Occupy Wall Street + Anti-Semitism


Sukkot at Occupy Wall Street
Sukkot Festivites Occupy Wall Street

We’ve been keeping an eye on the discussion of anti-Semitism which swirls on the margins of the
“OCCUPY WALL STREET” (OWS) zeitgeist, which now of course is a huge national happening, in cities coast to coast
including here in Los Angeles.

This movement, which The New York Times recently called “an ad hoc Athenian democracy”, stirs
one of the ugliest (and may I say craziest?) stereotypes about Jewish people: that we are all rich, and somehow
mysteriously control the world’s wealth.

Don’t get me started. This is a deep, deep current of the weirdest form of hate which has
run through the reptile-brain of the world for many centuries. Like all hate,
it is primitive, irrational and violent, and is the basis for acts which are
nothing less than evil.

This stereotype has never gone away. And it seems to surface when people are hungry, and
hurting, which many people are in America—not to mention the rest of the world.

But we take joy in the tolerant, informed, generous and fearless Jewish response. In New York
City, there has been dancing, Torah, and Yiddishkeit galore as part of the wonderfully raggle-taggle OWS encampment. A sukkah has just been created there, and
the Jewish mother in me worries. It’s cold in NYC at night now.

Some of this has to do with timing. The OWS movement launched more or less in synch with the
High Holy Days. For those of us who contemplate such things in this context,
the coincidence of OWS and Yom Kippur seemed an opportunity for the entire
world to Atone. Whether or not this Atonement took place, and will result in
greater mitzvot, and the Tikkun Olam, remain to be seen.

More than timing, it has to do with culture. “Justice for all” is an American value, and it is
also a deeply Jewish value. Social action and community service, in the service
of social justice, find their roots both in the Torah and in every aspect of
Jewish secular life.

Because the OWS stance is one of inclusion, the movement chooses to tolerate anti-Semites and anti-Zionists
who love to be interviewed and photographed as they make inflammatory remarks.
As the Jewish New Year unfolds, let’s hope together that the soulful sounds of
the singing, laughter and klezmer-violins will continue to rise high above the
stupidity of a few haters.


*Image from New York Times

Sukkah Dinner


Pumpkin Stuffed Sukkot Dinner
Sukkot Pumpkin Dinner

Cooking is not for all.  I can admit I do not fall into the “good cookers” category.  Nor do I fall in the “hostess with the mostess” category.


We should be comfortable with our lack of skills, and free to admit areas that need improvement.  I often wonder about the people that claim to cook really well, and then you taste the food.  OMG!  Not me, I am the first to laugh off my lack of cooking talents.  But, when you know how to make a few decent dishes you can impress guests, having them think you are very talented!  I so win at this category!!


I saw this recipe on Kveller and adapted it, mainly because I have a horrible allergy to sulfites, so I can’t use the wine.  Here is the recipe I made:

Sautee an onion

Cook the ground beef, drain the fat

Sautee some garlic in the beef after it is cooked.

In another pot make some rice.

After they are both cooked, mix the beef mixture and rice together.  Toss in some chopped up cilantro and parsley.

Add spices:  I tend to use only salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and turmeric in all of my cooking.  Sometimes I will go out of my comfort zone and add some Osem Chicken Soup Powder.  Of course, I don’t know measurements– start with a teaspoon of each.  Taste, adjust.

Mix everything together and stuff the pumpkin (after you take out the seeds of course).  Save the top of the pumpkin, put it on the pumpkin so the meat doesn’t dry out during cooking.

Bake 375  for an hour.  Check that the pumpkin is soft after about 45 minutes, then if it isn’t up the oven temperature.

We ate the pumpkin insides as well.


You know I am not a chef after looking  at my list of ingredients and comparing them to other sites!  What a joke, but in the end, the taste is what matters, right?

The decor was my take on the Kosher Street’s how to make a Dollar Tree Centerpiece.  I followed the idea, but thought the rocks from the Dollar Tree was even easier!

And my sister called me a Balla Busta………….

Sukkot Holiday


I’m a born optimist, but one of the topics discussed during Sukkot, which falls between October 12-19 this year, is the futility of life. As with so many teachings from the Jewish perspective, there is ultimately warmth and hope in this message. This may sound a bit grim, but the ultimate realization is that life would indeed be grim without the guidance of Torah, and the abiding love of the Almighty.


SukkotThe “Feast of Huts” or “Feast of Tabernacles”, falls five days after Yom Kippur, the “heaviest” day in the Jewish sacred calendar. Sukkot is my favorite because it’s actually a time of renewal —with strings attached, of course. The symbol of the holiday is the “hut” itself, a temporary outdoor structure in which pious Jews gather, eat, pray, sometimes sleep (there is controversy about the where-to-sleep part) during the holiday.

This temporary structure, created under the stars, is fragile. It is simple, innocent, humble. It reminds us of how our ancestors may have lived eons ago, as they crossed the desert. As a
modern woman who reads the news, it also reminds me of the dire circumstances in which many people live today, especially in the ravaged horn of Africa,  where families are devastated by drought, famine, and preventable disease. The little Sukkot hut under the stars commands our humility, and our gratitude, especially since Sukkot takes place during harvest, when our table overflows with the ripeness of grapes, wine, pomegranates, pumpkins, pears, apples and honey.


From the safety of my backyard, life seems good. From a sacred standpoint, the verdict for the new year, written on Rosh Hashanah, sealed on Yom Kippur, is actually manifested on the 7th day of Sukkot, called Hoshanah Rabbah. A passage which is often read and discussed during Sukkot is from the Book of Ecclesiastes, where Koheleth, sonof King David, declares this world “Utter futility!.”  Such a contrast to the abundance of the harvest season, don’t you think?


One of my favorite reflections for Sukkoth is the gathering of the “4 Kinds” – four kinds of plants which  symbolize our level of spiritual awareness. As with all things Jewish, there are centuries of interpretation to savor here. The offerings are a citron, a palm frond, myrtle branches, and willow branches. No doubt, these symbolic offerings have been gathered by Jews in this manner for many centuries.


One of the most poetic aspects of the discussion about the Sukkot offerings has to do with fragrance—whether or not the leaves and fruits
associated with these botanical offerings are fragrant. Some are—like the citron, or etrog. Some, like the lulac or palm frond, bear delicious
fruit (the date), but are not fragrant. The fragrance is associated with the mystical side of knowing the Divine, versus duty and obedience.


This sensual element is cherished in Jewish tradition, where we end each Sabbath with the smell of sweet spices  from the Havdalah spice-box. Some people take the citron from the Sukkot holiday, stud it with cloves, pomander-style, and use it this way (as besamim, or spice for the Sabbath) throughout the year. And, it’s also okay to make candy or jam from the thick rind of the etrog. As is so often the case with Judaism, the bitter is made sweet. Marmalade from tears, as it were (sort of a Jewish version of making lemonade when life gives you lemons, perhaps).


This is a generous and abundant time of year, where the season of plenty is tempered with the reminder that each of us is fragile, and precious.

Written by Victoria, a  pop-culture journalist who lives in Los Angeles and also blogs at   www.artoftea.com,  and www.velarri.com