Tag Archives: Jews

Never Again

So my supervisor and I were having a casual conversation today, when I mentioned that both my brother and my friend had considered getting me a politically-themed birthday card. (My brother did, actually, get me a card with a photo of Obama with the Justin Bieber hairdo.) She mentioned to me that I’m probably the most outspoken person she knows about political beliefs, which was at once surprising and not. I do often talk about my views on the issues, but for some reason, hearing someone say that I’m very open about what I believe made me feel a little vulnerable and insecure for a second.

It is often heard that you don’t discuss religion or politics, for there is never an end and the arguments are nothing if not circular. Perhaps that’s true, but I continue to do so nonetheless.

I started to think about what might be the reason that I find it important to express myself, other than the obvious desire to be heard (and the First Amendment, no doubt).

This is how I said it to my supervisor:

I spent most of my childhood and teen years studying about the persecution of Jews and others throughout history — from the Biblical times to Ancient Rome, to the Hellenistic period, the Ottoman Empire, The Crusades, The Inquisition, Stalin’s reign, and most recently but not least significantly, The Holocaust.

What I took away from these teachings was the resilience and perseverance of the human race. I learned about the power of standing up against intolerance and hatred, and the gravity of the consequence if it goes unchecked.

I can’t tell you how many Holocaust survivors I have met over the years. Many of them have remained silent about what they endured, and who can blame them for all of the trauma and horror they witnessed. Many have also become outspoken for the plight of innocent groups of people. They told us stories in such graphic detail that I couldn’t imagine how they were still standing. Stories of their parents being gassed, their siblings being murdered, and their unimaginable escape from lock-down concentration camps.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dachkammer/314063674/The mantra of “Never Again” has echoed through these eras and stories, and it plays through my head on loop. Never again should we sit idly by while others are being mistreated, persecuted, or denied rights. We know what happens, and old patterns die hard.

(Side note: Check out the famous poem “First they came…”  attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller on this very theme.)

(Another Side note: this theme is portrayed very nicely throughout the X-Men movies, as mutants fight for the right to exist. The most recent movie also does a great job highlighting the “Never Again” mantra. I’m not sure where I  fall between Professor X and Magneto — probably somewhere in between.)

That is why I stand up, and voice up against what I perceive to be injustice.

In the modern day political situation, I believe we’ve seen the extremes of both Capitalism and Communism, and a balance must be sought after — one where social causes and rights of citizens are just as secure as our borders and our wallets.

I may not always be right, and yes, some may call me a dreamer, but my intentions are pure, and no, I’m not the only one.

My Passover Seder

As a child, Passover was always my favorite holiday. Where my friends loved to dip the apple in the honey for Rosh Hashanah and wave noisemakers for Purim, I most anticipated my family’s version of the Passover meal – known as the Seder, or the “order.” I guess I just loved the symbolism of the entire processional; I loved drinking the four cups of grape juice and pretending I was getting drunk off of wine, I loved the Matzos, the meaning behind each item on the Seder plate, and the story of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt which was intertwined throughout the meal. As the youngest grandchild at the time, I was given the honor of reading from the Hagaddah and asking why that night was different from all other nights. I really look back at those gatherings of ours as some of the happiest times of my life.

So, this year, I decided to try it out with my boyfriend and introduce him to the world of symbolic eats. Despite having a ridiculous allergy attack this past weekend and working through the Easter craze on both Saturday and Sunday, I was determined to create a Passover feast. It turned out to be quite an arduous task to accomplish under time constraints- but a delicious one!

I started out with authentic Matzo Ball Soup, which I adapted (and cut down in serving size) from this recipe. As per the recipe, I combined matzo crackers with matzo meal with eggs, added seasonings, and then dropped into boiling chicken broth soup and simmered for about thirty minutes. Then I added some salt and green onion, and voila!

Next, I fashioned my Seder Plate (which to my amazement, I found on clearance at Target several months ago). The plate, as I mentioned, is full of symbolic pieces. Starting in the center, we’ve got the Maror – which are the bitter herbs. I chose some horseradish, which was surprisingly addictive with the matzo. Next was Beitzah, the hard-boiled egg, and the Zeroa, the shankbone, both representing the festival offerings that the Jews gave. Under the shankbone is the Charoset, which is a mixture of walnuts, apples, cinnamon, and wine, which represents the mortar that Jewish slaves used to build in Egypt. Lastly, we’ve got the Karpas and the Hazeret, the parsley and lettuce, both signifying the tears and bitterness of slavery. Phew, what a creative use of food, huh? I even showed Dave how to lean while drinking the grape juice – which is meant to signal the freedom of the Jews, and is one of the few “lavish” symbols of the evening.

Alrighty, well let’s get to the main course, a recipe that I tried for the first time: Crock Pot Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic! Yes, 40!! Here’s how it went down, courtesy of Crepes of Wrath:

  • 4-5 chicken breasts (or a whole chicken, whichever you wish)
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • 40 cloves of garlic (peeled, whole)
  • Rosemary
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3/4 cup white wine

So, I started by salt and peppering each side of the chicken, adding the rosemary, and putting each piece in the oil-sprayed slow cooker.

Next, I poured the olive oil in a skillet and sauteed the cloves of garlic for about 8 minutes, constantly stirring them so they didn’t stick. After that, I added in the wine and cooked for about another 3-5 minutes.

Then, I added the mixture to the crock pot, and cooked for about 4 hours on low, and 2 on high. It turned out SO moist, and so juicy! The garlic and rosemary added a ton of flavor, and the whole thing took me less than 15 minutes to prep! I paired the chicken with some baked red-skinned ‘taters, and enjoyed =)  You’ve got to try it and let me know how it works for you! I can’t wait to try some more crock pot recipes!