Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew


tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

How To Avoid Dying (and other mishegas)

First, cross-posted from Jewschool is a short piece on the power of prayer:

“A study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that regular attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20%. The findings, published in Psychology and Health, were based on data drawn from participants who spanned numerous religious denominations.

“To evaluate the impact of religiosity on mortality and morbidity, the investigators looked at variables including self-report of religious affiliation, frequency of religious service attendance, and religious strength as well as comfort, in relation to coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. It is important to note that the study did not attempt to measure spirituality; rather, it examined self-report religiosity measures (irrespective of the participant’s religion).

“Those attending religious services at least once per week showed a 20% mortality risk reduction mark compared with those not attending services at all. These findings corroborate prior studies that have shown up to a 25% reduction in such risk.” [Read more.]

I would like to thank the various independent minyanim that I attend on a regular basis for existing as, it seems, they’re to thank for my recent “got off easy” car accident. (What? I’m not properly understanding the conclusions?)

And for some more random fun, highlights from the RSS reader. (I’ve had a lot of time to catch up on the blogs these past couple days…)


Filed under: america, health, homophobia, judaism, politics, queers, random, recipes, wtf?

Crash: update

Following up:

Thanks for all of the emails. It really means a lot to me.

Monday morningI’m still resting at home. While the swelling has gone down on my head (I no longer have a big bump where a uni-brow would be), and around my eye (it’s now a lovely purple, and the swelling is only barely impeding my vision now), the rest of my body has taken over. My neck, shoulders, right arm, and right leg are amazing sore. It was hurting me to readjust my position on the couch last night, so today I’ve tried to stay still in bed. I’m a little bored; movie watching is good, reading gives me a headache, Scrabble on Facebook rocks (feel free to challenge me to a game). And I’m possibly feverish, as my body has been fluctuating between cold with shivers and hot with sweats. But I still feel quite thankful that this is as bad as it is; for a car accident, I got off easy.Monday evening

On the other end of the story, I can update you too: I went to the precinct yesterday and gave a statement. The driver of the other taxi was arrested, and I should know in a day or two what’s happening with the charges. But from what the police said, he’s “given himself serious problems” by not only causing the accident, but leaving the scene, and leaving the scene with a passenger in his cab.

Next step? Once I’m able to walk around again, I need to get new glasses since mine were ruined in the accident. And try to sleep…

Filed under: health, wtf?


Sunday, around noon, I was in a car accident. Sitting in the back of a cab, on my way to work, another cab ran a red light, hit my cab (impact was on the driver’s side back door), spun my cab around. I’m missing a moment from memory – either I’ve blocked it out, or I blacked out – but I opened my eyes to see a pedestrian on her cell phone approaching the cab, asking if I was ok; sitting up and realising that my head was pounding. Barukh HaShem, I am ok. A trip to the emergency room by ambulance and my CAT scan was clear, good. When my head slammed into, I’m guessing, the partition in the cab, my glasses dug into my nose, eye; my face is swollen and bruised, but I’m ok. It could have been a lot worse. The driver of my cab was also ok, though shaken up. The other cab? Didn’t stop – hit and run. While at the hospital still, a detective came by to tell me that the other driver had turned himself in at the precinct after a couple hours. Turns out he had had a passenger in his cab, and still didn’t stop! I can’t imagine how horrible that must have been for the passenger; I would have freaked out if I was them, the driver hadn’t stopped. They could have been hurt too.

Despite pain killers, I’m in pain. I only slept for about three hours. It’s 4am, I’ve been awake for an hour already.

I’m extremely fortunate that the accident wasn’t worse. And that I have an amazing friend who came to the site, came with me in the ambulance, and took me home from the hospital to her home. Thank you.

Filed under: friends, health, wtf?

Jerusalem, it is.

So I’m staying in Jerusalem [link to Google Earth file that shows my location], most likely through the end of August. I have ordered a cell phone, which should be here by week’s end; if you feel you’re someone who should have that phone number, email me or leave a comment. Once the phone arrives, it’ll be much easier to coordinate apartment hunting in Haifa. Also, I need to find out exactly which neighbourhood I want to live in there, before I commit to taking a place. Thus far, I only know which neighbourhoods would be convenient as far as being able to take one bus to U-Haifa for ulpan, or to work. Being in walking distance of the beach would be great too, though…

And I’m already starting to think about 2008, back in Jerusalem to study Torah and Talmud. I’m debating between different schools/yeshivas, all of which have pros and cons, not the least of which is that no two schools follow the same academic calendar, which means the Spring Semester can start any time from early January through late February. Oy.

In other news, I have been sick every day that I have been here. Thursday doesn’t really count, as technically I was sick over the Atlantic and western/central Europe. I was fine by Thursday night, then sick again Friday evening and every day since. I’m not sure what’s to blame, though I suspect it’s a combination of the heat and the water (I don’t care what you say, there is a salty taste to the tap water, with a distinct chlorine-y aftertaste). It hasn’t really been slowing me down, though it is annoying. That said, I’m determined to adapt to the heat and water, since it’s still summer and I have to drink the stuff for the next year.

The Hebrewing continues. I had a minor set back – my iPod decided to play dead, so I couldn’t listen to Hebrew lessons on my walk to Ben Yehuda – but that’s been fixed, and I just tried to learn words through usage today (and by pestering EKO as she did her homework and we walked through the city).

Not the most exciting of posts, but an update nonetheless.

Today’s words: מַדְהִים (amazing) and שַׁמְפִּינְיוֹן (champignon [French for mushrooms]).

Filed under: health, hebrew, israel, random, school, travels

The first leg…

The journey has begun. I’m sitting the the Zurich airport, waiting for my second flight to take me to Tel Aviv.

Leaving Montreal was surprisingly easy, which I think reflects the fact that Montreal was never really “home.” When I left Vancouver in June 2004, I had the last few weeks planned out with people I had to see, places I had to go, things I had to do. There were very emotional hugs goodbye, amazing going away presents from friends filled with inside jokes (unabridged edition, anyone?), toasts and cheers, and even some tears. Leaving Montreal, I had time to spare, days that I spent chilling and reading and being somewhat of a longer, as I didn’t really have more people to see. I had expected the days between the ‘tute and leaving to be filled with last minute running around, so I left them largely unplanned. No running around happened. While there are people that I will miss, there wasn’t any urgency to go to any place, cafe, park, one last time. Montreal served its purpose for me, and now I’ve moved on…

The flight from YUL to ZRH was uneventful, and largely pleasant, with one exception: those of us who ordered the kosher meals got sick. Seriously. It’s but a small miracle that the nausea didn’t win the battle as we were landing. And then hearing the MOOOs of electronic cows on the tram from one terminal to the other didn’t help the nausea accompanied headache. Do the Swiss really think tourists come here to see cows?!

And now I’m sitting, and waiting, wishing I hadn’t packed my tefillin and siddur in my checked suitcase, as there is a minyan of about 25-30 men davening shacharit in the lounge for the empty gate across the hall. I hear the occasional mumbled word drifting over… On this side of the hall, near my gate, there are a few women davening solo, tucked away in behind pillars, mostly out of sight. There’s also a really cute Israeli kid, maybe 2 years old, standing next to me pointing out the BIG PLANES as they land and taxi around. I’m just excited that I can understand some of what he’s saying…. Oh! And someone just blew the shofar (it’s Elul)! In the airport! In Zurich! Amaaaaazing!!

I’d like to give a big shout out to BZ, ER, Ruby-K, General Anna, Shamir Power and others I’m probably already forgetting (I blame the food poisoning) for helping me find somewhere to stay at the very last minute. You guys are amazing, I love you all, and I can’t wait to see you (some sooner than others!).

Filed under: friends, health, israel, judaism, random, sleep/insomnia, travels

On the Homestead

So maybe it’s the warm weather, maybe it’s the lack of feline friend, or maybe it’s my body’s lack of timezone compliance. Whatever the reason, I’ve been super busy in the apartment.

I’ve finally donated away all of the clothing that no longer fits me. I had been holding onto it, to wear once I’ve lost weight. But I’ve decided that I’ll deserve a shopping trip as reward for taking that weight off. And then, once I’d cleaned out the closets and shelves, I moved onto the rest of my pad.

Sadly, this included cleaning up the litter box, toys, and food bowls. (If anyone wants/needs bowls for their pets (plastic or ceramic), please let me know. Likewise, I have a somewhat used snail-shaped scratching post and random cat and dog toys. Let me know if you can use any of them, otherwise they’ll be donated to the SPCA later this week.)

I talked on the phone with my parents today, and they put me on speaker phone so that I could talk with Moishe Pumpkin. I made his “call” (a specific whistle, followed by a clicking noise) – when I make that call, he comes to my side, or will follow me around. So in Seattle, I would make that call and he would follow me downstairs, or would hop onto the bed to sleep next to me. Anyway, I made the call over the phone, and he started looking around for me. Deb held the phone down and I called Moishe Pumpkin again; Deb reported that he came up to the phone, nudged it then started licking it. Aww… I miss the li’l bugger. (Oh, and he’s totally better and healthy again. He’s roaming around the house, stalking Thomas and Pumpkin, playing with Thomas and Pumpkin, eating, and being a cute brat again. The vet will still run tests on his stool to see what caused the obstruction in the first place, but for the meantime, he’s better.)

Finally, for those of you who aren’t in Montreal, aren’t experiencing the weirdness first hand somewhere on the east coast, you’re missing out on some oddly mild winter weather. Today it was 12ºC! I went for a nice afternoon walk – wearing shorts! Shorts, in Montreal, in January? Madness!

Filed under: family, health, home, kitten, random, seasons, shaping up, sleep/insomnia

Moishe's Update

He’s at the vet’s, with a high fever. The puking and other sickness is due to an obstruction, which the vet thinks is in Moishe Pumpkin’s bowel. They’re trying laxatives, but if that fails he’ll need surgery tomorrow.

But that doesn’t explain the respiratory problems. They think he might also have a virus, so he’s being closely observed (as if obstruction + fever didn’t warrant enough observation) for the next 24 hours. He’s staying at the veterinary hospital until further notice.

ACK. My baby! I feel so helpless being away from him. I want to be cuddling him, tickling behind his ears, and promising him many frolics in the bathtub if he’s a good kitty and gets better ASAP. I’m really glad I didn’t fly with him today… Poor li’l guy!

Filed under: health, kitten, wtf?

Moishe Pumpkin

The update to last night’s post is that Moishe and Thomas, the alpha male, ended the trip by being playful and friendly. Pumpkin (my parent’s Pumpkin) and my Moishe Pumpkin also became friends when their Pumpkin taught my Pumpkin how to play her favourite hide-and-seek game.

So for a brief moment I thought I might leave Moishe Pumpkin there – he was settled, happy, and wouldn’t be subjected to the long flight back to Montreal and then another long flight back to Seattle in the spring. But I quickly shook that thought as I realised I’d miss him far too much.

Then, last night around 2am, he got sick. Throwing up (which he’s only once done before) was the least of his problems. Really, really sick. I stayed up with him all night, trying to soothe him (and clean up the carpet), but he just wasn’t happy. Around 5:30am, Deb did reiki on him to calm him for flying, and we decided he’d be good enough to fly. I didn’t give him his sedating medications though, as I didn’t want to risk making him any sicker.

Then, in the limo out to the airport, his breathing became laboured. Deb continued reiki on him (it was her company limo service, she was flying to California for business), but, though it calmed him, he wasn’t getting any better.

Deb decided to change her flight to tonight or tomorrow morning, dropped me at the airport, and turned around to go back home. She’s taking him to the veterinary hospital.

I’m really sad about this – I already miss the little brat. And I’m worried about him, but I know her vet is amazing, as I’ve seen how he’s treated Molly (their third cat). It’s going to be weird going back to a cat-free apartment :(

Filed under: health, kitten, travels

If you build it…

Despite being sick (my gastrointestinal system decided to deflect to another team), I cooked up a storm Thursday night. I didn’t taste anything as I went along, so I was a little weary come Friday’s dinner to serve to my guests. But, as 9 of us sat in my sukkah, I was complimented on the food. Dinner included a spinach salad with lemon vinaigrette, apricot couscous, carrot and apple kugel, and a butternut squash soup. There were also the two lovely challahs that one_in_progress brought, and dessert: my chocolate mousse pies, rugelleh, raisins, fresh dates, pomegranates, and booze. Aside from the kugel and challah, the meal was vegan. I tried to cook things that would reflect the harvest, fall vegetables, and be hearty enough to keep us warm while we ate outside.

It was Shabbat, so we don’t shake the lulav. Except that I grew up Reform which meant one day of holidays that are celebrated for 2 days in the Diaspora. load bearing chairPlus a mitzvah that’s joyous doesn’t negate the prohibition to work on Shabbat… Minus a wall, plus a cold, square the mean age of kittens trying to escape from the sukkah to freedom and…. A few people shook the lulav before leaving Friday night. I shook it on Saturday morning, after dovening in the sukkah, and eating brunch in there. And it’s a good thing too: This morning I woke to find one of the walls had blown down. (It seems that the load-bearing chair wasn’t heavy enough to resist the wind.)

So I dovened to the sound of flapping, whacking, banging tarps and wood this morning, then took that wall down completely.

Also, a tip: when a newly white coated doctor-to-be declares that she’s not contagious, only sip from the same kiddush cup as her if you want to have a cold by havdallah.

Some more sukkah photos are here.

All recipes are my own. If you use them, please give me some credit. Thanks!

Apple Carrot Kugel
2 lb bag of carrots, peeled and grated
6 empire apples, grated
1 sweet potato, greated
4 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 cup matzah meal (or flour)

Grease a 3L (13×9) baking pan. Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, combine the carrots, apples, and potato. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs; mix in the salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Add the egg mixture to the veggies, mix to make sure they’re coated well. Add the matzah meal/flour and mix well. Pour into the pan. Bake for ~50mins, until nicely browned on top, and there isn’t any liquid left inside.

Butternut Squash Soup
3 butternut squashes
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
enough veggie stock to cover (about 2 litres)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper

Prepare the squash by peeling, scooping out the seeds; cut into chunks, and arrange in a pan. Cook in the over for 1 hour, until softened, at 325F.

In a large pot, heat up oil. Add squash and onions. Cook until onions have softened. Add cinnamon, salt, pepper, and ginger; mix and cook another few minutes. Add stock. Bring to a boil then simmer, with the lid on, for a long time (I think I let mine go for 2 hours). Adjust seasoning as needed. with an immersion blender, purée the soup. (If you don’t have one, let the soup cool, then pour, in batches, into a blender. Remember: if it’s still warm, don’t put the lid on (steam needs to escape), instead hold a clean tea towel over the top to prevent the soup from escaping.)

You might want to add more stock when you’re done to get a thinner soup; I liked it really thick.

Chocolate Mousse Pie
Either buy chocolate wafer crumbs or graham cracker crumbs, or buy wafers and crush them yourself. Melt margarine. Combine with crumbs. Push moistened crumbs into a pie tin. Put in the fridge for the crust to harden/set.

Filling: Put a banana and a pack of silken tofu (or, dessert tofu) in a blender. Give it a whirl until it’s smooth. In a double boiler, melt some bitter-sweet chocolate. Add melted chocolate to the blender. Whirl. Add more chocolate if you find the taste of the tofu too noticeable. Pour the blender contents into the pie crust. Put back in the fridge for the mousse to set. Yum!

Optional: Put berries (I find raspberries are quite nice) into the mousse (don’t blend though!) or spread them out on top. Quite yummy.

Filed under: diy, friends, good eats, health, judaism, recipes, seasons


I’m still not back to any semblance of “normal” eating. However, my appetite, which has been AWOL since Monday, has returned. This means that I’m hungry, and wanting food, but my body isn’t cooperating with my wants. The result is that I’m thinking about food. A lot. And I realise that I haven’t shared any recipes in a while, though, this week aside, I have cooked some pretty tasty things.

4 Tomatoes
2 cups of strawberries
2 oranges
1 Avocado
1 Mango
1 sm. red onion
1 Jalapeno
2 Limes

Dice the tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, avocado, mango, and cilantro, and mix in a bowl.

Finely chop the onion and jalapeno and add to the bowl.

Zest two limes, add the zest to the bowl. Then squeeze the juice of the two limes into the bowl too. Mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Delicious fruit salsa!

Cold Carrot Soup
This is a really great soup for summer – it’s served cold (you’ll want to chill it in the fridge for several hours, so make it the night before), but it’s somewhat spicy, and the combination makes it really refreshing.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled, chopped (about 5 cups)
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
6 1/2 cups (or more) vegetable or chicken broth
8 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons grated lime peel

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots and leeks; sauté until leeks begin to soften but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add cumin and crushed red pepper; sauté 30 seconds longer. Add 6 1/2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until vegetables are very tender, about 35 minutes.

Working in batches if needed, purée soup in blender until smooth. Transfer soup to large bowl. Cool in the fridge.

Whisk in 6 tablespoons sour cream. Cover soup and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Stir lime juice into soup. Thin soup with more broth, if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. (Optional: spoon 1/2 tablespoon sour cream atop each serving.) Sprinkle with cilantro and lime peel.

*sigh* Now to eat some matzah and broth. Again.

Filed under: good eats, health, recipes, seasons