Lag BaOmer Poike

Photo by אסף.צ

Photo: אסף .צ

Israel owes one of its most popular Lag BaOmer traditions to the Jewish community of South Africa. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, the proudly Zionist South African Jews provided it with the most financial support per capita of any other community in the diaspora. Just as importantly, the South African olim introduced the potjie (pronounced “poike”) to Israel. This special pot, and the stew named for it, is an indispensable part of the Israeli Lag BaOmer celebration.

A potjie is a type of Dutch oven that was brought to South Africa by the Boer colonists from the Netherlands in the 1800s. This cast iron cauldron means “little pot.” It has three small legs and a wire handle. It can be nestled among the coals of a campfire or suspended over a flame.

To prepare the potjie stew, a little oil is heated in the Dutch oven. Then, lamb cubes are browned. Some alcohol is added for flavor, usually beer, sherry, or dessert wine. The potjie chef seasons the stew, usually very conservatively. Amazingly, garlic is not a popular ingredient. The pot is covered tightly with the lid, and the stew is left to steam slowly. It is not customary to stir the contents of the pot, so that when the potjie is ready, there are layers of flavors in the stew.

Photo By Chrstphr.jones (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Chrstpher Jones

Lamb Potjie
Adapted from Joburg South
4 pounds cubed lamb
4 tbsp. olive oil
4 onions, chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 potatoes, chopped
1/2 lb. green beans, with the ends cut off
2 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin

Heat the pot over medium hot coals.
Combine the flour, salt, cumin, and coriander.
Coat the lamb cubes with the flour mixture.
Heat the olive oil in the pot.
Brown the lamb cubes.
Take the lamb cubes out of the pot and set aside.
Place the onions and celery in the pot, and fry them a little bit.
Add the lamb cubes to the vegetables.
Pour in the stock, red wine, fresh thyme, and bay leaves.
Close the lid tightly and allow to cook for one hour.
Add the potatoes.
After 30 minutes, add the carrots.
Cook for 15 minutes, and add the green beans.
Wait 10 minutes.
Serve with rice, noodles, or fresh pita bread.

The Anti-Israel Movement: BDS On Campus

This weekend, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, a conference will be held. The gathering, which the University is hosting, has been arranged by a group which is identified by the acronym BDS. BDS refers to the movement dedicated to punishing, vilifying and delegitimizing the State of Israel in three ways.

  • First, this group encourages “B”, boycotting Israeli products.
  • Second, the group advocates “D”, divesting from companies which do business in and with Israel.
  • And third is “S”, the efforts to convince governments around the world to impose sanctions against Israel.

[Read more…]

B’nai Brith Condemns Desmond Tutu’s Israeli Boycott Efforts

— Sharon Bender

B’nai B’rith International is deeply disappointed at retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s effort to encourage a cultural boycott of Israel. Tutu urged the Cape Town Opera to cancel a tour of Israel scheduled for November, condemning what he described in a statement as “discrimination” in Israel.

Tutu also said Israel makes a “fallacious claim to being a ‘civilized democracy.'”

“It is unfortunate that Desmond Tutu is ill-informed and misled about Israel,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Following his recent call for an academic boycott of Israel, he is working hard to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

More after the jump.
This troubling campaign demonizes Israel and undermines peace efforts.

It is disturbing that Tutu fails to note that Israel is the most open and welcoming nation in the Middle East; a democracy where Israeli Arabs have full voting rights. Israel provides access in its capital to all religions to worship at holy sites.

In condemning Israel, Tutu ignores reality: Israel has pressed for peace with the Palestinians over and over, only to be met with excuses and stall tactics, as well as rockets, mortars, and savage terrorist attacks.  Tutu’s failure to condemn the terror group that calls for Israel’s destruction, Hamas, is curious.

“His claim to being an advocate for peace is once again being brought into question. He should focus on engagement, rather than efforts to delegitimize one of the parties to the process,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “He should use his microphone to promote peace, not restrictions.”

B’nai B’rith commends the Cape Town Opera’s decision to reject the boycott calls and travel to Israel to perform as planned.

B’nai B’rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights, and advocacy organization.  For 167 years, BBI has worked for Jewish unity, security, continuity, and tolerance.