September 09, 2009

Who Doesn't Love Cheesecake

So I am perusing the internet per usual (looking at trailers for "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs") and came across this article about the largest Meatball ever made. Naturally, I am very intrigued by large food, who isn't, so I continue reading and found out that over the past year, Mexico has been really into beating Guiness World Records. In addition to having the largest organized 'Thriller' dance (pre-Michael Jackson's passing), they had the largest group of people kissing in one area at one moment (40,000 people), which was immediately discouraged afterwords because of Swine Flu fears.

However, that is not nearly the best part. Some chefs in Mexico City baked up the largest Cheesecake ever. Measuring in at over 2 tons (It weighed 4,703 pounds) and over 8 feet long (1 foot, 10 inches tall), it easily surpassed the previous record holder. This monstrosity was sliced up into over 20,000 pieces and served to a few neighboring communities.

For the full article (which I think I did a great job summarizing) and a couple of photos, one of which showcases the 100 kg of strawberries perched on the top of this dairy delight, check out the link below.

http://community.guinnessworldrecords.com/_The-Worlds-Largest-Cheesecake/blog/178167/7691.html

Posted by averyr at 10:23 PM | Comments (2)

June 02, 2009

Kichel on Spelling Bee

In case you haven't heard. This year during the National Scripps Spelling Bee (aired on ESPN) in Washington, D.C. Ramya Auroprem was given the word "kichel" to spell. Not only did she spell it correctly (mozel tov Ramya), but she was offered the greatest sentence I have ever heard. Check it for yourself

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Posted by averyr at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2009

Oy, Gevolt [sic]

Since when is it okay to create a culture based around an oxymoron? No, I'm not talking about Bittersweet chocolates or Boneless ribs. During Hebrew class today I learned of a group that (in my mind) crosses the oxymoronic lines of yiddishkeit. Have you ever heard of GeVolt?

No, not the Yiddish word meaning "force or cry". I am talking about the Russian heavy metal band "GeVolt" that plays Yiddish and Klezmer music. I've been listening to their stuff on http://www.myspace.com/gevolt and have found that it is is not that bad. I'm not a big fan of hard rock/metal, but their song Shpil Zhe Mir A Lidele is alright (naturally you're entitled to your own opinions…just know that you might be wrong).

They are from Israel and are comprised of (from what I can tell) Russian-Israelis, including a drummer named Vadim (who is actually not on the internet Vadim database: (http://www.vadim.com/vadim/vadim_list.php). I don't know too much about them aside from what I picked up in class today and surfing the internet for the past couple hours; however, they were featured in the Forward. Instead of copying their article in my own words and butchering the message behind it, here is the link: http://www.forward.com/articles/11661/

Here is a translation of Shpil Zhe Mir A Lidele

Play me a song in the jewish spirit
it should awake pleasure instead of grief
that all old and young could understand it
from mouth to mouth it should be sung
: : :
Play play musician play
about my thoughts and desires
play play play a tune for me
play with heart and soul
: : :
A song without sighes and tears
play so that all should hear it
that all should see me still alive and singing
more beautifully and even better than was
: : :
Play play musician play
about my thoughts and desires
play play play a tune for me
play with heart and soul
: : :
Let's sing this song together
as good friends as children of one mother
my only wish is
this song should sound freely in all songs

Posted by averyr at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2009

A Sad Day for my Belly = Shmooze Investment Opportunity

It is with an optimistic heart that I inform you of the cancellation of Best's Kosher, Sinai, WIlno, and Shofar meat products. Sara Lee®, their parent company has decided to shut down the Kosher meat division. The following link is from the Chicago Tribune explaining the history of Best's Kosher Meat:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-oped0223selljan23,0,7174364.story

Here is the press release from Sara Lee®:
http://www.savethedeli.com/2009/01/08/death-of-chicagos-deli-meat-dynasty/

Seeing as the kosher meat market in the midwest is going to be noticing some major cutbacks, I suggest Shmooze invest/purchase the old Best's Kosher plant in Chicago and rejuvenate the Kosher meat market. I think we have a lot of potential, especially those of you who are pursuing a career in business, economics, nutrition, and Jewish Culture.

What do you think?

Posted by averyr at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2007

Shmooze Course Guide

Philosophy

If you are philosophy student, take a class with Darwall because he is leaving for Yale. He is teaching the History of Ethics.

Mika Levakmonte teaches political theory. He is a great teacher. There is a quite a bit of reading and he is a tough grader. No busy work, though. He is an outstanding lecturer. You need to do the readings.

Elizabeth Anderson has a great dry wit. You never get bored in lecture or discussion. She is a difficult grader, though. She is teaching Global Justice. She will also write a law school recommendation for you if you do well in her class. That applied for her other class, but I don’t know if it applies in this class.

Psychology

Psych 111: (Brian Malley): Had him for a social psych research lab, not this class. He didn't actually teach us a lot (might have been because it was a research class though) but personality-wise he's a funny guy and has a lot of research experience.

Psych 240: (William Gehring): As a teacher, I think Gehring is effective. The class was kind of challenging- there's a lot to remember for his tests, lectures are intense and you should take notes to help you understand the processes when you study for tests later.

Psych 323: (Nnamdi Pole): He's extremely detail-oriented, pretty thorough, and has a lot to offer students.

Psych 474: (Edward Chang): Didn’t have him for this class, but I liked his Abnormal Psych class. He expects a lot out of students. His discussion section was kind of a separate class from the lecture. Discussion was really informative though, and I learned a lot there.

Communication Studies

Comm 102: (Brad Bushman): Did not enjoy this class. Bushman kind of treats you like a 5-year old, explaining things really slowly and doesn't expect a lot out of you. You might be forced to take it because of a comm requirement... good luck.

Comm 371: (Paddy Scannell): Didn't have him for this class, had him for a Reality TV and Radio class. As a teacher, he's a little disorganized, but he's got a great personality and is great to be around. His accent alone (he's British) might be reason to take the class.

Political Science

Avoid William Clark.

Inglehart’s class is relatively easy, and the discussion was interesting. He is much better for small classes (e.g. POLISCI 389) than large ones (e.g. POLISCI 140).

Don’t take a class with Greg Markus unless you want to hear about the Detroit Project.

Don’t take a class with a visiting professor from Germany unless you want to pull your hair out.

Comparative politics is one of the best classes Lizzy ever took.

Don’t think that if a POLISCI course sounds interesting that it actually will be.

Don’t think that a course may look too advanced for you.

Keep up on the news when you are taking a poli sci course.

 

POLISCI 300 - Contemporary Political Issues… Lynn Rivers- former US representative…likes to talk extensively about her experiences.  Good for someone who wants to go into politics. Many short papers. EASY.

POLISCI 317- courts, politics, and society—Prof. Lawrence Greene.--- good overview of law.  Professor has been around forever.  relatively easy course.

POLISCI 389- Comparative Electoral Behavior- Prof. Jose Molina-  not a difficult class but the prof lectures by reading slides…one by one…extremely boring.

POLISCI 497- Jewish Political Tradition.  Prof. Zvi Gitelman.  Awesome professor but very demanding.  Difficult class. Hard grader.  Average grades are usually high C’s and low B’s. You learn a lot, though.

Another really great class that everyone loves is Law & Social Change (polisci 496 I think).  It's taught by Richard Bernstein & every single week he brings in a different speaker to discuss an aspect of legal social action which they had been involved in. Bernstein is really passionate and you can get whatever it is you want out of the class.

 

Art History

Matthew Biro is a good professor. He does photography and surrealism. He’s teaching HISTART 272 (20th Century Art: Modernism, The Avate-Garde, and The Aftermath)

 

Environment

Lots of people take environ classes for NS credit.  This is a good choice, but don't be fooled into thinking that they are necessarily going to be really easy.  Environ 201 is easy, but extreme weather has a lot of tests (I haven't taken it, but that's what I hear.)  However, even thought they can be easy, they cover really important and useful topics, so an environ class is always a good choice if you're looking for something.

Intro geology is a sweet course if you like geology, but the professor is a terrible lecturer.  he is really funny looking though and has a funny name.  But I still read my geology book sometimes when I don't have a lot else to do.  Which happens a lot.

Don't take a course with Michaela Zint unless you want to be infantilized.  She is knowledgeable in her field, but a really annoying professor.

ENVIRON 306 - GLOBAL WATER is an AMAZING class with a sweeeeet professor.  Not too hard either.

ENVIRON 309 - haven't taken it, but GIS is a very marketable skill, so if you are looking to make yourself marketable, you should take this class.

ENVIRON 418 - I hear Ivette Perfecto is an incredible teacher.  I haven't had him, but I am taking a class with him next semester, so come hang out with me and we'll see if he lives up to the hype

James Diana is in charge of the U-M bass fishing team.  He teaches ecology of fishes.  Who woulda thunk it?  Oh, but he's not that great of a professor.  Nice guy though.

 

Screen Arts and Cultures (Formerly known as Film and Video Studies)

When looking at SAC classes, there is a distinction between a SAC major and someone who is just dabbling in the department.

To take production classes, you need to have taken SAC 236-Art of Film (which is a class I would recommend)

SAC 309 - Take Screenplay as Literature, taught by Victor Fannuchi. In the class, you learn how to analyze screenplays. You read 10 of the greatest screenplays ever written. It is also cross-listed in English

Mark Kligerman is a great teacher. He teaches a number of classes: from French cinema to sci-fi. He’s a great guy (Jewish, also). This semester, he is teaching SAC 366 (The Road Movie and American Culture), SAC 441 (French Cinema), and SAC 455 (Post-classical Hollywood Cinema).

SAC 351 - Richard Abel is a great teacher. He’s teaching early film history.

It is not being offered next semester, but you should look into to taking Perspectives of Shakespeare in Film. I believe it is offered in the fall.

If you have taken SAC 236/290, take Screenwriting with Terry Lawson.

If you are looking at spring courses, that’s the best time to check out the film classes, especially if you are not a film major. They will often test out the niche classes then, which can be really interesting.

 

English

The three most oft-mentioned professors in Shmooze meetings are Eric Rabkin, John Rubedeau, and Ralph Williams. You should look into taking their courses, but they are hard classes to get into.

Ralph Williams - He is a university legend. If you have never taken a class with Ralph Williams, that is why you need to take a class with him. Rumor has it that this will be his last semester at Michigan. He’s offering ENGLISH 483 (Primo Levi –just one credit [I audited this class two years ago and it was a great decision]), ENGLISH 371 (1600-1830 Literature), ENGLISH 401 (The English Bible: Its literary aspects and influences). He is also involved in Great Books.

Eric Rabkin – What I’d like to suggest to you is that you take this class. He insists upon excellence from his students while he demonstrates (daily) that excellence in English education—whether in terms literary theory, innovation, or tangential anecdotes—still exists. Texts are engaging (and quite manageable), lectures are well-structured and informative, and weekly responses comprise most of the course grade. He teaches ENGLISH 313 (Science Fiction) and ENGLISH 417 (Graphic Narrative). If you can take the graphic novel class (I’m not quite sure whether non-English majors/non-seniors can take it, but everyone can take Sci-fi), take it. It’s a small class. If you are interested in it, it’s very cool. It’s a hard class to get into. In other words, he’s a pretentious asshole, but you’ll learn a lot. He once kicked Adam Milgrom out of class for doing a crossword puzzle. He was so intriguing that Shmooze programming director emeritus Aaron Kaczander created an Amazon.com listmania of the books he’d like to suggest to you: (books that are outside of the syllabus). http://www.amazon.com/Professor-nbsp-Rabkin-nbsp-What-nbsp-I-d-nbsp-Like-nbsp-To-nbsp-Suggest-nbsp-To-nbsp-You/lm/R2U4U7BK08DRSN/ref=cm_srch_res_rpli_alt_1

John Rubedeau – Take ENGLISH 325/425! Regardless of your major, this should be a prerequisite for graduation.

Another great English teacher is Julian Levinson; he teaches Jewish American Literature. He's a bit of a hard grader, you need to stay on top of the reading, but his class is a pleasure to go to.

A recommendation from a Shmoozenik from abroad: Take the New England Literature Program in the spirng. A testimony: It is the best thing I did in school (besides attending two or three Shmooze meetings). The professor is Rubedeau-esqu.

Not being offered next term, but keep in mind for the future: Jewish literature with George Bornstein. A great class, especially for Shmooze.

Joyce Meier is great. It’s essay writing. She teaches ENGLISH 326 (Community Writing and Public Culture)

Leigh Woods does a English/theater class ENGLISH 444. It’s intro to drama and theater. It’s very interesting. He’s a good guy, good teacher. It never hurts to familiarize yourself with drama and theater.

For senior English majors, take English 417 with Nicholas Delbanco- The Sincerest Form. You read 20th century American short stories and write your own.

English 225 - with Nick Harp specifically…excellent teacher… I think he also teaches 125 (or maybe 325). great writing coach. Topics of the course vary by semester. When I took the class, we had 4 writing assignments and we could write on whatever we wanted.

 

ECONOMICS

Environmental econ is a good class.

(I hope to expand this section but haven’t received any advice to pass on yet

 

HISTORY

Matt Lassiter won the Golden Apple Award. History of Suburbia is a fall class you should take it. He also teaches post-1945 American history.

HISTORY 201 - Rome is an easy class. It’s straight forward. Van Dam. It’s a great class. It can be part of your intro sequence for History majors and minors.

Paolo Squatriti is a good teacher in history department. HISTORY 391- Medieval Catastrophes and HISTORY 211 – Late Middle Ages

Jonathan Marwil- excellent professor, harsh grader, If you want something out of the class, take it with him.

History 384- Jewish History- Prof. Howard Lupovitch—awesome visiting professor. I don’t know if he will be back next semester because he only a visiting professor. But he has been at Michigan twice in the last two years, so odds are he might come back. If he does, take his class. It is awesome.

For the history-major in you, Social History of 20th Century American Wars is great. I think it may only be offered in the fall, the teacher is a hard ass, but it is definitely worth it and the reading is actually enjoyable.  For any history majors who need to fulfill their colloquium requirement, there's a class on the history of American Medicine (taught by Martin Pernik) that was really enjoyable.

 

SOCIOLOGY

Sociology 389 – Very little work. You go and tutor one day a week. There are many sections. You can even be taught by me (well, not myself but somebody with the same name)

Don’t shy away from things that sound stranger (e.g. Congolese Dance) because it might be the best thing that will ever happen to you.

 

AMERICAN CULTURE

You need to look at it two different ways: majoring vs. pop culture. For lower-level classes with no intention of majoring, try to find someone who has taken the professor. It’s all about the professor.

Any class with Richard Meisler is worth taking.

Bruce Conforth is another professor worth checking out

 

Hebrew and Jewish Culture Studies

If you have any questions about these classes, let me know. I haven’t found anybody to write about them for this course gudie but I could find answers to specific questions about professors.

HJCS 200 - intro to world religions.  great class--- co-taught by three professor….Williams (great), Jackson (awesome), ginsberg (very fair).

 

 

PSYCHOLOGY

We will get a more thorough rundown of the psych department.

Psych 418- Psychology of Spirituality. Dick Mann.  Highly recommended.  Students grade themselves at the end of the semester (lots of reading, though).  Hard to get into the class…applicants must submit an essay about their experience with spirituality and Mann selects the class members.

 

OTHER GENRAL ADVICE

For anyone who is quantitatively challenged, stats 350 could or couldn't be the way to go.  It knocks out your QR requirement and Gunderson has a reputation for being great. Being the number-hater that I am though, it was impossible for me to like the class (though I think most people do when it's taught by her)

And lastly, for any science haters, bio 118 is a nice, whole 4 credits with the reputation for being the biggest blow-off on campus. The teacher (Robert Bender) is absolutely nuts, but it definitely keeps class interesting. One piece of advice would be: study his old tests! Seriously, all his tests are largely based on old ones. And, for anyone looking for a 1 credit natural science credit: avoid Climate & Mankind, take Coral Reefs.


The following does not represent the opinion of all of our members or our parent organization, University of Michigan Hillel. It is just the compilation of the opinions of some of its members and receives the Shmooze Club stamp of approval.

Posted by irobi at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2007

Forward 50: You might actually know one of them

The Jewish Daily Forward released its annual list of the 50 most influential American Jews.

Each year, I play the "how many of these people do I recognize" game. I think I'd heard of 13 last year. Now, let's see.
I think that's 19 this year.

Note: I'm only writing down the names of people I recognize.

Mukasey? Check.
Do I count Rogen and Apatow as one? No, two.
Sheldon Adelson? Check.
Waxman? Check.
Bloomberg? Check.

At this point, you probably want me to stop listing people whose names I've recognized. What else am I going to do, my homework? No.

Jimmy Delshad? Check.
Dershowitz? Check.
Soros? Check.
Yoffie? Check.
Arnold Eisen? Check.
Foxman? Check.
Gutow? Check.
Tarsy? Check.
Messinger? Check.
Spektor? Check.
Chabon? Check.
Steinhardt? Check.
Robert Aronson? Check. You might actually know Robert Aronson if you're from the Detroit area.

Amazingly, I only had to include three first names with the last names. The other 16 last names are pretty recognizable.

Posted by irobi at 09:11 PM | Comments (2)

September 30, 2007

Can I use the word "schlep" in a paper?

Yes. If the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post use it, then you can, too.

Two weeks ago, New York Times' writer William Safire did an in-depth study of the word "schlep" in his On Language column in the newspaper's Sunday Magazine.

He explains the two accepted definitions of the word and some that are unacceptable. The verb of schlep is to drag, haul or lug, normally involving weariness works. The noun form of the word is a pull, drag or jerk doesn't work so well.

The parts of the article that I like the most are when he talks about the word schmooze (obvi) and when he quotes James Joyce as one of the earliest references of schlep in English (derived from the Yiddish).

After reading this article, I am also a huge fan of lexicographer Sol Steinmetz (I'm going to go buy his lexicographer rookie card). He is a fervent believe that shlep — just like shmooze — should not be spelled with a "c."

Posted by irobi at 07:06 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2007

The next generation of gingerbread houses

If Hansel and Gretel were wandering through Israel, this is the building that they would come across, a sukkah made entirely of candy.

The 1,000 square foot sukkah will be made out of two tons of candy-shaped ornaments, with tghe lights and walls covered in candy and bubble gum.

After scouring the English-speaking web, I have been unable to find a picture of this magical sukkah.

But — fear not — once the holiday opens up this week, every Jewish website will have a blurb about this creation and mirblogn will get a photo of it. I just want you to remember where you were (on the internet, of course) when you first heard about the candy sukkah.

Posted by irobi at 05:28 PM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2007

NYT searches for the perfect kugel

On the eve of Rosh Hashanh, Melissa Clark of the New York Times wrote an article about her search for the perfect kugel. I block quoted the entire text at the bottom of the post.

Not ony does it delve into the attributes of such a creation, but it also goes on a journey through the Clark's attempt to create the utlimate kugel. it treats the culinary adventure of cooking an kugel into a introspective adventure through a person's identity and ancestry.

Does this story sound familiar?

Each winter, the Shmooze Club does just that.

Now, a few issues with the story:

EVERY family tells the same stories over and over, and one of ours is about kugel. It is dusted off and recited on Rosh Hashana when, over my mother’s experimental kugel du jour (roasted-red-pepper-scallion or chickpea-cumin), someone inevitably tells the tale of how Great-Aunt Martha’s famous noodle kugel recipe came to be.

HEIRLOOM NOODLES Some traditions just need to be refined.
It goes like this. When Uncle Alan was a child he liked only the crunchy kugel top, and so would pick the crisp, golden noodle shards off the surface while the kugel cooled in the kitchen. He did this for a few years until his mother, my very practical Great-Aunt Martha, came up with her legendary solution. She began baking the kugel in muffin tins so that it would be crunchy through and through. And if Alan did deface the tops, she reasoned realistically, she could serve the kugel-muffins turned upside down.

Being of the crunchy-loving, burnt-noodle-picking sort myself, I always listened with interest, wondering what such a marvelous sounding kugel would taste like, and why we didn’t make it that way.

“It was kind of dry and hard, and not that good,? my mother said when I got around to asking last year. “Aunt Martha wasn’t a great cook. But it’s a good story.?

Of course, a better story would end in a prized heirloom recipe for a noodle kugel that was crunchy and burnished on top, but still creamy and moist underneath. Made with luscious dairy products, melted butter and many eggs, this noodle-rich legacy would be sweetened with cinnamon, sugar and plenty of soft, chewy raisins. Maybe I could tweak Great-Aunt Martha’s basic mixture into something closer to my kugel ideal.

“Aunt Martha never used raisins or sugar or cinnamon; her kugel was savory,? my mother said when I related my fantasy.

So much for rehabilitating Great-Aunt Martha’s recipe. Instead, I decided to steal her form (baking in muffin tins for maximum crunch) but create my own kugel content.

Freed from ancestral bonds, I could go off in any number of kugel directions, just as long as I kept the dish’s essential spirit intact. But what, exactly, was that? Given the outré kugels of my childhood — the lasagna-esque mixes of onions, tomatoes and noodles; the herb-layered potato and mushroom gratins — what exactly could I get away with and still call kugel?

I asked my mother.

“Oh, I don’t know,? she replied. “I guess as long as it has potatoes or noodles or matzo and you serve it on a Jewish holiday, it counts.?

This actually wasn’t far from what slightly more responsible research bore out. Rabbi Gil Marks, in his thorough “World of Jewish Cooking? (Simon & Schuster, 1999), writes that a kugel (which comes from the German word for ball) was originally a dumpling made from flour or stale bread that was cooked in the cholent, a Sabbath stew of beans and beef.

In 2005, Joan Nathan defined kugel in these pages as a casserole traditionally made from noodles or potatoes. But, she added, more modern interpretations could include anything from rhubarb and blueberries to panko, goat cheese and broccoli.

Frankly, compared with what my mother had been whipping up for decades, those variations sounded pretty run-of-the-mill. What I really craved was a classic noodle kugel made the way Great-Aunt Martha should have made it (says me).

Recipes for that kind of eggy, raisin-laden noodle kugel were almost too easy to find. Since my family is not kosher, separating meat and dairy isn’t an issue, so I immediately dismissed anything calling for tofu cream cheese. I also nixed recipes with bread crumbs or nut or cornflake toppings. What I love about kugel is what Uncle Alan did — the crunchy noodles. Cornflakes and their ilk just aren’t the same.

After skimming dozens of recipes, I eventually chose cottage over farmer cheese because I wanted it to be organic, and my supermarket doesn’t stock organic farmer cheese.

I decided to add sour cream for a velvety texture, and use one more egg than most recipes call for, for lightness. Then I doubled the amount of cinnamon, because I like it.

I also decided to soak the raisins before mixing them in. Not only would the soaking liquid add flavor, but soaking the raisins would keep them from burning in the extra-hot oven needed for a very dark brown kugel top. For the soaking liquid, I could have used dark rum, Manischewitz Concord grape wine or kirsch, but settled on sherry since I had an open bottle of fino I wanted to use up.

I mixed everything together and filled my muffin tins. There was still a lot of kugel mix left, so I buttered a jellyroll pan (as opposed to a deeper casserole dish) and filled that, too, figuring that the greater amount of exposed surface area would yield a higher crisp-to-soft ratio, mimicking the muffin tins. Then I baked everything at a slightly higher temperature than usual so that the top would get extra crisp before the bottom had a chance to dry out.

The kugels emerged from the oven gorgeously golden, with the tips of the noodles singed to a chocolate hue.

Then I sampled both versions. As good as the muffin-kugels were, the kugel baked in the jellyroll pan turned out even better — just like crème brûlée, toothsome on top, but much softer and more custardy underneath, and studded with sweet pockets of plump raisins. Finally, an heirloom-worthy recipe I could pass on to any heirs that may appear.

And as an added bonus, baking the kugel in a jellyroll pan meant I wouldn’t have to scrub out individual muffin cups when the party was over. Now that would be something ever-practical Great-Aunt Martha would have definitely appreciated.

Posted by irobi at 04:40 PM | Comments (1)

September 07, 2007

This could be bad news for the future of society

In a recent experiement involving chimpanzees, orangutangs and 2.5 year old human babies, it turns out that babies are not that much smarter than their primate counterparts.

According the New York Times blog, which summarized the information from the Science journal, the chimpanzees outperformed the humans in causality tests and tied them in spatial skills. If you're looking for hope in mankind's future, the babies trounced the other species in social learning skills that involved popping open the top of a container to get food.

Now, I have always been supportive of inter-speical competitions. In high school, I placed bets on Fox's Man vs. Beast show that pinned some of mankind's most-gifted creatures against some of the world's fastest, hungriest and strongest animals. (It turns out that I put too much faith in humans. I just didn't think the bear liked hot dogs as much as Kobayashi.)

Posted by irobi at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2007

When swinging a chicken over your head, treat it with dignity

With the high holidays upon us in about a week, Jews around the world are making final preparations to bring in the new year.
Some might be going to the market to get the freshest apples (honey crisp, obviously) or harvesting their honey (is that what you do with honey?).
Others might be going to wherever you go to buy a live chicken for the kaparot ceremony. During the ritual, which is normally performed between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, an individual swings the chicken above their head as a symbol of tranferring sins from the human to the animal. This tradition dates back to ancient times when the Jewish community would use a goat to bear the sins for the entire community (a scapegoat).
But according to a few rabbis, there is evidence that chickens have been mistreated in previous kaparot ceremonies (really?). The tradition has drawn the attention of animal rights groups in recent years, including PETA. But some members of the Orthodox community brush of PETA's efforts in this case or any other case, according to an article from The Forward.
“In general, I don’t think that PETA is taken very seriously in the Orthodox community, or in any civilized society,? said Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America. “But that doesn’t mean that they won’t on occasion bring up something that is worth being brought up.?

Things got out of hand in Brooklyn last year when 700 chickens were found in an abandoned garage.

Some agree with PETA and movements within the Orthodox community to reform the practice. A new tradition of swinging money, instead of chickens is gaining momentum.

With this extended blurb, I have just scratched the surface of this issue and what the article offers.

Posted by irobi at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

The Young and the Restless .... and the Jewish

I don't know how many of Mir Blogn's readers are big daytime soap fans.

I don't know if any of Mir Blogn's readers are big daytime soap fans.

In case you aren't, I think there is a plotline that you should be aware of.

Earlier this summer, Brad Carlton from The Young and The Restless revealed that he is Jewish and the son of a Shoah survivor. Apparently, this is far from normal in the show's setting of WASP-y Genoa City, according to The Forward.

Not only is Carlton a Jewish character, but many of the show's upcoming plots will also grapple with Jewish issues.

If you don't want me to ruin the plot stop reading now. Considering how I worded this cliffhanger, I think I have a future in writing soaps.

To repent for some of his actions in the past year, Carlton, who is played by Don Diamont, will attend Yom Kippur services.

Carlton has been a character on the show for 22 years, and, amazingly, his Jewish identity was never revealed until this summer. According to his wikipedia page (I would like to quote a more credible source, but I'm talking about soaps), Carlton's character has divorced five times, had one wife die, remarried another wife, had another marriage annulled and has been romantically involved with six other female characters on the show.

He might not have been married by a rabbi but when he wants repentance, he knows exactly where to go.

By the way, I'm not a big soaps fan, either.

Posted by irobi at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2007

Less kibbutz but more kibbitz

To the loyal mirblogn readership, I would like to welcome you back. It has been a long summer break (too long? no, just long). I'm glad to be back blogging for you.

I just came across this story from kibbutz movement in Israel has experienced a revival, even though the communities aren't as socialist as they once were.

The kibbutzim that once stressed socialist ideals above all else have given way to communities that try to balance "collective responsibility and individual freedom, with an emphasis on community and values." The younger generation that was non-existent on kibbutzim in the 1980s is attracted to the suburbanized socialist (but not too socialist) lifestyle. There is more private ownership, and salaries are dictated by the amount of income an individual brings in for the communities instead of a system of strict equality.


Kibbutzim now come in color, too.

Personally, I think it is great that the kibbutz movement is experiencing a bit of a revival (the article also mentions that some of the most socialist kibbutzim are also atracting new residents). The kibbutz movement instilled some of the pioneer mentality after the founding of the state. Plus, when I visit them they seem like such peaceful communities.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the "kvetches" section.

Posted by irobi at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2007

Shmoozer in the Times

Yesterday's New York Times featured an article about the waning interest of seminary students to pursue pulplit positions and the programs that seminaries offer to encourage students to take pulpit positions. The article discussed programs at both Christian and Jewish institutions.

For the example about how the Jewish seminaries have programs to allow graduates to move onto pulpit positions the reporter used Shmooze founding advisor and former associate director of Hillel (which gets a mention) Rabbi Jason Miller. Currently, Rabbi Miller is the rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim in Columbus. He also maintains a blog that deals with contemporary Jewish issues (like ordaining gay rabbis, Jimmy Carter, and the kosher Subway in Cleveland).

These are the sections of the article that mention Rabbi Miller by name, although his blog says that he was misquoted:

Jason Miller entered the rabbinic seminary with the notion that he wanted to graduate to a pulpit job, but leading a congregation out of school was daunting. He said that to help him prepare for the calling — and not be tempted to leave it before he graduated — he became “the guinea pig? in a new program, attending classes in one state, living and working as an assistant rabbi in another and serving as the primary rabbi in a third.

...

As a board member for the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and traveling to smaller Jewish communities around the world, Ned Gladstein saw the result of the waning popularity of pulpit work — smaller or emerging congregations can be left struggling for rabbis. Mr. Gladstein, president of Sunrise ShopRite Inc., which runs grocery stores, donated the money to establish a scholarship for an internship program structured to guide a seminarian through the process of learning how to serve a synagogue. This is done by serving in two simultaneously. While going to school, the student serves as the assistant rabbi at a large established synagogue and lives in that community; using what he learns there as a knowledge base and the head rabbi as a mentor, he travels for holidays and regular Shabbats to a synagogue that is smaller and newer.

Rabbi Miller did not go into the rabbinate immediately after completing the program at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He took a position at Hillel at the University of Michigan instead. (The program has since been changed to give incentive to the graduate to take a post with a smaller synagogue.)

But now he is a rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim in Columbus, Ohio, and Rabbi Miller said that his experience was a lasting influence on his eventual arrival at the pulpit. It taught him, he said, to try his varied activities “in baby steps, I know I can’t do everything at once? in a way that a less-rounded program might not have.

Posted by irobi at 11:52 PM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2007

Backgammon How-tos

Now, I might have fallen behind in the blogging (see the absence of meeting notes from our last meeting or an event announcement post). But I won't let you down on backgammon rules. Here are two links for the history of backgammon and a tutorial.
History and Rules on the Wiki
Tutorial
See you tomorrow afternoon at 2 at 532 Elm for Shmooze's Shesh-besh Shabbat.

Posted by irobi at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2007

MLK Synagogue Sermon Found

On this day of honoring one of the country's great civil right's leaders, the Shmoooze Club has scoured the internet and come across a gem. In 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech at a Hollywood synagogue that has resurfaced.

Posted by irobi at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

Ed, I mean Ephraim Martin

You might not recognize the name Eyal Shlomovitz, you might know him as "Shaq of Israel." Actually, you probably haven't heard of him.

But the dominance of Shlomovitz, and three other Isralis on the South River, N.J. Moseh Aaron Yeshiva High School in the New Jersey Yeshiva High School League have raised questions about the legitimacy of their palying status and embroiled the school in the first recruiting scandal in league history. Scandal is nothing new for the team's coach, Ed Leibowitz, whose illegal use of foreign players on high school teams was described as "unprecedented" by the state's high school sports association.

How did four Israeli youth basketball talents end up playing basketball in our nation's armpit?

Aside from Shlomovitz, the other three players are from Gush Katif and found their way to the States following the pull out. But the Shlomovitz's aren't even religious. Last summer, his family toured the United States to search for a place to demonstrate his basketball talents, find security, and earn a collegiate scholarship.

There is much more to this hilarious story but I probably couldn't tell it as well as the reporter from the Neward Star-Ledger.

I would like to thank Shmooze e-mail list member and Daily sports editor Jack for bringing this to Mir Blogn's attention.

Posted by irobi at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2007

2nd Ave on 3rd and 33rd

For years, the 2nd Avenue Deli had been insitution in New York's East Village. The kosher eatery has been a landmark for kosher keepers throughout the world. But earlier this year, the deli closed its doors because of a rent dispute between the owner, Jake Lebowohl, and the landlord over a hike in the rent price.

Just as the kosher world was adjusting to the adsence of one of its beloved insitutions, the New York Sun is reporting that Lebowohl is reopening his doors, except uptown and one block over, on 33rd St. in Murray Hill. This is a victory for all of us who like a good pastrami sandwich but wouldn't consider drinking a milk shake within the three hours following. On a personal note, I have never visited New York when the deli was open. But I have heard from friends that it is the nothing really compares. WIth a brother who currently resides in one of the five boroughs, I look forward to the day when I enjoy a corned beef sandwich in the East Village with him. Until then, we are going to have to settle for shwarma by NYU.

Posted by irobi at 10:11 PM | Comments (1)

December 19, 2006

My, what a large menorah you have

What the Tblisis Jewish community lacks in size, it makes up with its 10-ton menorah. This week, thousands of members of the Georgian Jewish community gathered at the city's Big Synagogue for the lightintg. Georgian Presdient Mikhael Saakashviil attended.

Mir Blogn wonders how small the menorah at the city's Small Synagogue is. Any guesses One more thing. The attendance of President Saakashviil at this ceremony makes this year's fad Hanukah photo the one with non-Jewish country leaders partaking in the ceremony. We saw it with Blair and Bush in the last few days as well.

Posted by irobi at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2006

Don't Phunk With My Latke

We might be in the middle of finals, but I came across this site. Now, I'm sure that this song will sweep the media scene like the LeeVees from last year's Hannukah season.

Mir Blogn will blog more after its lone contributor finishes his final exams. Good luck to everybody else.

Posted by irobi at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2006

What the Chelm?

The wise men of Chelm are the common butt of Yiddish humor.

Did you know that Chelm is actually a city in Poland?

Before the Shoah, eighteen thousand Jews lived in Chelm, which was also as a great center of Torah study. Most of its Jewish residents perished in th Shoah.

An article in last week's issue of the Forward takes you inside the Jewish community and living conditions of Chelm.

Although Chelm is normally involved in humorous situations, this is no lauging matter. The presence of anti-Semitism in this Polish town 60 years after the Shoah represents a growing problem in the world.

The old Chelm Synagogue has been tranformed into a tavern, despite Polish laws that say property seized during the Shoah must be returned to its previous owners. The Chelm Synagogue was sold before the law took effect. There is actually a video on YouTube of a wedding in the Chelm Synagogue turned social hall.

Even worse, there is no mention in the synagogue or memorial in the city to the Jewish community that once thrived in Chelm.

The previous topic about Chelm was no laughing matter, but these links are. If you have a favorite Chelm joke, or know of a good book of Chelm joke that Mir Blogn could use for the Chelm joke of the week section, kvetch at the end of the post.

Posted by irobi at 01:03 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2006

The modern Elders

A few weeks ago, the Forward came out with its annual list of 50 Jews that have the biggest impact on the lives of American Jews. Actually, this year's list had 51 on it, but who's counting?

This year's headliners are incoming-chancellor of JTS Arnold Eisen, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rahm Emanuel, New York Senator Charles Schumer, ADL national director Abraham Foxman, AJWS chair Ruth Messigner and late-night TV host Jon Stewart.

You can check out the enitre list here. I just wanted to list a few notable people that I a) have heard of, b) didn't realize that they were Jewish, or c) was surprised at their selection.

• After losing a primary but winning his seat, Connecticut senator Joseph Lieberman makes the list (think about it, he was just a few hundred Florida votes from become the vice president).
• The death of Satmar rebbe Moshe Teitelbaum in May touched off months of debate over his successor. His third son, Zalman, won a court ruling in July that, effectively, put him in charge of one of the Hasidic world's largest and most powerful sects.
• The head honcho of the Orthodox Union's Kosher Division, Rabbi Menachem Genack, faced a scandal-filled year that included complaints about an Iowa slaughterhouse and reports that an upstate New York kosher distributor was selling nonkosher meat. (Did you know that the Kosher Division of the OU has 550 employees? When will they re-hechsher my French's onions?)
• David Harris (no not that David Harris), the president of the American Jewish Communities had his normal busy duties and took the lead in combatting genocide in Darfur.
• Sacha Baron Cohen, of Da Ali G fame, released his hit film about his Kazakh persona Borat Sagdiyev. It has entertained and offended crowds worldwide. And after he stole the Shmooze Club's idea, the first annual Running of the Jew down South University to replace the Naked Mile will be cancelled.
• Scarlett Johanson. Who knew she was Jewish, but we'll take her?
• Jeremy Piven made the list for his riveting performance in the Bar Mitzvah flick "Keeping up with the Steins." (What? He's also on a popular tv show about posses.)
• Elie Weisel. Do I have to say anymore? He should have a reserved spot on this list, unless he already does.
• Every time a good Jewish basketball player makes any sort of national news, he gets the moniker "Jewish Jordan" (I guess people like the alliteration). Either way, he is the most successful Jewish ball player since Danny Ferry. Except that Danny Ferry's street cred was non-existent (he played on Mike Fratello's Cleveland squads and with San Antonio) and Jordan Farmar plays for the Lakers and has tatoo.
• Inmate Jack Abramoff made the list. According to The Forward, Abramoff walked out of court in Jaunary wearing a fedora from a habadasher that specializes in stomels. He is more known for being a dirty lobbyist.
• The list's plus one addition is former Virginia senator George Allan. Who knew he was Jewish? Apparently, not him.

Posted by irobi at 02:28 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2006

Ehh.. we'll kibbitz, too

The past few weeks have been pretty hectic with school, which means that I have had ample time to procrastinate doing what I was really supposed to be doing the whole time. The whole procrastination thing got me thinking: What if I actually did something productive with this time that I waste, instead of compulsively check my fantasy hockey team?

I also noticed that the Shmooze blog is not as exciting as it should be. To combine these two ideas, I have decided to expand the "kibbitz" portion of the blog to include snipets of Jewish cultural around the world that I deem stampable (with the stamp of approval that is).

The first installment in this new series comes from our friends our east, way out east. The city of Shanghai opened its first mikveh last week after the local Chabad House family convinced the authorities that the mikveh was more than a spa. Before last week, they had to travel all the way to Hong Kong to satisfy their ritual dipping needs.

For more information aobut the history China's and Shanhai Jews, check this out.

Posted by irobi at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2006

Relays and Recipes Redounding

Shmoozniks, this is the last week that you can sign up for Relay for Life and still receive a free t-shirt. Also, if you have already signed up for the event, please start fundraising. Check out the easy-to-use e-mail features on the website. At the next meeting, the fundraising chair will go over some important and useful tips to help you with your canvassing endeavors.

In other Shmooze-related news, the Iron Blech competition that was originally slated for this weekend has been delayed one week. So circle next Saturday, March 11 as a reminder to loosen your belts for the cholenty goodness that will ensue. Cholent ideas will still be handled by the Culinary Advisory Committee.


We've got some more recipes.

Fruity Israeli Kugel (#6 @ the competition)

4 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground preferred)
2 teaspoons salt
12 oz. thin noodles
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  1. In a pot, bring water, margarine/butter, sugar, salt, and pepper to a boil
  2. Turn off heat and add noodles. Stir. Cover the pot. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Combine eggs, brown sugar, and oil in a small bowl.
  4. Add egg mixture to noodles. Stir. Let stand another 10 to 15 minutes, covered.
  5. Pour mixture into a greased 9" x 13" (or bundt) pan.
  6. [Optional:] For fruity flavor, add dried fruits like raisins, apricots, or figs
  7. Bake one to one-and-a-half hours. If top browns over early, place a sheet of foil on, and place back in the oven.

Yerushalayimi Kugel(#5 @ the competition)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 oz. thin noodles (ie. vermicelli)
4 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Place 1/2 cup sugar and oil in saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat, about 10 minutes, until caramelized.
  3. Remove from heat. Let harden and cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour 5 1/2 cups of water into the pan with sugar mixture and bring to a boil.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and remaining sugar. When water boils, add noodles.
  6. Cook until water is almost evaporated.
  7. Cool slightly and stir in eggs. Mix well and pour into a greased 9" x 13" pan.
  8. Bake for one hour.

Posted by rubyr at 11:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 24, 2006

Searching for Cholent in a Kugeled World

In less than three weeks, the Shmooze Club will be entering its first cholent in Hillel's Iron Blech competition. In order to prepare for this event, we need some of your cholenty ideas to crock up a winning version of this savory, meaty Saturday-for-lunch delicacy. Furthermore, if you'd like to be added to the prep/cook team for this event, please submit your culinary resumé, preferrably with samples, to the Cholent sub-Committee. In the meantime, while you mull over award-winning cholentary ideas, have a gander at some of the recipes from last week's Malka and Elimelech Kugelov Kugel-off.

Also, if you haven't already inquired/signed-up for the Relay for Life team, please do so through the link --> or by contacting Ruby (rubyr@). Thanks.


Min's Noodle Kugel (#2 @ the competition)

8 oz. wide noodle noodles
4 oz. butter or margarine
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/2 lb. dried apricots (optional)
Topping:
1 cup corn flake crumbs
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
  1. Cook noodles, drain, add butter/margarine, and set aside
  2. While noodles are cooking, beat eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, sugar, and milk
  3. Combine noodles and mixture together in greased 8" x 12" pan
  4. In a separate bowl, mix corn flakes and brown sugar
  5. Sprinkle on top of kugel
  6. Dollop the topping with butter/margarine
  7. Bake for 1 hour



Kosher for Passover Apple-Matzah Kugel

4 large, tart apples (e.g. Granny Smith), cored and diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
6 matzahs
6 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (8 Tbsp.) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Toss apples with brown sugar and orange juice, set aside
  3. Break matzah into medium-sized pieces and soak in warm water until soft but not mushy.
  4. Beat eggs and combine with salt, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter/margarine, raisins, and apricots
  5. Add drained matzahs and apples to the egg mixture. Stir kugel well and pour into a grease 9" x 13" pan.
  6. Dollop top with margarine/butter
  7. Bake kugel for 1 hour. If the topping browns too quickly, cover with foil, and continue cooking

Posted by rubyr at 09:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 21, 2006

Malka and Elimelech Kugelov present the results

TORONTO—This Saturday afternoon, over thirty-five Shmoozers shpatsired over to a little house on Church Street, 1023 to be exact, to warm up, but more importantly, to participate in the first, hopefully-annual, Malka and Elimelech Kugelov Kugel-off. Kugel recipes, anecdotes, and stories abounded. Shmoozing dominated. And all enjoyed.

On an afternoon where the biting wind and unseasonable cold made all the participants shiver in their coats, the atmosphere inside the house and the abundance of kugel reversed these effects creating a feeling of warmth, an aroma of the familiar, and a satisfied grin on all of their punim.

Kugel entries ranged from the standard potatoes and egg noodles to the more exotic and creative squash, lasagna, and matzah. Amidst the thirty-something judges, a wide discrepancy of palate sensitivities, salt-tolerances, sweet-tooths, and kugeling savvy existed as well.

After much debate by the Kugel Officiating Committee (KOC for future reference), a standardized system of toothpicks was decided upon for ranking purposes. Each participant was given three toothpicks to place in the kugel(s) of their liking. After the judges sampled the delectables, the KOC counted the toothpicks and released their results:

  1. Ian's Bundt Noodle Kugel Part 1*
  2. Jacobson Girls' "The Crumbler"
  3. Orly's "Min's Noodle Kugel"
  4. Sandra's "Piping Hot Potato Kugel"
  5. In four-way tie for fifth place:
    • David & Aaron's "Seven Layer Kugel"
    • Ruby's "Jerusalem Kugel"
    • Daphna's "Squash Kugel"
    • Fallon & Shira's "Alice's Kugel"
  6. Avery's "Fruity Israeli Kugel"
  7. Ruby's Kosher for Passover "Apple & Matza Kugel"

"The competition was fierce, the abdominal space was limited, but I feel that we all won, even though the Jacobson's (and Ian) took home that joy that only my Bubbe experiences on the holidays when we all come over for dinner," said Zack Weiss.

*The French judge is under investigation for unfair toothpick practices. We will notify you of any changes to the official results once they become available.