Tisha B’Av and Tips for an Easy Fast

Cartoon of two men discussing Tisha Be'Av. Credit: Drybones.

Courtesy of Yaakov Kirschen.

Tonight is Erev Tisha B’Av, the eve of the 9th Day of Av, one of the most solemn days in the Jewish calendar. Tisha B’Av is the anniversary of numerous tragedies in Jewish history. For example,

  • The report of the 12 spies.
  • The destruction of King Solomon’s Holy Temple by the Babylonians (422 BCE).
  • The destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans (68 CE).
  • The defeat of the Bar Kochba revolt (132 CE).
  • The declaration by Pope Urban II of the First Crusade (1095 CE).
  • The expulsion of English Jews (1290 CE).
  • The expulsion of Spanish Jews (1492 CE),
  • The start of World War I (1914 CE).
  • The beginning of mass deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto (1942 CE), and
  • The bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires (1994 CE).

To commemorate these events, Jews fast for 25 hours and refrain from bathing, wearing leather shoes and engaging in marital relations. This fast is probably the most difficult of the year: The sun sets so late making the fast seem longer. The summer heat can dehydrate you. But most of all, unlike Yom Kippur, when you are surrounded by fellow Jews who are also fasting and busy with the liturgy, most Jews continue their daily routines on Tisha B’Av and are confronted with reminders of food.

According to Ira Milner:

While some people fast with little difficulty, most of us expect to feel more or less bedraggled after only a few hours. If fasting means headaches and assorted misery for you, it might be the fault of what you eat or drink beforehand. A few simple precautions in planning your pre-taanit menu could make all the difference.

Here is a summary of Ira Milner’s recommendations:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. 8-10 glasses of water (or other non-caffeinated beverage).
  • Small portions of animal proteins.
  • Increase starch and carbohydrates: Whole grain-bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes, legumes, unsalted popcorn.
  • Increase fiber: Vegetables and fruits with edible skins or seeds.
  • Decrease salt.
  • Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas)
  • Avoid fried or spicy foods.

The Healthy Break-Fast

Glass of water. Photo: Derek Jensen (Tysto) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Derek Jensen (Tysto)

At the conclusion of the 25-hour Yom Kippur fast, your body deserves some tender loving care. The foods that are traditionally served to break the fast do not necessarily provide this. Here are some tips on the scientifically healthiest ways to replenish your body with nutrients.

Note: If you are reading this before the start of the fast, check out Strategic Feasting Before Fasting.

Water

The first thing to give your parched body is water. Indulge in one or two glasses of water before you approach the food.

Display of carved fruit. Photo by Tracy Hunter https://www.flickr.com/photos/tracyhunter/

Photo: Tracy Hunter

Fresh Fruit

While fresh fruit is usually served toward the end of the meal, following a fast it is good to begin with the fruit. Fruits are easy to digest, and give your body additional fluids and sugars. Apples, grapes, watermelon, pears, and melons are good choices. Avoid citrus fruits, as they may be too acidic at this point.

Salad of dark green leafy vegetables. Photo by Connoisseur 4 The Cure https://www.flickr.com/photos/73887528@N08/

Photo: Connoisseur 4 The Cure

Fresh Vegetables

A salad with a base of romaine lettuce, kale, or Swiss chard will provide vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to bring your body back into equilibrium. Add some chopped raw carrots, celery, and beets. Avoid commercial salad dressings, which contain too much salt. Make your own simple dressing with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a little lemon, or a yogurt (with live cultures) dressing.

Egg. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Eggs

Eggs are the most complete sources of protein. They are easy to digest, and quick to prepare. Serve some boiled eggs with the salad to renew your energy.

Vegetable Soup

Whip up a quick water-based vegetable soup with whole grains such as unpearled barley or brown rice and legumes such as lentils or beans. Use fresh vegetables, and to save time, canned legumes and quick cooking brown rice or barley.

Here is a recipe for a quick and easy vegetable soup that you can make from scratch:

Photo by Katrin Morenz https://www.flickr.com/people/26242865@N04

Photo: Katrin Morenz

Vegetable Soup
Adapted from About Food

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot.
  2. Add all the chopped vegetables.
  3. Sauté for 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the dry spices.
  5. Pour in the 8 cups of water.
  6. Bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes.

You may add cooked beans, lentils, or garbanzo beans.
Serve with quick cooking brown rice or another whole grain.

Strategic Feasting Before Fasting

During the 25-hour fast of Yom Kippur, many people suffer from dehydration, low sugar levels, and lack of caffeine. It is much easier to persevere and achieve success if you prepare well in advance.

Wean Yourself From Caffeine:

Photo: Nevit Dilmen

Photo: Nevit Dilmen.

The one thing regular coffee drinkers miss the most during Yom Kippur is coffee. They miss caffeine even more than water.

Coffee consumers should taper off their caffeine consumption during the week before Yom Kippur.

Avoid Dehydrating Foods:
[Read more…]

Rubio Yom Kippur Fundraiser Venue Features Hitler’s Art

Personal library of Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow.

Personal library of Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow.

Today, as the sun is setting for Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement and the most holy day on the Jewish calendar – Senator Marco Rubio will hold a fundraiser in a Highland Park, Texas home that features two paintings by Adolf Hitler, a signed copy of Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, and a cabinet full of place settings and linens used by the Nazi leader.

Statues of Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong in Crow's "Gallery of Fallen Dictators".

Statue in Crow’s “Gallery of Fallen Dictators” of a 1949 meeting of Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong.

Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow has an enormous collection of war memorabilia including “a ‘garden of tyrants’ that includes busts and statues of such notorious dictators as former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.”

According to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

An event at a home with items like these is appalling at any time of the year. Adding insult to injury, Rubio is holding this event on the eve of the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Holding an event in a house featuring the artwork and signed autobiography of a man who dedicated his life to extinguishing the Jewish people is the height of insensitivity and indifference. There’s really no excuse for such a gross act of disrespect. Mr. Rubio, who by the way, represents a sizable Jewish population in our home state of Florida, should cancel this tasteless fundraiser. It is astounding that the presence of these items that represent horror for millions of Jews the world over, would not stop Mr. Rubio or anyone on his team in their tracks when planning this event.

The Republican National Committee’s national press secretary Allison Moore attempted to switch the subject by attacking the messenger:

rather than manufacture a false controversy over a collection of historic memorabilia … Debbie Wasserman Schultz should have opposed the weak Clinton-Obama Iran deal that puts Israel’s safety in jeopardy.

Break the Yom Kippur Fast With Pashtidah

Photo by kirabutler https://www.flickr.com/photos/elixireleven/

Photo by kirabutler.

The best way to break the Yom Kippur fast is with easily digestible foods. Nutritionists recommend eggs for people who have abstained from food, and are ready to resume eating.

One of the best make-ahead egg dishes to prepare for this occasion is a pashtidah: a type of crustless savory pie.

The word pashtidah derives from the Italian word pasticcio, which means “pie.” The Italian pasticcio is a type of baked pie, with noodles, meat, or fish. Medieval Italian rabbis discussed the pashtidah in their deliberations over kashrut.

The pashtidah is a very popular dish in Israel, served everywhere from kibbutz dining halls to the prime minister’s residence. Here is a traditional Israeli recipe for a cheesy zucchini pashtidah. It is very easy to prepare, and is delicious hot or cold. Serve it with some crusty bread and a crisp green salad.

Zucchini-Cheese Pashtidah

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, cheddar, or any sharp cheese of your choice
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 medium size zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 stalks fresh dill, parsley, or cilantro, minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan.
  3. Fry the zucchini with the thyme.
  4. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  5. When the zucchini has softened, set it aside to cool.
  6. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, cheese, flour, and dill.
  7. Add the zucchini.
  8. Pour the mixture into an oiled pie or muffin pan.
  9. Bake for between 30 and 40 minutes.
  10. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve it at the fast’s break.

Attending Yom Kippur Services Online


Rabbi Milgram practices blowing the shofar as Kabbalah4all.com‘s leader David Aharon Curtis prepares to begin his service.

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

On Erev Rosh Hashanah, my ankle was too swollen and painful to even hop over to the car to attend  the services. That created a rare rabbinic opportunity for me: attending free High Holiday services on-line.

I did not know what to expect at all, as I had only accidentally tripped over the possibility, when researching a quote online earlier in that week. Here is how it works, at least with Kabbalah4all.com, and the golden-voiced, inclusive service leader, composer of Jewish music, David Aharon Curtis.

Everything on the website, including Shabbat and festival services year-round, is for free. I registered as a member, and downloaded the evening section of the High Holiday Prayerbook, (machzor). Before sundown, I logged in for the Rosh Hashanah evening service.

More after the jump.
What were the services like? The liberal, gender-inclusive services were led by Curtis from what looked like inside of his home, in front of a sweet setup of holiday candles, a menorah, pomegranate and shofar.

It turns out that David Aharon Curtis has been streaming services for eight years already — what a boon to those in hospice or otherwise homebound. Some, it seemed, even gathered in small minyanim (groups of 10 or so) in remote areas without synagogues, tuned in and were able to have a service in this way.

The prayer books, provided as PDF downloads are interlinear: The transliterations, English and Hebrew, are not opposite each other, but rather are in the learner-friendly line-by-line approach. There are also lovely spiritual kavvanot, contemplative explanations, written in the text before each prayer.

The leader rarely showed his face, so one could mostly focus on praying along with the service leader’s lovely voice. A few nature slides and pictures of a Torah or shofar dominated the screen.

In the video to the left you can see an example of the leader’s approach to the Shema, a central prayer in most Jewish services. It’s easy to follow along in the English and transliteration, the leader chants in the Hebrew and occasional Aramaic of the Kaddish, using mostly traditional and a few contemporary melodies. I recognized a few melodies as attributable to Debbie Friedman, of blessed memory. My husband, raised in South Africa, was delighted at the relative absence of talk and simple presence of authentic prayer.

As David Aharon Curtis pointed out in his brief talk at the end of the service, while one can have a sense of connection and community in an on-line service, it’s difficult to meet and mingle afterward. The approach does seems to be catching on, a wide variety of free live-streaming High Holiday service options come up in a key word search, among them the radio broadcasts from New York’s Temple Emanuel and Central Synagogue.

Nashuva, a post-denominational California community that meshes spirituality with social action, is live-streaming their Kol Nidre service, to led by Rabbi Naomi Levy at 9:45 pm tonight. A well-known author and actist, Rabbi Levy is author of several books including Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration. In addition, there are a growing number of synagogues and havurot providing Shabbat and holiday services on-line to members in good standing; these typically require a password for viewing.

For those who are housebound, or far from a congregation this Yom Kippur, or at any point in the Jewish year and your Jewish practice permits it, services on-line will be a great help.

Israel at 65: How and Why to Support It

— by Lee Bender

Israel has turned 65 last May, and it is worth reflecting on what the modern State of Israel has done to create a strong and vibrant home for many Jews around the world.

At 65, Israel is clearly no “senior citizen” about getting on Social Security, and on the road to the golden years of retirement. On the contrary, Israel is vibrant, young, and alive. Even for those of us who do not live there, Israel resonates in our hearts as our historic homeland, as the focal point of the Jewish people, as a spiritual center, and as a continuing source of wonder, pride and joy.

More after the jump.
No matter what political stripe you are from, we all have a far larger mission and commonality that binds us. Because quite simply, whether we appreciate it or not, recognize it or not, like it or not, the fate and safety of the Jewish community, even here in America, is inextricably linked to the strength and security of the State of Israel.

Make no mistake: the loss of Israel, or even a crippled Israel, would fundamentally alter American Jewry, and would arrest the revival of Jewish life in Europe, Canada, South America. Most of us do not know what it was like to have lived in a world without the State of Israel, where Jews were paralyzed, persecuted, and powerless, with no refuge to escape to, and no Israel Defense Force to protect us.

As Rabbi Daniel Gordis has observed, the simple but overlooked truth is that what has made the difference for Jews all over the world is the State of Israel. The world finally saw the Jews as people who would shape their own destiny, unlike the poor, stateless Tibetans, Chechnyans, Basques, and Kurds, to name a few. Jews no longer have to tiptoe around the world, waiting to see what the world had in store for them.

The miraculous rebirth of the Jewish state has also changed how we see ourselves. The days of “We looked like grasshoppers to ourselves and so we appeared to them” (Numbers 13:33) are gone. This is why the security of Israel is not optional for us.

A little geography lesson is always instructive for perspective. Israel is one of the tiniest nations on the planet:

  • It is 260 miles long, with a coastline of 112 miles;
  • It is 9 to 71 miles wide;
  • Israel’s land mass, 8019 square miles, is about the size of New Jersey’s, and is only 1/625 (1/6%) of the size of the Arab world’s;
  • Israel is surrounded by 22 hostile Arab/Islamic dictatorships — even with this so-called Arab Spring — including some very nasty and murderous Arab Islamic terrorist organizations, such as Hizbollah and Hamas, whose charter unabashedly calls for global jihad against Jews and the destruction of Israel.
  • There are 56 Islamic nations, and 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide. The total population of the Arab states plus Iran is 350 million. By comparison, only 5.9 million Jews live in Israel, yielding a regional population ratio of 56:1 in the middle east.
  • Israel has 1.2 million Arabs living as full citizens with equal rights — which are also far more than their brethren have in Arab/Muslim countries.
  • Israel is the only place in the Middle East where the Christian population is not oppressed, and is in fact growing.
  • The world’s Jewish population is a mere 13.5 million, which sadly is 5 million fewer than in 1939. It is so small, that it is the margin of error of the population of China.

It is little Israel who is the “David,” fending against the Arab/Muslim world’s “Goliath.” And yet, it is always Israel that is expected to shrink even more.

What accounts for the key to Israel’s survival? We showed an amazing film this lat year as part of the JerusalemOnlineU.com’s mini-course, Step Up for Israel, entitled: Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference. The film very effectively identified the elusive core characteristics that make modern Israel a nation unlike all others: Chutzpah, transforming adversity to advantage, powerful family links, the Israeli unwavering determination to “get things done,” challenging the status quo, looking for ways to do and make things better, and rejecting and ignoring the naysayers.

Israel is not merely the “start up nation” — it is the “innovation nation.” But we dare not take this for granted, despite the incredible accomplishments that no sane, level-headed person could have possibly imagined 65 years ago: A language brought back to life; an economic engine that is the envy of many far more established countries; a burgeoning haven for scientific innovation and high-tech, communications, computers, medical equipment and agricultural know-how that is shared throughout the world — and top-notch medical treatment provided to all citizens, including Arabs, and terrorists and terror victims alike. In Israel, biology trumps ideology.  

Can you imagine this occurring in Arab or Muslim dominated countries? Israel’s neighbors, unfortunately, tragically, do not share this ethos of tolerance and tikkun olam (help repair the world). Could the sane person 65 years ago imagine a thriving robust democracy composed of immigrants from around the world of all different colors and backgrounds, including Muslim refugees escaping tyranny from Sudan, Eritrea and the Ivory Coast? And it all takes place in an arid land of desert and harsh climate.

The Jewish ethic, that life is sacred and paramount, and shall be cherished, was recognized by a Syrian citizen who recently tweeted, “I envy the Israeli government because it cares for its citizens; their government is prepared to pay the ultimate price for one citizen, while our government kills us like we are animals, and our Arab neighbors say that it is an internal matter.”  

And thank Hashem that Israel possesses a citizen army that keeps it so safe, that we tend  to take for granted that its enemies will be contained and defeated. That includes the murderous and genocidal mullah regime in Iran, that denies the Holocaust, denies that the Jewish people have any historic connection to the Land of Israel, is the largest state sponsor of terror, defies international sanctions in an unrelenting quest to achieve nuclear breakout capability, and vows to wipe Israel off the map — and we better believe them. In case you have forgotten, Israel is the “Little Satan,” and America is still the “Great Satan,” according to Iran.

And yet, despite the efforts to de-legitimize and demonize it from a multitude of fronts, including the mainstream media, anti-Israel NGOs, the U.N., European Union, and Arab states, Israel is one of the happiest nations in the world, according to a recent annual survey. Israel came 11th out of 156; most of the top ten were North European countries. Mexico was #16, the U.S. was #17, and most Arab countries trailed well behind. This is a tribute to the Israeli spirit, the ruach.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu said that his late father, the great historian and professor Benzion, on his 100th Birthday taught him that “Those who are unfamiliar with the past cannot understand the present, and those who cannot understand the present cannot see what lies ahead.” Well, if you could take a time-machine back to the early 1930’s, you would scream from the rooftops about the threats on the horizon. Today we have total clarity about what we are facing with a potentially nuclear Iran, the surrounding Arab Spring, especially in Egypt and Syria, which is becoming more like an Islamist nightmare. Those countries are closing in on tiny Israel, circling like sharks sensing blood in the water, and we must scream from the 21st Century rooftops.  

In today’s world, without a strong Israel, there is no Jewish people. We cannot allow a second Holocaust to happen within 80 years — it is our responsibility to give Israel the tools, means and ability to defend itself.  

By every measure, Israel should be praised and admired. Instead, Israel is treated by most of the world as a pariah. Overt Antisemitism is being replaced by anti-Zionism.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the Islamo-fascism, incitement, military threats and de-legitimization campaign against Israel, is the seeming inability to help. Israel yearns for and offers peace. It has in fact made painful concessions for it, including returning Sinai to Egypt; and Gaza, and civilian control of large areas of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority. But its Arab neighbors refuse to negotiate for a co-equal, co-existence and peaceful settlement, and instead consistently wallow in a culture of hatred, and call for Israel’s destruction.  

While we may not be able to stop the terrorists or rocket attacks, we can combat the lies about Israel, and can educate others and take action to lift the spirit of Israelis. In Kabbalistic terms, we may not see the immediate results of our actions, but every action we take makes a difference, and could indeed be the “tipping point.”

So what is your charge — what can you do? Let me suggest six ways:

  1. visit Israel
  2. Challenge bias in the media. And do not be deceived — words do matter. My new book, co-written with my good friend Jerome Verlin from Elkins Park, entitled: Pressing Israel exposes the hidden agenda behind this language, and addresses the challenge to call things what they are — because surrendering the language forfeits our narrative and our story, and puts Israel’s very existence at risk. This past year we have spoken at over 20 synagogues, churches, schools, and Federation and other civic and Jewish organizations.  

  3. Stay current on the news on what is happening in Israel in the Middle East. Be an ambassador for the truth and our people, and speak out.
  4. Lobby our elected officials. Vote — and take Israel into the voting booth with you. You must remind everyone of the importance of a mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel relationship, emphasize that Israel is an asset to the U.S. militarily, diplomatically and scientifically, with shared cultural values and ethics. Israel has been described as “the equivalent of 5 CIAs,” and due to its ability to be America’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” thousands of U.S. troops need not be stationed in the Middle East to protect America’s interests.  
  5. Buy Israeli products and services. Go out of your way to support Israel’s export trade, and act locally here at the grocery store.
  6. And, of course, buy an Israel Bond. Even at these difficult financial times, Israel’s flawless record for debt repayment has been applauded by financial agencies, and for a good reason — since the first bonds were issued 61 years ago, every payment of principal and interest has been met on time, and in full. And while a purchase seems to be an act of tzedakah, it is really an investment. And it has proven to be a very good one, paying better than most others today. The Israel Bonds program is a positive, proactive, non-political expression of our attachment to Israel. The funds generated by every purchase serve people — not political parties, helping to create strong Israeli businesses, industries, infrastructure and economy. Through the purchase of an Israel Bond, we are making a direct connection to our Israeli brothers and sisters.

It is hard to think about Israel Bonds, when nobody is standing before you making the annual Israel Bonds Appeal. Seven years ago, when my wife Jane and I were on our first bar mitzvah circuit with our boys, and were going to affairs virtually every week, we decided to not perfunctorily write gift checks, but instead purchase far more meaningful gifts: Israel Bonds.

I would make weekly trips to the Israel Bonds office at 1500 Walnut Street during lunch hour, to purchase the Bonds in person, and got to make some good friends there. Most people do not do this, and you do not have to, of course. It is now much easier than ever before to purchase the Bonds online, and they make incredibly moving gifts. So do not be lazy, and simply write that $36, $50, $100, $200 check for that bar mitzvah or special affair. That same money can purchase a lot, and be put to work for the State of Israel. Make the affirmative effort to buy Israel Bonds. You would be amazed how quickly these seemingly small sums add up, and you can also designate the local Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El for credit too.

This is your wake-up call. It is no exaggeration that Israel needs our unwavering support now. Israel is a miracle. Hashem has given us the tools and means to defend ourselves. Investing in an Israel Bond now is the best way to show that.

Lee Bender gave this speech to Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El before Kol Nidre on Erev Yom Kippur 2013. He spoke not in his role as the Israel Action Committee Chairman at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El or as the co-President of the Greater Philadelphia District of the Zionist Organization of America, but simply in support of Israel Bonds as a Jew, a proud Zionist, and fellow congregant.

Interactive Map Connects Young Adults to High Holiday Opportunities

— by Jason Edelstein

To help Birthright Israel alumni and their friends connect to communities and create their own meaningful experiences during the High Holidays, NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation today launched its 2013 High Holidays Initiative. With an interactive online map of High Holiday services and events around the country, along with the first-time offering of resources and small subsidies to host Rosh Hashanah meals and Yom Kippur break-the-fasts, the initiative empowers young Jewish adults to form communities of meaning with one another, and to celebrate the High Holidays in ways that are accessible and authentic.

More after the jump.
According to NEXT’s CEO Morlie Levin:

Taglit-Birthright participants have returned from their summer trips – joining the hundreds of thousands of alumni from past years – with a personal connection to Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish people. Now is the time to build on that connection and help make Jewish opportunities and communities more accessible. We’ve found that Birthright Israel alumni are particularly interested in celebrating holidays with their friends, and the High Holidays Initiative offers them the opportunity to both create these experiences themselves and connect to community events they find meaningful.

More than 250 services and events in 145 U.S. cities were represented on the interactive map when it launched on August 5, with an increase expected in the coming weeks. Users can easily find events in their city and browse event details, including whether discounted or free tickets are offered. A new feature this year will enable users to filter events based on their preferences for things like egalitarian services, LGBT-friendly events, and more. This is the third year NEXT is offering this online tool.

The resources and subsidies for Birthright Israel alumni to create their own High Holiday experiences are being offered for the first time after the success of NEXT’s Passover Seder initiative. On NEXT’s website, alumni will be able to access traditional and modern insights on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Tools that will help them host High Holiday meals-including Pinterest boards featuring recipes, table setting ideas, and fun High Holiday themes-will also be available. NEXT will additionally offer small subsidies to cover the cost of food for these meals.

The High Holidays Initiative is part of NEXT’s year-round efforts to create opportunities for Birthright Israel alumni and their peers to engage in experiences that deepen their connection to Judaism, Jewish communities, the Jewish people, and Israel. NEXT also consults with local communities and individuals on the most effective strategies for young Jewish adult engagement.

Levin adds:

We have an incredible opportunity to help young Jewish adults turn a ten day trip into a lifelong Jewish journey. Whether by empowering Birthright Israel alumni to find or create meaningful Jewish experiences, or collaborating with local communities and engagement professionals on best strategies to engage this demographic, NEXT is intent on helping young Jewish adults explore deeper Jewish living and learning, as well as their connection to the Jewish people.

NEXT’s other “do-it-yourself” offerings similarly aim to make Jewish experiences more accessible to Birthright Israel alumni. NEXT’s flagship initiative, NEXT Shabbat, has helped more than 7,000 Birthright Israel alumni host more than 16,800 Shabbat experiences for their friends, creating Jewish opportunities that have drawn a total attendance of over 235,000 young adults.

My Visit to Amsterdam

Having just learned that Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has abdicated her throne to her son Willem-Alexander, my thoughts return to that special place where I spent a few days two weeks ago — Holland.

Where can you munch on a herring sandwich topped with chopped onions and pickles, then polish it off with a Corenwijn chaser, while watching seven million tulip bulbs laboriously pushing their way above ground to greet the springtime sun? Why, in Keukenhof Holland, of course. But where in Holland can you get a plate of gefilte fish garnished with chrane, other than in your bubbie’s kitchen?
[Read more…]

A Special Kol Nidre for Congress

Kol Nidre is the traditional Aramaic declaration recited for the Yom Kippur evening service. This solemn ceremony is meant to release the community from oaths which were made in error or under duress. The Rabbinical Assembly of New Haven has created a variant of the Kol Nidre formula for use by Congressmen, Senators and otehr politicians trapped by their pledge to Grover Norquist.

Dissolution of “No New Tax” Pledge

All vows, renunciations, bans, oaths, formulas of obligation, pledges,  and promises that were made by members of the House of Representatives or the Senate and other public officials, lawmakers,  city officials and candidates for office in the United States of America  before this Yom Kippur 5773 (17 September 2012), whether in writing or orally, to not raise taxes or impose new taxes, all are undone, repealed, cancelled, voided, annulled, and released, and regarded as neither valid nor binding by our community.  They are hereby released and forgiven by this Earthly Court, and so may they be released and forgiven by the Highest Court.

Thus ordered, thus decreed and thus released by the signatories below, constituting a rabbinic court of three under our authority and the authority of the Rabbinical Assembly of New Haven, Connecticut,  USA, and others who have joined with us.

Beit Din

  • Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen,  
  • Rabbi Yaakov Komisar, and
  • Rabbi Baruch A. Levine

Witnesses

  • Rabbi Murray Levine,
  • Rabbi Alan H. Lovins, and
  • Rabbi Joshua Ratner

כל נדרי ואסרי וחרמי וקנמי וכנויי וקנוסי ושבועות והבטחות והתחייבויות דנדרו ודאשתבּעו
ודאחרימו ודאסרו ודהבטחו והתחייבו חברי בית הנבחרים והסנאט ופקידי הציבור
ומחוקקים וחברי וועדי העיר ומועמדים למשרד בארצות הברית עד יום כפור זה שנת
ה׳תשע״ג בין בכתב ובין בעל פה בכוונה ללא להעלות מיסים וללא להטיל מיסים חדשים
כלּהון יהון שרן שביקין שביתין בטלין ומבוטלין לא שרירין ולא קימין.  אין כאן לא נדר
ולא אסור ולא חרם ולא קונם ולא קנס ולא שבועה ולא הבטחה ולא התחייבות ויש כאן
מחילה וסליחה וכפרה.  וכשם שמתירים בבית דין של מטה، כך יהיו מֻ תרים מבית דין של
מעלה.  

כך צוים וכך גוזרים וכך מתירים אנחנו، חתומי מטה، בישיבת בית דין של שלשה של כנסת
הרבנים בניו היבן ומצטרפים עלינו עוד רבנים מוסמכים כאן בעיר ניו היבן קנקטקט במדינת
אמריקה הצפונית.