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The holidays are almost here and the cooking has begun! Time for family, reflection and looking towards the year ahead.

One of the rich and unique traditions of our Sephardic families is a Rosh Hashana Seder. It is a short service we conduct around our tables with the Rosh Hashana evening meal, with some families doing it on both nights. Including the traditional blessings done at the holiday meal table (Kiddush, Blessing of the Children, Washing of the Hands, HaMotzi), blessings are also said over symbolic foods, expressing our hopes and wishes for the year ahead. Most of the foods used are those whose names in Hebrew sound similar to one of the wishes expressed, so there is some fun associated with this!

Although primarily a Sephardic tradition, many others have begun adding the Seder to their Rosh Hashana celebrations. My father remembers the “ratzones” from his childhood in Seattle…we began sharing the tradition with our children and friends within the past decade. Rabbi Yitz Greenberg suggests that each family add some blessings of our own, adding to our family traditions, adding puns we create around foods we include, which we have done from time to time. One of our Rebbetzins, Penina Schochet, suggested that we select a new fruit each year, having our young children be part of the process, and say a “shehecheyanu” over the addition of the new fruit, as a way to further grace our Rosh Hashanah table and include our children in selecting and trying something new.

Some families refer to this “service” as the “Yehi Ratzones”, referring to the words used “May it be Your will …” as referencing the symbolism that is to be recited. Often one hears the words “simanim”, referring to the ‘symbolic’ foods used. I will note some of the foods we eat and the translation of the blessings we say, primarily based on the materials prepared and provided by Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel (STTI) in Westwood, California, as well as materials prepared by the Maimon Family in Seattle, Washington.

My good friend, Linda Sendowski, has some wonderful recipes for Rosh Hashana foods, specifically these symbolic foods on her blog The Boreka Diary which I share with you. Also, the Rosh Hashana table of the delightful Stella Hanan Cohen was recently featured in the South African Jewish Review (Pages 14-16.) Check these out…and consider including some of these ideas and blessings at your Rosh Hashanah table this year.

 

For our Seder, we prepare a plate on the table that holds some of each symbolic food, and a prepared page for all our guests, including the blessings we will recite for the evening so all can participate. We include the Hebrew and English, and some years, the Ladino. Adapt as is comfortable for your household. We start with the Kiddush, the Shehecheyanu, Birkat Yeladim (Blessing of the Children), Washing the Hands, and the Hamotzi.

Following that, we recite a few blessings with intended good for the New Year, over some symbolic foods. The foods we use are usually plentiful during this season. Their Hebrew names, shades or colors remind us of our hopes and dreams for the year ahead. It is noted that “foods provide us an occasion to wish away our fears and verbalize our deepest hopes, as well as a chance to pun on their names in a number of local tongues”. (Source: Noam Zion in his paper Seder Rosh Hashanah)

1. Apples dipped in sugar or honey; apple cooked in sugar or honey; or candied apples:

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, to renew upon us a good and sweet year, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.

Baruch Ata Adonai Elohenu Melech Haolam Bore Peri Haetz.

2. Leeks (karti):

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that our enemies be cut off, as well as those who desire to do us harm.

(this is based on the wordplay between the Hebrew word for leek, “karti”, which is similar to the word “korat”, meaning “to cut off”)

3. Beets or Spinach (“silka” is usually identified as beets; Keter Shem Tov says it refers to spinach):

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that our enemies disappear, as well as those who desire to do us harm.

4. Dates:

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that our enemies be consumed as well as those who desire to harm us.

(this is based on the wordplay between the Hebrew for dates, “tamar”, which is similar to a word meaning to “end” or “consume”)

5. Pumpkin or gourd (zucchini or squash; “kalavasa” is often used):

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that you should tear up any evil decrees against us and let our merits be read before you.

(this is based in the wordplay between the Aramaic word for pumpkin or gourd, “kara”, and the Hebrew word meaning to “tear”)

6. Fish (pishkado):

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that our merits may multiply as the fish in the sea. Others have commented that as fish is a symbol of abundance and fertility, we ask God to Bless us with both.

7. “Ruviah”, often identified as Fenugreek, although sometimes referred to as black eyed peas or string beans. It is told that in Bagdad, it was referred to as “luviah”. Since it was similar to the Hebrew word “lev”, meaning heart, the word “ut-labevenu” (meaning “and purify us”) was added. (Linda Sendowski has a great recipe for Black Eyed Peas!)

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that our merits increase and that you purify us.

8. Pomegranates (Use the seeds in your cooking or in a in a salad)

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that our merits increase as the seeds of the pomegranate.

9. Head of Fish (something from the head….in our family, my Aunt Belina Hasson used to make tongue (I cannot get myself to even buy a tongue, let alone figure out how to cook it….so, since this is based on puns, we use a “head” of lettuce):

Yehi Ratzon May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that we may be in the forefront as the head, and not the background, as the tail.

The festival meal then follows.

In keeping with Yitz Greenberg’s suggestions, one could add:
Peaches: May it be a “peachy” year
Dates: May our single friends have many “dates” this year
Mushrooms: May our abundance “mushroom” in the years ahead….

Have fun with this and make it meaningful to your family!

Finally, I am attaching a link to a YouTube series of “The Selichot of Ezra Bessaroth”, in Seattle, Washington. It is a ten-part series of the Selichot service in the tradition of the Jews of Rhodes, led by Hazzan Isaac Azose, with many in the Congregation participating. The melodies are familiar to those of us who grew up in Rhodesli Sephardic Synagogues. There is something comforting and reaffirming in melodies, memories and flavors of our youth. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen and enjoy.

Please share with us any of your own family traditions….we would love to post them. Sharing keeps traditions alive and evolving for each new generation!

From our home to yours, Anyada buena i dulse ke tengas….a good and sweet New Year to all; Tizku Leshanim Rabot…May we all merit many years;!

~Marcia Israel Weingarten
Bendichas Manos

 

*adapted from a previous post

So few people realize that the vile evils of the Nazi death machine reached into the Mediterranean region, decimating and destroying the centuries old communities of the Sephardic World in Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and parts of Italy.   JLTV (Jewish Life Television) is spotlighting some of these stories during Yom HaShoah this year.  I hope you will watch and share them with your friends.

JLTV is available in the US on DirecTV nationwide, on Time-Warner in the greater LA area, and other cable carriers ( click here to find carrier in your region).   JLTV is available in 127 countries around the world via http://www.JLTV.tv.   Click on the ‘Watch Live’ box in upper right of screen to watch programs LIVE.  (Watch from anywhere on your computer, tablet or smart phone).

“The Longest Journey: The Last Days of the Jews of Rhodes”

The Longest Journey

U.S. Premiere on JLTV, May 4, 2016   9 pm ET/PT 

On July 23, 1944, the Nazis deported almost the entire Jewish population of the island of Rhodes. The journey took 24 days under harrowing conditions, an atrocious transition from the Mediterranean sun to the gray hell of Auschwitz.

Of the nearly 1,800 Jewish men, women and children taken to Auschwitz from Rhodes, fewer than 150 individuals survived. In The Longest Journey, talented filmmaker and director Ruggero Gabbai weaves together the testimonies of three of the few Jews who survived, Stella Levi, Sami Modiano and Albert Israel.   It is a movie at once chilling and heartbreaking, told about an ancient community in one the most beautiful settings in the world. It is a film you want to see; it is a story that needs to be told and retold; it is a film to share with your children and grandchildren.

This broadcast is sponsored by Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, Los Angeles and the Sephardic Hebrew Center/SBS Fund

Visit: http://sephardictemple.org

The film will have it’s U.S. television premiere JLTV on Yom HaShoah, May 4, 2016 at 9 pm, ET/PT and again on May 5, 2016 at 4 pm ET/1 PM PT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the many ties that bind us is the familiar songs, melodies and words we use during the Passover Seder. As Sephardic Jews from the Island of Rhodes, many of our prayers and songs are chanted in Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish of our ancestors. Based on an old Castilian Spanish, Ladino has moved with our people as we left Spain for the Ottoman lands. Ladino has acquired words and phrases from the host countries of our journey, including Turkish, Greek, Hebrew and Italian, and was, in fact, the language of a majority of the residents of Jerusalem in the 19th century. Today Ladino is still used in communities in the United States, Israel, South Africa, South America, Bosnia and other countries to which Sephardim have migrated. In most communities, it is a language of memory — words and phrases we remember our parents and grandparents using; in few places is it a language of common communication or commerce, although there are some who do, in fact, use it frequently. Thanks to modern day scholars, professors and communal leaders, Ladino is on the rise as a language of study, and being explored, conserved and spoken again in some circles. For most of us, it continues as a language of memory, nostalgia and connection.

At Pesah, we use Ladino as a way to connect to our family. It makes our gatherings special. The young people learn songs and phrases; guests quickly catch on to melodies and learn to follow the words. It is a remarkable opportunity for connection from one generation to another.

My father, Jack Israel (z’l), used to love beginning to tell the tale in Ladino. “Este es el pan de la afi-ision ke comieron muestros padres en tierra de Ayifto. Todo el ke tiene ambre, venga y coma. Todo el ke tiene de menester, venga y paskue. Este anyo aki, a el anyo el vinien en tierra de Yisael. Este anyo aki, siervos, a el anyo el vinien en tierra de Yisrael hijos forros.” This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt….. Each time he read it, he grew teary, as the words reminded him so keenly of his father, the words and melody exactly as his dad had chanted it in their home when my father was a boy in the 1920’s.

After dinner and dessert, family, children and guests included, are anxious to return to the Seder table to conclude the service and sing the songs. From our family’s ‘Hit Parade’, we include the words and some clips for ‘Ken Su Piense’ ( Who Knows One? ) and ‘Un Kavritiko’ (An Only Kid)

“WHO KNOWS ONE?” (kien su piense)

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar al Dio kriense,

Kualo es e1 uno?
UNO es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar a1 Dio kriense,
Kualo son los dos?
DOS Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar al Dio kriense,
Kualo son los tres?
TRES muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador,
baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar al Dio kriense,
Kualo son los kuatro?
KUATRO madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense alavar al Dio kriense,
Kualo son los cinko?
CINKO livros de la Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense a1avar al Dio kriense,
Kualo son los sesh?
SESH dias de la sernana, cinko livros de la Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense alavar a1 Dio kriense,
Kualo son los siete?
SIETE dias kon el Shabbat, sesh dias de la semana, cinko livros de la Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador,. baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense a1avar al Dio kriense,
Kualo son los ocho?
OCHO dias de la milah, siete dias kon el Shabbat, sesh dias de la semana, cinko livros de la Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es e1 Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar al Dio kriense, Kualo son los nueve?
NUEVE mezes de 1a prenyada, ocho dias de la millah, siete dias kon e1 Shabbat, sesh dias de la semana, cinko livros de 1a Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar at Dio kriense, Kualo son los diez?
DIEZ mandamientos de la Ley, nueve mezes de la prenyada, ocho dias de la millah, siete dias kon el Shabbat, sesh dias de la semana, cinko livros de la Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar al Dio kriense, Kualo son los onze?
ONZE ermanos sin Yosef, diez mandamientos de la Ley, nueve mezes de la prenyada, ocho dias de la millah, siete dias kon el Shabbat, sesh dias de la semana, cinko livros de la Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar al Dio kriense, Kualo son los doje?
DOJE hermanos kon Yosef. onze hermanos sin Yosef, diez mandamientos de la Ley, nueve mezes de la prenyada, ocho dias de la millah, siete dias kon e1 Shabbat, sesh, dias de la semana, cinko 1ivros de la Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense, alavar al Dio kriense, Kualo son los treje?
TREJE son los Ikarim, doje hermanos kon Yosef, onze hermanos sin Josef, diez mandamientos de la Ley, nueve mezez de la prenyada, ocho dias de la millah, siete dias kon el Shabbat, sesh dias de la semana, cinko livros de la Ley, kuatro madres de Yisrael, tres muestros padres son, dos Moshe y Aharon, uno es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

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AN ONLY KID (Un kavretiko)

Un kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim. Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino el gato, y komio al kavretiko, ke lo merko mi padre, por dos levanim, por dos levanim. Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino el perro, y modrio al gato, ke komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim. Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino el palo, y aharvo al perro, ke modrio al gato, ke komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.
Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino el fuego, y kemo al palo, ke aharvo al perro, ke modrio al gato, ke komio al kavretiko, ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.
Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino la agua, y amato el fuego, ke kemo al palo, ke aharvo al perro, ke modrio al gato, ke komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim. por dos levanim. Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino et buey, y bebio a la agua, ke amato al fuego, ke kemo al palo, ke aharvo al perro, ke modrio al gato, ke komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim. Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino el shochet, y degoyo al buey, ke bebio a la agua, ke amato al fuego, ke kemo al palo, ke aharvo al perro, ke modrio al gato, ke komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.
Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino el Malach Hamavet, y degoyo al shochet, ke degoyo al buey, ke bebio a la agua, ke amato al fuego, ke kemo al palo, ke ahrarvo al perro, ke modrio al gato ke komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim. Chad gadya, chad gadya!

Y vino et Santo Bendicho, y degoyo al Malach Hamayet, ke mato al shochet, ke degoyo al buey, ke bebio a la agua, ke amato al fuego, ke kemo al palo, ke ahravo al perro, ke modrio al gato, ke komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim. por dos levanim. Chad gadya, chad gadya!

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Also, a clip from one of our favorites, Yehoram Gaon: Ken Su Piense and Un Kavritiko

Words, melody, language —memory, nostalgia, connection. May this holiday bring us closer to our traditions, our families, and to each other. May the lessons of freedom remind us of our blessings and may our hands always be outstretched to all those in need. May we remember….”este es el pan de afri-ision….”

Make memories – make a difference.

~Bendichas Manos

Note:   Interesting discussion from The University of Washington, Sephardic Studies Program on The history of Had Gadya in the Ladino tradition.    Devin Naar, the Isaac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies at UW and Ty Alhadeff, Sephardic Studies Coordinator, are doing fascinating work and are generous with their research and findings. Follow their work – I do!

 

Friday night, April 22, 2016, marks the first night of Passover – the first Seder. We’re all busy preparing our homes, shopping, and preparing to cook for the holiday.
This is a time for gathering together. We read the Haggadah and tell the story of our deliverance as a people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the land of Israel. It is a cornerstone of our being a people. So central is the journey from slavery to freedom, from oppression to self-reliance, that we retell this story each year. We can only appreciate our freedom if we remember our enslavement. We can only appreciate our wholeness if we remember our brokenness. We can only appreciate our own land of Israel, a home for all the Jewish people, if we recall our desperation and desolation when we had nowhere else to turn.
So – we tell the story, year after year, from generation to generation. And with the telling, we serve our favorite foods. Again, passing from one generation to the next our savory dishes, favorite recipes, each with a special name, with special textures and flavors, and with their own memories. These are the stories – and the foods, that bind us together as a people and keep us connected as a family. How very strong is the bond that stories – and food – provide!
Our family Passover seder this year will bring together nearly 50 people – mashala! – all somehow connected to my grandparents, of blessed memory, Isaac (Hacco) Hasson and Sarota Benveniste Hasson. Both were born on the Island of Rhodes (at the time part of the Ottoman empire, Turkey), at the end of the 19th century. Could they ever had imagined that over a hundred years later, their children and grandchildren, down to their great great great grandchildren, would still be connected, gathering together (in person and via Facebook) to remember their names, remember their stories, and together carry on the family traditions that they, too, brought forth from the generations before them! How wonderful that is!
Our Seder will include readings, stories and songs in English, Hebrew and Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish of our Sephardic family. The foods will be leaven free with flavors and names related to our Turkish, Spanish and Mediterranean roots.
I am including recipes for some of our favorites – Haroset, Keftes di Prassa (Leek patties), Megina (Passover meat casserole), sweet treats like Masa di Vino (Passover wine cookies), Moustachudos (nut confections), Marochinos (almond macaroons), and the all time favorite for Passover or for ANY time, Ashuplados (meringues).
We hope you will take some time to try a new recipe or two for the holiday.
May you enjoy your time together with family and friends; may you tell the story of our people and the lessons of our journey. May you tell stories and remember those of our families who are no longer with us physically, so their memories stay alive in our hearts and those of our children and their lives continue to bless us. May we keep the traditions of our ancestors and create new ones with our children. May our gatherings bring blessings – and may our hands, the hands that prepare these foods that nourish our souls and keep our traditions alive, always be blessed.
Pesah Alegre!
~Bendichas Manos

JLTV Presents: Sephardic Life in Film – A Celebration of Diversity

 

This Saturday night – sit back, turn on your TV, and watch some great movies!  Ladino songs, Sephardic culture and history – grab a handful of ‘bilibisis’, and enjoy!

Nationwide on DirecTV  (366) and on cable through Comcast, Time Warner and other multi-system operators. (To find the a cable network in your area visit http://jltv.tv/zip.php.) Or plan to watch us live streaming on your computer, iPad or smartphone at www.jltv.tv.

 

 

 

Sephardic Films

“The richness and diversity of the Jewish people is captivating, “ says Phil Blazer,founder and CEO of JLTV (Jewish Life Television). “We are pleased to make our platform available to film makers who want to share their work on the great diversity of Jewish tradition and culture around the world,” states Blazer.

JLTV is the only 24/7 Jewish-themed television network, available in over 47 million homes in all 50 states and in 127 countries via live stream on our website, www.jltv.tv

The Celebration of Diversity will premier with ‘Sephardic Life in Film’ in two segments, on Saturday nights, April 9 and April 16 and repeating on Monday nights, April 18 and April 25. This series will spotlight segments of the Sephardic experience in Seattle (The Sephardic Jews and the Pike Place Market) and Los Angeles (Once Upon a Time at 55th and Hoover), as well as offering the insightful story of Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Uziel, the first Sephardic Chief Rabbi Of Israel – a visionary leader, merging tradition and modernity (The Visionary), a beautiful look at the Sephardic world through words and music (Song of the Sephardi), and a peek at the Bukharian Museum in New York, (Aron Aronov and the Bukharian Museum).

Excitement is growing and reaction has been strong. There is tremendous enthusiasm from viewers, sponsors and the public. We look forward to sharing more films on the diversity of the Jewish experience in May as we commemorate Yom HaShoah. We are also hearing from viewers and film makers about their desire to see films about the rich traditions of Jews in the Arab world, Mizrahi Jews, as well as communities in Africa, Asia, and South America.    We are seeking films and sponsors to indeed, make that a reality.

Check your cable listings to find us on Direct TV nationwide, Time Warner, Comcast, Atlantic Broadband and a growing list of Cable providers.

To find the a cable network in your area visit http://jltv.tv/zip.php.   Or plan to watch us online on your computer, iPad or smartphone at www.jltv.tv

Bendichas Manos

Ashuplados!

Meringue clouds…..a divine confection of the Gods!  A special occasion delicacy passed down by our grandmothers !

Growing up, we knew it was a very special occasion when Grandma made Ashuplados……meringue clouds!  Sweet….light as a feather, a light shell on the outside. Texture, sweetness……simply….divine!!!

They look beautiful on a sweet table, and delight young and more mature and sophisticated palettes alike!

These are one of my mom’s signature delicacies.  Last year, we prepared this post when my mom made these for my young cousin’s  “Banyo di Novia”. (She prepared them again this month for the Brit Milah and Pidyon haBen of the new baby son of the same cousin……mashala!!!) They are a superb Pesah treat, as well.

View original post 227 more words

What a spectacular opportunity!  An online class taught by Professor Devin Naar.  Dr. Naar is the Issac Alhadeff Professor in Sephardic Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.  All the details are right here.  Class begins March 21……I am so looking forward to it!  Sign up!  Join me!

I am still glowing from the precious opportunity to learn with some wonderful people at the symposium, UCLadino.  I invite other attendees to share your experiences and observations with us all in the comments section.  What a joy it is to hear of the scholarship and study of Ladino and our Sephardic culture and traditions.   Along with the treat of seeing and hearing from Professors Sarah Abrevaya Stein, Devin Naar and Bryan Kirschen, it was a treat to hear Professor Jessica Marglin from USC and some of her very insightful students.  In addition, a collection of community members shared their Sephardic Stories with the symposia over the two days.

The are more opportunities ahead which we look forward to sharing.   For now…..check out Professor Naar’s online class.

We always look forward to your input.  Comment below, join the conversation on Facebook by joining our Group Bendichas Manos! Or send us a note, Marcia@BendichasManos.com

Blessings always,

-Bendichas Manos