Tag Archives: Jewish

So Long Target Hanukkah Aisle, #1250

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When I lived in Los Angeles, Hanukkah greeted you everywhere that you went – in the drugs stores, the department stores, in the grocery stores.  With the second largest Jewish population in the country, it is no wonder that there was a consumer market for Hanukkah.

After a decade of living in a large city, however, my husband and I decided to live a simpler life in Arizona.  Suddenly, I really felt how much of a minority it was to be Jewish, and Hanukkah time really delivered that blow.  I remember going from store to store searching out Hanukkah wrapping paper in my procrastination night-before-Hanukkah frenzy.  The synagogue gift shops were closed. Bed Bath and Beyond (the one store with a tiny Hanukkah display) had run out of all the Hanukkah wrapping paper.  I was stuck with ordinary plain Jane blue paper.  Sorry kids.  Oh well, at least they were young, and it probably didn’t really matter to them.

It mattered to me though!  I wanted Hanukkah to feel festive.  Finally, a couple of years ago, something magical happened.  I walked into Target, and I saw this…

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Wow!  An entire aisle devoted to Hanukkah!  In Tucson, AZ!  I was in 7th heaven.  I ran into the Rabbi’s wife in that aisle stocking up, and we giggled like kids in a candy store.  What a joy it was so have such a selection.

So, yesterday….again procrastinating (Hanukkah starts tomorrow), I went back to my trustworthy Target, and began to search for my beloved Hanukkah aisle.  Where was it?  Rows and rows of Christmas, and absolutely nothing in the friendly blue, white and silver.

And then, just as I was heading up to the cashier, I saw it….the Hanukkah display.  My heart dropped into my stomach a bit.  This is what Hanukkah had become at Target in 2015….

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A lousy end cap.  That’s what we were reduced to.  I get it….we’re the minority, and perhaps there just weren’t enough people buying Hanukkah items to warrant a whole aisle.  After losing the awesome Kosher section at our local Safeway grocery store this year, however, and now this….I’m truly sad.  I’m feeling overlooked, and it is really disappointing.

I’ve got my candles.  I’ve got my wrapping paper.  I’ve got my gelt.  I am ready to go with Hanukkah, but the Target end cap made me really sad.  I don’t just want to have a dreidel….I want to choose from a selection of them.  I want a variety of choices to decorate with, and I want to feel festive at this time of the year and add to a whole world of holiday joy.  And….I want to do it by outwardly celebrating MY holiday.

So, my song of the day is Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song.  He’s created some updated versions of this song, but I’m going back to the original.  What I love about his Hanukkah song is that he brought Hanukkah to the mainstream and reminded us that there are Jews all around us who celebrate the holiday season the Hanukkah way.  So, Happy Hanukkah everyone.  I hope you find it to be festive!

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Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, #1221

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The Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hashanah, begins tonight at sundown, and there are so many traditions to mark this joyous occasion.  The one I am going to talk about though in today’s blog is the tradition of eating apples and honey for its super sticky sweetness as a reminder to bring sweetness into the new year ahead.

For 24 hours, we’ll be munching away on this amazingly delicious treat wondering why we don’t eat it all year long as a snack.  Apples and honey is quite the combo — so good!  Even if you’re not Jewish, make sure to try it.  It’s Delish!

When the 24 hours is over, however, I am always stuck with the same dilemma….jars of unused honey that usually pile up and end up tossed several months later.  I hate wasting, so this year I am determined to find interesting recipes for my leftover honey.  Here are a few that I have found and that struck me as seeming especially great.  As you’re reading through them, enjoy today’s super sweet song to mark the New Year.  “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” or “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops is as sweet as you can get.  Shanah tovah umetukah (A sweet New Year) to all!

Honey Roasted Carrots (From Southern Living)- CLICK HERE for the recipe

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Sticky Honey-Soy Chicken Wings (From The Food Network) –CLICK HERE for the recipe

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Pumpkin Honey Bread (From Honey.com) – CLICK HERE for the recipe

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Happy New Year, Honey – Apples & Honey Cocktail (From BonAppetit.com) – CLICK HERE for the recipe

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Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon (From EatingWell.com) –CLICK HERE for the recipe

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Riesling Baked Pears (From EatingWell.com) – CLICK HERE for the recipe

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The Martha Stewart Song, #925

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Here's Martha when she was the keynote speaker at the BlogHer 2012 conference that I attended in NYC.

Here’s Martha when she was the keynote speaker at the BlogHer 2012 conference that I attended in NYC.

I know that  when I start up a conversation about Martha Stewart, I am going to get mixed reactions.  She’s one of those people that you either love or hate.  Well, all you haters, I am one among those who love her, because she is reliable.  I can’t tell you how many times I need to figure out how to make a project I’m working on fabulous, and then when I Google search how to do it…there’s Martha with step by step instructions, gorgeous photos and a video tutorial.

Today, I need to share one of the biggest reasons why I love her so.  Even though Martha is not Jewish, her Jewish crafts are, bar none, the best listed on the internet.  Believe me…I Google every Jewish holiday, and it is always the Martha crafts that I end up taking on.  Oh yes…and not to mention her Jewish recipes.  Perhaps they are Jewish with a Martha non-Jewish twist, but I guarantee you..they will be yummy.

I thought today, I would share some of Martha Stewart’s alter Jewish ego’s (I like to call her Malka Stewartstein) amazing Jewish ideas.  Here are some of my favorites!

Paper Dreidels for Hanukkah (CLICK HERE to see the project)

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Martha’s pretty Hamantaschen with the scalloped edges (CLICK HERE to see her recipe)

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Martha’s Passover Plague Bag.  I actually just made this one for my work.  I loved her template for the outside of the bag!  (CLICK HERE to see the project)

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Martha’s Chocolate Mint Matzah Ice Cream Cake….Not sure if she realizes that most ice cream is not Kosher for Passover…but oh well, a good idea nonetheless. (CLICK HERE to see the recipe)

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Matzah Latkes for Passover.  Love this!  (CLICK HERE to see the recipe)

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If you Google search, you, too, will find Jewish idea after idea from my favorite Malka Stewartstein.  She is just so innovative, and every idea is just so pretty.

My song of the day is a funny comedic spoof I found on Youtube by Bob Noone.  His song “The Martha Stewart Song” is hilarious.  Watch this and enjoy, and go get your Jewish craft on!!!  It’s a “good thing!”

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The Tree Song, #881

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Next week is the Jewish holiday, Tu B’shvat.  Tu B’shvat is a Jewish celebration of trees and has really become an environmental nature Earth-lovin’ holiday over the years.  I love this holiday, because it is a super fun to teach to children, and the songs are really fun to sing, too.

I am compelled  to write about “The Tree Song” by Josh Miller today, because after teaching it all week to preschoolers and preschool staff, I have observed that something really interesting happens when a group sings it.

Imagine this:

A group of 10-20 children are sitting in a circle on a floor , and there are 2-3 teachers sitting among them.  “The Tree Song” has a lot of movement, and so I’ll ask the class to stand up while I teach it to them.  I sing the words, “We grow, we grow, we grow, etc…” and we raise our bodies from low to the ground until we reach our hands high up over our heads as if we were “growing.”

As the movement begins to happen, the kids are into it, but it’s really the teaching staff I love to watch.  They become silly.  I mean…REALLY silly.  We freeze into crazy tree shapes as I yell out the word “tree” over and over again, and it’s like all of their inhibitions disappear until we are a room of over-energized nutty performance artists.  I watch their laughter and smiles as they glance at each other working off of each other’s energy.  It is simply teachers in their element…having fun, and in my opinion, being their best.  It is only with the power of music that something that magical can happen.  G-d bless those teachers.

So, here’s the video to the song for all of you to witness (and maybe join in on) the silliness.  Click HERE to watch and listen and have a very Happy Tu B’shvat.

Or Chadash, #838

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I am so excited today, because today, Tucson Songstress friends, is the birth a new blog endeavor for me!  The crazy thing though is that this new endeavor it is not part of The Tucson Songstress.  Today marks the beginning of a weekly Shabbat posting that I will be writing for the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s blog.  My weekly article is called “Shabbat Shmoozings, ” and the title completely describes my new writing.

Shmooze is the Yiddish word for making small talk, and this blog will be my shmoozy musings and rambles about stories I hear from around the Tucson JCC, Jewish resources and Tucson Jewish event reportings.  It is a beautiful marriage between me and the Tucson JCC, and I couldn’t be more excited to do this for them.

Please do check out my new “Shabbat Shmoozings” every Friday on the Tucson JCC blog page.  Here’s the link:  http://www.tucsonjcc.org/blog/.  My first post is now live, so please check it out!

For my song of the day, I am turning to American Jewish composer, Rick Recht, because his music feels perfectly apropos to begin this new Jewish endeavor with.  The word “chadash” means new in Hebrew, so his song “Or Chadash”  or “New Light” is the right fit for my “Shabbat Shmoozings.”  Coincidentally, it is also the name of the congregation I belong to, so the song even has a deeper personal meaning for me, as well.  Click HERE to hear Rick Recht’s beautiful “Or Chadash,” and please join me in taking new steps forward down a lovely writing path that means so much to me.

 

Honey Honey – A Top 10 Rosh Hashanah Guide for the Non-Jewish Person, #780

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Shanah tovah u’metukah, my M.O.T.’s   Those words have been sincerely posted all over Facebook over the last 24 hours, and I’ve been thinking that my non-Jewish friends must be wondering what in the heck this is all about!.  So, dear friends of other faiths, I decided to put together a Top 10 list of the most used Rosh Hahshanah phrases.  Here you go:

(1)  Rosh Hashanah:  Literally, the words translate as “Head of the Year,” and that is exactly what it is.  Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish happy new year holiday or as it is explained to children, “the birthday of the world.”

(2) Shanah tovah:  Shanah tovah means “good year,” and it is used as a greeting on this day, too.  Some people say “shanah tovah” (good year), some say “L’shanah tovah,” or some say “shanah tovah u’metukah” which wishes someone a good and sweet new year.

(3) M.O.T:  An “M.O.T.” is said in jest and with humor.  It means “member of the tribe.”

(4) Apples & Honey: Apples and honey are the traditional foods eaten for Rosh Hashanah to remind us to have a sweet year ahead.  People make all sorts of apple and honey desserts to make things a bit more interesting;  apple cake, apple crisp, honey cake, etc.

(5) The Shofar: The shofar is a ram’s horn that is played throughout the Rosh Hashanah holiday and at the end of Yom Kippur.  It announces the holiday and concludes the 10 “Days of Awe”…the time from which Rosh Hashanah begins and Yom Kippur ends.

(6) Tashlich: Tashlich is the Hebrew word for “throw,” and it is a super cool tradition when we throw bread crumbs into water that represents the things we are sorry we have done throughout the year.  When the bread crumbs float away, we get a fresh, clean start.  Tashlich is practiced at the end of the Rosh Hashanah day.

(7) Wearing White: Some Jews wear white for the Rosh Hashanah holiday for its purity and clean start of the new year.

(8) The Pomegranate: It is said that the average pomegranate contains 613 seeds, which is the number of commandments in the Torah.

(9) The Round Challah: On Shabbat, Jews eat a braided challah bread every week.  On Rosh Hashanah, the challah is round.  This is to show the roundness and cycle of a year.

(10) New Years Cards: Jewish people sometimes send Happy New Year Rosh Hashanah cards of greeting to each other for the holiday just as the secular world does for the Christmas holiday.

So there you have it folks!  I hope that clears up some of the questions about all of this Facebook banter.  I chose a little “Honey Honey” by Abba as my song of the day today to wish you all a happy and sweet new year ahead regardless of your religion.  We all could use a little sweetness in our lives, afterall, right?  So click HERE to hear the song on this first day of the Jewish calendar!

All In White, #716

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Last night, I was really thinking of my daughter away at camp.  I am living through her this week and a flood of memories from my own camp experiences are bouncing through my mind at warp speed.  Last night, in particular, I knew she was experiencing her first camp Shabbat.  Camp Shabbat is solely responsible for what made me Jewish, and I knew it would be just as meaningful for her.

A camp Shabbat is like none other.  At her camp and at many others, the campers dress all in white.  My camp didn’t do this, but I think there is something really special about it.  Combing through the camp’s pictures this morning, there was one photo of her at a microphone.  Her back is towards the camera, but the message is loud and clear.  She had a part in the service, which will only add to what she will get from the evening.  I know that after that photo was taken, she headed to the dining hall, ate Shabbat dinner and rocked out to a super energetic and long song session.  I know this, because this is the common camp Shabbat formula.

As an adult, when I talk to other grown ups about camp Shabbat, the response is always the same.  Happy smiles filled with nostalgia and recollections of the singing spread across their faces.  It is why I became a song leader and even why I learned to play guitar…so I could continue the camp feeling throughout the year.

I am thrilled that my daughter is having these experiences and am wondering how and if it will change my little girl when she comes home.  I know that it had a huge impact on my life, and I am feeling pretty confident by these pictures I’ve been seeing that she will be changed for the better.

My song of the day is pure rock and roll.  “All in White” by the Vaccines has nothing to do with Shabbat, but I am paying homage today to an “all in white” camp Shabbat.  So, click HERE to go to Youtube to hear the song.  Shabbat Shalom to all who celebrate.  I think I’ll need to play some Shabbat camp songs on my guitar today in celebration of a really great memory for me and a new reality for my daughter.