Special Sections

Saving The Dates

Elisheva Carlebach rediscovers the lost art of ‘sifrei evronot,’ Jewish calendar booklets.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Tucked into a corner of the Columbia University campus at the end of a long hallway, Elisheva Carlebach’s book-lined office is as quiet and serene as a library. But as soon as she begins to speak about her new book, “Palaces of Time” (Harvard), we’re transported to a world where few things are fixed or organized — not even the concept of time.

Sefer evronot, 1717. Cincinnati, Klau Library, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

And The Seasons They Go ‘Round And ‘Round

Seeking a coherent life with the holiday cycle as our compass.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

When I was a child, the Jewish holidays burst upon my days with no discernible pattern or connection. In St. Louis, as a young girl, I am a Megillah, parading around United Hebrew Temple, my skinny 9-year-old self sandwiched between two yellow poster boards with “The Story of Queen Esther” glued and glittered on the front. And then, some weeks later, returning home from services with my mom and my sister — dad was at work — we ate our Passover feast: crunchy sheaves of matzah slathered with cream cheese and Welch’s grape jelly.

TANYA FREDMAN, Midbar (Desert), 2010, oil and fabric on canvas, 30” x 30”.

Let Us Eat Cake

There’s only one biblical birthday bash.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Sunday, Oct. 28 was Bess’s first birthday. The festivities began two weeks earlier with a collective party for my local moms’ group’s entire brood — Bess won our first annual crawling race by a mile! — and culminated with an immediate-family-only party featuring homemade frosted pomegranate layer cake. (Rimona, Bess’s middle and Hebrew name, is the feminized form of rimon, or pomegranate.)

Editor’s Note

04/04/2011 - 20:00

We’ve just begun the Hebrew month of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish year. Not to be confused with Tishrei, the seventh month on the Jewish calendar and the time of Rosh HaShanah, when the year rolls over into the next. Tracking time in different ways, synchronizing stories and seasons, keeps us ever mindful of its passing.

This month, our writers look at days, months and years; the movements of sun and moon; how the celestial cycles manifest in the rhythms of our days and in the calendars we tuck into our pockets, whose full pages connote full lives.

JDC Matzah distribution, Vienna, 1921. Courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee .

Text Context April 2011

How do we measure the moments, the hours, the days, months, seasons and years of our lives? In this issue on the calendar -- which heralds the beginning of spring and the arrival of Pesach -- we explore how cycles of Jewish time are marked and experienced
04/04/2011 - 20:00
Text Context April 2011

The Book On Bat Mitzvah Projects

Twelve-year-old’s project turns out to be a book on the subject.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

W hen it came to choosing a bat mitzvah project, Alexandra Kukoff had a long, make-the-world-a-better-place list: volunteer at an animal shelter, help out at a soup kitchen, take on an environmental project, and so on. She knew she needed to pick just one if she had any hopes of completing a project in time for her Aug. 20 celebration.

Alexandra Kukoff’s hopes her how-to book “will inspire other bat mitzvah girls to think about community service.”

Just Desserts

The cakemaker to the stars still likes it best when customers actually cut into his creations.
Editorial Assistant
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Ron Ben-Israel wants you to know that he “is still a schlepper.” The cake decorator to the stars, who rocketed to wedding cake fame after being discovered by Martha Stewart, is still happy to pitch in with his small team and deliver his confectionary creations himself.

Dutch treat: Ron Ben-Israel and some of his towering creations. Courtesy Ron Ben-Israel

Wild About Saffron (And Tumeric)

The exotic culinary-cultural journey of the author of ‘Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride.’
Jewish Week Book Critic
04/04/2011 - 20:00

W hen her new Persian relatives told her that she’d never be able to learn to make dolmeh, stuffed grape leaves, Reynah Simnegar grew determined to prepare this staple of Persian cuisine. She brought her husband’s grandmother into the kitchen and insisted that she not leave until she taught her. Although the older woman didn’t speak much English and Reyna didn’t understand Farsi, they worked together until Reyna mastered the “little bundles of joy.”

Spice rack: Reynah Simnegar has developed a taste for sumac, cumin and cardamom.

Simcha Necessities? There’s A Gemach For That

Having lost its stigma, the rental-shop concept is now expanding.
Staff Writer
04/04/2011 - 20:00

At a wedding the other evening, the guests peered at the tall glass vase filled with white calla lilies in full bloom. “Do you think they’re real?” a woman asked the guests seated around the table. “They look real,” another replied. “Why don’t you touch them and see?” said a third.

Some goodies from a “shtick gemach” to liven up the dance floor at wedding and other simchas.

The State Of The Art Of The Jewish Marriage Contract

Ketubot past and present, from here to Philadelphia.
Special To The Jewish Week
04/04/2011 - 20:00

T here’s an art to marriage — quite literally so, when it comes to the decorative art of the Jewish marriage contract, known in Hebrew as the ketubah.

Archie Granot’s ketubah (1999), is made up of multilayered colored papercut and ink on paper. JTS Library
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