Monday, June 15, 2015

Words directly from their hearts and hands

Seven years ago, I launched a BookMooch Journal (if you don't know about BookMooch or BookMooch Journals, here are your links).

Today the journal was returned to me because the section people were filling in was full. I simply have to share what people added to this over the years. Women across the US as well as in England and Wales participated (it was quite a large heavy book, and so it was difficult to have it cross international borders by post too often unfortunately). 
People shared their thoughts, their histories, their lives, their dreams and their work. They included original art, bits and swatches, useful hand made items for other contributors to keep and share, and so much more. Here is a taste of what this project produced so you can share in it too, virtually.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

More embroidery

Now with predators. One teeny, tiny, rather cute embroidered predator that is.
This is Liz Almond's pattern, "Cobweb," worked on 18 count Aida cloth, with DMC colors 602, 3325, and 25 (because those were the closest I had already in the house to the colors she proposes). The pattern and many more are available free on her website.  The only stitches this one uses are backstitch and cross stitch (okay, the spider's eyes are French knots but you could fake it or learn to work two little French knots). The finished piece is just under 4" square.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Because my life now isn't a sitcom but a soap opera

I wasn't sure what to say about this given the likelihood of a sentencing appeal, but I think what I've chosen will be in the clear.

Many friends have asked or wondered why suddenly last week I was posting about the trial and sentencing of Barry Freundel.

What had happened was that on Monday, a week ago today, I was notified that I had been named in the court record in a defense memo requesting clemency. I was identified as one of Freundel's victims who was on the record supporting him. Fortunately for me, at least temporarily, the Washington Post has a policy of not publishing the names of victims of any level of sexual assault, and since I was identified by the defense as a victim, my name while fully entered in the court records was blacked out when the WaPost published the memo itself.

I was never one of Freundel's original victims. I have never physically visited Kesher Israel synagogue, nor the mikvah there. I have never been one of his students. I am not a convert to Judaism. My words which were quoted entirely out of context in the memo were written to someone who WAS a victim, reassuring that individual that the reason they had not been able to see and report the evil in the man was because an emotionally and psychologically healthy person doesn't think in the same way an evil or sociopathic person does; no one normally expects someone else to be looking for opportunities to harm others. How this statement could have been construed as support I still don't understand even after reading the memo.

Bethany Mandel, writing in the Forward, documented the situation last week. I am, as you can now infer, the woman quoted in her article. She agreed to avoid using my name for that article as we didn't know if I would be further named and didn't want me to be unnecessarily involved more in the case.

I sent the following statement to the prosecution and judge (copying the defense):

It has been brought to my attention that statements I made on Facebook to one of the victims of Barry Freundel's actions have been entered in the legal record as supporting him, in a memo related to his sentencing.

Please know I have no relationship at all with Mr. Freundel. I have never met him as far as I know; I would not recognize him in a photograph; I was not one of his victims; I have never seen his synagogue nor the mikvah involved. I do live in the Washington, D.C. area, and that is why I do know some of the direct victims. I myself in no way have been directly affected by his crimes.

My words were written to another individual who was directly affected and who did have a religious relationship with Mr. Freundel. What I wrote was meant to condemn Mr. Freundel and his actions, and to reassure my friend that the friend bore no responsibility for Mr. Freundel's depravity and evil or for her own victimization. In no way at all were my words meant to be exculpatory, and if they are being used so they are taken entirely out of context.

In addition, while my words were on public social media (Facebook, specifically), they were never meant to be part of any court record. I was never asked by anyone whether my words could be used in Mr. Freundel's defense, and had I been asked I would have refused as I do not support any leniency towards him.

On Friday at the sentencing hearing, this statement was read in court and entered into the record under my name, openly.

So there you have it. Just when you thought my life couldn't get any more complicated, I get victimized by a man who even in court doesn't respect women's boundaries and privacy. I am not upset really because it was so removed, I'm almost bemused at my own little brush with horror. But I do feel deep sympathy and sadness for those who were directly victimized by this sociopath who called himself a community leader for so long.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Branching out

Somehow I missed making a MDSW post, but I did attend the festival this year, and it was truly terrific.

Medically I'm still a disaster, now in all new ways. One of my surgical procedures seems to have resulted in collateral damage to an organ that had scar tissue adhesions to the body area being worked on, and I'm still having a lot of pain from that. Trying to deal with it and possibly going to a specialist if a simple attempt at relieving inflammation doesn't work over the next week or so (I don't really expect it will, I've been taking anti-inflammatories this whole time without it making any difference, but I'm willing to give it another week and see).  My shoulder is killing me; driving is torture, but how can I not drive? Knitting is absolutely impossible, spinning almost so.

So, I've been doing a lot of embroidery, which doesn't involve a lot of motion from my left shoulder.  I have shared directly on Facebook the sashiko, blackwork, and other little pieces I've done the last few weeks.  This last week I worked a bigger piece, a challah (ritual bread) cover for Rosh Hashanah, displaying some of the simanim, special foods eaten as a reminder of good wishes for ourselves and our loved ones. The embroidery is now finished; I need to get trim and backing and sew it up into a finished cover.
The finished embroidered piece

Peas--may our merits increase

Apples and honey--a good, sweet year

Pumpkin--the decree of our sentence should be torn asunder
and our merits proclaimed

Beet greens--our adversaries should be removed

Leek--our enemies should be decimated

Pomegranate--our merits should increase as the seeds of
a pomegranate

Carrot--our enemies should be decimated, or our merits

Dates--our enemies be consumed
The various stitches used were backstitch, running stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch, satin stitch, and French knots.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Matzo lasagna recipe, very simple!

Sorry no photo--I'll try to add one next week!

Matzo Lasagna

4 sheets of square matzo
1 26 oz jar of Passover pasta sauce (or 3-4 cups home made)
1 lb extra lean or regular ground beef or poultry
optional: sliced olives, sliced mushrooms, sliced peppers, any other vegetables you like to add in; you can add cooked slices of eggplant and make it more of a moussaka type of dish if you like

Brown the meat, and then drain the liquid and fat out. I like to put the browned meat into a colander and let it drain for 5 minutes or so in the sink.

In a square pan, pour a thin layer of sauce and use a spoon back to smear it around the pan bottom (there's no need to add any oil).  Lay a slice of matzo down, then pour some more sauce on top of that and smear it around. Layer about half of the meat on top and pour dollops of sauce on top of it, then put down another slice of matzo, then sauce, then matzo, then sauce, then the other half of the meat. Put the last slice of matzo on top and cover it with the remaining sauce.  Bake it for about 1/2 hour on 350. It doesn't matter a lot as the meat is already cooked, you're just letting it all meld together and get nice and hot.  If you like, it refrigerates and re-heats beautifully. If you pre-cook it so that the sauce is all drawn up into the matzo, it can be re-heated on Shabbos on a kedeirah type food heater without any halachic question as it's precooked, pre baked, and not liquid.

You can definitely increase the amount of meat if your family are big meat eaters, and you can make it in a 9x13 inch pan just breaking matzo to fit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blood, sweat and tears

That's what I'm calling my latest yarn off the wheel, at least in my head, though in the Rav database I listed it as Autumn Harvest. It was spun before my shoulder surgery but this is the first day I felt up to attempting to skein it off the bobbin.

It's a beautiful Autumn Harvest gradient from Fiber Optic Yarn I bought at MDSW last year, 80% merino and 20% silk.  I worried while I spun it that I was doing a terrible job but when I skeined it now it was gorgeous and even. It's almost 1000 yards, 4 oz.

The only problem is that last summer I stopped wearing these autumn colors of oranges, browns and reds, and switched my entire wardrobe to jewel tones! But I'm sure I'll still find something to knit or weave this into.

Now I feel like I've run a 10K and I'm completely worn out. At one point I realized I was counting backwards while skeining. I've never been that spacey. I'm going to spend the rest of the day with my ice pack on one part of me and my heating pad on the other looking at pattern possibilities for when I am able to knit again.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Recipe: Tagliolini Colla Crocia, aka Ruota di Faraone

This is a delicious and simple meat and noodle kugel that was traditionally served by many Italian Jewish families on the Sabbath when the parsha of Beshalach is read (Shabbos Shira), as it includes the story of the Egyptian Pharaoh and his army being drowned in the Red Sea.

I'm including a really incredibly simple modern version here, and then a version of the original adapted from "The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews," by Edda Servi Machlin.

Simple modern version first:


1 jar of Italian style pasta sauce, ideally meat flavored
1 lb ground beef (not extra lean)
1 lb beef salami OR beef or goose sausage OR pickled tongue
1 lb egg noodles, medium or wide
1/4 cup olive oil, schmalz, or goose fat PER PAN
(optional) 1/2 cup of any or all of the following: raisins, pine nuts, chopped almonds

Pans: you can use 2 8" round pans, 2 10" round pans, or 1 10" round pan just filled quite high for a deeper casserole


Boil noodles per package instructions until soft, then drain. Brown the ground beef but do not drain it of fat when you're done. Chop the salami, sausage or tongue into cubes. In a large bowl, mix the noodles, ground beef and its fat, meat, and pasta sauce.  Pour 1/4 cup of oil or fat into each dish you will be using to cook the dish in and make sure it greases the sides of the dish as well as the bottom. There will be a lot of fat or oil, that's okay, it will all be taken up as the food cooks. Pour the mixture of food into the prepared dish or dishes, and bake at 350 F for 1 hour (if cooking in two dishes) to 1 1/2 hour (in one deep casserole). It should be pulled away from the sides of the dish and crispy all around, as well as golden on top.

It can be served immediately, or it can be chilled and then warmed for the Sabbath. The liquids are all bound up in the casserole and don't leak out and the dish is baked, so I have had no halachic issues with putting it on a k'deirah warmer for the Sabbath day meal.

Now for the original version:


homemade egg pasta--made with 4 eggs and about 2 1/2-3 cups of flour, sliced into long 1/8" wide noodles, boiled one minute
3 cups homemade meat sauce, use recipe of your choice with plenty of ground beef or goose
1/2 cup diced tongue, salami, or sausage
1/4 cup marrow or schmalz 
(optional) 1/2 cup of any or all of the following: raisins, pine nuts, chopped almonds

The directions are basically the same: boil your noodles, cook your sauce, chop your meat. Use the marrow or fat to grease the pan and leave any leftover marrow or fat in the pan. Combine all ingredients, and bake at 350F for 1-1 1/2 hours until golden.

Other themed dishes we prepared for the same Sabbath:
A Splitting-Of-The-Sea cake decorated by my 7 year old (yes, there are little fish sprinkles)

Sandwich cookies, homemade, representing the tambourines used by the women to accompany their singing