The 11th Floor

A Perpsective Overlooking Jerusalem, Israeli Life, and Talmud Torah

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Octoberfest! (includes free recipie)

“What is going on with you two?” is probably the question some of you are asking, although some of you have also wondered “why aren’t they writing, posting, or at least shipping us back food?” The answer has to do with the fact that we only moved into this current apartment barely a week ago. Phone/DSL service is not set up, and getting the phone guy to come out at a reasonable hour is a tricky business. In that, Israel is not so different from the States- you have to wait all day to get a guy to take 30 seconds, plug his utility phone into a junction and make a computer switch the thing on. When DSL gets in place, updates will become more regular, but for now, we only have internet at school.

School has us very busy learning and setting up a new program for next year (our pet project). Part of a young adult education in the Orthodox world is a year in Israel learning the classical of Judaism. While a night watchching the hot-spots of Emek Refaim will reveal that many yeshiva boys and girls at “seminary” (women don’t go to places called yeshivot in most of the Orthodox world) are not pious young Talmud scholars only interested in learning, many are absorbing skills and texts that will be with them for the rest of their lives. The Orthodox world sees the education of teenagers as a matter of necessity; most non-orthodox congregations saw dealing with teenagers as pointless. Those that held on to such views long enough have often times “Greyed out” and aged into nothingness. Part of what we are doing is making that worthwhile experience for pre-college kids available to progressive Jews. This means setting up contact lists, designing a brochure, setting up people to attend program fairs and a whole list of other tasks.

We have been learning about the ethical and spiritual (and of course, the technical) aspects of the Shemitah year, which in the Torah is found as a year of the land lying fallow and the remission of debts, which I have blogged about before. But now, at long last, we are beginning our studies of Tractate Shabbat, and the whole school is giddy with glee to be beginning this new subject.

And of course we had to move. Twice. We left the holiday apartment we had rented just after Sukkot, and stayed at my sister-in-law’s place. She and her roomies were most generous. She lives on a street that becomes a pedestrian through-way for the block she lives on, a block according to every cabbie in Jerusalem does not exist. Of course, they can take you there and pick you up from there. They just will tell you that there is no intersection like that- and then they show up 2 minutes later exactly where they said there is no such place.

The holiday apartment we had was a treat- and a bit of a pain. It was a delight not having to take the laundry elsewhere and being two blocks away from school. Waking up for morning minyan is much easier when there is no 30 minute walk beforehand. We even went home for lunch a bunch of times.

We did not have our own sukkah, and the school sukkah which had been dormant for two years, rusting in place, needed a good deal of work. But with elbow grease and strong hands- and some decorations made from the same tinsel used for Christmas trees, it became a lovely space. It hosted several meals for the whole student body and a birthday party as well.

The holiday place also had cable, which led to our watching the BBC’s “The Mighty Boosh.” There is nothing like this on American TV. Perhaps that’s a good thing, but those who enjoy British humor at its weirdest should get a look at this show.

As for being a pain, construction work woke us up every morning in the holiday apartment- and set loose very large roaches from beneath the building. In an area that was once the YMCA’s athletic field, a new luxury condo complex is going up called “Keter David”, or David’s Crown. They are still drilling into the sandstone bedrock for foundations as the buildings go up. First the trucks with raw materials came in, around 5:30am. That was bad enough, especially as they backed up , and we all know how soothing the “Shbeeep! Shbeeeb! Shbeeb!” of a large truck moving is reverse is. Then the drilling started around 6:30am, and it was the kind of low, powerful drilling that you can feel even if you plug your ears. According to the guys who live in that apartment year round, the drilling stopped the day after we moved out. It resumed a week later, though.

We currenlty are not too far from congregation Kol Haneshama. You could call it Reform, but that might be a misnomer. This place is not like a Reform temple in the states (or in the UK, from what I understand). I think, to be honest, it would scare the hell out of many reform jews in the US- and while the Reform movement is vilified in Israel in terms that aren't even used for drug-dealers, the congregation continues growing and draws in Israelis from all walks of life- not just Russians of dubious ancestry or Reform olim from the US.

First of all, everyone speaks Hebrew. The whole service is in Hebrew. The announcements are in Hebrew. Second of all, the singing is in rounds, with glorious harmony. Third, the place has a beit midrash. Are the services touchy-feely? Sure- a bit, and there are the usual Reform alterations to the traditional liturgy. But the congregation is unified, active and their services are packed every shabbat.

Our landlord seems like an actually decent guy. Built us a special shower rod to fit the half-bath space we have. There is no heat, but also no va’ad bayit. Literally “building committee,” most Va’ad Bayit fees are spent on heating and groundskeeping. Paying for your own heat is not cheap, but it means you turn it on when you are cold, and not use it when you are not home. The apartment came with a powerful heater/radiator combo- we’ll see how it goes. We probably won’t have to use it for a week or two.

The stove in the apartment is very interesting. There are six dials on it. Four for the gas burners and two for the oven; but there are no numbers or markings to indicate what does what. Want to cook that lasagna at 400°F? Good luck! You may get it right, or you may be putting the oven on broil or setting the temperature at 363°F.

(photo: puppy on the beach at Cesarea)

We are still looking for how to do our laundry. There is only one such place in Jerusalem you could call a laundrymat. We heard that some places rent laundry machines-but we have yet to find such a place. We have managed to get our folding tables and chairs out of storage, along with books and some warmer clothes. We hosted 8 people this past Friday night, many of whom had provided us with meals over the past weeks. We served chicken drenched in rich paprika, and our guests brought wine, booze, and of course, halva. It was a delightful time. Here’s the appetizer we cooked up. Enjoy!

Double-Sun Phyllo Rollups ( Makes about two dozen pieces)

14 sheets phyllo, medium thickness (two will always tear, so there are extras)
10 washed, large sunchokes, a.k.a. Jerusalem Artichokes.
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil) ½ cup basil leaves, fresh
1 cup roasted garlic "salad" (roasted garlic cloves in oil and thyme)

Garlic powder
Olive oil
Oil spray or melted butter

Pinch of Sugar, Ground pepper
Egg Wash

Pastry Brush

All measurements are estimated. This surprisingly tasty appetizer was made with mostly leftover items. Jerusalem Artichokes are in season here, and a popular local “salad” at markets is roasted cloves of garlic marinated in oil, thyme, and seasoning. There is no salt added in this recipie due to the fact that phyllo dough here has a good amount of salt, as do the sun-dried tomatoes. A pinch of sugar is needed to cut a bit of the sourness of the tomato. This recipie is untested, so Caveat Essor- eater beware .

1) Cut sunchokes into ½” thick inch rounds or slices. Toss with splash of olive oil, pepper and garlic powder. Roast at medium-high heat for 25 minutes or until browned and crisp at edges. Let cool until workable.
2) Slice basil and sun-dried tomato into thin strips.
3) Mash Garlic “salad” into rough paste with dash of sugar, then mix well with basil and sun dried tomato.
4) Cut full phyllo sheets into 5” strips (usually halve the sheets). Place 6 rounds or 2 strips of Jerusalem Artichokes at bottom of phyllo strip, and add a spoonful of the garlic/tomato/basil mixture. Brush exposed or spray lightly with oil/butter
5) Fold up and roll into egg-roll shape. Place on greased baking sheet. 6) Bake in 375-400 degree oven for 10 minutes, brush with egg wash, bake for 5 more minutes.


Blogger Avrom said...

Interesting Recipe. I wold go for the eggplant in place of the artachoke

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating window into your life. Would you believe that this is the first blog I have ever read? Guess I'm a Luddite. Kol Tuv! Jim

1:45 PM  

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