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Rebbitzin for a Weekend - Mo's Journal
March 5th, 2012
03:38 pm

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Rebbitzin for a Weekend
I spent Friday through Sunday in Ottawa, Ontario. As recounted elsewhere, my partner is a final year rabbinical student. She has a once-a-month gig as the spiritual leader of the Reconstructionist Congregation there. She usually flies up on Friday and back Sunday night, but this time we went together. We drove as far as Watertown on Thursday, stayed over and arrived in Ottawa on Friday.

It was a great weekend. Wonderful to see Amy in action professionally all weekend, and wonderful to see how the congregation adores her. I can’t believe how much she does in one weekend, though! They only have a rabbi one weekend a month, so she does everything then: meets with potential converts, pastoral counseling, teaching kids, teaching adults, leading services.

They only do Shabbat services and only a couple of times a month, so they did Purim combined with Shabbat this time. So on Friday Amy met with a conversion student, then we baked hamentaschen with the pre-bar mitzvah kids at the home of one of them; had shabbos dinner with them and their parents; Amy taught them a Talmud lesson and then most of them left and I finished the hamenstaschen baking (felt weird to do that on Friday night, not that I'm shomer shabbat) while the host parents and Amy talked rabbi stuff. We didn’t leave until 11:30 Friday night.

When she was prepping for this, Amy asked me, "Do you make hamentaschen?" I said, "Actually I make the best hamentaschen in the world." So she asked for the recipe for the weekend. Anyway, we made the hamentaschen and served them to congregants all weekend. Many of the congregants bit into them, stopped in their tracks, and said something along the lines of "ZOMG this is the best hamentasch I've ever had!" So Amy saw it was not an idle boast.

Then we had to be at the place they rent for services at 9:00 the next morning for set up. She did this wonderful Shabbat-cum-Purim service - funny and moving and musical and everyone just ate it up. It was followed by a kiddish luncheon where she mingled, touching base with them all. Then we had a couple of hours off, followed by dinner at someone else’s house and then an adult ed class. It was on the concept of Chosenness, and again we didn’t finish until 11:30 at night.

The next morning there was another adult ed class. This was the second of a three-part series on service leading. It was really well done and well received – a great mix of lecture and practice. That was supposed to be done at 11:30 but we didn’t manage to get out until about 12:30. We should have gotten home between 10 and 11 even with stopping for dinner and getting slightly lost, but there was a bad accident somewhere in the middle of PA and we were stopped for a long time. And then when we got to Brooklyn it took close to an hour to find parking. So I'm a bit of a zombie today, but I'm glad I went.

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:stirsmn
Date:March 5th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
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OK - we need a Hamantash off.
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From:mofic
Date:March 6th, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
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Bring it!
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From:taffimai
Date:March 6th, 2012 04:44 am (UTC)
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I volunteer to judge!
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From:knittingwoman
Date:March 6th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC)
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don't tell my mother but the hamentashen we got from her this year are not very good:( what makes yours so awesome? If you don't feel like sharing your "secret recipe":) can you share some tips??? thank you!!!
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From:mofic
Date:March 6th, 2012 03:28 am (UTC)
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I don't have a secret recipe and I'm happy to share. But I tend to cook by feel rather than recipe. The keys, I think, are:

- use butter. Many people make parve ones but they're much better with butter, preferably French butter.
- I put more vanilla and less sugar in mine than other recipes I've seen. The filling is sweet and I think if you put too much sugar in the batter you taste sugar, instead of the rich complexity of a good cookie dough made with French butter :-0.


This is what I put together for the Ottawa weekend, and I think it's pretty accurate:

1 pound butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 T plus 1 tsp vanilla
4.5-5 cups flour

Cream butter with eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix two cups flour with baking powder and salt. Combine and mix thoroughly, adding more flour until it's cookie dough consistency. Roll into logs and wrap in wax paper. Chill at least two hours. Roll thin and cut into circles with a wine glass. Fill with jam, chocolate chips or other fillings and fold into triangles. Bake in 350 degree oven on greased cookie sheets for about 10 minutes. Take out when they just start to brown, let stand for 2 minutes to coalesce, then remove with spatula to cool. Makes 5-6 dozen, depending on the size of the wine glass.

Notes: oven temperatures vary a lot. Do a small first pan, and if they spread too much (i.e. filling does not stay inside cookie) the oven is probably not hot enough. So either wait, if you didn't preheat long enough, or raise the temperature to 375 or so.
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From:davidfcooper
Date:March 6th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC)
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What filling(s) do you use? My favorite is Israeli date paste (sold in Sephardi grocery stores on Kings Highway between MacDonald Ave and Ocean Pkwy). Shoshana also uses Israeli chocolate spread, poppy seed filling, and mixed dried fruit pulverized in the food processor. As vegetarians we don't care about milchig/parve, but Shoshana does try to reduce saturated fat by using transfat-free margarine and uses turbinado sugar and whole wheat pastry flour (lighter in texture than regular whole wheat flour).

Glad you had good weekend. You'll make a great rebbitzen (if your relationship continues to blossom and leads to a chuppah)!
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From:mofic
Date:March 7th, 2012 12:28 pm (UTC)
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I'm much less creative on fillings than you are! With the kids in Ottawa, we did a couple of kinds of homemade jams, a chocolate sauce and a praline. The kid in the host family is a great cook, as is his father, and they made the fillings ahead of time. At home I typically use store bought jam (but a good kind - this year it's Sarabeth's) and chocolate chips. This year I did three kinds - raspberry/strawberry, apricot/peach, and chocolate.

And I'm thoroughly sick of making them! I've had a bunch of other things I've had to do in the evenings, too, so it has made for late nights and chaos in the kitchen. I brought a bunch to work in the Bronx yesterday and will bring another bunch to work in Brooklyn today.
From:rpics
Date:March 6th, 2012 02:09 am (UTC)
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glad you had a good time. are you going to post your hamentaschen recipe or do we need to try to be Ottawa when Amy is there again?
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From:mofic
Date:March 6th, 2012 03:28 am (UTC)
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See response above.
From:rpics
Date:March 6th, 2012 02:10 am (UTC)

BTW

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what is hamentasch?
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From:mofic
Date:March 6th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)

Re: BTW

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LOL! I'm sure you'd know them if you saw them. Look at this link: http://tcjewfolk.com/ode-love-knishes-tasty-recipe/
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From:talktooloose
Date:March 6th, 2012 04:11 am (UTC)
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Thank you! This post took me out of a dark place and reminded me how much joy there is in the world if I remember to raise my head and look around. I hope I get to meet the rabbi some time!
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From:mofic
Date:March 6th, 2012 11:28 am (UTC)
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Oh Sweetie! What's going on? I feel so out of touch with you. I hope you stay in the light but do know I'm here to listen. And I sure hope you'll meet Amy.
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