Chickweed and my Jewish Farming Retreat

Last weekend my family attended this amazing retreat in Baltimore, the Beit Midrash at the Pearlstone Center.  You can read my article about the retreat in the Jewish Daily Forward here. I absolutely love pluralistic Jewish events, especially when we get to talk about farming.  I have been thinking a lot more about the idea of shmitta, the once in every 7 year sabbatical from farming and I am sure I will be writing more about that soon. One very compelling piece of shmitta is the idea that if you had to feed your family without any farming, you would …

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It’s Tu B’Shevat – Happy New Year to the Trees

(Note: This piece originally ran on 1/24/13 in the Washington Jewish Week). Did you know Tu B’Shevat coincides with Shabbat this year and starts tonight?  A January Tu B’Shevat is one of the first signs that the Jewish holidays will come early this year. You may have heard that the first night of Hanukkah will fall on Thanksgiving this fall. We will have to stay on our toes and keep our Jewish calendars close at hand in 2013. It’s not just the Jewish calendar that seems to be coming fast this year. Spring is on its way to Washington early …

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Babka Inspired Challah

I had been thinking about making a traditional babka based on this amazing looking recipe from the Smitten Kitchen which emphasizes the key to babka is the combination of cinnamon and chocolate (plus lots of butter).  I took that inspiration and tried a challah with plenty of cinnamon, chocolate chips, and extra sugar.  Otherwise I used my regular recipe and 100% whole wheat flour, so it was sweet and healthy too. I will definitely be making this again, and I recommend it to any other bakers out there.  You just might have to be careful of little hands reaching in …

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Hanukkah Goes to Public School

This week I went to my son’s kindergarten class to talk about Hanukkah.  My husband and I read a story, showed the children a manorah, introduced the Hebrew letters on the dreidel and the talked about olives and olive oil.   It was all over in a short and sweet 20 minutes! While preparing for our 20 minutes in the Kindergarten spotlight, I did some research and wrote a piece for the Washington Jewish Week.  Following are some resources and my article in case you are planning a similar presentation. My blogging friend, Joanna Brichetto, aka The Bible Belt Balabusta is …

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Jewish New Year and Tashlich at the River

We celebrated the Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year this week with a visit to synagogue to pray and hear the shofar, a delicious apple cake modified from the Smitten Kitchen (ok, very modified), and tashlich at the river. Tashlich is the ritual of throwing bits of bread in the water while recounting things you are sorry about on or shortly after Rosh Hashanah.  You can find an official description from Chabad here.   It has always been one of my favorite rituals, because it is personal, hands-on, and takes place outdoors. We went down to the local Patuxant …

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I Need a Siren

Another Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Memorial Day came and went last week, and I found myself unprepared to mark the day.  In fact, today we are already on to Israel’s Independence Day — but I seem to be running a bit behind. Back in high school, I probably read more Holocaust memoirs than was healthy and later I spent quality time at both the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Israel’s Yad Vashem. In those pre-mothering days, there was plenty of time for reflection. Now as a relatively new mother, museum visits and heavy reading have seriously fallen by the wayside. Everything about becoming …

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Counting the Omer for Beginners

Inspired by new friends from the blog world, I decided to try my hand at counting the Omer this year, the 49 day count that began on the second night of Passover and goes through Shavuot.    I had heard about it before and this year was inspired by the Omer counters from the Midianite Mama and Amy Meltzer’s idea on Homeshuling.  And given that I have lots of my own sewing supplies, I decided to jump in and make my own Omer counter. I decided against using candy in mine. We had too many sweets during Passover and I try …

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Matzah in the Sandbox (repost)

I am reposting what I posted around the third day of Passover last year since I have some new readers.  There is no time to write now, but I am experiencing the now annual matzah crumb issue and I am thinking that if Jewish Mamas invented our Jewish celebrations, somehow Passover would have been linked with Sukkah and we would always eat matzah outside,  just like during the #exodus.    Nobody wanted to leave the sandbox at lunch time today. With the perfect spring breeze shaking the new Bradford Pear leaves over our heads and the soft afternoon sun warming …

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Passover is So Very Close

We will sit down for a Shabbat and Passover dinner very soon but it is not yet sunset and my husband took both children out to cover the strawberries with fabric because there is YET ANOTHER late frost warning.  Spring came so fast this year that all of our strawberries are flowering and we are having cold nights again.  This has become routine the past couple of weeks, so many late frosts! It was a last minute scramble, but I think all of the chametz (non-Kosher for Passover food) is out of the house and dinner is ready.  We are …

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Guest Post: Introducing the Amazing Omer NOMers

I am so happy to have an actual guest post today from the mama, artist and blogger behind those beautiful Omer counters! Thanks to Tzipporah from the Midianite Manna blog for writing this piece and sharing her creative work. Much like Tanya, I’m a big fan of homegrown, homemade, and creativity. When I combine these with new twists on Jewish traditions and my own parenting style, the results are sometimes pretty tasty. This year, our family will begin a new mitzvah – counting the Omer, the 7 weeks between Passover and the lesser-known holiday of Shavuot. (If you’re Jewish, you …

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