Shabbat Surfing: Olympics

Today marks the first day of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 B.C.E , where they were held for nearly 12 centuries before being banned due to their pagan roots. The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896 and have evolved and grown ever since.

Tisha B’Av is also this weekend. At the same time when the Jewish community will be participating in communal mourning of the destruction of the Temple and the loss of thousands, the 11 Israeli athletes killed 40 years ago at the 1972 Munich Games will also be on many people’s minds–official recognition or not.

Looking back to more uplifting Olympic moments, this story of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team certainly highlights a proud achievement in the face of adversity. Called the “high spot” of the Games by sportswriter Grantland Rice, it must have been an especially uplifting moment for the USA as a group of college rowers from the University of Washington came from behind to defeat Germany as Hitler and other Nazi officials looked on.

And lastly, if you were ever curious about Jewish Olympic athletic prowess here is a list of all Jewish Olympic medalists. Feel free to tally up the total number of golds, silvers and bronzes.

Shabbat Shalom!

The Horror of Destruction

I’ll admit it. For a long time I really couldn’t  connect with Tisha B’av.

But then I became a parent.

From Eicha (Lamentations)

The horror of watching your child starve:

My eyes are spent with tears,
My heart is in tumult.
My being melts away
Over the ruin of my poor people,
As babes and sucklings languish in the squares of the city.
They keep asking their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”
As they languish like battle-wounded
In the squares of the town,
As their life runs out
In their mother’s bosoms.
(Lamentations 2:11-12)

A mother with nothing to give: 

Even jackals offer the breast
And suckle their young;
But my poor people has turned cruel,
Like Ostriches of the desert.
The tongue of the suckling cleaves
To its palate for thirst.
Little children  beg for bread;
None give them a morsel.
(Lamentations 4:3-4)

And the unthinkable:

With their own hands, tenderhearted woman
Have cooked their children;
Such became their fare,
In the disaster of my poor people.
(Lamentations 4:10)

Translations from the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh

What We’re Listening To: By the Rivers of Babylon

Click to listen to The Melodians sing “By the Rivers of Babylon

Shabbat Surfing: Tisha B’av

Jerusalem on Fire

The fast day of Tisha B’av, which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, begins this Monday night at sundown. One of the most moving rituals of this somber holiday is the public reading of the Book of Lamentations (Eicha), whose emotionally harrowing words and plaintive tune evoke the depth of the  loss.

  • Listen to Virtual Cantor chant Eicha in the original Hebrew.
  • Still brushing up on your biblical Hebrew? Me too. Go to Mechon Mamre for a good translation.
  • Eicha invisions Jerusalem as a mourning widow. Other texts even envision Israel an estranged or even beaten wife. What’s with that?
  • This is a notoriously hard holiday to explain to children. Check out this great crafts project and resist the urge to have them build a giant Lego Temple that you unceremoniously destroy.
  • It is a said that the Temple was destroyed because of senseless hatred. Read this story about the rivalry that brought the Temple down. Once you realize how mired in this dreck we still are, consider doing something with the J to help repair this broken world.

Shabbat Shalom!

Jewish Cooking Corner

From the desk of Jean Graubart, Jewish Living and Learning Director

Tisha B’av, the ninth of Av (this year falling on August 9), commemorates the fall of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Beginning the first day of Av (this year falling on August 1), through the end of Tisha B’av, a fast day, many people eat only vegetarian and dairy foods.

Bean Salad with Eggs and Onions

Bean Salad with Eggs and Onions is often found on a Sephardic table.

2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
2 cups dried white beans
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
freshly ground pepper
2 onions sliced very thin
5 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 chopped tomatoes
1 chopped green pepper
sumac and fresh mint, chopped
juice of 1 lemon, optional

Prepare the hard boiled eggs, “huevos haminados” by boiling the eggs with water, a layer of onion skins on the bottom, 1/2 cup olive oil and salt and pepper. After they are boiling, turn the flame down to low, cover the pan tightly and simmer for 6 hours. Pick over the beans and rinse well. Soak overnight in water. Drain beans and put into saucepan with water to cover and boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until tender 45-60 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Drain cooked beans and transfer to a bowl or deep platter. Mix olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir most of this dressing on the warm beans and toss well. Slice onions, mix with chopped parsley, and add teh remaining dressing. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and peppers and place around the beans. Sprinkle with sumac and chopped fresh mint (sumac is available in middle-eastern markets). As an option add lemon juice on top. Enjoy.

Reprinted from Center in the City July/August 2008

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