Category Archives: Jewish community

Loaves and enchiladas

Challah cooling after baking

Challah made by experienced and novice conference participants, December 2015. Photo by Rhea.

Last Friday, I joined a crowd of around 500 for MLK Shabbat at Sixth and I Synagogue. The service brought together members of Jewish community and the Turner Memorial AME Church. On Sunday and Monday, many celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the fight for civil rights at church and interfaith services.

These events remind me how a yearning for social justice can bind communities of faith, as well as the centrality of the sabbath.

Leading up to that weekend, I was honored to publish a piece about challah, the bread central to Jewish Shabbat tables:

A Thoughtful Loaf From ‘Yeast of Eden’

Earlier in the week, the Forward also posted a story featuring a recipe by local cookbook author and healthy eating guru Natasha Rosenstock Nadel:

Vegan Enchilada Casserole

I’ll end with a plug for another event. If you live in DC, check out Why Ethics?: Blacks, Jews and the Crisis of Political Solidarity in an Age of Terror tomorrow.

Happy eating, and may 2016 bring us closer together.

 

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Filed under Blog, Conferences, Jewish community

Publication: Oils for Hanukkah

Think Before You Fry: Latkes frying in a pan

Tablet Magazine just published my piece on cooking oils for Hanukkah. Check it out:

Think Before You Fry

 

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Top 10 places to give and make change

Participants in the Jews and Muslims DC event prepare to leave the DC Jewish Community Center with food and gifts for homeless people on Christmas Day.

Participants in the Jews and Muslims DC event prepare to leave the DC Jewish Community Center with food and gifts for homeless people on Christmas Day. Photo by Rhea.

I started off Christmas Day by returning a lost wallet. Then I headed to a volunteer event at the DC Jewish Community Center, where I gave blood and joined a project of Jews and Muslims DC that distributed food, holiday cards, and toiletries to poor and homeless people. The Washington Post and local news station WJLA covered efforts that day.

Yep, it all looked pretty virtuous. But it takes more than a day of service to bring about change.

That afternoon, just outside a Metro entrance that provided some warmth, we met a man who had a job as a bike mechanic but was living in a tent because rent is so high. For the Post article, reporter Michelle Boorstein spoke to a father and his adult son who had both been struggling for years. These are ongoing and systemic problems.

Edward Johnson, Sr., says it best in Boorstein’s article:

“I’d like to be the one here giving things out to them, but now I’m the one on this side. I want to be an overcomer,” said Johnson. “I’m grateful for the thought, but it would do more to take one person in this park and say: ‘I want to help you do better, I’m going to help you do better.’ ”

Here are 10 organizations I see helping people to overcome and do better, both on an individual and systemic level. With efficient use of funds, these nonprofits bolster access to good food, health, faith, community, and overall human well being. Continue reading

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Ferguson and shining a light

woman standing in front of bas relief sculptures with protest signs

A woman stands in Judiciary Square at the endpoint of the Justice for All March in Washington, DC.

 

Police-involved shooting.

That’s the term I see often now. It attempts an objective tone, a tone I tried to evoke with my classes following our first discussions of Ferguson and my recent post. I wanted to shine a light on this issue dwelling in our minds.

As I light the Hanukkah candles this week, I’m reminded how every light casts shadows. I have opinions and bias. And more observations. I want to follow up on those now.

Talking in class

In the week following the grand jury decision not to indict then-police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Ferguson resident Michael Brown, I talked to my students and tried to listen. I was impressed with their knowledge of the case. They had been following the news, not just Facebook rantings or snippets on CNN. Continue reading

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Not coming to a trash can near you

Compost 06/08/2007

Photo by Flickr user Diana House

What happens to the scraps from 25,000 pounds of meat at Katz’s Deli each week? Here’s a hint: It’s the same thing that’s about to happen to all New Yorkers’ vegetable peels and egg shells. Another hint: They don’t go into the trash.

Find out more in “When Composting Comes To NYC’s Jewish Community,” my latest story on The Jewish Daily Forward’s Jew and the Carrot blog.

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Filed under Gardening, Jewish community, New York

Pollan’s epiphany, community, and seedling swaps

Last month, Michael Pollan released his seventh food book, Cooked, and I wrote about it for The Jewish Daily Forward. The book is based on the epiphany that many of his tortured foodie questions had the same answer: Cook. This simple, inherantly communal idea embodies a theme that has been in my life a lot lately.

Pollan’s book is an homage and philosophical journey to home cooking. Much of Pollan’s research, however, did not take place in his house in the Bay Area. Instead, he entered the far-flung realms of barbecue pit men, artisanal  bakers, and fermentos  — communities that run thick with tradition and passion.

That theme of deep community continued as I attended the Do Good Summit on May 3 to see the likes of Our Black Year author Maggie Anderson, local B Corp founder Raj Aggarwal, and DC Brau‘s Jeff Hancock. As I wandered the brand new, sunny corridors of the Anacostia Arts Center, I received a tweet:

Screen shot 2013-05-13 at 7.57.55 AM

Of course. Soupergirl, one of my favorite local businesses, had saved a loaf of challah and was going to make sure I got it. I’d come in a couple of days before to request it, without even giving my name. That request went onto a sticky note, which turned into a Twitter ping, which found me as I went about my day.  I’d like to see Safeway do that!

At that time, I was gearing up for the DC State Fair Seedling Swap. It took place two days later. While the Do Good Summit was the inaugural conference of the new art gallery and community space,  the crowd at the swap packed northeast DC’s Center for Green Urbanism for its last event before it moved out. The rush of community concern over the closing touched my heart just as much as the love of green things percolating through the rooms. The Center is currently searching for a new home.

Right now, those tomato and marigold and peanut seedlings are growing on front stoops and window sills and raised beds around the District. But the frost is coming tonight. I hope we can keep this all going.

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Sepharaeli Charoset

Photo by Flickr user Yucca2k6, used under Creative Common license.

Photo by Flickr user Yucca2k6, used under Creative Common license.

For a Passover seder last week, I was charged with bringing the charoset. I decided to make a batch in the Sephardi style with Israeli influences to compliment the traditional Ashkenazi version I’ve made and eaten since I was a kid.

Charoset is one of the symbolic foods on the seder plate. Whatever your ethnic take on it, it represents the mortar that enslaved Israelites slathered on bricks under the Egyptian sun.

My Middle Eastern melange of dried fruits, nuts, orange zest, and spices received about 100 times as many comments as the familiar Old World mixture of apples and nuts. It also drew an emphatic email request for the recipe, comparing the sweet paste to a certain highly addictive drug. Here is what I wrote up–stat–for the fellow seder guest.

So, just in time for Easter, I figured I would post it here. We still have a few days of Passover left (it ends at sundown on Tuesday, April 2) and it’s never too early to plan your fix for next year. (Recipe after the jump) Continue reading

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