Wednesday, September 28, 2011

כתיבה וחתימה טובה

Wishing all of my readers a year of good health, happiness, success in your endeavors and nachas, along with all of Klal Yisroel.
May all our tefillos be answered for the good and may we see the Geulah Sheleimah speedily in our days.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

ונתנה תוקף - Unesane Tokef

There are plenty of websites out there that will provide you with current and contemporary Rosh Hashana music.

This year, I decided to pull something out of the archives for you.
Chazzan Robert Frankel led the davening in K'hal Adath Jeshurun (Breuer's) for over fifty years and his soulful Yomim Noro'im davening moved many hearts.

So sit back with me for a moment, close your eyes, and be transported back in time listening to the voice of Chazzan Frankel singing ונתנה תוקף, one of the most stirring pieces in the Rosh Hashana liturgy.

This audio player below has some difficulties. The video above (click above) is more reliable.
(For those of you viewing this post in Google Reader - there is an audio player inserted here. If you do not see it (I do not) please click and listen on the blog itself)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ruby Tuesday - Mini Cooper

Where can you see a red mini Cooper hanging overhead upside down?
Only at New York's World Financial Center.
I have no idea.......

You too, can participate in Ruby Tuesdays! Just post a photo of something red, and link to her blog, Work of the Poet. Then go there, and sign up. Or if you don't have a blog of your own, you can send me your Ruby pics and I'll post them for you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Washington Heights - A Saner Succos

This post may seem a bit premature, but ProfK, over at Conversations in Klal has some very nice things to say about my little corner of the world and how Succos is approached here by the Kehilla.

I couldn't agree with her more.

Our Kehilla provides both catered meals for elderly residents who find preparing Yom Tov too difficult but who want to stay home and not leave their beloved community, as well as a public succah for use by families for whom catering costs become prohibitive and who enjoy the camaraderie and sharing with other families. This public succah is available for ALL meals, to men, women and children, throughout the entire week.

Our Kehilla provides this option at NO COST to the local residents. They provide refrigerators and indoor storage space. They provide a well stocked washing station outside the succahs. They provide security. They make it as easy and as pleasant as possible to keep the mitzvah of eating in the succah, and for this I am very grateful.

They serve as a model for other communities to aspire to.

Thanks, ProfK for noticing!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The 9-11 Memorial

Avram and I went today to the newly opened 9-11 memorial at the site of the World Trade Center. One of the names I wanted to find was Boris Khalif's. Boris was the son in law of a man that I worked with at the time of the attack and he left behind a 2 year old son.

I found Boris' name - and many others.
The site is a fitting tribute to the nearly 3,000 lost lives.
It is beautiful, peaceful and moving.

... and as you can see, the American Spirit continues to rebuild.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Always Time For One More Shabbos Table Photo

Wishing all my readers a beautiful Shabbos, full of peace, healing and love.
(You all know which ones apply.... and if you think I mean you, I probably do... and if more than one apply - feel free to grab the bunch)

"Only In New York"

... or as a good friend of mine likes to say, "...for the 'chavaya'!"...

Last night, when I could have been busy making Shabbos for our table of eleven (this is going to be another one of those "Guess Who's NOT Coming to Dinner" weeks...), Avram, Eric and I - and 60,000 fellow New Yorkers and visitors - made our way downtown to see Andrea Bocelli live in concert on Central Park's Great Lawn.

These free tickets were a hot item but I didn't realize HOW HOT until we arrived at the 72nd Street entrance to the Park an hour before showtime, only to be directed to the back of the line.... all the way down Central Park West, to Columbus Circle at 59th Street and around half of Central Park South and then into the park.... that's well over a MILE...!!! Of course, what goes to the end of the line, must walk back.... in the on and off rain for over two hours. New Yorkers are far more congenial than we give them credit for though, and the wait was pleasant, save for the brief interludes of showers. Of course, some people didn't quite know where or to what they were going:
  • Fellow "a", who must have been making his way briskly uptown to the park entrance, questioning loudly into his cellphone as to why everybody was walking downtown, not realizing that the group facing uptown was the LINE and when he got to the front of it, he would be sent right back down with the rest of us to wait in it....
  • Grandma "b", talking in to her cellphone, telling her friend, "I'm on line for a concert in the park. Who is Bocelli anyway?"

And what I DON'T DO, to get the shots for you.....

(of course, typical 'group psychology' - the moment I got down, dozens of other people decided to try it out as well.... more on group psychology later...)

After about two hours on line, darkness had descended and we finally made it INTO the park. I didn't say into the CONCERT, just into the PARK.... there was still another half hour walk as the line snaked its circuitous route to the Great Lawn. Further disheartening us at this point, was the sight of people LEAVING the concert! The rain and cold had discouraged them and they were heading for home. (More room for the rest of us!)

But even Avram, who may have grumbled once or twice during all that "fun", admitted that once we actually found our places, it was well worth the hassle. To see that many people, enjoying such lovely music and in such good spirits, is yet another one of those ONLY IN NEW YORK moments.

Now before you watch the video, I promised to discuss more on "Group Psychology". I think anybody studying this, should be required to attend these sort of events because I never cease to be fascinated by how personalities change when people become part of a group.

As you can see, the crowd was quite thick, even AFTER some delicate souls departed. One or two inconsiderate people chose to STAND so that they could have a better view, thus obstructing the view of tens of thousands of people behind them.

While many grumbled silently, nobody was able to venture more than one or two mildly audible snide remarks. But every group needs a hero to start the revolution. Eric slowly wended his way to where the offenders were standing and very kindly explained to them that they were obstructing the views of many and could they kindly sit down. Though they paid him no mind, he realized that they were recording and refused to budge. He then jockeyed himself into a standing position directly in front of THEM, so that they could see the impact they were having first hand. Still no movement. Finally, as they were recording, he loudly voiced into their devices that he was terribly sorry that he was ruining their recording, but could they kindly sit down so that others could see as well. This, coupled with the fact that the group now had a "leader", led to countless cheers from the crowds and energized others to shout their own requests for consideration. I even heard suggestions from the crowd that everybody should photograph the offenders and post the pictures on Facebook (today's universal "group"). The group won out. They moved.

It's tough to record in the dark with spotlights. The actual live stage is the semicircular halo to the right of the screen. We were treated to a lovely performance by not only Andrea Bocelli, but other well known vocalists as well (who knew Tony Bennett was still alive...?).
And I don't even get first dibs to blog about my own experience. Apparently, one of the local news agencies recorded our group and beat me to it on the 11 o'clock news....
New York.
Gotta love it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Further Forays Into Round Challah

After the resounding success of my Croatian Star Challah experiment, I was emboldened to try yet another round shape for the upcoming Yomim Tovim.

My friend Hadassah patiently walked me through the steps for what I am calling her Twitter Challah (purely because the first formation is a hashtag... draw no conclusion as to how she spends her time....), which looks more complicated than it really is.

So many lovely ways to honor the holidays....

And while you're at it, please have Hadassah in your tefillos early tomorrow morning, as she undergoes spinal surgery - Hadassah Henya bas Rivka.
Refuah Sheleima Hadassah!!!!

Ten Years Later - Reflections

There appears to be a largely unwritten request that bloggers dedicate their posts today to their memories and reflections of their own personal 9/11 experiences.

I was already hard at work at the Senior Center that morning. The location doubles as a polling site and for those who recall, it was primary day, so we had the addition of many policemen lounging around on what should have been a quiet morning at the Senior Center/Polling Site, where I would ply them with cookies and juice and admire the photos of their loved ones that every serviceman keeps tucked in the lining their caps.

Unfortunately, the scene changed very quickly. The policemen's radios began squawking and the polling site was quickly shut down. We wheeled out the big screen television as the horrors began to unfold. A co-worker's son in law worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. He frantically hailed a cab to go and be with his daughter's husband in his time of need.... (He stopped working shortly thereafter to become the full time caregiver of his orphaned grandson. He was never the same again....)

Rebbeim and teachers made their way over from the Yeshiva across the street to witness the unthinkable and receive updates.

I spoke to Avram on the phone. I reached my mother, who could see the buildings (still standing) from her office window and was describing the "birdhouse" quality (a hole straight through...) in disbelief. I was on the phone with Avram, who only a few years earlier would have been at his desk on the 17th floor, as the first tower fell and our definition of "Freedom from Fear" was forever altered.

Avram was going to attempt to make his way home on foot. The cell phone service that we had only recently come to depend on was failing us for the first time as lines were overtaxed. I busied myself with tending to my seniors, many of whom were holocaust survivors and to whom terror was not a new phenomenon. I also ran back and forth to my home, which had become a "safe house" of sorts for the out of town High School Yeshiva students in my children's class. We ordered some pizza pies and I tried to keep them feeling "safe" ("fear", "safe".... there went those words again...).

We watched sickening images - as yet unedited - as they unfolded at Ground Zero. Images that human beings should NEVER have to witness. Images that I wish I had not seen, for they can never be erased.

I will never forget the relief I felt as I watched Avram walk slowly through the doors of the Senior Center, after walking more than 7 miles. Those of you who know Avram will not be surprised to hear that he still had on his tie and suit jacket..... (he apparently wasn't going to give in to terrorists either ;) ....)

Accounts say we lost 3,000 lives that day.
We also lost one of Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms - Freedom From Fear.
We, as frum Jews, learned to draw on our Bitachon, our faith that we are merely passengers on this bus of life that Hashem is driving, in new and challenging ways.

May we all merit the Geulah Sheleimah B'karov and may we know of no more tza'ar.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Food Photo Friday - Chocolate Leaf Cake

Shhhh...... there's gonna be a birthday girl at the G6 table tonight.
And I've prepared a little surprise for her.
You've already seen other versions of my chocolate leaf cake, but there are so many different ways to do it, that I thought I'd show you another.

While the aforementioned cake was a bit more sophisticated, this time I went with a bit more "funky and fun". It also has a sort "fall foliage" feel to it, I think. It doesn't really matter though, because it tastes DELICIOUS ;)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Food Photo Friday - Mini Gourmet Apples

Remember my penchant for minis?
These may the best ones yet.
Miniature gourmet apples.
How did I do it?
I simply used a melon baller on a granny smith apple, skewered the balls, dipped in melted chocolate and toppings.
The results are quite convincing... and no core :)

Wouldn't these be pretty at a kiddush?
Along with my Croatian Star Challahs, they would also tie in nicely with Rosh Hashanah.
Butterscotch or peanut butter chips for dipping.... the possibilities are ENDLESS.
Let me know if you try them and how they worked for you.