Posts Tagged ‘Judaism’

Well, think about it;  Many people believe this and they’re not all atheists!  People have been persecuted for their religious beliefs  dating back to way, way back and how far back might depend somewhat on your own beliefs.  What I mean by that is if you’ve been raised as a Catholic (and probably all Christian religions) then you’ve heard or read some or all of the following stories:  Moses led his people out of Egypt where they had been enslaved – this one is part of the Jewish religion too.  We’ve heard that Christians were thrown to the lions, that they were forced to become gladiators and were laborers for the Romans.

Popes organized the Crusades;  Catholic Europe went to war against the Muslims.  Sound familiar?  Christians call it a Crusade and Muslims call it Jihad.  The pilgrims fled to America to escape the Anglican church and Hitler tried to eliminate the entire European Jewish population.  Jim Jones convinced hundreds of people to kill themselves, all in the name of religion.  The Taliban imposes harsh laws and restrictive behavior, again in the name of their religion.  In theory, Turkey recognizes the civil, cultural and political rights of non-Muslim minorities.  In practice, the government only recognizes Greek, Armenian and Jewish minorities and does not grant them all the civil liberties allowed in the Treaty of Lausanne.

And that brings us to PRISONERS , a movie I saw the other night.  Two hours and twenty minutes long  and pretty intense!  It was a tale of twisted religious beliefs as well as a story about kidnapped kids.  From the opening scene, I was struck by the religious overtones.  I mean who really recites The Our Father before they shoot (to kill) a deer.  As scenes unfolded, I saw crosses on the walls and one hanging around Hugh Jackman‘s neck.  I heard religious talk shows on the car radio, and watched the lead character kneel and pray as he tortured his victim.  In one of the final scenes you see a large poster of angels.

It didn’t stop there;  On the hunt for registered sex-offenders in the town, you just knew one of them was going to be a priest.  You were not wrong!  And there’s more;  this priest is not just a sex-offender, he is a drunk and a killer!  And who did he take out?  Why a twisted, distorted religious crazy who actually kidnapped and killed kids because….are you ready for this philosophy? Because he “was waging a war against God and losing their children makes parents crazy”  – this may be a bit paraphrased because I couldn’t quite remember it and all my research did not turn up this very poignant-twice-stated reason.  Apparently he and his wife lost their child to cancer and were very angry at God.  So once again we have heinous crimes being committed, heavy with religious overtones.

Hugh Jackman is a very angry, vengeful soul and this is the man who prays before he shoots.  Jake Gyllenhaal seems unmoved and uninterested in anything other than finding Anna and Joy.  He is darkly intense, his hooded eyes seek out everything because as he says, “Everything matters”.

It’s a suspense thriller with maybe too much foreshadowing; you could predict a lot of what was going to happen  even without the blatant and obvious telltale signs.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go see it, this commentary really isn’t that much of a spoiler.

Photo from Amazon.com

Photo from Amazon.com

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Well, it wasn’t exactly a clash but I thought the title might catch your eye!  Last night was “erev” Yom Kippur which means it was the eve of the holiday.  Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish faith, a day of reflection and atonement.  Being a Catholic it seems like it’s a day where you think about your sins and ask for forgiveness, sort of like a day long confession.  However, the Jews take it one step further and not only ask forgiveness from God but also from those to whom they may have done harm to during the year.  Very nice idea.

Having said all that, I am married to a non-practicing, atheist but somewhat cultural Jew.  He doesn’t go to synagogue unless there’s a Bat Mitzvah or wedding and he eats shellfish, pork and dairy at the same meal as meat.  In other words it’s very easy for an Italian Catholic to be married to him since I don’t engage in my religion although I deeply espouse it.  It’s a marriage not of compromise but rather one of peaceful co-existence regarding religion.  Fortunately for us, we don’t have any children together and we didn’t raise any together so their religious training or lack thereof has never been issue.  We have a crucifix in the bedroom and a menorah in the living room.  Christmas is celebrated as is Passover and Rosh Hoshana, the latter two dependent upon invitations from friends and family.  I am a good cook but I haven’t ventured very far into Jewish traditional cooking and would rather leave the making of tsimmis to my sister-in-law.

This past week or so I have been playing a lot of Mah Jongg and all of the women in my group are Jewish, what a surprise!  Anyway much discussion has taken place about the holiday food, the going to Temple, and the traditions in general.  The other day lots of talk was centered around the tradition of the Yahrzeit candles.  These candles are purchased and lit on the anniversary of the death of a loved one and also at sundown on the eve of Yom Kippur in memoriam of those who have passed away.  There are also several other occasions when one might light a Yahrzeit candle.  We have never done so in our house.

I guess it was the culmination of much discussion and the one holiday falling on the heels of the other that inspired me yesterday to surprise my husband with some “treats”.  We were planning a quiet evening and dinner at home so on my way  home from work I stopped at Fairway and bought gifilte fish, potato latkes, and noodle kugel as well as 4 candles.

I waited till he had made himself a martini and then brought out the gifilite fish with some horseradish (a tradition).  He loved it.  I looked up online when sundown was to occur and precisely at 7:10pm last night I produced 4 candles lit in honor of both of our parents who have been long gone but not forgotten.  There was no praying just the lighting and it made me cry when I thought of what this stood for and how much I have missed my mother my whole life, since she died when I was 9 years old.

English: A lit Yahrtzeit candle, a candle that...

English: A lit Yahrtzeit candle, a candle that is lit on the Hebrew anniversary of a loved one’s death. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now here’s the clash (in some eyes perhaps but not ours);  I made dinner which was a pasta dish I created while cooking .  I sauteed aspargus in lots of garlic and oil, tossed in a small can of drained and rinsed garbanza beans and then the ale-dente-cooked linguine to the braising pan with the asparagus.  I topped it off with some shredded parmigano-reggiano cheesw and I have to say it was delicious as evidenced by the fact that there was none left over.

Once the dishes were cleared and we were settled in to watch Minority Report, I went into the kitchen and came back with two dishes of noodle kugel.  I thought it was great, so full of cinnamon, he thought it a bit dry, but what do I know?

A s you can see cultures don’t have to clash;  They  can mesh into a lovely evening and a delightful if not varied dinner.  Today true to his own set of beliefs, he is not fasting  but I keep reminding him of his sins LOL LOL. He’s also wearing a suit!


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Burning Chametz in Ofra, Passover eve

Burning Chametz in Ofra, Passover eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know what chametz is?  I’m not even sure myself – my sister-in-law, Stacey told me it is the stuff you rid your house of before Passover.  She mentioned something about food stuffs that are not part of the Passover meal or week-long celebration, are thrown out.

Well today was ONE of those days! It’s the day when you open the refrigerator and with newly-opened eyes (in my case I had on glasses) and you SEE!  I mean you really see-the crud in the grooves of the bottom shelf, the jar of mustard that is for all intents and purposes empty and you discover not one, not two but at least 3 jars of capers.  Capers, for God’s sake!!!  Delving deeper into the recesses of the Frigidaire, I found a small container of dried-up cream cheese, a jar of jam that had grown a furry winter coat (it must be really cold in there).  Out with it all!  I threw out a jar of some mysterious brown sauce, I threw out salsa before it had a birthday on Cinco de Mayo and some expired bottles of indeterminate substance!  Out with it all!!

When I had filled up my recycle bin and my trash can, I sprayed the shelves with Simple Green.  I LOVE Simple Green, it cleans everything which means it probably shouldn’t be used in a refrigerator.  Now onto the next project.  Hey this is beginning to sound like Spring Cleaning,

I put the summer slipcover on the antique stuffed chair, changed the pillow covers to colorful awning-stripes and had Peter switch the foyer rug from the dark wine-red Oriental to our seasonal beige patterned rug.  He even took down the winter drapes in our bedroom and put up very light-weight airy beige curtains.  Out with the winter dark colors and in with the spring pastels.

I think what really got me going this morning was the fact that by some inner-maniacal drive force, I completed my income taxes early today.  I was up till 2AM working on the world’s most heinous task – assembling a year’s worth of information, collating it, copying it and preparing a statement for the accountant.  I had almost finished last night, uh, rather early this morning and then got up and finished it up.  I HATE doing the taxes!  BUT, when it’s done, I feel so good!

Spring is the time of renewal and rebirth; what was gray, brown and barren bursts forth into bright green life.  Flowers re-appear out of virtually nowhere since the ground looked like just ground to me and along with new tufts of grass, I noticed the lawn was also sprouting bunches of wild onions and even a few dandelions.  AND I get the urge to clean.  My mother always did spring cleaning and so do I.  My mother changed the carpets, drapes and slipcovers to reflect the new season and so do I.  Old habits or genetic programming?  The windows will be washed inside and out-here in NYC, we hire a man to do them but at the cottage, we’ll do them.  This year the carpeting and the couches in the apartment need steam-cleaning.  OUT with it ALL; dirt, dust, grime and most of all, the Chametz!

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Passover Seder Plate

The Seder Plate

During Passover, it is custom and tradition in the Jewish culture  to invite friends to share a Passover Seder meal;  especially friends who are in need or alone and additionally inviting a goy, (shikse in my case) to join is a way to extend the hand of friendship.  Lucky for me I have good friends!  Susan and Jim invited me to join them tomorrow evening for a Passover meal, not a full-blown Seder but that’s ok with me.

Last year I posted a blog about the story of the Seder and a bit of an Italian Easter thrown in.  You might enjoy reading it:   https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/why-is-this-night-different-from-all-other-nights/you will have to copy and paste this link.

Yiddish phrases every Goy should know especially if they happened to be invited to a Seder.  And this is a good post to read if you are going to attend:  https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/ten-yiddish-words-every-goy-should-know-2/   Copy and paste.

You’ll know you are NOT at a Seder if during the evening meal, the conversation is peppered with some or all of these  Yiddish words:

kvetsh To complain, whine or fret.

mishegas:  Insanity or craziness

shlemiel: a clumsy or inept person-the kind of person who always spills his soup.

shlimazel:  someone with constant bad luck – the person the shlemiel spills his soup on.

shmendrick:  a jerk, or stupid person

tsuris:  serious troubles, not just minor annoyances

plotz:to explode in aggravation.

Have a Zeisen Pasach and for heaven’s sake, watch out for the 7 plagues.

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