I thought about calling this post “Potlucks and preparedness” or “Heymish, haftorah, and hurricanes,” or even “I dine with Irene.” The most accurate would probably have been, “We’re all a bunch of suckers for local news hysteria.” Either way, I’m very happy to report that everyone in Philly seems to be ok, our basement is only slightly damp, and we never even lost power.
Friday night, I went to my first Grad Network Shabbat dinner in a very long time, and it was lovely and a little surreal to be back and to have Aliza in tow. It was a really nice crowd, lots of new people, and even though challah was the main food group represented, everyone had more than enough to eat.
On my way home, Marc joined me, and we stopped off at Ilana’s, where she had hosted Heymish that night, too. While, both as a Jewish professional and as a, you know, human, I think it’s often best to avoid scheduling conflicts, I also think it represents the real health of the Philly young adult Jewish community that more than one such event can happen on the same night, be well-attended, and not create any animosity over “competition.” So I swooped into Ilana’s, ate some funfetti cake, some of Sara’s frittata, some bits of at least three other things, and a whole mess of watermelon, then we left. Funfetti and frittata are surprisingly similar words, and yes, though everyone had enough to eat at the other potluck, I was still ready for round 2.
Minyan Tikvah met on Saturday, and we had an awesome crowd considering the weather panic descending on the city. This week was parshat Re’eh, my bat mitzvah parsha, and I read haftorah for the first time in, that’s right, 18 years. I also got a real kick out of imagining telling my 12-year-old self, “The next time you’ll read this haftorah, it will be at a minyan that you and your husband helped to start in Philadelphia, your 3-month-old baby will roll over for the first time at services right before you have to read, and everyone will be waiting for a hurricane.” One thing I know for sure is that my 12-year-old self would have been super psyched about the stickers.
This week was Tikvah’s first ever potluck lunch, and while there are still kinks to work out, I declare it a pretty awesome success. See, while many people feel like they can answer “yes” or “no” to the question “Do you keep kosher?” it’s really never that straightforward. So, in order to address the various food values of people in our community, we created a sticker chart. I know it’s overly complicated, and I’m sure it’s going to be revised before the next potluck, but I am really, really proud of this innovation.
In an effort to address other environmental values, we used compostable plates and cutlery, and while the forks held up fine, it was basically like I was holding my food in my hand while the plate disintegrated around it. But maybe that’s, in part, because I ate a lot of my own pasta salad, and it was full of olive-oily goodness.
We spent the rest of the day hunkered down at home, except for the part where we were on the roof in the rain trying to secure items that might blow away or cause damage. We also spent some time discussing how power outages are like a forced extended Shabbat. And as much as people were worried, and as relieved as we are to have power and water and safety, I think a lot of us were also looking forward to some extra hours before having to go back to the craziness of normal time. We’ll just have to make it for ourselves.
My new favorite pasta salad
Half a box of pasta, any shape including spaghetti will be good
1 zucchini or summer squash or a combination
1-2 garlic cloves, minced or sliced very thinly
A large handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
A can of chickpeas
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
The most important thing here is to caramelize the onions. The yummy sweetness makes this all work. Slice the onion thinly and saute in the olive oil until it starts to brown. Boil the pasta while this is happening. Add the garlic, sliced squash, and halved tomatoes, and saute, stirring frequently, until everything is soft and a little bit broken down. If you want to serve it hot, add the chickpeas to the veggies, but if you’re serving it cold, you can add them afterwards. Season to taste. Don’t use a compostable plate.