Sunday, September 27, 2015

All in the Same

The arrival of Pope Francis caused quite a stir, shutting down the city like never before.

People from all over came to see a man whose progressive ideas are breathing new life into the Catholic Church and to society at large.  He's emerging as a compelling world leader, and many of us are tuning in.    

That's not to say that I'm on board with all his thinking, such as his stance on homosexuality, adoption with same sex couples or abortion, but his eyes and ears appear to be open, which is an important step in the right direction.
He can't erase the Church's wrongdoings of the past, but he is acknowledging them which will hopefully change the course going forward.

The Pope's presence here for the World Meeting of Families has awoken in many of us deep yearning and faith that the world can be a better place.    
And it's not just that he's calling for people to pray for it; he's calling on people to act upon it:  to help the impoverished, the immigrants, each be the best we can be.    
In which case isn't this a humanitarian message, and not so much a religious one?  After all, it's not just Catholics who want to be good people and live in a peaceful world; we ALL do. We are all much similar than different, aren't we? 

Thinking like this always gets me into trouble, leading me to start questioning everything.

For example, what really is the difference between a Catholic woman and me, a Jew?

I'm no theologian, but I'd say that one of the most noteworthy hallmarks of each religion centers on the deity with which a relationship is formed and a prayer is while I pray to G-d, perhaps my Catholic friend would pray to a saint.

We could be standing side by side and praying with the same intentions at heart:  Make Bradley well, bring a baby into Jane's life, don't let Derrick and Joy lose their home and so forth. 

What I don't get is why associating with a religion that we call our own seems to create a divide that separates us far more than unifies us.  It's not like one entity is pure and one is evil. 

It's all supposed to be good.    

Sunday, September 13, 2015


We Jewish folk  may not believe in "Heaven," but let me tell you...

My mom's noodle kugel was heaven.

The smell of it, the taste, the look, the feel.

Everything about it was...divine.

"Kugel" for those unsure, is also known as noodle "pudding" or casserole.  The base can be made from noodles, potato or, during Passover, matzoh.   Fruit, cheese and vegetables are the most popular ingredients  to add, depending upon whether the objective is for a sweet or savory final product.

My mom's signature kugel was a fairly simple one - noodles, eggs, sugar, oil, cinnamon, vanilla and raisins - yet the pleasure it brought was immense.  I for one would drool when it came out of the oven as I longed for a bite of crispy noodles that were sizzling with oil and providing a protective cover for the succulent raisins hiding underneath.      

It was my dad's sister, Aunt Fay, who taught my mom how to make this fine dish, and I always stressed the historical context to my kids in the event they might want to pass it on to the next generation.   

The last time I made it, I felt so happy that one of our girls was in the kitchen watching me prepare it until she became horrified when I poured a whopping 1 cup of sugar into the mixture.    

"Is that a dessert?" she asked.

I wanted to say "Yes," because clearly she thought it should be and I admit that it could seem more acceptable as a dessert than as a side dish in today's world, but NO, it was actually the main part of our dinner.    

But what the heck.  We're Jews, and healthy meals aren't really part of our traditions.   

It never occurred to me when my mom served it that in actuality it wasn't really good for us.  

She made it.  We loved it.  End of story.

Over time, however, I've succumbed to the health-minded influences out there and reduced the sugar content by about 50% - and that's about how much I like it now! Someone suggested a sugar substitute, but I'm not comfortable integrating an impostor into the mix of something that at one time brought such pure joy to the family.

It's the real McCoy , or nothing.

Want to try it?   

A Taste of Heaven
(for 4-6 servings)

1/2 lb. medium wide egg noodles (follow directions for cooking)

Let noodles cool and pour cold water over top

Mix noodles with:

1 cup raisins
4 raw eggs (1 at a time)
1/2 cup sugar (no skimping allowed)
1/4-1/2 cup oil (scant)
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla

Grease loaf pan (about 9x5) and bake at 350 for approximately one hour.


Wishing everyone - Jews and non-Jews alike - a very Happy and Healthy year ahead, 
filled with great joy...and kugel!