A Lil’ More Money, Honey

Between Federation pledges, synagogue dues, Sisterhood fundraisers, JCC memberships, Hebrew school tuition and various and sundry hit-ups for cash throughout the year, let’s face it: Being Jewish is expensive.

And I’m not saying I mind doing my part to keep the community flush. But it’s really awesome when you actually get something in return. (Besides the obvious satisfaction of being a mensch, or at least getting Sadie from Hadassah off your back for another year.)

Here’s two fantastic tzedakeh options for all the Savannah locals that are worth the price:

No. 1: This Sunday, May 2, Congregation Mickve Israel is hosting its annual Sweepstakes event. Tickets are a hundred bucks, but check it out: You get a meal at 45 Bistro, one of the best restaurants in town (I know the chef and he’s freakin’ brilliant) and it’s an OPEN BAR (the organizers are probably betting on the old adage that Jews don’t drink, but the Yenta has been building up her tolerance with Wild Turkey Honey Mint Juleps.) Plus, just buying a ticket gets you in the running for a $2500 cash prize – way better odds than your 401K, right? And there’s going to be the most killer silent auction items – a Trina Turk bag, luxury bedding – procured by the superfabulous Beth Vantosh. Go here for info, but call El Yenta Man for tix: 912.308.2341. Mention this blog post and you will also receive a big fat kiss from the Yenta and your picture posted here!

No. 2: The JEA Pool is all ready for some summer action, but it still needs gazunta donations to pay off the new drain and smooth surface (doesn’t the fact that the Yenta children don’t have to wear SHOES while swimming inspire at least a hundred?) Even you generous out-of-towners (ahem, GRANDPA) can give: Just click here.

Thanks in advance, dear readers!

Rest in Peace, Golden Girl

beaartur
Goodbye to Bea Arthur, who died this weekend of cancer at 86.

This Jewish balabusta
danced, she sang, she stirred big belly laughs with the driest of wit and an arched eyebrow, she championed women’s and gay rights long before I was born, all in her famous deadpan deep voice.

Am I right that there’s been nothing on television that comes close to being as incisively funny and socially relevant since Maude?

Post Yom Ha’Shoah Musings

It’s been a meshuggeh week so far in Yentaland trying to avoid the “dead” in deadline at my day job, but I did manage to gather the family to attend the Yom Ha’Shoah ceremony at the JEA Tuesday evening.

Let’s face it: Holocaust memorial aren’t meant to be fun. But I have to say this year’s event focused less on victimhood than on heroism and hope: The JEA’s Ben Kweskin created an amazing tribute to the Ghetto Resistance, and the artwork by St. Vincent’s High School students delved deep to keep looking for the meaning of this horrid past. Our wonderful shlicha (Israeli emissary) Maia Koiller hit up every Jewish kid in town over the last few weeks to color a butterfly or three, and the result of HUNDREDS THOUSANDS of beautiful cutouts on the walls (it is a HUGE room) posted with Pavel Friedman’s poem “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” was tremendous.

We might be having trouble filling the coffers for the pool, but I’ll tell you what, it made me a proud Southern Jew to find it was standing-room only in the auditorium. It’s always such a sobering, humbling honor to hear the Holocaust survivors of our community speak – I eat lunch with a few of them every week, and every time I glimpse a tattoo on an arm or hear Polish-accented Yiddish, I’m reminded that who I am includes those who came before me, my commitment to raise my children to stand up for what is right, deepened. Read Dana Clark Felty’s piece about it in the Savannah Morning News – Chaim Melamed’s entire poem I Am A Kacetler is included.

As far as the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel bullhockey happening in Geneva this week, I don’t have time for it, but I think Rav Shmuel’s cheeky “Protocols” vid is an appropriate response. (Tip o’ the yarmulke to Rabbi Yonah):

Flower Power for All the Mamas

cardLook, Mother’s Day is coming up. And your mother just texted me to kvetch that you can save the canned Hallmark crap this year – NO ONE LIKES those pale yellow cards with simmpery faux poems printed in curlicue font, except your grandma and even SHE is pretending (she Twittered it, ‘k?)

More than another runny-egg brunch, more than a hothouse bouquet that smells like the inside of a refrigerator, more than anything, your mother just wants to know that you’ve grown up into a mensch. And the Yenta is going to give you a way to prove it to her without leaving your chair: JWI’s Flower Project.

For every $25 donation for its good works towards helping domestic abuse survivors, Jewish Women’s International will send the mother of your choice this gorgeous card created by Israeli artist Anicca Bat Adam. Around the country, 150 domestic abuse shelters around the country will also receive Mother’s Day wishes in the form of cards and flowers to brighten their situations with the bloom of possibilities to come. Contributions also go towards prevention efforts that “empower Jewish teens and young adults to build healthy relationships” – which means you’re paying it forward to help future mothers. Trust me, you cannot lose on this one.

Do it here
– you mother meant it when she said it really is the thought that counts!

Get the F@#$rs Before They Die

Even though the extradition of accused Nazi war criminal John “Ivan” Demjanjuk has been delayed because the 89 year-old, Ukrainian-born retired Ohio autoworker is “too frail” to travel to Germany to meet his justice, the German judiciary system has set its sights on four others suspected of meting out death orders for Jews under Hitler’s reign.

All of them are old men in their 80’s, most of them suffering from health problems, which has “slowed the interest” of internationally prosecuting them. I say pull the momzers in by the last hairs on their sick heads and let them die slow, painful deaths knowing they didn’t get away with it.

Go, Germany, Go!

What’s For Dinner?

In honor of my bloggiversary and the fact that I’m up to my kishkes in catch-up emails and work, I’m reposting my favorite recipe from last year:

Now, I know folks have been probably been slapping unleavened squares in a baking pan with tomato sauce ever since the fall of Rome, but I’d never made this dish before because it sounded … soggy. But when you have children to feed (not mention a husband who keeps trying to convince you that tortillas are kosher for Passover because they’re flat), you’re willing to try anything. So, after looking at a few recipes online, I came up with my own ideas about how to keep matzah lasagna from turning into mush.

Disclaimer: I come up with my own cooking ideas fairly often, but regular readers know that I rarely share them, because mostly, they’re gross. Please consider my humble assertion that this KICKED ASS.

    Yo, Yenta!’s Matzah Lasagna

You will need:

8 squares of matzah

Tomato sauce (I used a jar of the store-bought stuff to save time – Barrilla’s Roasted Garlic – but being a bad Jew, I didn’t check to see if it was kosher for Passover)

A small can of tomato paste

Olive oil

A pinch of brown sugar

Half a chopped white onion

Handful each of chopped mushrooms, olives and capers (if you don’t like any of ‘em, leave it out)

A bag of baby spinach

Cottage cheese

Feta cheese

A bag of shredded mozzarella or Italian blended cheese

1 egg

Italian spices

Salt to taste

Sauce:

Heat up a saucepan on medium with a couple of generous pours of olive oil. Throw in the onions, mushrooms, olives and capers and brown ‘em up. Add the jar of sauce and let bubble a little; add tomato paste until smooth. Sprinkle in a little brown sugar; it really ties in the flavors. Turn to low. It’s gonna be a little thicker than you’re used to, but that’s what we want. Trust me.

Filling:

Dump about 3/4 of the container of cottage cheese and half the container of feta into a bowl with the egg and spices. Mix until creamy – I used a whisk, but a handheld mixer would work even better.

Assembly:

Now, unlike regular lasagna, in which noodles absorb water and should be a juicy, bubbly mess when done right, matzah lasagna should be as dry as possible before it goes in the oven so that the matzah doesn’t turn to soup. Every other recipe called for rinsing the matzah to soften it; I thought this sounded like squish waiting to happen, and I recommend skipping it.

Spread a little sauce on the bottom of the pan and place two dry matzah squares side by side. Spread on a few tablespoons of cheese filling, not too much, but cover your corners. Add a layer of spinach, which will give up plenty of liquid to soften everything up. Shprinkle generously with shredded cheese. Dollop on a little more sauce to cover it all.

Repeat previous steps two more times. It will be tall. Push gently into the confines of the baking dish with one last layer of matzah. Then it’s more sauce and another cheese shower. Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Let cool before serving!

Options:

Add some soy crumbles sizzled in olive oil to the sauce to “beef” it up a little. Also, sliced zucchini or eggplant seared in olive oil can be substituted for any of the layers … mmmm…..

I prepared this at 1 o’clock in the morning (damn insomnia) and let it sit in the fridge overnight to bake the next day, which may have contributed to the superdeliciousness of it all. I hope yours turns out just as well.

Funny, I Feel Much Older

Yesh, the Yenta’s back from sedering it up Miami, and though the family spent almost as much time debating whether Rush Limbaugh is Jewish or not (it was just some Talmudic scholar’s idea of a Purim prank – a durn good one, too!) as we did on the plagues, it was a some good time. The Yenta children garnered major kvells for their Four Questions, though someone should tell El Yenta Man he can drop the Lazy Son imitation already.

Sadly, it’ll be our last year of Floridian Pesach since my Brother the Doctor has decided to wander around the desert accepted a job back in Arizona, but we’re thinking next year at Tybee Island, GA. If we have a seder on the beach, does Elijah come in the form of a drunk fraternity guy looking for a place to crash?

Anyhoo, since it’s after the seder but still a few days before we can eat pizza, according to the lunar calendar, Yo, Yenta! is FIVE years old this week – that’s one thousand, seven hundred and seventy-four posts of snarky confessional Jewish motherhood. You can buy a beer on Thursday at Screaming Mimi’s, ‘k?

In the meantime, I hope you’re all having a matzah-riffic Passover!

Find The Missing Israeli Cabinet Members!

In an effort to preserve modesty to the point of insanity, two orthodox newspapers in Israel erased female cabinet members Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver from the official inaugural photo taken last week:

[See it here – WordPress is being cranky this morning and won’t let me upload a photo.]

Someone’s rabbi should tell those editors that Photoshop does not actually change reality.