Category Archives: Judaism

It’s all about the light

Small tree, half done
Small tree, half done

Happy Solstice! Happy Hanukkah! We have had the shortest day of the year and the longest night, and now we are listening to the rain. Waiting already for the light.

And it’s been a week. Today was the first “official” day of our Christmas break. Last week was the push to get everything ready for co-workers and the holiday parties at work. Exhausting does not even begin to cover it. This weekend we had a date with our grandson on the North Pole Express at the Boothbay Railway village. A good time, and then we came back here and had a day of baking Christmas cookies. I love making a big mess, and he seemed to enjoy it as well!

It's Hanukkah
It’s Hanukkah

It’s also Hanukkah, and we are working on the next to the last day, so the menorah was cranking tonight. Leftover latkes headed up our menu, which is never a bad thing! I should be decorating the tree, but I think I may continue on that tomorrow. I have to get moving on the Pizzelle cookies in the morning. Yum!

And so it goes. Our house is a total wreck. We are not only trying to celebrate some holiday goodness, but we are putting in a woodstove, so that has thrown a giant monkey-wrench into our schedule. Needless to say, the tree has an amazingly beautiful floor to stand on this year (the hearth that John put in for the stove… lovely tile on top of layers of cement board). It’s all good, as our older son would say!

Now we just have to get past the next couple of days of pouring rain. The goaties are going to be having some inside time!

A Week in Augusta

Michael Klahr Center, UM campus in Augusta
Michael Klahr Center, UM campus in Augusta

Unfortunately, I have been very out of touch this past week. As usual, I have been very busy, but in a different way for a change. I had signed up for a class on Teaching the Holocaust and Human Rights, at the very amazing Michael Klahr Center for Holocaust and Human Rights back in the spring, and along it came! I have been up in Augusta all week with a lot of amazing Maine teachers and librarians. It’s been a wonderful and exhausting week.

Klahr Center
Klahr Center

The Klahr center is part of the University of Maine at the Augusta campus. It’s housed in a beautiful building and run by some very exceptional people. It is a great resource not only for the state of Maine and its citizens, but particularly for its students. Today we had a viewing of their video presentation of “Were The House Still Standing,” which is much more than just a video, it is a multimedia presentation. It is also available for viewing online,* but in their rotunda theatre room, it is a totally different experience (3 screens, and another screen on the floor to one side, pretty amazing). This film covers the Jewish Holocaust experience, from the point of view of the survivors who came to Maine after the war, and of the native Maine G.I.s who took part in the liberation. It is a very moving experience, and one that I would highly recommend.

There are still quite a few Holocaust survivors who live in Maine and travel to speak with community and school groups. They are all reachable through the Klahr Center, and all worth inviting to your community or your school.

It’s been a great week, and we still have one more day. I am also looking forward to kicking back this weekend with the nice weather, but I also have a lot of new reading and material to dig into as well. I love to have a stack of books beckoning me!

*When using the Chrome browser I can only get the audio to play, but the audio AND video shows up just fine on Safari.

Memory lane

Yesterday was my birthday.  58.  Yahoo.  It’s always nice having a birthday on the weekend, so the whole weekend actually feels like a celebration.  The cold weather has descended upon us and I was in the mood for doing some baking.  John makes some of the most fantastic bread on the planet, but I have been wanting to bake up some challah. very different from his artisanal loaves.  So yesterday I decided to do just that.

A braid of challah just out of the oven

I don’t think that I have made this recipe in 10 years.  I can’t remember having baked any since we moved up here.  This bread is truly a thing of beauty.  For many years I made this recipe every Friday in anticipation of the sabbath.  Some good memories there!  Jerusalem and Beer Sheva in the 1970s.  And then holidays since then.  Really good stuff.  The recipe actually comes from a Moroccan Jewish woman in Jerusalem who used to bake up giant batches in her bathtub every Friday morning.  It’s the best.

I certainly don’t need more carbs in my life, but in weather that’s hovering around zero and a wind chill that has us well below zero, I am just going to have another piece of challah and savor it with another cup of coffee.  Nothing better!

Shhh… Can’t talk now, reading Year of the Goat!

OK, so I never got another post written about the absolutely amazing book that I read a few weeks ago, Goat Song by Brad Kessler.  I was blown away by his writing as well as by the story of the way he and his wife got into raising goats in Vermont.  I can’t find a website or a blog to link to, but I highly recommend the book if you want to read a very inspiring look at the connections between humans and domesticated farm animals.  While moving sheep fence down the street in the pasture today I had a chance to think about how lucky we are to be doing what we are doing with all the wonderful sheep and goats here.  I am feeling the pressure of impending “back-to-work” mindset, so I guess I am enjoying the last fleeting moments of the summer, as well as enjoying the time to do more reading and feeling a connection to other folks who are doing what we are trying to do :*)

Elf with her spring doeling. It seems so long ago, now!

Our friend Pam of Hatchtown Farm loaned me a copy of the book The Year of the Goat by Margaret Hathaway with photos by her husband Karl Schatz the other day and I have not been able to put it down!  Another great book about goats.  A very moving story of two people who give up their comfy life  in NYC and travel the country meeting with goat people, and then settling down in Maine.  And to top it all off, they have a wonderful blog at Living with goats that chronicles what their life is like now on their farm, Ten Apple Farm in southern Maine.  As I finish the book I am going to have to go back and read through their blog archives, but the few posts I have read are great.  Another blog for the Google Reader to keep me updated on!  More Jewish farmers in Maine.  Yay!