Monday Media: Telegraph Avenue

Attention Michael Chabon Fans!!

Check out NPR’s exlusive First Read of Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue.  You can read or listen to an excerpt of Michael’s magnificent new novel (yes, I’ve read it, and no, I’m not exaggerating) here. Below is a sneak peek:

“Hello?” Gwen called, letting herself in the front door. A small black Buddha greeted her from a low table by the front door, where it kept company with a photograph of Lydia Frankenthaler, the producer of an Oscar­-winning documentary film about the neglected plight of lesbians in Nazi Germany; Lydia’s partner, Garth; and Lydia’s daughter from her first marriage, a child whose father was black and whose name Gwen had forgotten. It was a Chinese Buddha, the kind that was supposed to pull in money and luck, jolly, baby­faced, and potbellied, reminding Gwen of her darling husband apart from the signal difference that you could rub the continental expanse of Archy Stallings’s abdomen for a very long time without attracting any flow of money in your direction. “Somebody having a baby around here?” continued on npr.org…

Michael opens the DCJCC’s Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival on October 14. Tickets go on sale September 1–don’t get closed out!

Shabbat Surfing: History

This year marks the bicentennial of the start of the War of 1812 and today marks the 198th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg. After defeating the Americans, British troops marched to Washington and set fire to many public buildings (most notably the Capitol and the White House).

Tom Freeman’s painting of the August 24, 1814 burning of the White House by British troops during the War of 1812.

Though there were perhaps fewer than 10,000 Jews living in the United States at the time of the war that inspired our national anthem, Jewish soldiers and volunteers contributed their strength and helped to defend against the British.

Today also marks the centennial of Alaska’s granting of territorial status.  Jews first arrived in sizable numbers during the Gold Rush and set up stores and mining operations. Today’s Alaskan Jews only number about 6,000 but they still have made a their mark on The Last Frontier.

Speaking of frozen… it’s still summer and the season for frozen treats. Did you know that Jews helped launch the craze over premium ice cream? Yum.

Shabbat Shalom!

Why Women’s Voices?

WHY ARE WOMEN’S VOICES IMPORTANT IN ART?

In connection with our production of Annie Baker’s BODY AWARENESS, Theater J is asking women to submit a portrait along with a brief sentence answering the above question.

We would love to hear from ALL woman – artist or not, affiliated with Theater J or not. Men and women alike please share this to the women whose voices you value

About the portrait: This can be whatever encapsulates YOU. Is it the picture where you feel at your best? An image of your cat? Your headshot? A photo of your family? You decide.

Email your name, photo and answer to theaterj99@gmail.com with the subject MY PORTRAIT.

 

Check out some of the fabulous portraits we’ve received thus far!

Book Trailer: One Last Thing Before I Go

Jonathan Tropper’s latest novel, One Last Thing Before I Go, tells the story of Drew Silver, a middle-age divorcee whose life has eroded to such a degree that when he learns that he needs emergency, lifesaving surgery, he makes the radical decision to refuse the operation. He chooses instead to use what little time he has left to repair his relationship with his family, become a better man, and live in the moment, even if that moment isn’t destined to last very long.

Read the book and then come hear Jonathan speak at the 2012 Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival at the Washington DCJCC on October 21 at 7 pm. He’ll be on a panel entitled Funny Because It’s True: A Panel on Humor and Fiction, along with novelist Lisa Zeidner and Devan Sipher. More information on the festival can be found here. Tickets go on sale September 1.

A Day at the White House, Part 2

By Xani Pollakoff

While tomato seeds dripped down the faces of our two year-old students, Bill Yosses, The White House Executive Pastry Chef, squatted down to show them the inside of a blossoming green pepper. Our curious kids, more engaged than ever, experienced a private tour of a lifetime, one that many families only dream of.

Standing on the narrow path between yellow squash and baby watermelons, the kids, parents and teachers of the Etzim class touched and smelled the herbs, vegetables and fruits growing in the White House Garden. They spent the morning learning about how pumpkin seeds are made, why tomatoes have green leaves at the top, and that much of the fruit and vegetables grown in the garden are from seeds descended from President Jefferson’s garden. Guarded by the quiet presence of three secret service agents, we listened as Bill enlightened us with details about making honey, composting, and how he transforms the plants in the garden into his famous White House pies. The children chimed in with stories of their own growing experiences, including how they carefully watered our own parsley garden inside of the Etzim classroom at the DCJCC over the Passover holiday season.

Our classroom name, Etzim, means trees in Hebrew. Our walls, stories and explorations during this past year have expanded the theme of growing. During the year we sang Tu B’shevat tree songs, used measuring sticks to create an Etzim height chart on our wall, and created a huge classroom tree out of recycled artwork. Our students explored growing when we planted seeds, took care of our very own plants, and observed changes as the plants grew over weeks and months. This most unique and memorable experience gave us a sweet end to a year full of learning.

We used all our senses during our once-in-a-lifetime trip. We tasted the most amazing tomatoes, smelled (and nibbled) lemon verbena leaves, and rubbed our tiny fingers along the flowers of a lavender bush. Our pictures are just small reminders of the huge memories of the most amazing day we spent learning and bonding at the White House!

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Shabbat Surfing: The Ties That Bind

As the Olympic Games are winding down, moments of awe come hand-in-hand with moments of human solidarity. The Jewish community has rallied behind golden girl Aly Raisman not only for her gymnastics prowess, but also for her widespread appeal (not just to Jewish mothers) and maturity that has accompanied her elevation to stardom.

Raisman’s floor routine set to “Hava Nagila” was not the only nod to Jewish heritage to capture the attention of the Jewish community: interest in French swimmer Fabien Gilot’s Hebrew tattoo helped to soften the blow of American defeat in the 4×100 relay. Gilot’s tattoo translates to “I am nothing without them,” and is a tribute to Gilot’s grandfather figure, a Holocaust survivor.

While athleticism serves as a common thread amongst the Olympic athletes in London, the Washington Post reported on a special meeting bound by a very different common thread.  This past weekend Holocaust survivor and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum volunteer Margit Meissner gave a very special tour to Freddy Mutanguha, Rwandan Genocide survivor and director of the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The two first met when 90-year-old Meissner was visiting Rwanda and share an interest in survivor testimony and educating others about preventing genocide.

Tragedy unfortunately brings us together and reaffirms our shared values. Following Sunday’s shooting at a Sikh temple, Milwaukee’s Jewish community has shown great and respectful support to the Sikh community by commemorating the lives lost and reaching out in solidarity.

NASA’s Curiosity rover  successfully made it to Mars and now begins its new phase of discovering the Red Planet. As a “world asset” Curiosity is already sending back incredible photos to satisfy Earthlings’ curiosity.  Despite the fact that the mission is a NASA project, Israeli software played an important part in its success. Software company Siemens develops all of its Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software in Israel and Siemens PLM Israel helped to develop the system “needed to figure out how to ensure that Curiosity could stand up to the harsh conditions on Mars.”

Inside the Actors’ Rehearsal Room

Adi Stein

Adi Stein, currently playing the role of Jared onstage and the role of Theater J apprentice offstage, joins us today with a peek into the rehearsal room for Theater J’s upcoming production of Body Awareness, opening August 25!  Adi says:

Well, rehearsals for Body Awareness are in full swing.  We just finished staging the entire show (which is no small feat considering the fact that a full meal is made on stage in more than one scene) and we are now on to working out and perfecting each moment.

The Rehearsal Room

(the Israel flags aren’t actually part of the play. Those plays come later in the season)

Working on this show is a blast. The cast, director, and stage managers are just hysterical and terrific people who clearly love what they do. It’s one of those super rare situations where all the pieces are just clicking. In the coming weeks I’m excited to start working with the actual set and incorporating our costumes. I can’t wait for people to see what we’ve been creating!

Recipes: Summer Desserts – Plum Torte and Ice Cream Strudel

By Jean Graubart, Director of Jewish Living and Learning

I always thought that baking was one of those skills (some say, talents) that skips a generation.

My Ashkanazi grandmother Evelyn made the most delicious pastries stuffed with raisins and cinnamon, which I can still taste so many years later.  My Sephardic grandmother Molly, rolled out wonderful biscochos, always found in her oven (she stored them there) for the grandkids to grab.

But my mother burnt Sara Lee, and at best would make a Duncan Hines cake so dry, it only worked with layers of ice cream in the middle and on top, and we thought this was gourmet.  Who knew?

I would gather recipes from friends, claiming them as my own and giving them a family history.  By making a change or 2, they became my recipe, and have been enjoyed and passed on.

Since it is so terribly hot in the summer, I rarely bake, not wanting to heat the house.  But there are exceptions…

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Summer is when we get the best plums, and I love this plum torte.

Plum Torte

12 Italian or purple plums halved…if large, quarter (and who says you can’t use green or red plums?)
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (I use parve margarine so we can enjoy this with any meal)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Lemon juice to taste

Cream butter and sugar together
Add eggs and mix well (hand mixing or electric are fine)
Add flour, baking powder and mix to combine
Spoon into a lightly greased pie pan and cover the bottom and a little way up the sides
Place plums, skin side up, on top of batter, all around
Squeeze lemon on top  to cover and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon

Bake 350 for an hour.
Cool and serve, warm or next day, with ice cream, whipped cream or plain.
This torte can stay in the refrigerator several days, covered (can heat before serving, though I like it cold)
Freezes very nicely, wrapped tightly.  Can defrost on 300 for a few minutes.

My friend has a plum tree and makes this in a square brownie pan with the plums cut up and mixed in.  Since that has worked so well and the cake is so easy to make with 1 bowl only, we have made it with other fruits.

It is great (pie style) with apples or pears on top for Rosh Hashanah.

For more summer treats, use peaches on top if you have a basket from the farm waiting to be used.

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When I was in graduate school, I tasted this delicious strudel which I never thought I could duplicate, but then realized how easy it was.  Why is it summer food?  The main ingredient is ice cream!

Ice Cream Strudel

2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 pound sweet butter
1/2 pint strawberry, peach or any fruit flavored ice cream (I have used vanilla too)  – very soft, almost melted

Blend and refrigerate above over night.
Preheat oven to 325.
Divide into 4 balls and roll in rectangle on floured table (can use powdered sugar instead).
Spread with jam, nuts, raisins, coconut, cinnamon and sugar (Use whatever you like: currants, raisins, mini chocolate chips).
Roll up like a jelly roll, and cut ¾” apart, and ¾ of the way through (seam side down).
Bake at 325 for 30 minutes on greased cookie sheet, seam side down.
When cooled and ready to serve, cut all the way through and put in cupcake holders and freeze in a cookie tin or serve and enjoy with iced tea.

So when those fruity ice cream flavors tempt you, have a bowlful and then prepare this rich and lovely dough.

This is a great dough! You can do anything with it. (It also makes a great dough to cover apples in apple dumplings or baked apples.)

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Yes, summertime and the livin’ is easy, the salads are tasty and the fruit is delicious.

These treats help to balance out the calories and are truly good all year.  They are easy, different and a pleasure to share at a picnic or BBQ.

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Want to check out past recipes from Jean? Click here!

A Day at the White House

By DCJCC Preschool Teachers Xani Pollakoff, Kara Korengold and Tammy Schwartz

The helicopter was heard before we saw it. All the kids covered their little ears and their mouths dropped open. And suddenly, in the last weeks of school, our year came full circle.

To understand the power of the day we have to bring you on a journey from the third week of school to today.

If anyone had asked the teachers in the preschool’s youngest class if we would be talking about President Obama on a daily basis we would have laughed out loud. But during our first adventure outside the Center walls we saw a helicopter overhead (such is life in our nation’s capital)! One of the teachers shouted “Obama” at the helicopter and all the friends were hooked. Every time we saw a helicopter, all the friends would look up and shout, in unison “Obama”! During intentional play friends would call Helicopter Obama on their pretend phones. Many friends would draw helicopters, and some would event point to helicopters in transportation books and call it “Obama”.

To our friends, helicopters and President Obama were one and the same.

We spent months discussing the President, and through story telling, photographs and art projects the Etzim began to understand that “Obama” was a person with a dog named Bo who lived in a white house. (The concept of THE White House is still a little hard to grasp.)

On August 1, eight months after seeing that helicopter in the sky on our first venture to the park, the Etzim walked through the gates of the White House, hung out with Bo and got to watch President Obama board Marine One! The wind was strong. The noise was loud. But there he was and the Etzim blew kisses, yelled “Obama” and had an once in a lifetime experience.

But the day didn’t end there. Stay tuned to hear more about our adventure in the vegetable garden with Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses…

Shabbat Surfing: Tu B’Av – It’s All About the Love!

If you’re feeling an extra bit love and affection floating around today, it’s the effects of Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday of love.

(Or as other Jewish denominations pronounce it, lurve.)

If you want to pass along the love, you can send a free Tu B’Av ecard to your special someones, designed by contest winner, Rachel Scheer.

Tu B'Av ecard by Rachel ScheerAnd isn’t a Day of Love the perfect time for a Kiss-In?

The Jewish community was recently polled to find that 81% support equal marriage for all. Some will be celebrating the today with National Same-Sex Kiss Day, in support of equality for all, and in response to Chik-Fil-A’s Chickens for Bigotry* campaign. It seems all expressions of affection (kisses, hugs, holding hands) will be welcome, as will as any and all who would like to come and kiss.
*Not the actual name

Whether you are celebrating with a quiet dinner at home, or a huge white party with hundreds of your nearest and dearest, our Tu B’Av wish is that you know how much we love our readers and all who join us at the DCJCC.

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