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Reflexions on Erev Yom Kippur…

Often, the most mundane occurrences, even small (or major) annoyances, can trigger a moment of introspection, can bring on a time for thought on how we interact with others, on how we truly relate to Hakadosh Baruch Hu

Granted, timing could have been better, but tight scheduling compelled me to shop mid-morning Erev Shabbat (before Rosh Hashana) for essentials I needed for the Chag. I found parking close to the discount supermarket, a minor miracle in post summer Brooklyn. I hadn’t been there since their recent renovations; surrounded by cases of merchandise and vegetable stands, I had to ask for guidance to the new entryway. The store looked bigger, but as chaotic as ever. I hope that they still plan to reorganize the space, but were just too busy getting ready for the holiday crowds to implement a more shopper friendly environment.

There were more workers than usual, mostly busy restocking shelves. The nearly empty meat department, I carted to first, was a big disappointment. Prices were definitely higher; no more family packs of chicken breasts for $3.99 per pound, and none of the usual sales I used to count on. Chaval!  I bought what I needed and headed to check out. I had a case of 7oz cups, a case of baking tins and about a dozen other items.

Every aisle was packed with anxious ‘got to get home to cook’ shoppers lined with overloaded carts (May Hashem miraculously continue to provide!) all the way down to the fridge section waiting to check-out.  With not nearly enough check-out stations and a poor configuration afoot, tempers were a little testy. I went to the back of the long express checkout – 12 items or less – line with my 2 cases and close to 12 items, and was assaulted with variations on a theme chorusing:  “This is the ‘express’ line, you’re on the wrong line!!!!” With a smile and a promise of checking out no more than the allowed twelve items and finally got a consensus that a case, though internally many, constitutes no more than1 big item and I was graciously permitted to stay.

Every new person arriving to stand on line however, began a fresh verbal barrage on my apparently over- filled cart. One petite fire-brand of a woman arrived with two items declaring that she would not go to the back of the line, because no one was following the rules and she was justifiably going to cut the line before her turn with her two puny little items in tow.  I said nothing, but the chorus certainly did, and the woman became more passionately entrenched in her position to cut the line of food carting transgressors  justifying her position of entitlement with the sins of others and the general theory that when mayhem abounds counter-bedlam is sanctioned.

Meanwhile, feeling the burning heat of guilt for the three extra items,  I laid them quietly to rest in an abandoned cart. I was planning to not include them at check-out, but felt the preemptive move wise under the circumstances. The diminutive, now ferocious, harridan pitched herself before the crowd demanding a supervisor, and the volley of accusations began anew. A woman in the next check-out aisle felt sorry for me, and started putting my items on the belt.  I’ve had this idea floating in my head as a precursor to Rosh Hashana and the Asseret Yimey Tshuvah; how some of us have gone beyond rationalizing to ourselves and others about our behaviors and actions and have moved toward the more intransigent reasoning that resembles Jean Paul Sartre’s existentialist notion of bad faith.

We have convinced ourselves so thoroughly of our own righteousness, that we not only believe the lie, but will fight to the death to protect its integrity; leaving little room for change or subsequent good action. The most difficult people I know are so clear that their positions are ‘right’ even heroic, it would take an act of G-d to move them from their prideful entrenchment.

How can we claim to worship, to honor the Bore Olam when we are so disdainful of His betzelem Elokim? How can an individual believe to be a betzelem Elokim if one doesn’t honor and respect his/her fellow humans first? Thank G-d for Rosh Hashana, for the Asseret yimey tshuvah, for Yom Kippur, and the opportunities to right the real wrongs we have done to ourselves and to others.  As we face a world bent on our demise, may we conquer the sinat chinam extant within our midst, may we learn more tolerance, may we recognize our own bad faith and find ways to love and embrace Klal Yisroel blev echad. Should one resolve to and actually make this changes in one’s heart, inone’s attitudes, inone’s behavior, then next year – as the individual clinically examines the past year’s deeds, he/she will realize that – for a change – one did not have overspetd on the good will from fellow humans and that individual will truly merit a healthy portion of Hashem‘s endless bounty.


G’mar Chatima Tova!!!


Who Will Live, Who Will Die


Something to Break Today’s Fast With

I’ve been looking to break the assoro beteives fast with something different than my usual (cheeses sandwiches, yogurt, orange juice, danish and coffee), considering it’s winter and it’s quite cold, I figured I should go for some of my youth’s comfort food, like my mother’s fritattas. I barely remembered her ingredients (and yet I dare call them comfort food), thus I had to go looking on the web and I found something made with ingredients I have on hand.

Here is one recipe I adapted from

Onion, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Mini Frittatas Recipe

by Amy Wisniewski


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 4 ounces chèvre (goat cheese)
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the onions and mushrooms


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Generously coat the wells of a 12-well muffin pan with butter; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and the measured butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and the butter has melted.
  3. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring rarely, until it is a deep golden brown, adjusting the heat as necessary if it starts to brown too much, about 30 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, add the thyme, and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
  4. Meanwhile, clean, trim, and slice the mushrooms 1/2 inch thick; set aside. Crumble the goat cheese into pea-sized pieces and set aside.
  5. Return the frying pan to medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring rarely, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add to the bowl with the onion. Add the goat cheese to the bowl and stir to evenly combine; set aside.
  6. Place the eggs and milk in a large bowl and whisk until the eggs are broken up and evenly combined with the milk, about 1 minute. Add the measured salt and whisk to combine.
  7. Divide the onion-mushroom-cheese mixture evenly among the wells of the prepared muffin pan. Fill each well almost to the top with the egg mixture.
  8. Bake until each frittata is puffed and the center is just set, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack until it’s cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes (the frittatas will deflate). Run a small knife around the perimeter of each well to loosen and remove the frittatas. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy and have an easy fast!



Who will Live, Who will Die

On October 8, 2008, I posted the following on my political blog:

Fasting and praying at the Kotel on Yom Kippur. Photo from:

Who Will Live, Who Will Die

This evening starts the holiest, most solemn day in the Jewish calendar – Yom Kippur. Ten days earlier, the first of the two days of Rosh Hashana – the Hebrew New Year – marked the day, when according to the Jewish tradition everyone’s fate for the coming year is inscribed in the Heavenly ledgers. Yom Kippur is the day when whatever was written stays as is or is changed, but in either case fate becomes sealed.

In one of the most awe inspiring prayers of the day, Jews intone theses words: …mi ychie umi yamut (who will live and who will die)… mi bamayim umi ba’esh (who by water and who by fire… who will become impoverished and who will be rich… Many take these words literally and, as you can imagine, after hours of praying the tears often flow freely as these sentences are reached. But there is also an alternate interpretation. Based on what? At the end of this specific prayer, everyone announces at the top of their voice: uTshuvah, uTfilah, uTzdakah ma’avirin et ro’a hagzerah! (And Repentance, and Prayer, and Charity remove the negative Judgment!). The question then becomes, how is it possible that the Infinite, Almighty God allows Himself to be swayed by a mere mortal? If He is the beginning and the end (in other words, time in our human terms does not apply to Him as what we perceive as past, present and future all unfold simultaneously before Him), if He is the All-Knowing and understands that in spite of broken hearts and full sincere repentance, the next morning we find ourselves again doing the same deeds, having the same thoughts, feeling the same lusts and jealousies, how can He possibly allow our temporary repentance to change His mind?

The answer was given by the Sages of the Talmud when they taught that even with the sword at one’s throat, a person should not give up hope. It means that in these Days of Awe we are assigned a specific fate which, as a mark of Cain, shows what may become of us. It means that by truly mending our ways we become worthy of a different fate because we are longer the same person, it means that only our actions, our thoughts and the effort we expend to overcome our negative passions will remove the specific mark.

As we look around the world, between the current economic meltdown and the forces that wish to destroy the West… the horizon looks rather bleak. Evil seems to be ascendant, the western nations are plagued by the cancer within, wittingly or unwittingly, working for their destruction. Western politicians of every political stripe, are guilty of the current situation whether for personal gain, for personal glory or merely because of absolutely naive misguidance. The world, as we know it, is marked for a major conflagration, but we may not despair, we can not relax our stand against those who would destroy us. As we westerners bear the mark, so do our enemies! If we just sit back with folded arms groping our way in the shadows, confused by the darkness surrounding us, the mark will surely become our fate. If we rise above our confusion, if we recover our lost spiritual values and shed the cynicism, the dark shadows will dissipate. That new light will bring hope, hope will translate into resolve, resolve will become strength and raise us from this stupor. We will then, with renewed vigor, as new different people, rise up against the enemy within and without. The mark of Cain will dissipate and a new era of health, prosperity and general wellbeing will replace it. Is the West up to the task or will the mark of Cain become final?


G’mar Chatima Tova!



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