Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Israel at 60

I was contacted yesterday -- no doubt a general email sent out -- by the publisher/editor of a U.S.-based literary publication that had featured one of my poems a couple years back--Poeticamag. The essence of the email message was: We are looking for poetry and short stories celebrating Israel 60th birthday. Please submit in the body of the email - no attachments.

I assume the publisher is seeking pieces for the journal's website not a print edition. I quickly answered the call-out, writing the following poem in about 3 minutes.


At sixty, one is not quite old, neither young...but somewhere in the middle.

With life lines to show,
fine wrinkles here and there,
graying hair or balding patches,
hinting age spots
and a book of photographs depicting a life.

At sixty, Israel is not quite old, neither young...but somewhere in the middle.

But in truth she is ancient -- Israel is a "she," you know -- and was reborn in May 1948.

Not everyone has the chance to be reborn. But Israel...she fought to be reborn.
She fought hard. Her supporters fought harder.

From desert sands and barren fields, she brought forth life.

From stark grayness, she brought forth greens and blues.

From a handful of devotees, she yielded multitudes of lovers.
Lovers of her country.
Lovers of her language.
Lovers of her culture.
Lovers of the blue and white of her draping flag.

Lovers of "Hatikvah."
Hope. Forever sustaining Israel.
Forever sustaining...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Published for Passover

Last week my mother called me up on Wednesday and said she'd seen my poem in the Jewish news and that it was very nice.

I knew I'd submitted a poem to be considered for the annual Passover literary supplement to the Canadian Jewish News, but couldn't remember which one I'd submitted!

And when I saw it, I remembered; I'd actually written the poem sometime last year and posted it on my blog, then this past February submitted it to the CJN.

The poem is based on an incident that happened to me; it is truth patterned in a poetic style is all.

Oftentimes that's what poetry is. At least my poetry.

It is nice to get published once again. To have my words published in a venue that means something to me, in a venue that is accessible to so many people in Canada, the States and abroad.

Here is the link: http://www.cjnews.com/images/stories/Supplements/2008_Passover_Lit.pdf

Find your way to page 22 of the supplement and you will find my poem. (The Montreal edition of the literary supplement has my poem appear on a different page with a slightly different layout, because of the advertising.)

Food A-Plenty

Many times I've told you what kind of special husband I have. I'm telling you again: he took 3 days off of work to help prepare for Pesach -- shopping and cooking and cleaning. We work pretty well as a team or sometimes he's the master chef and I'm the sous chef or main dishwasher, but together we get things done.

My husband enjoys working in the kitchen and attempting new recipes; I look to take shortcuts oftentimes.

For the seders and Yom Tov day meals we had some wonderful dishes:

chicken soup with knaidlach (matzah balls) and pupiklech (chicken stomachs)
vegetable soup (leek, sweet potato, potato, squash, carrots, broccoli)
gefilte fish
salmon trout
grilled vegetables
green salad
broccoli and potato kugel
pickled beef brisket
veal brisket
turkey roll with mushroom sauce
pastilles (ground beef stuffed in potato balls)
banana sorbet
matzah cake
lemon pie

For the charoset, we had 2 types: Ashkenazi and Sephardi. I made the Ashkenazi one: apples, cinnamon, walnuts (I tossed in ground almonds too), sweet wine. My husband made his family's Sephardi one: dates, sweet wine and walnuts. (with one small apple thrown in for good measure)
Certainly would've been a tasty mortar for those bricks those Israelites were busy assembling for Pharoah!

We have lots of leftovers and will cook fresh for next Shabbos and the end of the chag. And hopefully the diet starts AFTER that!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Passover Is A-Comin'

With Shabbos just around the corner and Pesach not too far behind, I wanted to take a moment to wish my Jewish readers a good Shabbos, as well as a chag kasher v'sameach.

May you enjoy your family and friends at your table or the company at others' tables.

And as my dear father has always said, "May we be able to wish each other a Happy Pesach next year again."


Monday, April 14, 2008

A Fish Tale

I just found this article from a few years ago.

Some people have crying Madonnas; other people have talking fish!

Word is made flesh as God reveals himself... as a fish
Edward Helmore New York

The Observer,

Sunday March 16 2003

This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday March 16 2003 . It was last updated at 02:22 on March 16 2003.

An obscure Jewish sect in New York has been gripped in awe by what it believes to be a mystical visitation by a 20lb carp that was heard shouting in Hebrew, in what many Jews worldwide are hailing as a modern miracle.

Many of the 7,000-member Skver sect of Hasidim in New Square, 30 miles north of Manhattan, believe God has revealed himself in fish form.

According to two fish-cutters at the New Square Fish Market, the carp was about to be slaughtered and made into gefilte fish for Sabbath dinner when it suddenly began shouting apocalyptic warnings in Hebrew.

Many believe the carp was channelling the troubled soul of a revered community elder who recently died; others say it was God. The only witnesses to the mystical show were Zalmen Rosen, a 57-year-old Hasid with 11 children, and his co-worker, Luis Nivelo. They say that on 28 January at 4pm they were about to club the carp on the head when it began yelling.

Nivelo, a Gentile who does not understand Hebrew, was so shocked at the sight of a fish talking in any language that he fell over. He ran into the front of the store screaming: 'It's the Devil! The Devil is here!' Then the shop owner heard it shouting warnings and commands too.

'It said "Tzaruch shemirah" and "Hasof bah",' he told the New York Times, 'which essentially means that everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is near.'

The animated carp commanded Rosen to pray and study the Torah. Rosen tried to kill the fish but injured himself. It was finally butchered by Nivelo and sold.

However, word spread far and wide and Nivelo complains he has been plagued by phone calls from as far away as London and Israel. The story has since been amplified by repetition and some now believe the fish's outburst was a warning about the dangers of the impending war in Iraq.

Some say they fear the born-again President Bush believes he is preparing the world for the Second Coming of Christ, and war in Iraq is just the opening salvo in the battle of Armageddon.
Local resident Abraham Spitz said: 'Two men do not dream the same dream. It is very rare that God reminds people he exists in this modern world. But when he does, you cannot ignore it.'
Others in New Square discount the apocalyptic reading altogether and suggest the notion of a talking fish is as fictional as Tony Soprano's talking-fish dream in an episode of The Sopranos .
Stand-up comedians have already incorporated the carp into their comedy routines at weddings. One gefilte company has considered changing its slogan to: 'Our fish speaks for itself.'

Still, the shouting carp corresponds with the belief of some Hasidic sects that righteous people can be reincarnated as fish. They say that Nivelo may have been selected because he is not Jewish, but a weary Nivelo told the New York Times : 'I wish I never said anything about it. I'm getting so many calls every day, I've stopped answering. Israel, London, Miami, Brooklyn. They all want to hear about the talking fish.'

A devout Christian, he still thinks the carp was the Devil. 'I don't believe any of this Jewish stuff. But I heard that fish talk.'

He's grown tired of the whole thing. 'It's just a big headache for me,' he added. 'I pull my phone out of the wall at night. I don't sleep and I've lost weight.'

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Richard Lewis Confirmed You As a Friend on Facebook...

Yup, it's true.

THE Richard Lewis and I are THIS CLOSE.

Okay, so what if I'm one of his 266 Facebook friends...we're still friends. He confirmed it -- just as in the title of this post. Just as in the subject line of the email I received.

And would you believe that out of all those friends he's got, we only have one Facebook friend in common?! A former classmate of mine in Jewish day school and high school is also a friend of Richard's -- talk about coincidences.

So how does one become Richard's friend? Well, in checking out my classmate's Facebook friends, I noticed Richard was on that list.

Richard? The Richard Lewis? The Richard Lewis of "Anything but Love" Marty Gold fame? The Richard Lewis who has attained new viewing audiences with his "Curb Your Enthusiasm" appearances? The Richard Lewis who has made black shirts, black sports jackets and black pants all the rage? The Richard Lewis with those big, baby-doe-caught-in-headlights eyes? The Richard Lewis who made "Jewish neurotic comedian" a familiar term? The Richard Lewis who, in every stage appearance, runs his fingers through his hair countless times to do what no mousse or hair gel could ever do?

Yup...that Richard Lewis.

So silly me just dropped him a message, reminding him of a show he'd played in Toronto close to 20 years ago, which I attended and where I'd managed to get his autograph in a comedy book of mine, with the help of an usher. And after the show I ran into him at a Toronto popular cafe and approached him then to say hello.

Must've hit a nostalgic soft spot 'cause the very next day I got confirmation that I'm his friend.

Okay, friend, I'm making a bar mitzvah in June for my son. Would you like to MC the luncheon? Or, okay, friend, would you like to be a special guest speaker in my other son's grade 2 class on Career Day? Or, okay, friend, I have another friend -- a blogging friend -- I want you to connect with. He's funny, he's neurotic like you, he's apparently a chick magnet, and he writes well. Maybe you can introduce him to your other friend, Larry David.

Here's to a long and -- if your monologues prove anything -- a long-winded (Facebook) friendship!