Category Archives: food

The Sukkah and the Pope-e-que

Our Sukkah is underway.  This Sunday, erev Sukkot, we will celebrate.  In honor of the Pope’s arrival to Philadelphia we will have a combined Sukkah Decorating and barbecue, that we have affectionately dubbed the Pope-e-que.  IMG_0737

The Pope’s presence is bringing havoc to the area with the faithful throngs coming to see and hear him while the roads are shut down for security purposes.  Rather than be cynical, I am thrilled by his message of hope, love, joy and action to make a better world.  He is a disruptor in the best of ways.

Although your schedule is full Your Holiness, you are most welcome to Lashev baSukkah, grace us with your presence and enjoy some of the best kosher beef ribs around!

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

Remembering- Seders past and Yizkor

Yizkor Pesach 2014

The Seder Table at my grandparent’s houses was one of those interesting affairs.  The table started in the dining room, made its way past the wall into the living room and hung a right turn into the foyer.  This was unlike my great-aunt on my father’s side, where the table started in the living room, ran through the dining room and into the kitchen, where the kids sat.  Now I realize why the two families never got along; I always thought it was because one was Galitziana and the other Litvak…

At Nanny and Grandpop’s house, my mom’s parents, the table seemed to groan under the weight of the Seder Plates and bowls of salt water and bottles of wine and the platters upon platters of food. The table was laden with a stuffed breast of veal and brisket, homemade gefilte fish and chicken soup with dill and soft matzoh balls that my father mocked because they were not hard enough.  My mom made them like rocks, which according to my father who actually loved them, could be used by the Israeli army as provisions to be eaten or if necessary as a weapon to be thrown.  I recall my hand being slapped by my grandfather as I tried to take the Afikomen a bit too early in the affair.  I eventually would get it, but only after an appropriate amount of time and tries had elapsed according to his calculations.  I recall the mixing of English and Hebrew, the raucous noise of talking, singing, laughing and of course arguing, and sharing the story from the Hagaddah. The three major denominations of Judaism were all represented and all joined together to celebrate this mix of religion and family at the festive table.

I can trace my life through my movement along that table.  I moved from the kids table, where I once chanted the “four questions,” to the main table where I chant the Kiddush, and ultimately now to sit at the head of the table to help lead the Seder.  And there I sat this year, with my wife’s family.

They have their own interesting rituals and traditions, as does each family.  But one is particularly worth noting.  At the conclusion of the Seder, my mother-in-law plugs in the cassette player with a very special recording.  They recorded her mother on one of her last Seders at the table, telling stories sharing recollections of times past and a poem.  My mother-in-law sits transfixed, the voice carries her someplace else as she listens to her mother re-tell the telling of the Exodus.  She drinks in her mother’s words and for those brief moments, Rose Mandel comes alive for her.  That is truly the high point of the Seder.  And why we need to commemorate those we loved this Yizkor.

For Yizkor is our time to remember.  It is our time to reflect back on those we loved.  This is our time to recognize how much they continue to mean to us.  Often they fade into the background.  We are so caught up in the day-to-day things that fill our time.  Kids, food, shopping, the house, the spouse and our own selves, just to name the short list.  But now is our time to remember them.  Those we loved, those who we have lost, often too soon.  Oh to have a few more moments of them.  For when we remember them, we remember the blessings they brought to our lives.  The richness that is ours because of them, the history that is uniquely our individual own because of the way they shaped and influenced our lives.  We remember to offer gratitude for their being in our lives.  We remember their best as a means to help propel us to be our best.  And therefore we remember them as we strive to create the memories for those who come after us as the legacy we leave to them in an unbroken chain of loving and caring.

Some Purim fun

Take a few moments to enjoy this festive song by the wonderfully talented Michelle Citrin for Purim, this most complex of holidays!  Shake Your Grogger

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A Taste of Heaven

 It is said that you have to die to go to heaven, but I must disagree.  I enjoyed a little bit of heaven right here on the Lower East Side.

We spent the weekend in New York City.  Naomi and I headed north to spend some time with one of her daughters and to get our NY Fix.  We had a great time taking in a wonderful play, All the Way, found a couple of restaurants heretofore untested by the three of us as well as enjoying one of our romantic favorites.  Eating is a nexus of Jewish and New York experiences. And speaking of eating, our ride out of the city was done in style by stopping on Houston Street.

We strategically parked the car at the corner of Eldridge and Houston and put the blinkers on.  Then we headed or Yonah Schimmels.  Think Knish, those plump pockets of potato perfection.  Fortuitously we met a couple of New York’s Finest who were to be our guardian angels as we waited for the knishim (?) to come up fresh from the oven.  Box tied with string in hand, we moved forward.

 Then we traipsed through snow to the next destination, a bit further east on Houston was Russ and Daughters. The best cream cheese in the world as best as I can tell and so too the best Salmon, kippered salmon, lox, gravlax, whitefish, herring, etc., etc. etc. The line was long, so we schmoozed.  The people behind the counter seemed to feed off of our enthusiasm to be at this mecca of appetizing. The bags were getting heavier.

And the third in our trifecta was Katz’s.  How can we be so close and not stop in for some amazing stuff there? Tickets in had we moved toward the meat cutters.  Naomi and I shared a frank and a sausage, both of course dripping in mustard and sauerkraut (I will have to return another day for some pastrami). Katz’s tag line says, “Send a Salami to your boy in the army.”  But the hanging salami was irresistibly calling my name.  I do not know what Rob Reiner’s mom had, but I was totally taken by the dried salami, a remnant of which now sits in my fridge at home.  Our reinforced shopping bags were sagging.

Interestingly, we hit all three food groups as we moved across Houston:  milchik, fleishik and pareve.  According to my belt, my waistline seems to be about an inch larger than when I stared out a few days ago, and I seem unquenchably thirsty.  But wow, what a road trip!