Judaism gives us a lot of chances to start fresh. Sure, many of them are within a few weeks of each other, but this Shabbat, at the end of this long string of holidays, when we started reading the Torah over at the beginning, I felt really lucky to be able to use my tradition to set parameters for my own new beginnings. I can’t even really elaborate on what that means, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Talk about a teaser!
This Shabbat was also part of another three day yontif (holiday), connected to perhaps the most confusing holiday configuration in all of Judaism: Sukkot/Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. Every year, in my capacity as a Jewish educator, I feel like I have the responsibility to be able to explain what the heck happens at the end of Sukkot, and this year, I finally feel like I can say, with great confidence: it’s just confusing! So if you don’t understand why Sukkot is 7 days followed by a two-day holiday, you’re in fabulous company.
A quick rundown of the pre-Shabbat eating festivities: Marc and I had dinner with just the two of us on Wednesday night, and it a was blissfully calm evening of baked ziti followed by root beer ice cream. The local, terrible grocery store came through with root beer extract – the only place I’ve ever seen it! Thursday, we had lunch at Mattea’s and seriously enjoyed the gingerbread apple pie. Thursday night was Simchat Torah, which means we danced more than we ate. Though I was looking forward to the drinking part of the festivities, pregnancy and breastfeeding have totally killed my taste for anything other than the occasional beer or glass of wine. Bummer. But I made Mexican layered dip that turned out to be a big hit. I was told it made up for the bottle of 99 Bananas that we keep trying to pawn off on people.
Mexican layered dip
First layer: black bean hummus – Put two cans of rinsed black beans in the Cuisinart with some cumin, olive oil, salt, and a clove or two of garlic. Add cilantro if Josh isn’t around. Puree.
Second layer: guacamole – Everyone seems to have their favorite way to do it, but I mash the avocados with a potato masher, add 1-2 cloves of minced garlic, some lemon and/or lime juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Third layer: sour cream – One of a category of things including mayonaise that I claim to hate but actually enjoy in the right context.
Fourth layer: salsa – Store-bought in this case, but if you make your own, even better, unless your salsa, like mine, never actually is as good as store-bought.
Fifth layer: shredded cheese – I also claim to hate this unless it’s melted, but again, it’s all about context. Serve with tortilla chips. Lick the bowl when no one’s looking.
Friday, we had lunch at Beverly and Naomi’s then had to make a quick retreat home to get ready for dinner. I reprised Bon Appetit’s citrus basil shortbread cookies, and they were just as good as I remembered.
And that brings us to Shabbat! (And let me be honest: I’m rushing a bit here. We’re going out of town tomorrow, it’s midnight, Aliza’s still awake, and I haven’t packed yet.)
We had another sort of themed meal, this time with Indian food. I made mulligatawny soup, which turned out fabulously, and chana masala absolutely without a recipe, which turned out surprisingly similar to the recipes I’ve followed, but with a lot less hassle. I’ll break it down: sauteed onions and garlic, chick peas, canned tomatoes, a whole lot of spices. Everything pretty much got made in the hour before Shabbat started, and I was hot, hassled, and totally impressed with the timing.
Minyan Tikvah met this Shabbat morning (in addition to Thursday night for Simchat Torah!), and Marc was in charge of lunch. Last weekend, he and Mattea made four dozen bagels for the occasion, and our freezer has been a bit full since then. For dessert, we had donuts from the new kosher Krispy Kreme in town. Yes, it’s a novelty, but they’re also delicious and helped complete a very holey lunch. (Not that funny, but irresistible.)
I gave the d’var Torah during services and was a bit daunted by the prospect, since the first parsha of Bereshit (Genesis) spans the creation of the world up through Noah. And that’s a lot to cover. So here’s the crux of what I said. 1) We read the Torah over the course of the year, and it does a pretty good job of spanning all of emotions, experiences, and minutia we as readers might experience in a year. 2) During creation, the 7th day is holy because nothing is created, so we should all enjoy and respect the times when we are not doing or creating anything at least as much as when we are.
And that brings us to the end of the holiday season. Whew. I’d stop and take a breath except I don’t have time. Ironic, I realize, given my drash this morning. Then again, I took a nap this afternoon that was longer than any other consecutive sleep I’ve had in days. And speaking of sleep, Aliza was still asleep when it was time to leave for shul, so she got to spend the day in her pj’s. Once in five months isn’t bad, and she had lots of Tikvah-goers pining for her monkey feet. And on that note, shavua tov, have a great week!