Rosh Hashana 2014

My mom is baking and preparing for Rosh Hashana…..Boyos, burekas, biscochos, pan di casa, reshas….all our family favorites.
Posting some tried and true recipes in hope that you might give them a try. Please share your menus and favorite family memories with us.
Together – we’ll keep our traditions alive!

Boyos di Spinaka

https://bendichasbendichosmanos.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/finally-boyos/

Burekas, biscochos and reshas

https://bendichasbendichosmanos.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/burekas-de-beringena-burekas-with-eggplant-filling-2/

Pan di Casa

https://bendichasbendichosmanos.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/panizikos-di-kaza-home-baked-bread-rolls/

Wishing all an ‘anyada buena i dulce”. Tizku L’eshanim Rabot – may we all merit many years.

~Bendichas Manos

Boulicunio – Sesame Confection

“Bulicunio” – “Susam” – a wonderful confection that combines the rich nutty flavor of sesame seeds with a honey syrup creating a taste and texture treat for the palate. My Mother has made boulicunio for both our sons’ brit milot – and it has been a favorite of my husband’s. Usually around Passover, it becomes available in stores in pre made, individually wrapped pieces and I buy them for him.

Inspired by a post from Stella Hanan Cohen ( “Stella’s Sephardic Table”), I asked my mom to make some. Starting with a recipe from Aunt Rosha Benveniste Solam (z’l) we tweaked it somewhat, adapted for Passover, and set out to make Boulicunio.

Boulicunio ( Susam Candy)

3 C Sesame Seeds
1 C Sugar
1 C Honey
1/4 C Hot Water
1 tsp Lemon
3/4 C Toasted Almonds
2 Tblsp Matzh Flour

Susam

Toast sesame seeds in frying pan over medium flame until golden brown.
Add flour toward end.
toasting susam

Toast the almonds and add them to the sesame mixture.

Toasted Almonds

In a separate pot, mix sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Stir to keep from burning. It will foam and begin to bubble. Add honey and keep stirring. Syrup is ready when….well, when a small amount dropped into a cup of cold water forms a ball.
Syrup
Add syrup to the sesame mixture.
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Pour mixture onto a lightly greased work table or cutting board.

When cool, roll small batches into 1 inch ropes.
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Cut at a diagonal.
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Can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container.

A taste and texture treat! Give them a try and let us know what you think.

Enjoy this time of preparing for the holiday and sharing special foods with family and friends. Pass along family traditions – create new ones. Always cook with love!

~Bendichas Manos!

Keftes de Prassa – Leek Patties for Pesah

Reprinting a family favorite…

There are several foods that my mom prepares especially and only for Pesah.  Keftes de Prassa (leek patties) is one of those specialities.

In our family, these are vegetarian – others make them with ground meat. (these are one of my husband’s very favorite Sephardic treats!!) Continue reading

Rosh Hashana 5774

Sephardic Foods

The High Holidays are upon us! As we prepare to greet each other with wishes of ‘Anyada Buena’ (A good year) and ‘Tizku Leshanim Rabot’ ( may you be written for many, many years)….we prepare, too, for family gatherings and the special foods that we love to share. My mom has begun baking boyos, burekas, reshas, biscochos as well as some special sweet treats for a sweet year. I am posting past posts of some of these recipes.

In addition, I am including a post about a traditional Rosh Hashana Seder. Some families call these the ‘Ratzones’, from the phrase ‘Yehi Ratzone’, (may it be your will…) referring to the opening words of the blessings, referencing the traditional foods that are eaten. It is a lovely, traditional Sephardic custom that has gained popularity in recent years even among non-Sephardim. I hope you will explore it. Perhaps add it to your family repertoire. Tweak it – add new elements – make it your own!

I invite you to add your holiday memories as comments.

In addition, join the conversation on Facebook at ‘Bendichas Manos’

Wishing you all an ‘Anyada Buena!’ A good year. Tizku Leshanim Rabot – may we all be written in the Book of Life and granted many, many years.

~Bendichas Manos!!!

Baking Burekas

Boyos

Burekas di Beringena, Reshas, Biscochos di Huevo

A Rosh Hashana Seder

‘Masapan’ ( Marzipan)

Carol Goodman Kaufman, in a recent article for The Forward, writes, “Tu B’Shvat, on the 15th of the month of Shvat (the “T” and “U” equate to the numbers 9 and 6, respectively), was originally designated for the purpose of calculating the age of trees both for harvesting and tithing purposes. The Torah prohibits fruit from being eaten during the first three years of a tree’s growth, but on Tu B’Shvat we eat the first fruits of the fourth year, as well as samples of the seven species mentioned in the Torah (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.)
Even though almonds aren’t included among the seven species, their trees blossom at around the same time in the month of Shvat (roughly February), so the holiday has evolved over time to include the nuts in its menu of delights.”
Read more: http://forward.com/food/330279/almonds-and-marzipan-for-tu-bshvat/#ixzz3y2ghzHtj

The article includes a recipe for marzipan.  

 

I am reprinting here our Rhodesli recipe for Masapan, in honor of Tu B’shvat. Thank you, Carol, for the inspiration!

 

“Masapan”……marzipan….that delicious sweet that our mothers lovingly make for engagements, weddings, a brit milan or a Bar (and today even a Bat) Mitzvah.  Basically a homemade almond confection made with ground almonds and sugar, Marzipan traces it’s origin to …..well….that depends.  Some say the Persian empire, introduced to Europe by the Turks;  others claim the origin to be Spain.  In any case, it got to us, was a delicacy on our beloved Island of Rhodes, and our grandmothers brought it here with them when they came to these shores.  

 
While some in Eastern Europe talk of marzipan being colored and fashioned into miniature fruit-like shapes, our variation is kept in it’s white, pure state, made into a simple design  –    A very special variety is shaped into a ‘pastelico’ like  cup and filled with rosewater or orange blossom scented ‘shroupe’, capped and artfully edged….a treat for the senses!
 
My mother, Kaye Hasson Israel, uses a recipe shared with her by Rebecca Levy. I watched her make it last week. Here is the recipe and photos.    This recipe makes about 125 pieces of masapan.Image
6 C almonds
3 C sugar
4 C water
 
Start with raw almonds.    To blanche, bring a pot of water to a boil. ( enough water to cover the almonds).  When water boils, add almonds and leave them in for 4 to 5 minutes (until skin is loose).
Rinse in a colander with cold water.  Remove the skins from the almonds and place almonds into a bowl of cold water ( to prevent discoloration).
Take a clean towel and dry almonds thoroughly.
Put almonds into food processor with blade.
Grind to a fine texture.
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In the meantime,  mix sugar and water and heat over medium/high flame.  Make sure sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil.  This is to make a sticky syrup.  Stir and watch carefully so it does not discolor or burn.
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Test for correct stickiness by removing spoon from pot, allow it to cool a bit, placing a drop on your fingers and noting a ‘thread’ of sugar when pressing then pulling apart finger and thumb.

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At this point, lower the heat and add ground almonds.  Thoroughly  blend and constantly stir mixture.   Cook and stir masapan until it reaches a dough-like consistency. ( it will cleanly leave the sides and bottom of the pan).   Remove from heat and allow to thoroughly cool
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Once cooled, knead on your rolling surface to create a smooth dough.  Pinch off small portions and roll into a long strip.  (Perhaps cut into 10 – 12 portions before rolling).
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Keep a bowl of water handy.  Dampen your rolling surface and hands, as it will make it easier to roll out.  Cut at an angle into diamond shaped pieces.
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Our tradition has been to top with a decorative silver ball ( dragees ). These are for decoration and not to be consumed.
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For engagements, our tradition has been to make a “mano” (hand) fashioned out of masapan, with silver dragees across the ring finger.  This is fashioned on a tray, surrounded by cut pieces of masapan, jordan almonds and often, a gold leafed piece of ‘aruda’ ( the rue plant).

Masapan Mano

Like all our delicacies, masapan takes a bit of practice.  And the results are divine!  Enjoy for your special celebrations…and for a special Passover treat!
Bendichas manos!

Ah…….Rhodes!!!!!

I have been devouring the new book I just received, Stella’s Sephardic Table, Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean Island of Rhodes. This is a beautiful coffee table book compiled by Stella Cohen, an artist, cookbook author and proud Sephardic Jew, born and raised in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia ( today known as Harare, Zimbabwe). The book is filled with treasured Rhodesli recipes, wonderful photographs, a history of Rhodes, special holiday recipes, traditions, folk remedies, beliefs and blessings and so much more! A treasure trove for anyone who traces their family background to the glorious Juderia of Rhodes as well as those who love traditional Sephardic cuisine.

Reading the recipes, the stories, the Ladino sayings……Stella’s tale of visiting her grandchildren who, after kisses and hugs ask, “Nonna, where are the reshikas?”…things we, as Rhodeslis, can relate to! Imagine! Stella grew up in Africa, a world away from me….and her family table, recollection of family holidays and stories passed down from grandparents of the glorious Island of Rhodes….almost identical! What a joy to see these recipes, stories and reflections in print! It validates our experiences, gives voice to our traditions and helps keep our traditions alive and thriving, for our children and generations to come!

This is a ‘must have’ addition for your library! You can order it today by visiting Amazon. (order several copies…you’ll want to share them with your family and friends!! A wonderful gift!!!)

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Our son David, sent us an article that was printed in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz entitled, “Racing to save the Ladino legacy of Sephardi Jews”. The article told of an effort by a U.S. academic, Dr. Devin Naar, an assistant professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle who is attempting to collect, preserve and digitize the rich Ladino heritage of Sephardic Jews. David has had the opportunity to study with Professor Naar at UW.

The Professor notes that while Yiddish books have been collected and digitized for sometime, Ladino literature has had no such effort, and no organized depository. He is working to do just that as part of the Sephardic Studies initiative of the University of Washington’s Stroum Jewish Studies program. Our friends at eSefarad.com have reprinted his article, as well. Take a look. If you have books, leaflets or any Ladino writing you might wish to share, message us. We will be happy to pass your information along to Dr. Naar. Perhaps YOU can help to keep the beautiful Ladino language alive !

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We wish to share a bold and valuable commentary from Rabbi Daniel Bouskila speaking to the classic Sephardic worldview of modernity, inclusion and tolerance. If you have not yet had a chance to read it, please do by clicking here. And for a weekly spark of inspiration and learning, sign up to receive his weekly Torah Thoughts from the Sephardic Educational Center by clicking here.

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Finally, July 23 is a dark day in the Rhodesli world, recalling the day when the deportation of the Jews from Rhodes took place. There were about 1600 souls taken from Rhodes and the nearby Island of Kos and shipped, in the worst of conditions to the hell that was Auschwitz. Many died en route. About 1200 were gassed almost immediately upon arrival. Countless others died from starvation, exposure, torture and unspeakable inhumanity at the hands of the Nazis. Only 151 survived.

On July 23, take a moment to recall those of Rhodes whose lives were cut short by the brutality of the horrific Nazi regime.
Consider adding a book on the subject to your family or community library so the martyred souls of Rhodes will forever be remembered.
Consider one of the following:
The Juderia: A Holocaust Survivor’s Tribute to the Jewish Community of Rhodes by Laura Varon
Rhodes and the Holocaust: The Story of the Jewish Community from the Mediterranean Island of Rhodes by Isaac Benatar
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Ah, Rhodes!!!

~Bendichas Manos

Rhodes and the Holocaust

Tonight we commemorate Yom HaShoah, the day we recall the unspeakable horror of the calculated and diabolical program by Hitler and his regime to destroy, through the most inhumane means, European Jewry.

When we hear of the Holocaust we hear primarily about the deaths of Eastern Europe’s Jews in areas such as Germany, Poland, Hungary and Austria. However, the Sephardic world, particularly the communities of the Mediterranean basin, Turkey and Greece, were decimated, as well.

I want to mention here the community of Rhodes, one of the Dodecanese Islands off the coast of Turkey.

Rhodes, which had had a Jewish presence for at least 2,000 years, became home to a great influx of Jews in the years after 1492 when they were expelled from Spain by order of the Inquisition and welcomed into the lands of the Sultan, Sulieman the Magnificent, throughout the Ottoman Empire. Living cloistered behind the walls of the fortress city, their neighborhood, known as “La Juderia”, became a thriving community complete with schools, synagogues, businesses and even a Rabbinical school.

The early 1900’s saw the beginnings of an emigration from Rhodes by several young Jews to the “New World” in pursuit of new opportunities. By the year 1918, the Jewish community there numbered about 4,000 souls. Italy took possession of the Island in 1911. The mid-1930’s saw the Fascists take control of Rhodes. In 1943 the Italians surrendered to the Allies and in August of that year, the Germans occupied the Island. The end of Rhodesli Jewry was in sight.

In August of 1944, there were still 1,767 Jews living in “La Juderia”. After their deportation and brutality at the hands of the Nazis, only 151 survived.

Three events in February and March of this year brought the plight of Jewish community of Rhodes to the forefront. It is those events I want to share with you now.

In February 2012, we had the opportunity to visit Cape Town, South Africa. While there we visited the Sephardic synagogue in the beautiful Sea Point neighborhood. The synagogue follows the traditions of the Jews of the Island of Rhodes, most of her members and their families having originally come from the Island. Many had emigrated from Rhodes to the Congo, to Rhodesia, then Cape Town. The synagogue sports an incredibly interesting and informative pictorial mural in her foyer telling the story of the community. When in South Africa, do make an effort to visit.

As we talked with our hosts Mrs. Lucie Soriano and Rabbi Ruben Suiza, they told us to be sure and visit the Holocaust exhibit located in the South African Jewish Museum.

The Cape Town Holocaust Center has, as part of its permanent exhibit, an area solely devoted to the Jewish Community of Rhodes. I urge you to visit the site and to visit the Exhibit when you are in South Africa. The Sephardic community of Cape Town worked long and hard to ensure this story was told and will be there for generations to come.

A few weeks later, on March 1, 2012, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal featured an article about Sara Hanan Gilmore, a Los Angeles resident born on the Island of Rhodes who survived the horrors of Auschwitz. Her story is one that should be read.

Finally, the Sephardic Educational Center highlighted a newly released book by Isaac Benatar entitled “Rhodes and the Holocaust”. With thanks to Rae Cohen for giving me a copy, I just finished reading the 112 page book. It is compelling, tragic, horrific and hopeful. Benatar’s book and another by Laura Varon, “The Juderia: A Holocaust Survivor’s Tribute to the Jewish Community of Rhodes,” are well worth reading. Add them to your library and share them with your children, family and friends.

As always, I invite you to visit the website of the Rhodes Jewish Museum to know more about Rhodes then and now. Thanks to Aron Hasson for keeping the Museum and the website active and vital for us and for all the world to view and visit.

The Holocaust, stands as a testament to man’s inhumanity to man. It is a tale of the most barbaric depravity. We, as Jews, vow “Never Again”. Never again will we allow ourselves to be slaughtered. Never again will we allow ourselves to be people without a home, without power, without a haven and without a voice. May we always stand by Israel and keep her safe and strong.

As we recall tonight the souls of those who were savagely murdered, tortured and abused beyond belief, may our hearts and memory remind us always…..never again will the world stand silent as ANY MAN suffers the blows of hatred, cruelty and genocide. WE will not stand idly by.

May all their memories be recalled with love and may their memories be forever a blessing.