Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Hanukkah (aka Chanukah) is the Jewish festival of lights and one of the most joyous celebrations of the Judaic calendar, including present-giving, game playing and the consumption of diet-busting delicacies.

MOT stage and television actress Nicolette Robinson & “Hamilton” Tony Award winning hubby, Leslie Odom Jr.


In Jamaica, Hanukkah means Freedom

Hanukkah is the eight-day holiday commemorating the miracle of the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Revolt of the Maccabees in the 2nd century BCE. One of the major observances is the kindling of the lights in an eight-branched Hanukkah Menorah, also called a Hanukkiah. As in the rest of the Diaspora, this Jewish holiday is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Jamaica. Read more…here


 Hanukkah in Kingston Jamaica

 Chanukah is Here by Jacob Spike Kraus

The miracle of Chanukah is not just about a little bit of oil lasting eight days. It is about the inner healing light within each of us. Chanukah is a time when we can celebrate this inner healing light as we move toward wellness. Chanukah is also about the miracle of survival against all odds, about hope, courage and belief in one’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Chanukah Candle-Lighting Blessings

First night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our bodies.

Second night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our minds.

Third night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our souls.

Fourth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our children.

Fifth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our parents.

Sixth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our communities.

Seventh night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the restoration of health and wellness to those who are ill, suffering, or grieving.

Eighth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our world.

For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows through the Shekinah, the Source of Healing Wisdom and Inner Light.

Special thanks to Rabbi Malka Drucker, whose Hanukkah teaching can be found at

Mi yimalel gvurot Yisrael, Otan mi yimne?

Hen be’chol dor yakum ha’gibor

Goel ha’am!

Shma! Ba’yamim ha’hem ba’zman ha’ze

Maccabi moshia u’fode

U’v’yameinu kol am Yisrael

Yitached yakum ve’yigael!

Who can retell the things that befell us, Who can count them?

In every age, a hero or sage

Came to our aid.

Hark! In days of yore in Israel’s ancient land

Brave Maccabeus led the faithful band

But now all Israel must as one arise

Redeem itself through deed and sacrifice.

NACOEJ Ethiopian Embroidery Program. Stunning craftmanship!

NACOEJ - Ethiopian Jewish EmbroideryHandmade Embroidered Artwork can be order at: North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ)


…in Germany, the eighth and last night of Chanukah used to be very special. All the leftover wicks and oil were lit in giant bonfires. People sang songs and danced around the fire, often until the small hours of the night.

…in Yemen it was the tradition to light bon fires according to the days of hanukkah

…Turkish Jews make candles from the flax fibers used to wrap the etrog. The remains of these Chanukah candles are then melted together to make another candle used to search for bread crumbs pre-Passover.

…If you are an Ashkenazi Jew (of European ancestry) it is traditional for every family member to light a hanukkiah (menorah). If you are a Sephardi (descended from Spain and Portuguese Jews) only the head of the household lights the hanukkiah.

Sfenj (Moroccan Hanukkah Doughnuts)-c71e5d9a63fc3479


  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-3/4 to 3 cups of warm water (about 100 degrees), divided
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Honey, for drizzling on cooked doughnuts


In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. In a small bowl, dissolve active dry yeast and sugar in one cup of the warm water. Set aside until the mixture becomes foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and add 1-3/4 cups water. If the dough is heavy and a bit dry, add remaining water. Dough should be soft and smooth, but no so soft that it seems like batter.

Stir the dough until you get a nice, somewhat sticky mixture.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour. With oiled hands, reach under the dough and bring the bottom to the top and fold over. Repeat 3 to 4 more times until the dough has completely deflated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Heavily flour a work surface. Flour your hands well and pull off a small handful of dough and squeeze it in your hand to get a single small ball of dough the size of a golf ball. Toss the ball in the flour and using your thumb, poke a hole all the way through the dough ball. Stretch the ball into a doughnut shape, about 3-1/2-inches wide. Lay on the floured surface and repeat with remaining dough.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 inches of canola oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 4 to 6 doughnuts (depending on the size of your skillet), gently slide doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to splash. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side.

Transfer doughnuts to a plate lined with a paper towel, and allow to drain and cool slightly. Drizzle lightly with honey before serving.

The story of the Maccabees still speak to us today, lighting our homes with faith and filling our hearts with pride.

Tizku L’Shanim Rabot ~ May You Merit Many Years!

Graphic courtesy of

Pomegranates are traditionally eaten on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. They are a popular choice because Israel is often praised for its pomegranates and because, according to legend, pomegranates contain 613 seeds – one for each of the 613 mitzvot. Another reason for eating pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah has to do with the symbolic hope that our good deeds in the coming year will be as many as the seeds of the fruit. King Solomon is said to have designed his crown based on the “crown” of the pomegranate

Crown of a Pomegranate


Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson, Track: B’Rosh Hashana featuring Lynette

L’Shanah Tovah! 

NACOEJ Limudiah Student in Rishon LeZion

What is a Shofar?

…In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

How is a Shofar made?

Shofar Shogood!!!

“May it be Your Will That Our Merits Increase Like The Black-Eyed Peas.”

Sephardic Black-eyed Peas

1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, or 3-4 cups frozen black-eyed peas cooked according to directions on package

5 cups water 1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika salt and pepper and cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To prepare the peas: pick them over, getting rid of any pebbles and   broken or discolored peas. Soak them 8 hours or overnight in water to cover; or put them in a saucepan with a quart of water, bring to boil, boil uncovered 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand one hour. Drain and rinse the peas. Put them into a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook about 1 1/2 hours (or until tender) over low heat. Drain the peas, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. (I’d reserve more to be on the safe side; this doesn’t seem like enough to me.) Put drained peas into a medium saucepan. Mix the reserved cooking liquid with the tomato paste and add it to the pot. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onion, and saute over medium head, stirring often, about five minutes. (She uses a non-stick skillet; you might need more oil with a regular skillet.) When the onion begins to brown, add a tablespoon of water and saute until the onion is deeply browned. Then add the onion to the pea pot, cover, and gently heat for five minutes. Add half the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve it sprinkled with the other half the cilantro. Beth Greenfeld.

Indian Rabbi in Israel blowing the shofar
Photograph courtesy of
Life Magazine -Your World in Pictures

May all of us be Listened to & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported in the coming year

Ben Sidran: Life’s A Lesson: Track: Avinu Malkeinu featuring Lynette


Now facing extinction, the Sephardic Jewish community of the Caribbean was once so influential that it helped fuel the success of the American Revolution and finance the first synagogues in the United States, located in New York City and Rhode Island. The Jews of the Caribbean project brings to light this little known and quickly disappearing 520 year-old history of the oldest Jewish communities and Synagogues in the Western Hemisphere.

After Columbus’ expedition in 1492, the West Indies became a place of salvation for Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. La Nación, as these Jews were called, were fundamental in shaping the early Caribbean economy through their unique knowledge of sugar cane, agriculture, and an expansive network of trade. Jews also joined the pirates controlling the Caribbean seas, and later became influential politicians, substantial landowners, and bankers to the American colonies. While creating financial success for the European powers, the Sephardic Jews managed to keep their culture, religion, and customs alive – which lead to the continuation and support of Judaism throughout the Americas.

Through thought-provoking photographs of the remaining synagogues, cemeteries, and historic homes and artifacts in Jamaica, Barbados, Curaçao, Nevis, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Eustatius, and Suriname – the world can witness the legacy of Judaism in the new world and a rarely explored facet of Caribbean history. These endangered remaining monuments, dating back to 1654, are the oldest synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in the Western hemisphere and beautifully exemplify the strength of the Jewish people as well as the surprisingly diverse culture of the Caribbean.

Once home to thousands of Sephardic Jews, these historic communities now face extinction. Only 5 synagogues remain and almost half of the original cemeteries are either falling apart, or have been lost to natural disasters and pollution from nearby oil refineries. The few historic landmarks still in use are little known gems of the Caribbean and invaluable landmarks in the Jewish history of survival. Harry Ezratty, author of 500 Years In The Jewish Caribbean writes: “Having revisited many of these historic sites, it is certain that these unique monuments of the Jewish people are in peril.”~From Jews of the Caribbean ~Wyatt Gallery

Aruba: Beth Israel


Bahamian Jewish Community: Luis De Torres Synagogue in Freeport


Barbadian Jewish Community: Nidhe Israel Synagogue


The Jewish Community of the Cayman Islands


Cuban Jewish Community: Synagogues & Congregations

Curacao Jewish Community: Mikvé Israel-Emanuel

Jewish Museum, Willemstad, Curacao

Beth HaMidrash HaSefaradí Nidhé Israel De la República Dominicana

Jewish Jamaica


Aruba Jewish Community

 Bahamian Jewish Community

Barbadian Jewish Community

Cayman Islands Jewish Community

Cuban Jewish Community

Curacao Jewish Community

Dominican Republic Jewish Community

Guadeloupan Jewish Community

Jamaican Jewish Community

Martinique Jewish Community

Puerto Rican Jewish Community

St Kitts & Nevis Jewish Community

St Maarten/Martin Jewish Community

St Thomas Jewish Community

Trinidad & Tobago Jewish Community

Virgin Islands Jewish Community


Recipe: Fried Bake ‘n Fish from



Tizku L’Shanim Rabot ~ May You Merit Many Years!

Graphic courtesy of

Pomegranates are traditionally eaten on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. They are a popular choice because Israel is often praised for its pomegranates and because, according to legend, pomegranates contain 613 seeds – one for each of the 613 mitzvot. Another reason for eating pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah has to do with the symbolic hope that our good deeds in the coming year will be as many as the seeds of the fruit. King Solomon is said to have designed his crown based on the “crown” of the pomegranate

Bene Israel Family, Bombay, early 20th Century


When I and my family emigrated from Calcutta to Philadelphia in 1964, no one seemed to have heard of a Jew from India.

I remember standing up in front of my second grade class at Solomon Schechter Day School, singing the Indian national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”, as proof that I was really a little Indian girl…and not some Pocahontas kid.

Despite the surge of interest in Sephardic culture, many people still don’t know much about the Jews of India, a group of disparate communities from Cochin to Calcutta, isolated from each other by thousands of miles as well as possessing differing origins and customs.

Bombay’s B’nei Israel community claims its origin dates back to the Greek persecution that brought on the Maccabean revolt. The Jews of Cochin, in South India, trace their roots back 2,000 years, although the earliest documentary evidence of the settlement dates from the eleventh century CE. Many Portuguese Jews fled the Inquisition and made their home in Cochin.

The first Jew to settle in Calcutta was Shalome Cohen, a Syrian businessman who left his native Aleppo and made Calcutta his home in 1798. He prospered and eventually became the court jeweler to the Nawab (nobleman) of Lucknow. Iraqi Jews streamed into India in the 1800s, both to try and emulate Cohen’s success as well as to escape persecutions in Baghdad from 1825 to 1831. Eventually, the Calcutta Jewish community grew to a population of 5,000 at its peak in the 1940s, establishing five synagogues, two Jewish schools, a Jewish hospital and other Jewish institutions.

Magen David Synagogue, Calcutta India

Today, only 50 Jews remain in Calcutta. About half the community made aliyah to the newly independent state of Israel in 1948. The other half, afraid their economic circumstances would decline after India gained independence from Britain in 1947, spread out to other English-speaking countries: England, Australia, Canada and the United States.

My parents, too, decided India was not the best place to raise a family any more. My father was already familiar with America: he had been encouraged to enter the rabbinate by a Jewish chaplain stationed in Calcutta. He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and went back to Calcutta to serve the community for 12 years.

We went to the U.S. by ship – and although Ellis Island had been closed by then, our first glimpse of America was…the Statue of Liberty.

My father became the rabbi of Mikveh Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Philadelphia. He spent hours with a reel-to-reel tape player, learning the Sephardic melodies that differed from the familiar Calcutta chants.

My mother, who had worked as a secretary in Calcutta then learned to cook. In Calcutta, we had relied on our Indian cook who had been trained in the rules of kashrut – as did most Indian Jewish families. Before we left, my mother followed the cook around and wrote down everything on two steno pads. At first she tried to cook, in America, mahmoosa, an egg and potato dish; beet khata, a sweet-and-sour curry with dumplings; and aloomakalas, a round, deep-fried potato that is crisp on the outside, white and fluffy within. Writing down recipes is easier than following them…We sampled a lot of burned food in those days!

When my mother turned to the women in the synagogue to guide her, they taught her how to make good Sephardi foods like…chopped liver, brisket, noodle kugel, matza balls, and sponge cake! Though Mikveh Israel is Sephardi, many of its members were Ashkenazi.

Inside of Magen David Synagogue, Calcutta India, taken from the Women’s Gallery

We arrived in the U.S. in July, with Rosh Hashanah not far off. Many Sephardi and Oriental Jews have a special Rosh Hashanah mini-seder, featuring foods that symbolize good wishes for the new year.

Our seder includes apple preserves spiced with whole cloves, dates stuffed with walnuts, pomegranate (“May we be as full of mitzvot as this pomegranate as full of seeds”), spinach, pumpkin, scallions and string beans. The blessings over the vegetables derive from puns on their Hebrew names that turn into wishes that our enemies should be destroyed. In Calcutta, we also used a sheep’s head to concretize the biblical hope that we should be “heads and not tails.” Understandably, we did away with this particular dish in America!

The seder also reflects the kabbalistic influence on our community. We recite five biblical verses – from 10 to 17 times each. The word and repetition counts, when added up, suggest numerically calculated hopes for a good year. The last verse is: “And you will have peace, and your house will have peace, and everything that is yours will have peace.”

Nothing acid or sour is eaten on Rosh Hashanah, such as the sweet-and-sour Arabic dish called “khatta.” Instead, the meal consists of tempting dishes like “mahmoora,” chicken cooked with tomatoes, spices, almonds and raisins, served on a bed of pilau (rice) and topped with none other than “roshinkes mit mandlen” -more raisins and almonds sauteed quickly until crisp and golden. We even dip the challah into sugar, not salt, after reciting the motzi.

In Calcutta, the distinctive home ritual carried into the synagogue. Instead of one special Selihot service the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, Sephardi and Oriental Jews conduct Selihot?the special set of penitential prayers-all through the month of Elul. On erev Rosh Hashanah, a pre-dawn Selihot service began at 4 a.m., followed by the morning service and a visit to the cemetery.

Mikveh Israel Congregation: The oldest Jewish congregation in Pennsylvania.

Though I was too young to remember the synagogue observance, my parents have described Rosh Hashanah in the Maghen David Synagogue in Calcutta. At 6 a.m. on Rosh Hashanah morning, the synagogue, draped in white, began to fill with people, men dressed in white sharkskin suits (a shiny, heavy, polyster-like material). Women also wore as much white as possible.

The entire service was chanted aloud, and did not end until 1 p.m. The centerpiece of the service is a poem by Judah Samuel Abbas that describes the binding of Isaac. The shofar blasts also differ from the traditional Ashkenazi blasts: “teruah” is one long blast instead of nine short ones.

After the Torah reading, the solemn mood of the service shifted to that of an auction, as the aliyot, ark openings and other honors for the second day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur went up for grabs. Honors for the first day were auctioned off the previous Shabbat.

Though the auction prolonged the service by almost an hour, nobody seemed to mind. Only the people interested in the bidding-about half the congregation-remained in the sanctuary, laughing and joking among themselves, but still paying very close attention.

Much of the bidding was done in increments of 26 – the numerical value of God’s name – until the bidding reached 101, the numerical value of the guardian angel Michael’s name. The opening of the ark on Kol Nidre night and reading the haftarah traditionally drew the highest bids.

Parents bid on honors for their children as well. When the Torah was taken out, a special haftarah scroll accompanied it; this light scroll was usually carried by a child. It was also a child’s job to point to the beginning of the Torah portion with a yad, or pointer.

On Rosh Hashanah afternoon, many Calcutta families opened their homes to others for the traditional reading of the Book of Psalms, accompanied by a light meal of sweets and fruit.

While the distinctive Calcutta lifestyle has vanished with the dispersion of the community, my family follows many of the Calcutta customs, including the Rosh Hashanah seder. We continue to greet family and friends on Rosh Hashanah with the traditional blessing: “Tizku l’shanim rabot:” May you merit many years.

The response is: “Tizke ve’tihyeh:” May you merit, and may you also live.

Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad. She is a journalist, author and singer who presents programs on the Jewish communities of India. She is the editor/singer of “Songs of the Jews of Calcutta.” Website:  A Passage to India: Exciting…Exotic…and Jewish with Rahel Musleah
This article was originally printed here.

Additional information: Jews of India

Indian Jewish Coconut Rice Pudding

2 cans light coconut milk

1/3 cup rice

2 cardamoms

½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cinnamon stick broken

½ cup raisins

½ cup sliced almonds (options)

¾ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons rosewater

In a saucepan add the coconut milk and rice and bring to a simmer.

Add in the cardamoms, vanilla and cinnamon and cook on medium-low for 35 minutes stirring occasionally.

When the rice is very soft and the mixture has thickened add in the raisins and almonds if using.

Stir in the sugar and cook for another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the nutmeg and rosewater and serve hot or cold.

Indian Rabbi in Israel blowing the shofar
Photograph courtesy of
Life Magazine -Your World in Pictures

May all of us be listened to and embraced and welcomed and supported – in the comin year.

Crown of a Pomegranate

Tizku L’Shanim Rabot ~ May You Merit Many Years.

Enjoy a memorable Shabbat experience! Join Riki Mulu and Chassida Shmella, a vibrant community founded by a new generation of Ethiopian-Israeli Jews in America, to celebrate the Sabbath with unique Ethiopian customs. Special guest will be Dr. Ephraim Isaac, director of the Institute of Semitic Studies in Princeton, NJ. Families are welcome. Space is limited; pre-registration required. Co-sponsored with Chassida Shmella and with Bechol Lashon.

Ethiopian Shabbat Dinner (JCC Manhattan)
Fri, Dec 4
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Shabbat - Ethiopian Embroidery Program, NACOEJ

Shabbat - Ethiopian Embroidery Program, NACOEJ

Dr. Ephraim Isaac, Ethiopian Yemenite Jewish scholar extraordinaire, linguist, conductor, historian and history maker, Director of the Institute of Semitic Studies in Princeton, NJ.

Mocha Star-25x25

Bizu “Riki” Mullu, a jewelry artist and community activist, works with Chassida- Shmella, one of two U.S.-based organizations to provide Ethiopian Jews with cross-cultural networks, communal partnerships and educational/professional opportunities


Riki Mullu’s Doro Wat (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

doro watjpg

1 whole chicken cut into 12 pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 yellow onions (finely chopped)
1 red onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh ginger
3/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp flaxseed (available at health food stores)
5 hard-boiled eggs peeled and scored lightly (1 per person or as needed )
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cardamom
Cook onions in oil for ten minutes until soft. Add tomato paste and chili powder and spices and cook another ten minutes or more until flavors blend. Add chicken and about one cup water. Simmer for about 45 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add hard boiled eggs. Grind fresh garlic and ginger together. Grind one Tbsp flax seed oil. Add to chicken. Cook for about 2 more minutes.

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