One of the benefits of the Temple’s administrative office being closed for remodel (outside of getting a beautiful new work space of course) is that I was able to come home to Ohio for a week to visit my family. Coming home for any amount of time always feels rushed, like I am trying to squeeze too much into too little time. I never get to see everyone or do all the things I would like.
Ari Shavit, while speaking at the Standard Club on Monday December 9, said lots of things about Israel and its people that I continue to think about, but his comment about American Jewry really caught my attention. It arose during the Q and A portion of his presentation on his recently published My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. Near the end of the address, Shavit expressed a profound concern over the relationship between Israel and Jewish American youth, especially those from secular, non-orthodox communities. What he said had nothing to do with synagogue participation, intermarriage, or the like. It had to do with the political behavior of Jewish American adults.
In early November, I came across the first of several reviews of Shavit’s My Promised Land. In this book, Shavit, an Israeli author and columnist for Haaretz, embarks on an exploration of Israel’s history from the early Zionist movement (of which his own grandfather played a significant role), to the present, in order to understand the source of Israel’s state of “duality” and his own fears about Israel’s survival that have dogged him since childhood. By “duality,” Shavit explains, “On the one hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is occupying another people. On the other hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is existentially threatened. Both occupation and intimidation make the Israeli condition unique” (xii). All of the reviews I read convinced me that Shavit had compelling things to say, so when I heard that there would be a Temple Sholom presence at the Standard Club to hear Shavit speak, I signed right up.
On our trip down south, my husband and I stayed in 2 completely different types of establishments. The first was a bed and breakfast. We arrived late so I did not begin to notice some of their environmentally friendly efforts until the next morning. The first thing was the card in the bathroom reminding me just how much energy and water it takes to wash the towels daily and did I want to opt for a more planet friendly approach. Now that is pretty standard today in hotels and inns so that was not what impressed me but it started me looking for other things that they were doing. First, although it was a Victorian home converted to a B&B, they were using compact fluorescents. Kudos to them. Then I noticed there were no Styrofoam cups or plates. China only. Again kudos to them. There was coffee offered all day long but it was kept hot in thermos containers. There was bottled water for the guests to take with them but they recycled all the bottles that were used on premise. Now these were only the things I noticed on first glance so then I began a conversation with the manager about any other things that they were doing. In our conversation, I planted some seeds of my own, asking about rain barrels for use in irrigation and composting. Something may come of it or maybe not. I probably will never know. But the conversation itself was fun and interesting and hopefully fruitful.
I’m currently attending my first URJ Biennial. I arrived in San Diego last night in time for most of the opening plenary, which included remarks from some giants in the Reform movement (not to mention a pre-recorded video message from Vice President Biden). Later, many of us heard a concert by singers-songwriters Julie Silver and Michelle Citrin. Then jet lag set in.
It has been a long time since I have written a Meatless Monday blog. Like High Holidays long. I had originally meant to share this recipe before Thanksgiving, because it is my family’s (well, really mine) favorite side dish. Sautéed green beans with tomato and basil. Amazing. My aunt makes them just about every year for Thanksgiving and has even written “Carrie’s favorite” on the recipe. We almost always double the recipe, because they are that much of a crowd pleaser, and there’s not usually any leftover.
Someone usually comments at least once that they don’t know why we don’t make these more often. In addition to being amazingly tasty, it’s also a pretty dish to make and a really versatile one too. As I mentioned we have had them many times as a side dish to turkey at Thanksgiving, but we’ve also made them with lamb or prime rib at other special occasion dinners.
I think most of us are familiar with Temple Sholom’s regular Monday Meal, which serves 56 people a hot meal every Monday. It’s a terrific mitzvah which fills a great need in our community. But Pete and Amy Kadens thought beyond that – they thought big! “
Pete and Amy sponsor the Thanksgiving Monday Meal, and it was also their brainchild. “I’ve been involved with the homeless for many years,“ Pete said. “Seeing 56 people being served a hot meal every Monday at the Temple is great. But I thought, no one should be left out in the cold on Thanksgiving.” He approached Temple staff and clergy and proposed an expanded Thanksgiving Monday Meal. The response could not have been more enthusiastic, and the Thanksgiving Monday Meal Mitzvah is the result. The Kadens sponsor everything from food and supplies to extra security, Temple staffing and outreach, and a Thanksgiving feast for 150 people is the result.