Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Several years ago we established the family tradition of serving tofu and honey cookies for this past parashah to symbolize different descriptions of the taste of the manna. This year I found myself on a fifth grade shabbaton for Parashat Beshalach. Of course, as an organizer of the event, I put those manna stand-ins on our shabbaton menu and even had an activity Friday afternoon to allow the students to bake the cookies themselves. That wasn't enough for my students, however They demanded some dish even more connected the parashah; unfortunately, I had a difficult time thinking up a food that would fulfill their request. Leave it to my amazing students, though, who have begun looking at their Shabbat meals through the parashah lens. One of the most sacred traditions in our school is one school lunch. So beloved is this meal that our student begged to have it served on the shabbaton: seashell pasta. Bless the child who yelled out at Kiddush on Shabbat morning, "I know why you're serving seashell pasta. It must be for the splitting of the Yam Suf. " I'm adding this new food to the family tradition.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
This week’s parashah begins with details about Bnei Yisrael’s travels in the desert. After Moshe conducts a census of the adult males in Bnei Yisrael, the Torah maps out the encampment that would be “home” for them throughout their journey to the Land of Israel. With the tabernacle in the middle surrounded by the tribe of Levi, the remaining twelve tribes (yes, twelve--Yosef is split in two) built their camps on the four sides of the Mishkan. The Torah delineates the positions of each of the tribes. Our Shabbat table and our Shabbat dinner will both, hopefully, be replicas of the encampment. To set the table, the challot will be in the center of the table covered by beautiful cloths, representing the Mishkan. I will tie red, white, and black ribbons around small vases of flowers to and place them around the challot. (Shevet Levi's flag is described as one third red, one third white, and one third black.) Then, although our table isn't square, I will set three settings on each of the four sides and label the sides with the four directions. At the place settings, I will fold a napkin in the color associated with the given tribe for that location.
To the East:
Yehudah (light blue), Yissaschar (dark grey), and Zevulun (white)
To the South:
Reuven (red), Shimon (green), and Gad (grey)
To the West:
Binyamin (rainbow), Ephraim (black), and Menashe (black)
To the North:
Dan (sapphire blue), Asher (pearlescent), and Naftali (deep red)
The meal itself will also replicate the encampment. When it is time to serve, we will lay the food out in a similar fashion. In the center of the table will be the protein—to symbolize the sacrificial offerings brought in the Mishkan. The serving pieces for the meal will be arranged around the meat, representing the Leviim who served in the Mishkan. For each tribe surrounding the Mishkan, there will be a food that either relates to the tribe’s color or the image on its flag. Each food will be placed in the appropriate direction:
Yehudah—a blue mocktail; Yissaschar—sunburst of yellow and orange veggies; Zevulun—white potatoes
Reuven—red gazpacho; Shimon—green broccoli; Gad—cucumber chunks standing at attention
Binyamin—tossed salad; Ephraim and Menashe—blackened chicken
Dan—pareve blueberry jell salad; Asher—olives (for the tree on his flag); Naftali—deep red beet salad
That’s the ambitious plan for this Shabbat.
Have a Shabbat shalom,
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
[Why must the metzora bring cedar wood as part of a purification sacrifice?] Because the metzora became haughty like a cedar tree, the metzora was afflicted withtzara’at.... [And why hyssop?] Because among all the trees none is lowlier than the hyssop, and since the metzora has become lowly he or she will be cured by the use of the hyssop.
MIDRASH TANHUMA METZORA 3
Luckily, cedar and hyssop provide some culinary opportunities as well as discussion possibilities. I will get cedar chips and do some grilling for Shabbat. As for the hyssop, much of our menu will be seasoned with Za’atar, made of hyssop. We like Za’atar sprinkled on chummus, baked into foccacia (I may just do a “garlic bread” with za’atar—no baking as it is erev Pesach), and on our chicken. I will set the table with pictures of cedar and hyssop and ask the kids what the differences are between the two. Hoepfully, the visuals will help get us into a discussion that leads into the above-cited Midrash. We will also talk about lashon harah and brainstorm great discussion topics that steer away from gossip and negative speech.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Xie Xie, Cam On, Merci, Gracias, Todah, and Thanks
After reading this week's parahsah, I was concerned about what I would present at our table. Other than creating a meat fest with various sources of animal protein, I was stumped. Thankfully, when our nephew was serving in the IDF several years ago, he sent an email update including a d'var torah on Parashat Vayikra that I held onto for inspiration. He wrote about the sacrifice offered as an act of thanksgiving to God for a personal miracle. According to the midrash, this is the only sacrifice that will be reinstated in the future, because we will never lose the need to recognize the good God does for us or to gratefully acknowledge God's benevolence. In addition, the Netziv explains that a festive meal should accompany the korban todah, thanksgiving sacrifice, to celebrate God's goodness and to share the reminiscences of God's salvation with others.
Hakarat hatov, expressing appreciation for the gifts in our lives, is a value we cherish in our family. For shabbat we will be borrowing from our U.S. vernacular and celebrating a Thanksgiving feast (turkey, cranberry, yams, etc.). However, we will be talking about the things for which we would like to thank God--the ways we recognize God's hashgachah in our lives. And for decorations: thank you signs in all different languages!
Have a Shabbat Shalom!