Sukkot Snapshots from Israel

Photo credits: Adriana Katona

Sukkot is one of the three pilgrim holidays when the Israelites would go up to Jerusalem to celebrate. It was an agricultural holiday, as well as a reminder of the 40 years wandering in the wilderness before entering the land of Israel. Agriculture was central in their culture, so Sukkot was an important holiday. Today, Jews from all over the world travel to Jerusalem to celebrate.

Celebrating at the Kotel.

Celebrating at the Kotel (the Western Wall).

A selection of etrogs.

A selection of etrogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a mitzvah to give gifts to the poor during Sukkot. What type of gift? The farmers of Ancient Israel were required to give a tithe, ma’aser, of their harvest (Numbers 18:21-24) to the Levites. This harvest consisted of wheat, barley, oat, spelt, and rye.  In addition, they had to give a tithe of their production of wine, olive oil, fruit, and cattle.

Examining a lulav.

Examining a lulav.

Blowing the shofarot.

Blowing the shofarot.

Book Review: The Angel – The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel

What would motivate someone who lives a life steeped in success, status and power to deliver their nation’s most guarded secrets to its most dreaded enemy?

In Uri Bar-Joseph’s most recent book, The Angel, the answer is revealed as the reader follows a treacherous and circuitous route from Cairo to London to Tel Aviv. What turned out to be an extraordinary journey began in an iconic London red phone booth. It was from that booth that a call was clandestinely placed to the Mossad with an offer to spy for them. That call came from a most unlikely source, President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s son-in-law, Ashraf Marwan.
[Read more…]

Hillary Clinton Supports Historic Agreement Between U.S. and Israel

The United States and Israel signed a new Memorandum of Understanding that guarantees $3.8 billion of military assistance to Israel annually for the fiscal years from 2019 to 2028. This $38 billion total aid package is the largest pledge of military assistance by the United States to a single country in American history.‎ [Read more…]

Being Jewish and American on 9/11

www.flickr.com/photos/vosherov/ Second Tower on Fire, 9/11 Vladimir Osherov

Twin Towers burning, view from Queens. Credit: Vladimir Osherov

by Lou Balcher

With the High Holidays around the corner, remembrance and reflection are part of our Jewish DNA. So what is the significance of 9/11 for us as American Jews?

Prominently placed on my suit jacket lapel is a 9/11 pin that is worn while speaking about Israel at community events. It always is a conversation starter. After the talk, unfailingly someone asks, “Why the 9/11 pin?” My answer is that on 9/11, our Christian neighbors and friends finally began to understand what it means to be Jewish and supportive of Israel. [Read more…]

New Fellowships for Philadelphia Teens to Study Abroad in Israel

– by Donna Breitbart

A group of ten Greater Philadelphia high school sophomores and juniors will now have the opportunity to embark on a spiritual journey and connect with their Jewish identities by attending the Jewish National Fund’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI-JNF). The selected students will travel to Israel as fellows of the 2017 Hans and Gloria Schott Impact Fund. [Read more…]

Lure Your Bashert with Roasted Grapes

640px-PikiWiki_Israel_3078_Ein_HahoreshSince the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, single women celebrated the beginning of the grape harvest by wearing white dresses and dancing in the vineyards. They were hoping to attract the attention of potential husbands. If pleasing the eye did not prove to be enough, some of them could try to reach their man’s heart through his stomach. An easy and delicious dish that was prepared during the grape harvest in Ancient Israel was freshly picked grapes, sprinkled with whatever herbs were growing in the vicinity, and roasted over an open fire. This was a savory treat, enjoyed with freshly baked flatbread. Its heady aroma could attract the men that may have been oblivious to the beauty of the Israelite women.

This tradition continues — in a more modernized form — in Israel today. When the sun sets this year on August 18, it will mark the beginning of the holiday of Tu b’Av, the Jewish celebration of love. Men and women dress in white and participate in various community events in the hopes of meeting their bashert (soulmate).

A fun activity you can try is to visit a farm that will let you pick your own grapes. If that is not possible, visit a farmer’s market, and buy the freshest grapes you can find. Roast them on your barbecue grill or in your oven.

Photo credit: F Delventhal

Photo credit: F Delventhal


Roasted Grapes

  • 1 cup fresh grapes
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 °F.
  2. Mix all the ingredients.
  3. Place in an oven-safe dish.
  4. Roast for 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with fresh pita bread, Israeli goat cheese and olives.

Adapted from The View from Great Island

J Street Marks a Turning Point

Peter Beinart, J Street Panel Discussion.

Peter Beinart, J Street Panel Discussion.

Under the heading “Evolving Politics of the Jewish Community,” J Street presented a panel discussion about Jewish politics and, in addition, about how the perception of J Street has changed. The panelists were David Axelrod, Peter Beinart, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D – Brooklyn) and Jim Gerstein. The speakers set out some of the important shifts in the beliefs and values of the American Jewish community. [Read more…]