Posts Tagged ‘rosh hashana’

Success in t’shuva is not measured by the final score at the end of the game. It is measured by the playing. The striving for good is goodness itself. The striving for perfection is what perfects, in and of itself“-Harav Kook, from “The Art of T’shuva – The Teachings of HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook: Commentary” by Rabbi David Samson and Tzvi Fishman

This speaks to two strong beliefs of mine – getting better is a process, and the process itself is also important. This is true for everything important in life – being a mother, being a daughter, being a wife, being a friend. It is not the end that is important – it is all the time and effort put into it.

May we all have a sweet, fruitful, illuminating and perfecting new year. Shana tova umetuka!

Dip your apple in the honey...It's Rosh Hashana!

Dip your apple in the honey…It’s Rosh Hashana!

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Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of AweEvery year I try to read something meaningful in preparation for the days of awe. In addition, I try to join at least one lesson live in WebYeshiva (My personal favorite teacher is Rabbi Yehoshua Geller, check him out!). This year I found myself on Rosh Hashana without anything new to read. So I thought I’d reread Rabbi Soloveitchik’s On Repentance, which is an excellent book, if a bit long to manage in 10 days. But then I found this gem that I bought last book week and forgot about: Erica Brown’s Return: Daily inspiration for the days of awe (in English, even though it’s at the Hebrew book week 🙂 ). This is divided into 10 chapters, one for each of the Days of Awe, so excellent for starting late (yet better late than never 😉 ). It’s thought-provoking, yet each chapter is short enough to read in half an hour. In addition, each chapter has “life homework” with concrete things you can do or decide to make you a better person this year. Each chapter also has some additional study material from the sages with some questions for your own personal study.

I found this book absolutely amazing. It showed me different ways of looking over the past year, and helped me enormously in my own private introspection and resolutions. It brings ideas from the bible, modern psychology, modern literature, and day-to-day life. It never talks down to you, yet is very scholarly. It brought me closer to Judaism and closer to true repentance. I’m going to read this during the year to refresh myself on what is really important; and I recommended to all people who are interested in looking over their lives, Jewish or not, during the Days of Awe or not. It captured, in 10 chapters (+ prologue and epilogue) the struggle we are all going through, our hope and fear of changing, and our imagination. I’ll be looking for more books by Erica Brown. 5 stars.

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On Rosh Hashana Eve, I wish you and your family a year of sweetness, laughter, joy, fullfilment, personal growth, nachas, and good tidings.

And to help you on your way, here are some videos:

The Maccabeats, excellent as usual, with tradition and laughter:

Sia, for those moments when you need a helping hand. We all have them sometimes.

And Shimon Peres knows how to laugh – and to get the message across. May his vision come true and we will know true long lasting peace, Amen.

Shana Tova Umetuka!

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Finally, the holidays are over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I love inviting, and cooking, and visiting people I don’t see that often, and the excuse to be with extended family. But the problem of having three major holidays in one month is that by the end, you’re just dying for a bit of basic routine. And don’t even get me started on the how the kids act during two weeks at home. Also, I tend to forget that I gave birth a few months ago, and still not sleeping more than 4 hours straight. My baby girl, who is sweet, strong and intelligent, absolutely refuses to take a bottle. My husband manages to feed her about 10 cc, but no one else can even get close. So the obvious solution of having my husband feed her during the night so I can actually sleep is out. I’m beginning to get an attractive zombie look, and when people see me the first thing they say is either, “Are you all right?” or “You look exhausted”. Just boosts for my ego, every day 😕

Still, I enjoyed cooking. For Rosh Hashana the undoubted star was the lemon chicken with green rice. I usually don’t make this for Rosh Hashana as it is traditional to serve sweet foods (may you have a sweet year) but my husband asked for this, so I made it. Of course, he doesn’t touch the chicken. But he loves the rice 😉 This is a one pot meal, where rice loaded with fresh herbs is placed at the bottom of a sauteuse pan, chicken pieces are arranged on top, and covered with herbs and preserved lemons. This is all cooked until chicken is done. The results are fragrant and delicious.

I made preserved lemons once, but I use them only for this dish and it wasn’t worth it. So what I do now is use pseudo preserved lemons: Lemons sliced and de-seeded (but with the peel) sautéed in olive oil and salt until tender. This gives the preserved lemon taste without waiting for three weeks or buying special ingredients. You can also make extra and add to salads or sauces.

Chicken with green rice and preserved lemons

Based on the recipe from Derech HaOchel (Food’s Way)

“Preserved” Lemons

One lemon, sliced thinly with the peel, de-seeded
1-2 tbsp Olive oil
1-2 tsp of salt

Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté lemon and salt on medium heat until lemon is wilted and tender. When tasting, lemon should be salty and mildly sour, with no bitterness. If bitter or extremely sour, add more salt and sauté another few minutes.

“Preserved” lemons

The dish

1 1/2 cups long grain rice (I use classic Persian rice)
1 onion
1/4 bunch each of parsley, coriander, spearmint (nana in hebrew) and dill
1 carrot
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper or to taste
1 cup water
3 chicken legs and thighs, without the skin (I use TevaOf, chickens without antibiotics and fed vegetarian food)
4 tbsp preserved lemon, diced or one “preserved” lemon, sliced
about 6 garlic cloves, minced.

Mince onion, carrot and herbs in a food processor.

Minced herbs

Put 3 tbsp aside. Mix the rest with rice, oil and salt and pepper. Place in a sauteuse, leveling the rice. Pour water on rice. On top arrange the chicken pieces in one layer.

Chicken on rice

Mix preserved lemons with remaining herbs and garlic. Cover the chicken pieces with preserved lemon mixture.

Before cooking

Cover and cook on a low fire for 1 1/2 hours until chicken is cooked.

The result – divine!

After cooking

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Shana Tova!

I wish you all a sweet and happy new year. May all your days be filled with happiness and may your loved ones bring you joy.

This past year was very momentous and emotional for me. I finished my PhD Thesis in Applied Physics. I advanced from a student job to a 2/3 job at my workplace, headed the software and some R&D projects that taught me a lot about what I can do. We bought the apartment next door and renovated it.  I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  My eldest started first grade. I have explored my limits in many of these settings and discovered things I didn’t know about myself. This last year has taught me I can be a wife, mother, physicist, software programmer, manager, teacher and most of all –  a better person than ever before.

May your discoveries be as momentous, and may we all continue to evolve, advance, and make the world a better place.

And to lighten the mood a bit, here is the latest from the maccabeats 🙂

Shana Tova!

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I just finished a gorgeous Challa for Rosh Hashana. The Challa is baked around a small cup, and at the dinner table honey is placed in the cup. Isn’t it a brilliant idea? (How did people cook before the Internet?)

The recipe for the challa is:

1 kg bread flour
50 gr yeast (I use Shimrit, used like fresh yeast but no need to proof)
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp salt
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1.75 cups water (380 ml),  lukewarm
A few cardamom seeds, crushed (I didn’t put this, but it was in the original recipe – maybe I’ll try it sometime)

Knead everything into a dough. Knead 5 minutes more. Let rise until doubled. Divide in half. One half, divide in three parts, and do a braid from them. Wrap around a small glass bowl or cup. The other half, split into two. One quarter split into 10 small buns, the other split into 5 medium ones (so we’ve got one large round challa, 10 buns small buns, 5 medium total). Arrange on a baking platter, cover, and wait until doubled again. Dab with egg. Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake small buns for 10-15 minutes and large challah for 20 minutes, until brown.

This actually resulted in  a bit more than 1600 gr of dough, so for the first time I performed Hafrashat Challa. It was very moving, and I added a special prayer for the little boy of our friends, who is still battling cancer. May he be blessed with good health.

And some nice links to get into the holiday spirit:

The Maccabeats: Book of good life – I just love a cappella, and they do it really great.

The Ein Prat Fountainheads: Dip your apple – just plain fun.

May we all have a happy, healthy, successful and joyful year. Shana Tova Umetuka!



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Light dinner

Two of my husband’s  favorite foods is cheesecake and blintzes. Both of them were traditionally made by my MIL for Shavuot. Somehow it was never made at other times. When we got married he asked me about the cheesecake, and as it’s the easiest cheesecake known to man I made it many times. We bought blintzes every now and then and that was it. A few weeks ago, I offered to make blintzes. After all, I said, I have some blintzes recipes. How bad can it be? He leaped at the suggestion.

I called my MIL, she sent me the recipe, and I gave it a shot. It most certainly isn’t complicated, it’s light, it can be reheated on the Shabbat plate for 20 minutes and it’s hot, it can be had with sweetened cream cheese or jam or anything else, it can even be served with a savory filling. My husband happily ate the lot (except for what my eldest and I had the effrontery to steal from him). Even my youngest (2 yo) ate a bite, said it was good, and then proceeded to change his mind every other bite… 🙂

So it has become a Shabbat staple. We usually eat a very light meal Friday evenings, as it’s late and the kids are tired. Yogurt, cheese, vegetables, hard eggs. Lunch is usually more substantial. And the Third Seuda used to be pasta, but now it is blintzes, served with homemade jam and sweet cheese.



150 gram flour
1/2 liter milk
3 eggs
pinch of salt.

Sift the flour into a medium (at least 1 liter) bowl.

Sifted flour

Add one egg and about a third of the milk. Beat together with a fork or a whisk. It will be very thick.

After first egg and milk

Add one more egg and another third of the milk. Beat together again. It will be pleasantly thin. Add the last egg and the rest of the milk and beat together again. By this time it will be very liquid and you will be wondering if the amounts given here are correct. They are.

A bit too thin...

Mix until there are no lumps (…or at least, until the lumps are very small 🙂 ). Let rest in fridge for at least two hours.

~ Two Hours Later ~
Mix well. Oil a frying pan using a spray or (my preferred method) a piece of kitchen paper dipped in oil. Heat on medium heat until hot. Place two large serving spoons full (or whatever fits your frying pan best) in the pan.

In the frying pan

Tilt pan so that batter is evenly spread. When edges begin to curl up, turn the blintz over (about 2 minutes). Fry another 1-2 minutes and remove from the frying pan. Repeat until all the batter is finished. Note: The first blintz always turns out strange – thick, greasy, etc. This is OK.

Sweet cheese:
250 gr. white cheese, 5 %
10 gr vanilla sugar (one sachet)
1-2 tbsp sugar, to taste.

Mix all ingredients. Add more sugar if you wish.


Almost gone...

With the cheese



A thought for Rosh Hashana:

People tend to treat others the way they were treated. This is heartbreakingly true in the case of abuse – children who were abused tend to turn into abusers – but there a lot of mundane and even trivial examples of this.

The most obvious is when driving: If you were cut off, there is more of a chance that you will cut someone else; If everyone else has parked their car in a “it’s only for a few minutes” way when dropping their kid off at the day care you will probably do so as well (“if they would have parked properly, I wouldn’t need to park this way, so it’s not my fault”). If no-one let’s you take that complicated left turn you will be less likely to let someone else turn in your path, etc. The opposite is also true. If someone let’s you in easily you’re more likely to let someone else in, if everyone is parking properly you’re less likely to park in a strange way and block everyone, etc.

This is also true in the office (isn’t that great how when people smile at you, you’re more likely to smile at someone else?) with your kids, everything.

The Rambam said that we should look at each of our actions as if we have exactly a balance between good and bad actions and this next action will tip the scales. Also that we should look at each of our actions as though it could tip the scales of the entire world. Perhaps this is because of what I said above – your next action will spread among everyone who meets you and affect them for good or bad. One mean-spirited or spiteful action will cause a ripple of spitefulness. One good and kind action will cause a ripple of kindness.
So let’s all try to smile more, and be polite more.

It affects more than we think.

Shana Tova Umetuka!

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The last week was, on the one hand, very difficult. My husband was on reserve duty, so I had to take care of the kids – get them ready in the morning, bring them both to their daycare, work, pick them both up, play with them and put them in bed. In addition, there were all the arrangements for Rosh Hashana – planning, shopping and cooking. We invited both my parents and my husband’s parents for the first evening, and in the tradition of my family, I planned enough food for twice as much people. I very quickly got tired and I certainly wasn’t getting enough sleep.

On the other hand, the last week made me realize very strongly how much I have to be thankful for. I received help unstintingly from my parents (who came to help me with the kids in the afternoon) and my husband’s parents (both in shopping and help with the kids) and my sister-in-law (help with the kids). Even my brother dropped by (from out-of-town) to say hallo and play with the kids a bit. I overdid things a bit on Wednesday with trying to juggle my studies, an important meeting at work,shopping, playing with the kids, and cooking until 1:00 and I understandably felt bad on Thursday. Everyone offered to help  – with cooking, with the kids, with the doctor, you name it.

When my husband came back Thursday evening, seeing him feed the baby a bottle with one hand and cuddle the toddler with another – still in his uniform – my cup of happiness was full.

I am truly blessed.

*                **                **                **                *

The Rosh Hashana dinner also went well, with everyone having something they liked and everyone enjoying themselves. I also incorporated one of my resolutions: more vegetables. So in addition to the one cooked vegetable dish I always serve – in this case, green beans and peppers in soy sauce – I added a vegetable kugel of my mother’s and 3 salads: regular, cabbage and beetroot. Of course there was chicken soup, which I also make with a lot of vegetables because I don’t use soup powder. The main dishes were beef in wine and chicken in honey and ginger (which was a great hit). I also had rice and potatoes as side dishes.For dessert, I made a marble cake and an apple tart, and my father-in-law brought fruit.

As you can see, there was certainly enough food!

I stopped using soup powder when my toddler began eating table foods. I am not actually sure why, but we were told not to give the baby MSG until he was at least one year old. On the other hand, soups are highly recommended for babies. So… I tried to do without. I was surprised at how easy it was. The concept is simple: use a lot of vegetables, especially celery, onion and carrots. and most important – let it cook uncovered until it becomes concentrated enough to be tasty. A nice addition is some salt and/or various soup spices. Since I discovered how good it tastes without soup powder, I simply stopped using it altogether. (Even though I still use kneidl from a mix, and various ready foods that include MSG. However, our consumption of MSG has certainly plummeted.)

I also freeze any leftover stock I have and I add it if necessary instead of soup powder.

For onion soup powder it was a little more difficult. The chicken in honey and ginger called for 1 tbsp of onion soup powder. What to do? I browsed the Internet a bit and found the recommendation was onion flakes, garlic powder and salt and pepper. I accordingly went in search of onion flakes and garlic powder. What I discovered is that garlic powder looks and smells like white sand – not in the least appetizing. And the only onion flakes I found cost 20 NIS for an itty bitty box. Of onions.

So instead of that, I minced onion finely in the food processor. I removed everything but a few tablespoons and froze it for later. (I intended to add minced garlic, but I forgot). Then I added all the other ingredients of the sauce, using less honey than recommended because I always find it too sweet. I tasted before pouring over the chicken to make sure that it was sweet enough, I though it was sweet and just spicy enough. I found out that after cooking, the ginger mellows, so next time I’ll put a tad more ginger. However, it turned out great and was undoubtedly the surprise hit of the evening!


1 chicken, cut into pieces, or other pieces as you like (I used 3 thighs and one white, we don’t eat chicken wings so much and I make soup with them)
2 tbsp mustard (I use Dijon)
3-4 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger (I will use more next time)
8 tbsp soy sauce
water if necessary

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Mix all sauce ingredients together. Taste and fix seasoning if necessary. Arrange chicken pieces in glass dish with high sides. Pour sauce over chicken, adding water if necessary so that all pieces are covered (or almost). Cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 50 minutes, turning the chicken in the sauce every 20 minutes so that the entire piece gets the taste of the sauce/ If you wish, remove the aluminium foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking so that the chicken is browned. (I didn’t do this because I removed the skin from the chicken and I was afraid it would get dry if I baked it without foil). Chicken is ready when you prick with a fork and juices aren’t pink (yellow or clear).

You can halve the liquid sauce ingredients and you will have something more similar to a gravy. Or you can thicken the sauce afterwords with a bit of flour if you like (I didn’t. I like lots of sauce so that the food keeps well on the Shabbat hot plate).

Bon Apetit! And may you all have a sweet and happy year, filled with blessings and nachat.

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