatively by the times in which we live. By that I mean the great distractions that now exists that did not exist in the past. Distractions that expose children to a much easier lifestyle than their parents insist upon. Distractions that take away from their study time. Distractions that cause them to question matters of faith. These are distractions that those of us over the age of 30 never had when we were growing up.

The internet, its ease of use and availability, and the ability to easily hide one’s involvement with it puts pressure on young people now – as never before. No matter how much we try to discourage it, limit it, or ban it, it is so pervasive that it is impossible to avoid the influence it has on children. Children can access anything they want as quickly as they can delete it from a screen. A child now has an unprecedented and unfettered window to the entire world. A little curiosity about a taboo subject will beget websites and images that can easily pull a child away from their parents’ influences. It is amazing that there aren’t even more OTD children than there are.

Coupled with this is the increased pressure put upon children in our day to be more religious and be better students than ever before.

The pressure to excel and adopt ever increasing Churmos into our lives has become so ingrained that not conform to these new standards is unacceptable.For example violating a Chumra is as painful to a family as violating a Halacha. I know one family that feels great pain that a child now uses non Chalav Yisroel products. I hasten to add that they are a very loving family – accepting of that child and allowing her to bring non Chalav Yisroel products into the home and use them freely. But it still pains them internally.

And how can any self respecting parent not want their child to excel in school? So with every increase in the amount of material to be mastered, there is a parental motive to see to it that their child measures up. Whether it is the Charedi standard of Limudei Kodesh or the MO academic standard. And in many cases – both.

If you combine the two phenomenon of increased pressure (whether religious or in the level of study)in the home and in school with the ubiquity of the internet – I think one can understand why the OTD phenomenon even in good homes might be near epidemic levels.

I would add that the fact that as the religious population increases, so too do the number of children going OTD – even if the percentages may be the same. But if I had to guess the percentages have increases too and not only the numbers.

I don’t know how to solve any of these problems. But I do have a few thoughts about it. First we ought to be aware of the problems and to recognize that we live in unprecedented times. One cannot for example ignore the internet. Nor can it be successfully banned. But one should do the best they can to set up parental controls, rules, and guidelines about its use. And avoid giving very young children hand held devices.

Of course the most important factor is to love our children unconditionally. Even – and perhaps especially – if they are at risk or OTD. They must know that they will always be loved; part of the family; and welcomed in the homes. Even if they are Mechalel Shabbos, and eat Treif. A bare headed son or daughter whose modesty does not measure up to family or community standards must be accepted. No matter what others in your community think! That may not bring them back. But it will for sure not push them away should they ever want to come back.

Another much harder thing to accomplish is to change the current penchant of religious schools to demand ever increasing religious standards for – not only their students but their parents.

The same thing is to be said with the ever increasing academic standards; or Torah study standards. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be top schools in an area of study in either Limudei Kodesh or Limudei Chol. But they should be special schools reserved for the very best, brightest and most highly motivated students among us. Putting a child that does not have those qualifications into schools like those will almost certainly set up them up for failure. And failure should never be an option.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

The Beautiful Pear

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Thank you for reading one more Style with Esther!

Today we will talk about some tips and guidelines that could help a lot the pear shaped women. But keep in mind that these guidelines are not the ultimate truth, nor should they limit your fashion creativity. The body type guidelines serve as an invisible friend, they can help you in those moments you feel fashionably lost or overwhelmed.

I must confess that if you need to buy a new garment or are rushing to dress up for a party, using these guidelines can be very handy. Yet, as I said above, they’re not written in stone. So, it’s OK if you want to be adventurous and try something that is actually listed for another body type. After all, most women are a combination of two body types, so why not have fun with it and try something new? If what you’re wearing makes you feel empowered and happy, you’re probably making the right choice—but a small dose of good sense also helps.

THE BEAUTIFUL PEAR

If your hip measurement is larger than your bustline, you’re probably a pear shaped woman.

Since the attention on your figure is concentrated in your hipline, it will be a step toward harmony to distribute that attention to your upper bodice. The basic idea is to dress up your upper bodice and go simple with the lower. Easy, right?

How to bring the attention up?

By the use of pockets on your shirt, details on lapels, collars (have you seen some wonderful fake collars lately that work as a necklace?), shoulder pads, embroideries, studs, yokes, draped tops, exquisite brooches, ruffles— the list of embellishments goes on and on. If you’re in a rush and have no time for all these details, just choose a top with a stronger color or one with beautiful prints. They’re the fastest ways to bring the attention upwards.

If you like jewelry, that’s another good reason to wear big pendants or necklaces made of beautiful stones.

Also, knit tops will help you define your waistline, especially if they have a V-shaped neckline, because it will elongate your neck and bring the attention up to your face and to your tiny waist. U-shaped necklines work just as well.

What about sleeves? Give preference to sleeves with details. It could just be a knit top with small pleats on the sleeves, created with the help of an elastic, ¾ length bell sleeves or sleeves with cuffs that will bring the attention upwards and balance your look.

When wearing jackets, give preference to tailored ones, since they will define your waistline. The jacket length should reach at least 1 inch below your hipbone. If a jacket ends exactly at your hipbone, it will make your hipline look larger than it really is. Wearing cropped jackets is also OK, since they end exactly at your waistline. Just keep in mind that cropped jackets are not the rule for all pear shaped women. They could look great for some but give too much of a boxy look to others. You just have to ask yourself how you feel about that cropped jacket when facing the mirror. Listen to your heart.

When wearing dresses, give preference to wraps or fake wraps that have an A-line, semi-flared, or flared skirt. Besides the comfort, they will enhance your waistline.

A-ha! We have finally arrived to the skirt identity crisis! Many beautiful Pears have asked me about the logic of wearing A-line and flared skirts.

The answer lies not only on the skirt shape but also in the fabric being used. A flared skirt made of a lightweight, soft fabric that falls naturally, such as knits, silks and many other types of light weight fabrics, will create a really beautiful look!

On the other hand, an A-line made of a tough denim or any other heavyweight fabric will need some time for reflection upon its usage. It will look good for some and not so great for others. Keeping that in mind, go for A-lines, flared and semi-flared skirts made of lightweight fabric with confidence, as they will dress you well and look great. Another great reason for you to wear these styles is that they will fit your waistline perfectly without interfering with your hip measurement.

Chief Rabbis & Politics

Monday, August 5th, 2013

I have never been a fan of chief rabbis. Anyone appointed by committees, politicians, or bureaucrats is suspect in my eyes. Perhaps my antipathy is rooted in the days when both Napoleon and the czar appointed state chief rabbis whom they approved of because they were likely to support their agendas. I can say with confidence that, in general, the greatest rabbis, whether intellectually or spiritually, have never been interested in public appointments.

I don’t mean to say that all chief rabbis have been duds. Israel’s Chief Rabbis Abraham Isaac Kook, Isaac Herzog, and Uziel were great men by any criteria. Chief Rabbi Goren was a dynamic overachiever and a fearless innovator. Some, like Ovadiah Yosef, have been great scholars but poor spokesmen. But there have been too many others who were undiplomatic, corrupt, or ineffective. The reason can simply be put down to politics. When appointments are made by groups of political appointees (or self-appointed grandees) they invariably make the wrong decisions. Neither is public acclaim a reliable test of the best person for the job. Those who seek or need public recognition are rarely willing or able to take the tough and controversial stands that are the mark of genuine leadership.

Israel recently appointed two chief rabbis, both the sons of previous chief rabbis. I do not know either of them. But remarks I have seen attributed to them leave me deeply depressed that they will reflect a xenophobic, narrow perspective and shrink from trying to humanize the rabbinate. The political maneuvering, the arm twisting, the deals behind closed doors all point to a corrupt system. And once gain the innovative, the exciting have lost out. If a good man ever emerges it is despite the system not because of it. Nepotism is a poor way of producing great leaders. Yet throughout Jewish religious institutions nepotism is the norm rather than the exception. Yeshivot nowadays are often big family businesses (as indeed are most Chasidic dynasties).

Israel has two chief rabbis, one Ashkenazi and the other Sefardi. This in itself is evidence of how flawed the system is, that in a small religion such as ours religious leadership cannot work together. In addition, in Israel, there is a huge disconnect between the religious leadership and the common person, between the state rabbinate and the Charedi world, which has its own authorities. Indeed the Charedi world always rubbished and abused the state rabbinate until, in the desperate search for jobs for the boys and power, it began to infiltrate and then take much of it over. Once again it has ensured that its candidates have got the jobs.

One of the first words in Ivrit I learnt was “protektsia” (yes, I know it comes from Russian). “Vitamin P” meant you could not get anywhere in Israeli life, from top to bottom, religious or secular, without knowing someone or having someone pull strings in your behalf. So it was and so it largely remains. When this disease infects religion, it loses its moral authority.

But surely, you will say, Judaism requires one to respect one’s religious leaders. In theory this is so. The Torah commands respect for princes and scholars. Our liturgy is full of references to their importance. But there are two very distinct types of leadership in our tradition. The prophet and the judge emerged through merit. That’s probably why there were women judges and prophets. Rabbis as a rule were the result of meritocracy (the rabbinic dynasties that began with Hillel wanted to have their cake and eat it). On the other hand, the priesthood and the monarchy were both hereditary, and both failed. Most of the Jewish kings were idolatrous, evil men, and most priests showed more interest in money and power than Divine service.

Moshe typified the meritocracy. This was why he always defended himself by referring to his spotless record. It is true we say that in each generation we must accept the leader, Jephtah in his generation as the equivalent of Samuel in his. But I believe that has another meaning, of the need to accept the best we can get.

“Pray for the welfare of the ruling powers because otherwise humans would swallow each other up,” says the Mishna. That very Hobbesian idea underpins our modern secular states. But as Locke argued, if the king failed to do his job, you could and should get rid of him. This is why we pray for the State wherever we live, even as we may try our best to vote out whoever the current prime minister is. We in the West have recently experienced the irrational hysteria over a royal baby. I have no interest in ordinary people being elevated to positions of power or even symbolic authority simply on the basis of birth. There are enough inequalities in life of rank and wealth. I like the fact that we can vote people out of office as much as in. If I choose to respect someone, it is on the basis of the respect he or she earns, not the position they have been given. The diploma should be greater than the diaper.

I look forward to Elijah’s arrival. I hope he will not try to reinstate the monarchy. But I am pretty sure he will not insist on two kings, one Ashkenazi and the other Sefardi.

One of the reasons for so much disillusion with religion is precisely this disconnect between how its leaders too often behave and speak and their own purported religious values. The more we see how susceptible religious leadership is to money, power, and fame, the less good the religion they represent looks. I don’t care too much what politicians like Spitzer or Weiner get up to, and if people want to vote for them that’s their problem. But when religious leadership behaves like political leadership, something is very wrong.

Slow-Cookers Are Not Just For Cholent

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Who said weekday dinners had to be boring? It’s simple to keep the fresh and fun with just a little preparation. Stock your kitchen with staples like whole-wheat pasta, organic fish, poultry, meats, and organic fruits and vegetables (go frozen if you can’t buy fresh). Then, either cook double on the weekends when you have time and freeze (this way you don’t have to worry about your meals during the week), or put food up in your slow cooker in the morning.

I have been a big advocate of freezing doubled meals ahead for many years.

Recently, however, I gave my Crockpot a second look while putting it away on a Motzei Shabbos.  I remembered an old recipe I had featured in my book, Not Just A Cookbook entitled Shipwreck Stew.  It was a delicious meal I prepared on those cold days when my children were much younger and my schedule was more hectic.  I would put all the ingredients in the crockpot right after my children left for school, then plug it in and forget about it for eight hours!  In this way, no matter how busy my day was, I knew I would have a nutritious meal ready for my “crew” that evening.  I could be involved in any myriad of school activities, or my Tupperware business, and not feel pressured to rush back home to cook supper.

I decided to try another recipe I had acquired using chicken. This time I put the slow cooker on HIGH, which meant the food would be ready in 4-5 hours.  It could also cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. I added sweet potatoes, halved and walked away.

The result – the entire house had the most wonderful aroma.  When a family member dropped by in the afternoon, he inquired what was I cooking that smelled so good. This recipe will now become my “go to” recipe when I have little time to prepare a meal.

I used a whole chicken, while only needing a half.  The next day, I used the cooked chicken in another recipe I share with you below.  This flavorful pasta dish calls for cooked chicken, Dijon mustard, onion, and parsley  – and a delicious meal can be had in just 30 minutes.

There are several important things to remember when using a slow cooker. Now, most of the people I speak to never remember to hold on to the instructions that come with their appliances, but it’s a good idea to keep a file with all those booklets in one place for future reference as they are something you should hold on to until you are completely sure of the proper way to use the appliance.

Remember that many vegetables benefit from slow cooking which allows them to develop their full flavor – without the overcooking that can happen in the oven or on your stovetop.  When cooking recipes with vegetables and meat, place the vegetables at the bottom of the slow cooker, before the meat.

 

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

4-6 lb. roasting chicken

½ tsp. Kosher salt

½ cup onion, chopped

2 Tbsps. fresh parsley

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

½ tsp. dried thyme

Juice of one lemon

1/3 tsp. paprika

 

4 sweet potatoes, halved

 

Directions:

Place the onion in the cavity of the chicken and rub the skin with the oil.  Place chicken in the slow cooker.  Squeeze lemon juice over chicken and sprinkle with remaining seasonings.  Add sweet potato halves.  Cover and cook on Low 8-10 hours or on HIGH 4-5 hours.  Serves 4-6

 

Speedy Ziti with Zesty Chicken

Ingredients

1 pound whole-wheat ziti, or other medium shape, uncooked pasta

12 ounces cooked chicken, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 package frozen peas (10 oz.), defrosted and drained

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, spray large skillet with Pam; warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the Dijon mustard and flour. Very gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Bring the broth to a boil and stir in the lemon juice, peas, and parsley.

When pasta is done, drain it well. Toss pasta and cooked chicken with sauce, season with salt and pepper and serve. Cook time is 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

 

Over 550 recipes and tips are featured in Rochelle’s humorous and entertaining cookbook, NOT JUST A COOKBOOK.  It also features many “multi-ethnic” recipes that were adapted for the kosher cook.  Rochelle’s book examines food around the year by month. Her new DVD recipe organizer includes the book. What a GREAT gift!  Check out www.youtube.com/cookbooksoftware for recipes and to order your copy online, or call 718-258-0415 for store information.  Rochelle is available for cooking demo events for fundraisers as well as Tupperware demonstrations. Call to find out about the SUPER 40% OFF MODULAR SALE NOW going on!!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food/recipes/slow-cookers-are-not-just-for-cholent/2012/01/30/

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