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Purim is right around the corner!  Amongst the traditions of the holiday is the exchanging of gifts of food with one another. Many communities exchange ‘misloach manot’ (Hebrew: sending of portions).  In our Ladino community, I’ve always heard it referred to as Platikos di Purim (Purim plates).   As part of the Platikos, my mother usually makes biscochos, boulicunio, baklava.  I am reprinting a few of her recipes in this post, below.  Here is a piece we published a few years back with the recipe for ‘foulares’, representing ‘Haman in Jail’, a favorite with our children.  This includes a recipe from my dear friend, cookbook author and blogger, Linda Capeluto Sendowski (check our her new cookbook here).  In addition, I have included two articles in this post.  One is from one of my favorites, Ty Alhadeff, Sephardic Studies Research Coordinator at the Storm Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington.  It is entitled “Sephardic Purim Customs from the Old World to the Pacific Northwest”. The second is an article from Ynet by Matilda Koen-Sarano with her recollections of Purim. I hope you’ll enjoy them both of them.

In the month of Adar, our joy is increased. In commemoration of Haman’s evil decree to annihilate the Jewish people in ancient Persia and the miracle of the turnaround from fear to triumph as Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, found favor with the King and the Jewish people were spared and Haman, instead, was hanged, we rejoice, we remember, we celebrate and we stand strong;

May we continue to celebrate in joy; may we share memories and stories of the holidays past with our children and grandchildren;  may we create new memories with them, as we celebrate today.  May ‘evil decrees’ be lifted and light and right triumph over darkness.  May we savor the treats we bake and share, and may our hands always be blessed.

Purim Alegria!

~Bandichos Manos

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Biscochos de Huevo – Kaye Hasson Israel

Biscochos are often called tea biscuits. We think of them as a “biscotti”, a crunchy treat! Biscochos are a bit sweet and are wonderful with your morning coffee (could be afternoon or evening coffee or tea or even milk, for that matter!!)

Ingredients for My Mom’s Biscochos

1 C eggs

1 C sugar

3/4 C oil

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla flavoring

5 – 7 C flour

Topping:

1 egg + 1 drop of water, beaten well

sesame seeds

(alternative to sesame seeds: cinnamon and sugar or “sprinkles”)

These are my mom’s directions:

With electric mixer, beat eggs and oil in a mixing bowl. Add sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended. Add flour and baking powder gradually, knead into a medium dough until no longer sticky.

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Place onto floured work area and finish kneading dough with additional flour as needed. Dough should not be sticky as long as you can handle it without it sticking to your hands.

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Take walnut-sized pieces and roll down on table with palms of hands into a rope 5 inches long and only 1/2 inch thick.

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Press down with fingers to create channel;

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Fold rope over and cut slits into the edge.

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Join into a bracelet shape. Brush egg on top side.

Dip top side into chosen topping ( sesame, cinnamon sugar or sprinkles):

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Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from pan. Allow to cool.

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Now…time to sit down with a cup of coffee and a biscotto and relax!

Baklava – Kaye Hasson Israel

Baklava is a sweet pastry made of layers of Filo dough filled with chopped nuts and bathed in a sweet syrup. It is labeled as a Turkish, Greek or any of a variety of Middle Eastern delicacy. Our families made it on the Island of Rhodes, so we claim it as our own.

There are many variation in making Baklava. Different communities feature different nut mixtures and dIfferent configurations when baking. My mom makes a rolled variety. Here is her recipe:

Kaye Hasson Israel makes Baklava

ingredients:

1 Lb prepared FIlo Dough
5 Cups almonds, ground (or other nuts of your choosing)
1 C Sugar
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 C oil in a small bowl.
1/2 C Tasted Sesame Seeds (optional)

Prepare a mixture using ground nuts, sugar, cinnamon and gloves. Set aside.

Open package of Filo. Keep moist and usable by placing a moist cloth over the waxed paper covered batch of Filo that you are not currently using ( otherwise, Filo has a tendency to dry out).

Place one layer of Filo on your work surface. Brush with oil. Place a second layer of Filo directly on top. Brush second layer with oil.

Kaye Israel making Baklava

Sprinkle nut mixture in a thin, even layer on brushed Filo. Top with one additional sheet of Filo. Brush with oil.

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Begin to roll Filo tightly. Slice rolled Filo log at a diagonal. Cut approximately 1 inch in length. Place cut pieces on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes (Since ovens vary, watch as it bakes…when it begins to take on color, you can remove from the oven)

Allow to cool.

In the meantime, prepare syrup.

Syrup ingredients:

1 1/2 C Honey
1 1/2 C Sugar
1 C Water

Combine all ingredients. Boil on stove. Cook until it becomes “sticky” (if you have a cooled bit between your fingers, it should form “strings”)

When syrup is ready, pour over tray of baked Baklava. Allow syrup to soak in.

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For serving, “soaked” piece of Baklava can be placed in size-to-fit paper Bake Cups (often called Cupcake liners) and placed on a serving platter.

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Divine!!!!!

We look forward to your comments. Join the conversation as part of our Facebook Group, Bendichas Manos!

~Bendichas Manos

 

UCLadino 2016

A very worthwhile two day symposium will be held in Los Angeles this next week, Wednesday March 2 and Thursday, March 3, 2016 at UCLA.  Sign up….come for both days, come for one day, come for part of a day.  But DO respond and let them know you’ll be there so they set up appropriately.

In its fifth consecutive year, UCLadino is a symposium for the exchange of knowledge, innovative research and cultural traditions of the Ladino, Judeo-Spanish Jewish language and traditions.

There are a wealth of programs this year that I am so looking forward to!  First I must mention that two of the greatest luminaries in Ladino study will be part of the same symposium.

Dr Kirschen recently received his PhD from UCLA. While studying there he co-founded and became director of UCLadino. We were fortunate to have him teach classes to the community on the Ladino language and culture at the Skirball Cultural Center in LA. He is already a star in the field of Ladino and Sephardic studies.   A treat to have him back in Los Angeles for a few days.

Professor Devin E. Naar received his PhD from Stanford University.  How fortunate that he found a home at the University of Washington, fast becoming, in my opinion, THE Center for Ladino and Sephardic Studies in the US.  Dr. Naar was just named the Isaac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies at UW ( which always puts a sweet smile in my heart of remembrance and respect for Ike).  He is the driving force behind the ‘Sephardic Treasures Project‘ housed at UW, a sought after speaker on Sephardic and Ladino studies and a visionary. His biography is stellar, his trajectory as a leader to keep the Sephardic and Ladino traditions academically researched, recorded, alive and relevant is explosive!

There are a myriad of additional speakers and programs.  One that caught my eyes – Thursday morning Molly Fitzmorris from the University of Washington.  Her topic, “The o’s and u’s: Vowel Raising in Seattle Ladino’s Rhodesli Dialect.”  Something I’ve always noticed and been aware of – fascinated to realized it is a topic relevant of academic inquiry!

Read through the program.  So very much to take the opportunity to hear and explore.  Consider attending.  See the links attached.

I hope we see you there!

program for UCLadino 2016

 

This is an insightful article on the current state of the Sephardic world and the Jewish community in general.  I urge you to read it and join in the discussion.  Written with thoughtful consideration for our past and future by our own “Pashiko”, Neil Sheff.  Comments welcome here or join us on Facebook at: Bendichas Manos!

 

Did you hear the one about a Sephardic boy who walks in to this Orthodox yeshiva….

As we prepare for the New Year, we wish you all an anyada buena i dulce!  Wishes for a good and sweet year.  May we all merit many more healthy and blessed years ahead.  Tizku Leshanim Rabot.

Enjoy time with your families and friends.   Make memories!

We are happy to share with you our family tradition for the New Year.  Thank you to B’chol Lashon for posting it.

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it, and explore the world of B’chol Lashon.

‘Lavar la Cara’….a New Year Tradition

Keep us posted on your holiday celebrations, traditions and menus.

May your hands always be blessed.

-Bendichas  Manos

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

A perfect dessert to make for Passover.

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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.

Give them a try! And let us know how they turn out!!

Kaye (Hasson) Israel’s Ashuplados

Ingredients:

1 ¾ Cup sugar

6 eggs – (you will use the whites ONLY)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Separate eggs. Use whites ONLY. Place in a COMPLETELY dry mixing bowl. (moisture will adversely affect the creating of the meringue).

Using an electric stand mixer, begin mixing the egg whites and gradually add the sugar. Continuing beating on high for approximately 20 minutes. Mixing will be done when the mixture stands in very stiff peaks.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. ( there was a time when brown paper bags were cut and used to line these pans to ensure a very dry surface. However, parchment seems a more sanitary alternative available these days!!)

Spoon mounds of the meringue onto the lined cookie sheets. Ashuplados can be made as large or small as you wish. My mom used heaping tablespoons to create these clouds.

We sprinkle nonpareils on top for a festive look.

Before putting them in the oven, TURN HEAT DOWN to 225 degrees. Bake for one hour.

Ashuplados can be made one day before serving. They are best enjoyed for a day or two after preparation. By the third or fourth day they become dry and are not as good as when first prepared.  (* however, we have learned over the past few years that ashuplados freeze beautifully!  Package delicately and freeze within the first day they are made).

Yield: approximately 48 ashupladosIMG_8560

A special note:  Check out “The Boreka Diary” by Linda Capeloto Sendowski for some great ideas and recipes for Pesah. Linda is a excellent and creative cook, and her blogs are filled with ideas to enhance any holiday table!

While beginning to prepare for our family seder, I am listening to some of my favorite Ladino music. I think it connects me to the generations and touches my ethnic soul! Amongst my favorites is an album of Pesah songs in the Ladino tradition by Yehoram Gaon. You can download it on iTunes. (Go to iTunes; click on search box in upper right section of page ‘search store’; type in ‘Yehoram Gaon’ and look for the album ‘Shirim Lepesach’).

Included in the album are two from our family ‘hit parade’……’un kavritico’ (an only kid) and ‘quien su piense’ (echad mi yodea – who knows one)

To help us get into the mood, I urge you to download the album (soul music, I promise!) and sing along to the words below.

Recipes coming soon to enhance your Pesah table. Please share any of your favorites with us!

Wishes for a Pesah allegre….and in the kitchen, may your hands always be blessed!

~’Bendichas Manos’

Posting the lyrics for two Seder favorites. Enjoy!!

AN ONLY KID – LADINO VERSION: UN KAVRETIKO

Un kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.
HAD GADYA, HAD GADYA!

Y vino el gato, y komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre, por dos levanim, por dos levanim.
HAD GADYA, HAD GADYA!

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

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

Y vino la agua, y 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.
HAD GADYA, HAD GADYA!

Y vino el 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.
HAD GADYA, HAD 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.
HAD GADYA, HAD 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 aharvo al perro, ke modrio al gato, ke komio al kavretiko ke lo merko mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.
HAD GADYA, HAD GADYA!

Y vino el Santo Bendicho, y degoyo al Malach Hamavet, ke degoyo al shochet, ke 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.
HAD GADYA, HAD GADYA!

WHO KNOWS ONE? LADINO VERSION: KIEN SU PIENSE

Kien su piense y entendiense alavar al Dio kriense, Kualo es el uno?
UNO es el Kriador, baruch Hu uvaruch shemo!

Kien su piense y entendiense alavar al 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 alavar al Dio kriense, Kualo son los sesh?
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 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 alavar al Dio kriense, Kualo son los ocho?
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 nueve?
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 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 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 treje?
TREJE son los Ikarim, 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 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!

A Rosh Hashana Seder

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 Hashanah Seder. It is a short service we conduct around our tables with the Rosh Hashanah evening meal, with some families doing it on both nights. Including the traditional blessings done at the holiday meal table (Kiddush, 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 Hashanah 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.

Finally, 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. Check it 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 ( Used the seeds in your cooking, in a salad, or see Debby Segura’srecipe for making a Granita)

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!

My friend, Debby Segura, combines all the symbolic foods into a beautiful and tenderly delicious salad which she serves as an early course. Her recipe for a “New Year Simanim Salad” is posted here. I have served it many times….it is enjoyed by all, and the symbolism makes it ever more special!

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.

(Selichot in the tradition of the Jews of Rhodes)

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….a good, and meaningful New Year to all; Tizku Leshanim Rabot…May we all merit many years;!

~Marcia Israel Weingarten
Bendichas Manos

*reposted with slight changes from September 2014