Post election: What are you doing?


Collage created by members of the Diversity Peer Education Team at York University in 2013, lifted from the blog Inclusivity Zone by Margaret

At last Saturday’s Human Rights Shabbat, Margo led a discussion about the emotional impact of the election and its implications for human rights. Many of us found the service cathartic, and it was inspiring to hear about the activities of our members.

With the hope that activity can be an antidote to despair, let’s try using this post to collect the list of constructive actions people are taking part in locally. As a start, refer to Margo’s post for a list of  ways you can get involved building bridges with people in prison.

What are you doing? If you’re volunteering or helping or organizing or protesting, add a comment to this post briefly describing what you’re doing and how others might get involved. Thanks!

 

Latke Secrets

alicia_jen_latkes(Note: Jen Cohen published this recipe on our former website after our 2012 Hanukkah party. I thought it would be wise to publish on this new site as a reference for our latke-making for years to come.)

 

By Jennifer Cohen

The big secrets are
– alternating potato and onion when grating,
– squeezing out the excess liquid before frying, and
– firmly packing the ice cream scoop to shape the latkes.

Also, make them with happy thoughts in your heart and they’ll always taste just right.

Basic potato latkes

5 medium Yukon Gold (or other golden) potatoes
1 large sweet onion
2 Tablespoons flour
1 large egg
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil, like canola

1. Scrub potatoes well and remove any obvious blemishes; no need to peel thin skinned potatoes like Yukon Gold. Cut to fit into food processor. Cut onion into 4 chunks and remove papery outer skin. Using grating blade in food processor, grate chunks of potato, then a chunk of onion, then potato, etc. Always alternate between potato and onion to keep mixture from blackening. When finished, place onion and potato in the center of a kitchen towel. Wrap into a ball and squeeze firmly to get rid of as much liquid as possible.

2. Put potato and onion back into large mixing bowl and add egg, flour, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. At this point, if the mixture seems too dry, you can add another egg. You will drain off excess liquid when you pack the ice cream scoop, so no worries about the batter being too wet.

3. Heat a generous amount (at least 1 inch) of oil in a large skillet over medium high flame. Using your hands, firmly pack an ice cream scoop, tilting it to the side to let any extra liquid drain back into the mixing bowl. Drop mounds of mixture into hot oil. Fry and turn only once, pressing down after the turn. When golden and crisp on each side, drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

The Twists

Potato, Carrot and Parsnip: substitute 3 potatoes, 1 large carrot and 1 large parsnip for the 5 potatoes in the basic recipe.

Potato, Beet and Sweet Potato: substitute 3 potatoes, 1 large beet and l large sweet potato for the 5 potatoes in the basic recipe. My trick is to grate the beet a day or two in advance and keep it in a container in the refrigerator. This helps it dry out so that it doesn’t bleed.

Zucchini: this was a last minute brainstorm idea and we used only zucchini, onion, flour, egg, salt and pepper. I think we could improve it, using one potato, maybe 6 or so zucchini and enough matzoh meal to help hold them together. Stay tuned…

For the 2012 Hanukkah Party we tried a few new twists:

  • Potato-Beet with Fresh dill and horseradish sour cream
  • Sweet Potato with coconut and pineapple-jalapeno salsa
  • Carrot-Parsnip (no potatoes at all!)

Also see: Jen’s challah recipe.

On Volunteering at the Community Kitchen

By Debbie Field

I’ve been cooking since childhood, and I feel pretty confident in the kitchen.  But the first time I volunteered at Food Gatherers’ Community Kitchen at the Delonis Center, I learned a lot about how the professionals do it: health department rules require meticulous attention to cleanliness, the knives are extremely sharp, and if you forget to bring your own hat, you really do have to wear one of those hairnets. If you come a few times, you graduate from mixing powdered lemonade or slicing leftover cake to making stew for 70 on the big range. If, like me, you enjoy feeding people, you will find that a fun and satisfying experience.


From Mike Ehmann: Our congregation provides volunteers for a scheduled shift the first Saturday of every month from noon to 2:30. The Community Kitchen is inside the Delonis Center, 312 W. Huron St, Ann Arbor. This is a great opportunity for adults and for youth over 12 years old to participate in this wonderful team meal prep experience. Keep in mind that only 2 of the 5 volunteers may be between 12-18 years of age. Food Gatherers and Community Kitchen staff are very grateful for our participation.

Cultivating Shmita: Re-Wilding Our Ecosystem, Our Diet, Our Medicine

By Idelle Hammond-Sass

Drake Meadow took some of us on an illuminating permaculture walk at the Fall Sukkot Retreat. It was especially relevant in this year where we are cultivating a new ‘Shmita mentality‘.

Idelle and Drake examining a plant at the 2014 Sukkot Retreat

Idelle and Drake examining a plant at the 2014 Sukkot Retreat

We learned to find edible and healing plants in our own yards and how those things that many people sacrifice to have a typical American lawn are actually better to embrace, cultivate and use in tinctures and teas. Drake’s knowledge and ability to notice plants reminded me of how little we know about the land around us.

Shmita reminds us to recognize that even when the land is fallow and wild, it can provide nourishment and even healing herbs for us. Allowing the land to rest can bring a different type of harvest as well, as local and native plants regain their footing and provide habitat and food for animals as well as perennial and edible plants for us.

In an article shared recently by Sarah Chandler, (Director of Earth Based Spiritual Practice at Adamah Farm at the Isabella Freedman Center) she demonstrates how to cultivate elderberry plants and make a tincture from it with the Jewish Greening Fellows. (The article is not available online but here are photos of the process.) This dovetailed with some of the knowledge Drake shared with us at the retreat. Drake mentioned making tinctures from other plants we found including goldenrod.

One piece of knowledge passed on by Drake came in handy recently as we toured conservation efforts in Washtenaw County with Legacy Land Trust. [Read more…]

High Holidays Appreciation

By Carol Lessure

Each year, we relocate to the Unitarian Universalist Church so that we can welcome anyone in the community seeking a place to pray together with us on High Holidays. We are committed to this effort and providing ticketless services so that it is easy and affordable for anyone to join us. Here is a very nice note sent to us by a first time guest about their experience at our Rosh Hashanah Services this year:

We are visiting our daughter and son-in-law, and we all came to services today … I wanted to let you know that I have been to many services over the years, and I’ve even liked some of them. But this is the first service that I thoroughly enjoyed. I felt comfortable and welcome. The congregation was warm, involved, intelligent. A perfect blend of academe and community, something that I’ve found is all too rare. We’ll be back, I’m sure, when we visit again, and I think you’ll be seeing the kids again, as well.

We are grateful to everyone who helped create our wonderful High Holiday services. We had beautiful participation with service and event leadership by Rav Michal with Torah services managed by Deb Kraus. Members and guests provided singing and music, personal reflections, meaningful readings, Shmita rituals, Yom Kippur workshops and opportunities to gather after services as well. Once again, Jen Cohen supported us with her able coordination and shlepping of stuff. We are deeply appreciative of all the ways that our community comes together to support AARC High Holiday services. We thank each and every one of you.

One more note to members and everyone on our mailing list: watch your inbox (and the Monday Mailer) for a link to a quick High Holidays survey. We invite everyone who attended services to share thoughts and help us in our planning for next year’s services.

Cultivating Friendships, Community through the Sukkot Retreat

By Carol Lessure (based on welcome remarks made during Yom Kippur Services 5775)

As a community, we have much to be grateful for. I thought of this when I responded to my 10 year old son, our sceptic, about why we are Jewish and participate in High Holiday services. It is in part because we want to be a part of this community.

I also thought of this when I read a recent editorial by David Brooks in the New York Times pondering what he would do if in some fantasy world he had $500 million to give away. What did he conclude? Well, he decided he would try to set up places that cultivate friendships.

He envisions places that are NOT networking programs but some place that offers something more profound.

He would create places that “give you challenging activities to do together.” We put on High Holiday services for several hundred members and guests in a temporary location each year.

He said, “nothing inspires friendship like selflessness and cooperation in moments of difficulty.” I naturally think of our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs that we all pitch in to support each other within this small DYI congregation. We also have a Mitzvah Corps available to help members during life transitions and other times when support is needed.

“You also want to give moments when people can share confidences, about big ideas and small worries,” wrote Brooks. (Yes, we’ve got that covered.)

He envisioned a string of adult camps or retreat centers that would gather people together in seclusion. We’d prepare and clean up our meals together, and eating our meals would go on for a while. In the morning, we would read about and discuss big topics. In the afternoons, we’d play sports, take hikes and build something complicated together. At night, there’d be a bar and music.

Well that brings me back to our resident skeptic because Brooks is kind of describing our Fall Sukkot Retreat. My skeptical son has been asking me when it will be . . . since August.

As part of the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, he and the rest of my family have gained a community where we don’t network, but really delve into both intellectual and spiritual topics. We wrestle with G-d and our own perceptions of belief. After lurking around for many years, we became members and have never looked back. Through AARC, we have gained a bit of that friendship circle, of that community, that David Brooks describes.

So, David Brooks does not have $500 million, and he is not here to give us a grant to make our circle bigger. But it takes far less than that to become a member of our community. In fact, we invite people to give what they can within a range. By becoming a member you make a commitment to this community and its future, and as one that did not sign up right away I can tell you that if feels good to take that step forward.

That said, I always enjoy seeing all the guests that join us for High Holidays. I thank you all for enriching us with your participation in services this year and years past.

If you want to really experience our community come to Fourth Friday on October 24 at the JCC. We eat a communal meal after services and do the dishes together. If you aren’t coming to the Fall Sukkot Retreat this year, mark your calendars for October 2 – 4, 2015. I am pretty sure that we’ll be there.

Read more about and sign up for the Sukkot Retreat

Rosh Hashanah with the AARC

By Carol Lessure

The Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation invites anyone who is looking for a home for the High Holidays to join us at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, 4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Road at the corner of Ellsworth Road. Whether you are a newcomer or long-time resident, curious about Reconstructionist Judaism or looking for a community, you are welcome to join AARC for the holidays. No tickets are needed to attend our musical, participatory High Holiday services, although donations from non-members are appreciated.

For Rosh Hashanah, there will be opportunities to gather informally as well with an oneg following Erev Rosh Hashanah services on Wednesday evening, September 24 and lunches hosted by congregants following services on Thursday, September 25. We will also gather for Tashlich at a home on the Huron River in the early evening where we will use pebbles for our ceremonial casting away of our past deeds. All the details at the links below:

Looking for Hosts for New Year’s Lunch

By Carol Lessure

After Rosh Hashanah morning services, we’d like to offer members and friends the chance to have lunch together at various locations.

You could “host” at a local restaurant or at your home.  Only have room for a couple of people? Don’t worry, no gathering is too small. If you are interested in hosting an event, just add your invite to this list by clicking on the bottom tabs to find an empty tab and filling in your info.

We’ll remind everyone where to find the list of hosts here on the blog and in the Monday Mailer, as well as at the High Holiday registration table.

Let’s revive this tradition from years past and keep the “hav” in the Havurah.

Shana Tova, Carol

Join the Food, Land and Justice Bus Tour to Detroit

[Members Idelle Hammond-Sass and Carole Caplan have been working with others in the community to organize a bus trip to Detroit and day of learning as part of the Food, Land and Justice grant. They pass along this note with details,  printable flyer and the link to purchase tickets.]
honeyAs part of a year of programing grounded in the Jewish practice of Shmita  you are invited to join with members of the Ann Arbor Jewish community for an exciting visit to Detroit on Sunday September 14, 2014.

So much is happening around the issues of food systems, security, accessibility and affordability in Detroit–let’s take the day to learn about it first-hand! After meeting at the Ann Arbor JCC, we will travel by bus to D-/town Farms, and learn how their work is making important healthy change both personally and communally.

We will then arrive at historic Eastern Market where we will hear from several speakers as to their important roles in the food movement. We will enjoy a healthy lunch and have time to shop the artisans’ market as well. We will study together, laugh together and then brainstorm how we might be part of this important movement moving forward.

Details of  the FOOD, LAND and JUSTICE trip to Detroit:

Space is limited—reserve yours today! Contact Carole Caplan (caplan.carole AT gmail.com), or Idelle Hammond-Sass (Hammond_sass AT msn.com) for more information.

This program is generously funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor.

Read About Sholem Aleichem with the Book Group

[Here’s a note from Jon Sweeney on the next meeting of the Congregation’s book club.]

By Jon Sweeney

The AARC Book Group meets again on Sunday, September 7, 7pm at the home of Greg Saltzman.

We are all reading The Worlds of Sholom Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye, by Jeremy Dauber, a professor of Yiddish at Columbia University. Aleichem was a fascinating character, probably the most important Yiddish writer of the twentieth century, and there is much to discover beyond Fiddler!

Everyone and anyone is invited to join us. You are welcome to join for one meeting only or every time. No RSVP needed, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact jonsweeney AT gmail.com.

Also see: