Two Iranian truck drivers sat idly in the parking area of the Poti Free Industrial Zone (FIZ), waiting for customs authorities to clear their cargo and for FIZ personnel to prepare new papers. Within hours, they’d be chugging along Georgian roads on their way to Iran. Three more Turkish trucks awaited just outside the FIZ entrance, while a dozen containers lay between the customs office and the FIZ’s only warehouse.
A friendly manager of RAKIA Georgia, the FIZ’s owner, welcomed me on a warm late October afternoon after a seven-hour drive from Georgia’s charming capital Tbilisi. My hostess solicitously whisked me to a conference room, fetched me a strong Georgian coffee, pointed to the restrooms, and promised she would join me in a few minutes. Left alone, I looked around. Strewn over the large mahogany table was informational material left from a previous meeting. Alongside some glossy promotional brochures was a thick A4 document, a summary of the Free Zone’s investment strategies from 2010 to 2013.
One 5-pound chicken
Put the chicken in a large pot and pour water over top to almost cover, about 8 to 9 cups. Add the quartered onion, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the black pepper, and turmeric, then bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer, then cook the chicken until done, about 40 minutes.
In the vast Persian community of Los Angeles, Farrokh Maddahi is known as the “champion” of fessenjan, a traditional chicken-and-walnut stew. Likely named for an old Persian town called Fisinjan (according to historian and author Nawal Nasrallah), the dish—a delightful combination of sweet, savory, and tart, blending pomegranates, onions, and turmeric—is one of the glories of the old Silk Road. Today it is often served at weddings or special occasions, always over basmati rice.
Maddahi comes from Tehran and traces her roots to the Jews who were exiled to Babylon after the destruction of the First Temple. After settling in Babylon, many of these Jews set off for the Persian Empire, following the trade roads and encountering the key ingredients in fessenjan. Walnuts are the basis for the sauce, adding a little crunch; the Jewish version adds apricots and dates to sweeten it up and balance the tartness of the pomegranate molasses. (Maddahi’s recipe is here.)
Leonard Nimoy’s son Adam Nimoy has surpassed the goal of raising $600,000 in funds through a Kickstarter campaign to complete a documentary about his father titled “For the Love of Spock.”
Nobody puts Kutsher’s in a corner. After closing in 2013, the former Borscht Belt hotel — famed as the inspiration for the fictional “Dirty Dancing” resort — is to be reincarnated as a $250-million yoga center.
“I’m here until I have a deal in my hands,” Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif just said here in Vienna. “I think we can do it.”
What Zarif is really saying is that during his one-day trip to Tehran, he got a green light from supreme leader Ali Khamenei to make a deal. Now it’s only a matter of getting the American side to show a liiiittttttle more flexibility.
Oh hey, here’s an uplifting video to brighten your day. This is the story of Matthew Jurgens’s bar mitzvah.
In the early 80’s, shortly after Jurgens was born, his mother was diagnosed with leukemia. She received treatment at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, NY on Long Island. “I have one fuzzy memory of my mother which involves me playing a card game with her when she was in the hospital,” wrote Jurgens, now 31.
The young Israeli man critically injured in a drive-by shooting by Palestinians in the West Bank has died.
Michael Oren says in his new book that he felt ‘kicked in the chest’ when President Obama omitted Israel from a list of countries helping Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. That’s odd — since the first Israeli rescuers hadn’t even arrived yet.
A joint Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem was attacked for the second time in eight months.
I live in Israel with my four kids. School lets out at 2 p.m., daycare goes until 4 p.m., and my workday ends between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Now that I am going through a divorce, and we are creating two separate households, my finances and time management skills are being sorely tested—and so is my patience.
Recently, in a popular Internet forum for Jewish mothers, debates have erupted over the costs and necessity of Jewish day school, as well as sleepaway camp for children on summer break. Some parents have voiced displeasure about being asked to cover the rising costs of sending their kids to day school, which would enable children from lesser privileged households to attend via financial aid grants. In related instance, a mother, who was in need of financial support, complained when the financial aid committee from her from child’s Jewish day school treated her desire to send her kids to Jewish sleepaway camp as a frivolous expenditure. To her, this felt like a double standard because she felt it was mandatory to keep her kids in a completely religious environment during the entire year.
Iran and six world powers gave themselves an extra week to reach a final nuclear accord after it became clear they would miss a deadline on Tuesday, with U.S. and Iranian officials sounding upbeat even though obstacles remain.
The French telecommunications giant Orange has signed an agreement with its Israeli affiliate that will allow the termination of their brand license agreement within two years.
Police are investigating a graffiti attack on an outdoor exhibit about local Jewish history in front of the Jewish museum and community center on Jakobsplatz in central Munich.
Rabbis from Israel and Ukraine opened an office in eastern Ukraine to help prospective immigrants to Israel prove they are Jewish.
An Israeli man was in critical condition and three others injured in Palestinian drive-by shooting in the West Bank.
What did it mean for a Talmudic-era Jew to take a vow to God? This is not the kind of question the Talmud ever asks explicitly: When the rabbis discuss vowing, in Tractate Nedarim, they are concerned with practical details rather than psychological motivations. Still, in the course of learning about these practicalities—what words can be used in a vow, how vows are made and dissolved—it’s possible to glimpse the role that vows played in ordinary Jewish life. Vows, as we have seen for the last several weeks of Daf Yomi reading, are treated very skeptically by the rabbis. They do not encourage Jews to take vows or oaths to God; on the contrary, the Talmud sees vowing as regrettable, impulsive behavior, usually motivated by anger or spite. But precisely this disapproval suggests that, in vowing, we are looking at a spontaneous kind of folk practice—the way Jews actually behaved in ancient Palestine and Babylon, rather than the way they were told to behave. This gap between religious expectation and lived reality is one of the themes that interests me most in reading the Talmud, perhaps because American Judaism today is so defined by it.
Since the founding of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), and some years later, Yeshivat Maharat (YM), I and others have been asked whether we are creating a new movement within Orthodoxy. Movements are generally not announced; they evolve. They are not proclaimed; they emerge, sometimes gradually, other times, swiftly. Their growth is usually painstaking, surfacing here and there. While they meet opposition, if they are strong and viable, they coalesce to become a powerful voice. It’s only years later that one can assess whether a movement has taken root.
But of one matter I am certain: Since the early ’90s, Orthodoxy has undergone a number of great shifts. Responding to a precipitous move to the right within Modern Orthodoxy, a plethora of institutions and organizations have emerged. These include the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), Edah, YCT and YM, the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, and the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF). In Israel, too, Beit Morasha, Beit Hillel, Ne’emanei Torah Ve’Avodah and others were founded and today women are being ordained (receiving semikha) from Yeshivat Maharat as well as Yeshivat Har’el.
I confess. I was a teenage folkie—or at least I passed for one. I wore blue chambray work shirts and a red-and-black checkered lumber jacket to school. I took the E train to West 4th Street, milled around the fountain in Washington Square, smoked unfiltered cigarettes and drank coffee at Reggio, had my heart broken by long-haired girls who wore Fred Braun sandals.
The first LP I bought was the Folkways record Lead Belly’s Last Sessions Part 4. True, I never learned to play the harmonica, let alone the guitar. My only instrument was the jug, which I played in a band that had several gigs in the baby-boom heartland of central Queens. I forget what we called ourselves but remember our greatest accomplishment was adding a song by the Coasters to the canon established by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and Dave Van Ronk and the Ragtime Jug Stompers (an ensemble whose lone LP was another early purchase).