Tag Archives: Holidays

A Meaningful Thanksgivukkah

aviOn their surfaces, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are simple holidays.  We see the themes of light breaking through the darkness, a few banding together to beat the elements, and the power of having faith in community.  We camp folk know that nothing is ever as simple as it seems.  So let’s look deeper into the three miracles of Hanukkah.  One miracle is that small group of zealots were able to beat the stronger forces and regain control of the Temple.  When they recaptured the Temple they found one small jar of oil for the menorah in the Temple.  The second miracle was that despite the fact that this small jar only had enough oil for one day it lasted for eight days.  This story about the miraculous Hanukkah oil has allowed us to look past focusing solely on the military victory.  This is important in that the war was not a black and white fight between the Jews and the Greeks.  Rather, it was a civil war between a small group of religious zealots and a larger group of their Hellenized Jewish brethren.  The third miracle of Hanukkah is that the story of the second miracle of the oil overshadows the first miracle of a civil war.

Now we turn our attention to Thanksgiving.  It is a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and the preceding year.  This is traced to a poorly documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts.  We retell the story of the first settlers to America who found salvation when they reached Plymouth Rock.

But is that the real story of Thanksgiving?  On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the national holiday of Thanksgiving. There we read:

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union…It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. 

Like the third miracle of Hanukkah, Thanksgiving is not really a story about the Pilgrims, but rather the constitution of a ritual of reconciliation post-civil war.  Both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving represent the recreation of national mythologies for the sake of mending the wounds of fighting between brothers.

We in camping appreciate the impact of a good story regardless of its true origins.  Camp in its essence is a self-made community built on rituals, traditions, and history that is created by its members and need not be based solely on fact.  It is here in this miraculous fabricated narrative that we create enduring memories of brotherhood.  So while the story might not be true, the community could not be any more real. I hope you have a very meaningful Thanksgivukkah.  Happy holidays.

Posted on November 27, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

#GivingTuesday or Any day

More thoughts on giving.

molly1‘Tis the season of thankfulness and giving. Are these words synonymous in meaning when it comes to the holidays? For some the answer is yes and for some no. When I think of the holidays I generally think of family and then quickly think hmmm, what am I going to get everyone this year? Then the thoughts become about me (obviously) and I think, what do I want for the holidays this year? There is so much about this happy exchange, ripping wrapping paper and watching the reaction when exposing the innards of such gifts that make the childish giddiness resurface.

This year when thinking about Hanukkah and gift giving, I am feeling intrigued by the calendar collide. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving join forces forming what is being marketed as Thanksgivukkah. The holiday for which we reflect on what we are thankful for and a holiday that has become a celebration of eight nights of presents. A funny symmetry, receive a gift for one holiday and be thankful for it for another… no, that’s not what this is about?  Or is it?

When I was a young girl, part of the requirement towards becoming a Bat Mitzvah was to complete a certain number of hours of community service. I was set up with an organization and once a week after school I went to this office space and stuffed envelopes. I had no idea what I was folding.  Not a clue what I was shoving into those white envelopes. And even less of a thought as to whom these envelopes were being sent to. Did I think to ask? Nah. There wasn’t internet at the time and if there was, would I have cared to look up what this organization did?  Probably not. I did what was asked of me and earned my necessary community service hours and I am proud to say that I achieved my requirements towards becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Mazel Tov (congrats) to me and anyone else who walked through these motions to meet the requirements of our adolescence.

Flash forward to present day, a time in my life where I use the Hebrew phrases, tikkun olam (heal or repair the world) and tikkun midot (heal from the inside out) almost daily to describe a portion of the Jewish values that we focus on at “my” camp, Passport NYC and at 92Y. Values that help to find meaning in the actions of each day. Meaningful in the way that we reach out to the community within the space we live or the space that surrounds us. Meaningful in the way that helps those around us and the earth beneath our feet. Each and every one of us have the opportunity to find meaningful ways to give, whether it is our time, our money, our leftovers, our unused clothes, our energy, our knowledge, our passion, our friendship, our love – giving lends itself to you, the giver.

Recently I was invited to the 4th birthday party of a close friends son, included in the invite was a link to donate to a charity of the child’s choice in lieu of gifts. I was amazed and impressed.  I was thrilled and surprised.  I was even more in awe when the child himself told me that he knows there are kids out there that could use the gifts more than him. Yup, 4 years old.

On Tuesday, Dec. 3rd a day has been dedicated to just this, Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday).  Our modern day has allowed us to turn the days after giving thanks into days in which sales blast stores and the internet, known as ‘Black Friday’ followed by ‘Cyber Monday’ and within these great sales and opportunities for us consumers to consume the day has come where we can give, however you feel empowered to give.

Maybe this holiday season you choose a charity that means something to you and stuff white envelopes or share a link to a charity you connect with for holiday gift donations or indulge in the wrapping paper ripping, but whatever route you take- giving doesn’t only have to take place when we’re saying thanks. There are so many ways we can give and be thankful that don’t need to come wrapped with bows and dreidel printed paper. We can come together with family and friends this holiday season and give with meaning.  I hope you can take your Thanksgivukkah moment to be thankful, to give gifts and to give back and feel thankful for the ability to do just that.

Merry Thanksgivukkah!

Posted on November 22, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

thanksGIVING

We continue our series on giving.

miriamAutumn is definitely my favorite time of year. I love the change in weather, the trees changing color, getting to wear comfy sweaters, and above all, I love the holiday traditions that span the fall months. Thanksgiving has got to be one of the best American holidays ever. Does it get much better than celebrating with friends and family, expressing gratitude, and sharing in a delicious feast? I think not. I also love that leading up to Thanksgiving, I see a lot of people on social media actively thinking and talking about they are grateful for and how they are celebrating the holiday through acts of giving.

Giving is a concept that is very deep-seeded in Jewish tradition (as is celebrating with loved ones and eating lots of food in the process) and one that I’d like to briefly explore with you here. In Judaism, we commonly use the word tzedakah to describe charitable giving. The Hebrew word tzedakah actually means “justice” or “fairness”. This implies that according to Jewish tradition, giving of one’s self  to another, whether with money, time, or kindness, is less about going “above and beyond” and more about acting in a righteous way that that is really just expected of us.

At Ranch Camp, we provide opportunities for campers to take part in tikkun olam projects each summer. Our teen travel programs for instance, all have components in which campers go and volunteer in a variety of worthy settings. It is an important part of the trip program experience, giving our teens an opportunity to develop leadership skills, humility, and compassion. Our hope is also that their volunteer experience instills a sense of the importance of tzedakah in our campers and encourages them to undertake such work throughout their lives. After all, giving of yourself to others feels good. Camp is a great setting to develop a love and passion for tzedakah and tikkun olam – it certainly did for me.

The work projects I took part of through my childhood synagogue and at Ranch Camp made me love volunteer work, and in my adult life, I try to take advantage of any opportunities in my community to give back to others in need. In September, certain areas of Colorado were devastated by flash floods. It was heartbreaking to see homes, businesses, and synagogues in Boulder County destroyed knowing that so many in our camp community were being effected by this unprecedented natural disaster. The Denver JCC organized a group of staff to go up in the aftermath of the flood to one of the synagogues to assist in clean up efforts. Seven of us spent the day moving out sludge, taking down dry wall, and trying our best to wipe away the damage that four feet of water had inflicted on the synagogue’s basement. We worked side by side with men and women who call the synagogue home, both figuratively and literally. You see, this synagogue not only is a spiritual home for congregants but also serves as a community homeless shelter. These special workers were giving of themselves to a place and community that had open their doors them in their time of need – they were giving back. It felt incredibly good to be there that day and volunteer my time to this effort. I felt that I was a part of something bigger than myself and that I was making a difference, even if it was small.

During this holiday season, I ask you and your family to consider dedicating part your Thanksgiving celebration to giving. A donation of money, time, or kindness to those in the community that could use support or aid is sure to enhance your own holiday cheer. I have really found that there is something about getting involved in giving to others that is in turn very beneficial for my own sense of well being and psyche. As Maya Angelou noted, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving and Hanukkah season ahead!

Posted on November 21, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Creating New Traditions (and Recipes!) for Thanksgivukkah

cranberry glazed donutsLast month I wrote about new ways of looking at the same old foods as a way to take an important camp value and bring it home. In general, this speaks to the greater lesson of creativity and ingenuity that kids often learn at camp. It may sound odd at first to say this, but creativity is so important in Jewish tradition. The Israelites had to find innovative ways to sleep and eat while wandering in the desert for 40 years, the rabbis of the Talmud constantly had to find interesting solutions to complex legal problems, the Jews of the Inquisition had to find new ways of secretly practicing Judaism, and many of the modern Jews of our time have found unique paths that bridge the religious and the secular in a seamless and meaningful manner.

The confluence of creativity and tradition could not be more relevant than this month, when the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving fall on the same night. Here is an opportunity to be creative with our Jewish tradition and to create new secular traditions. It’s an opportunity not only to make some interesting Hanukkah-Thanksgiving fusion dishes (see recipe below!) but to talk as a family about the meaning of both holidays and how we can integrate them in our minds and at our tables in order to understand and appreciate both in new and meaningful ways.

As a means of getting you started, try out these delicious low fat cranberry pecan sufganiyot (Israeli donuts traditionally eaten on Hanukkah) in muffin form- what could be a newer, more interesting pairing of cultures?!

 Cranberry Pecan Pie Sufganiyot
Makes 24 mini doughnut-muffins

Ingredients
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup dark molasses
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons canola oil
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons cranberry juice
¼ cup roasted pecans

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Spray 2 mini-muffin tins generously with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar to coat, then tap out the excess.
  • Whisk flour, the remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and set aside.
  • Whisk buttermilk, molasses, egg whites and oil in another bowl.
  • Fold the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula just until blended, taking care not to over-mix.
  • Spoon about 1 generous tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup, smoothing the tops.
  • Bake until the tops spring back when touched lightly, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Loosen edges and turn the doughnuts out onto a wire rack to cool. Whisk confectioners’ sugar and cranberry juice in a bowl to make a smooth, thick glaze.  Pour onto a small plate.
  • Chop the pecans into small pieces.
  • When the doughnuts are completely cool dip the tops in the glaze and place them on a wire rack (place wax paper or paper towels under the rack to make clean up easier!) to allow the excess glaze to drip off.
  • Sprinkle the chopped nuts over and enjoy.

Posted on November 19, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Hanukkah Gift Guide for Your Favorite Camper

Presenting: Hanukkah gift suggestions, Canteen-style! Although we have a few cold months to get through before we reach our beloved camp season, these gifts are tailored for the camp lover throughout all seasons. From sleeping bags to camp music albums, we’ve got you covered.

You should also check out our Hanukkah Basics Shopping Guide and our “Shalom, Y’all!” Southern & Jewish Gift Guide! 

This Retro Shalom Love Peace Symbol Water Bottle ($9.99) has an easy-flow drinking spout and a cute design for your favorite camper or counselor.

camp

Any baseball mensch will love this handcrafted Map of Jerusalem Collector Baseball ($20) which is handcrafted, and will sit nicely on any desk.

 

Copy of jerusalem

Teach your young one the concept of tzedakah early with this creatively designed Soccer Ball Tzedakah Box ($10.95)

Copy of soccerb

Got baggage? We have a Guilt Trip Luggage Tag ($19.99) for the person in your life who gets the most shpilkes when traveling.

guilty

Let’s take it back to the 80s with the ultimate celebration of Jewish summer camp: Wet Hot American Summer on DVD ($9.14).

wethot

Camp Songs ($16.39) by the Ben Perowsky Trio is a jazzy, folk version of traditional prayer melodies of summer camp youth.

campsongs

For both your novice and expert crafty friends and family to use on the bunk porch, or during winter nights at home: Jewish Threads: A Hand’s-On Guide to Stitching Spiritual Intention into Jewish Crafts ($13.87).

jewthreads

For outdoor camping or home sleepovers, this TETON Sports Trailhead Sleeping Bag ($61.06) has heavy duty quality and a sporty, fashionable look.

SLEEPINGBAG

Send a Hanukkah gift basket ($94.99) to your kid’s favorite counselor. Because…babka!

hanpelg

These Thermal Wool Socks ($8.70) are ideal for cold winter days or while playing sports.

sockz

We hope this guide brings you back to your youth–or reconnects you with the warm spirit of camp until next summer. Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Posted on November 8, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Giving

This holiday season, we have giving on our minds and in our hearts. How camp influences what it means to us, how giving is a part of our lives, how we teach our kids about giving, and more. We encourage you to use these blog posts dedicated to the theme of giving to start conversations with friends and loved ones. Happy holidays!

November Director’s Corner

©Next Exit Photography www.nextexitphotographyFall is one of my favorite times of year – the leaves are changing, the weather is crisp and I find myself concentrating my time on some of my favorite things. My mind wanders through wrapping up camp registration, ramping up summer staffing, kicking our annual scholarship campaign into high gear, planning my family vacation and looking forward to my daughter’s first Hanukkah. These things all have the same season in common and they also share one other very important characteristic. They all center around giving.

I think that most people tend to focus on giving this time of year, usually with a focus on giving (and getting) gifts. Admittedly, that is a nice part of this season and I look forward to watching my daughter’s face as we open Hanukkah gifts. However, the giving that I love so much is a bit different…

With registration wrapping up in September, we get to give 700 campers the opportunity to have the best summer of their lives at Beber Camp! We are part of a community that gives Jewish Identity, life skills, friendships, new experiences and memories that will impact our children for years to come.

With staffing ramping up, we get to give dozens of amazing young role models the chance to positively impact the lives of children. These staff members are committed to developing their campers and are also looking to be developed themselves. We often forget that we are in the staff development business as well and this season starts our intense gift giving through selection, training, preparation, development and staff support processes.

With our annual campaign kicking into high gear, we get to directly give all families the ability to send their children to camp through the generosity of our Beber community.   We also get to give our annual scholarship campaign investors the opportunity to support something that they believe in passionately.

With my family vacation, I get to give time and love to my family that is separated by distance most of the year. People will be coming from all over the country to spend time together, reminisce, share and create new memories. I also get to give my family amazing quality time with my daughter Micah and in turn, I get to give Micah one of the greatest gifts I have – her loving, supportive family.   It is important to note that one of the reasons that my extended family is so strong is that the kids all spend their summers together at Beber Camp.

Finally, I get to give my immediate family our first Hanukkah. I am beyond excited to share in the magic with my wife and daughter, as we continue to create our own Jewish traditions. The magic that I am anticipating isn’t all about gifts, rather it’s about community, family, love, appreciation and giving. These are things that my family learned directly from our Jewish summer camp experiences.

Hopefully, you are looking forward to this season as well and you are personally excited about giving. Please make sure to take a minute to think about all of the different ways that you can give this season. Maybe it will be the gift of family time or the gift of a summer at camp for your child.  Maybe it will be a directed gift to the Jewish summer camp or the gift of encouraging your college-age child to return to camp as a staff.  Maybe it is the gift of support, compassion and community…..or maybe it is the gift of another pair of dress socks for the first night of Hanukkah.  Thanks in advance, mom!

Posted on November 7, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

“Stuff” Doesn’t Equal “Love”

©Next Exit Photography www.nextexitphotographyThis year, the proverbial “holiday season” comes earlier than usual, with the much-ballyhooed convergence of Hannukah and Thanksgiving. This means that I am online virtually every free second I have: as I am two weeks or so away from giving birth to my fifth child, this means, someone has to handle getting 32 gifts for the other four kids. I’m hoping the newborn won’t notice she’s not getting anything.

The “holiday season,” after all, has become a euphemism for the Season of Stuff. The newspapers delivered to the house bleed out ads and coupons for Stuff. Suddenly, every catalog company in the world has found my address, and is intent on selling me everything from a reindeer sweater for my nonexistent dog to a $1500 foot-massager/tooth-brusher.

The implicit message of all this ‘holiday’ consumerism is that if you love someone, you need to show them that you love them by Buying Them Stuff. The stretch for ‘stuff’ for Those Who Already Have Everything extends beyond the reasonable into the bizarre: a $1k diaper bag?

I’m not a fan of status symbols or logos generally, and am more inclined to be moved by an honest and thoughtful card than fancypants jewelry I will rarely wear. So maybe that’s why all this getting and spending doesn’t thrill me to the bone…and why I was so surprised to find that it was such an integral part of the Going-To-Camp-Experience as well.

This idea that Buying Stuff equals Love is threaded almost seamlessly into the camp experience. Sending kids to camp for the first time, as most people become aware very quickly, involves purchasing tons of stuff you might not otherwise have occasion to buy, from moisture-wicking cargo pants to sleeping bags to ponchos.  You do all this because it is necessary, because it is on the shopping list provided by the camp, and because you want to make sure your kid is as equipped as possible for a summer without you.

Then we start getting into the “extras.” The battery-powered fans. The squirt bottles. A $30 nightlight shaped like a gummy bear. A $48 personalized yoga mat (for those moments of clarity, perhaps?). Pre-printed address labels so the poor kid won’t have to take the time to write out your home address on those letters. One mother told me that her local camp store recommended she purchase a portable chair for her son, telling her they were “popular because the kids don’t like to always sit in the grass.” Huh?? And, the same mother told me, “the de rigeur present to open when he gets to camp…because a kid who goes to a $10k summer camp really needs MORE GIFTS” And please don’t get me started on the second iPhone for when the camp confiscates the first one.

Not only does all this stuff get expensive, but its endless production also goes against the grain of what camp is allegedly about. These items foster a mentality of coddling rather than self-reliance.  They nurture a sense of “Mom and Dad will take care of it for me” rather than “I may actually be hot and sweaty once in a while – it’s summer camp, and it’s okay!”

I’m not sure how a camp would go about outlawing “stuff.” But maybe opening a candid discussion about it would be a good thing.

Posted on October 23, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Seeking Shelter

Camp_0225This past Sunday I convinced my sons to join me out back to put up our Sukkah, ritual dwelling for Sukkot, arguing that it was just a really big Lego set. They were happy to build and play until we got to the s’chach, the cut organic material used as the roof of the sukkah. The boys just did not understand it. The s’chach, as compared to all of the other Lego pieces, did not click or tie into place. So I went on to explain that while it needs to be porous enough so that we can see the stars, minimally the s’chach must be thick enough so that it provides more shade then sun light in the Sukkah. Of course they asked why?

Just five days after the solemn day of Yom Kippur, we are off to one of the most joyous holidays of the year. Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, is commonly referred to in our liturgy and literature as Zman Simchateinu, the time of our happiness. I began thinking and questioning the so-called happiness of Sukkot. Traditionally on this holiday we read the book of Kohelet. The author of this book retells his investigation of the meaning of life and the best way to live your life. Kohelet proclaims all the actions of humanity to be inherently fleeting, futile, empty, meaningless, temporary, and done in vain. This sentiment is well-said in the most quoted line from Kohelet which reads:

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Kohelet 1:9)

Learning that life is senseless seems like a real downer for a holiday of happiness. This juxtaposition is only highlighted in that we read this just after Yom Kippur, a day during which we appealed that mercy would win out over justice. If Kohelet is correct, we will never be able to change. Despite our best efforts to repent and atone, we are stuck and should be judged in light of the fact that will never be able to renew ourselves.

Then it all came together for me.

Kohelet is right; nothing is new under the sun. The difference is that just after Yom Kippur we escape the sun under the shade of the Sukkah. There we find shelter from the harsh judgment of the world. If we spend a serious amount of time practicing being the people we aspire to be, we might be able to achieve it throughout the rest of the year. We see a similar dynamic in the shelter of summer camp. There we are able to immerse ourselves in an Eden of our own design. Is there any greater joy then the promise of a better future?

Posted on September 18, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Recipes & Discussion for Sukkot

Camp_Ramah_0120_IMG_8760By now you’ve hopefully  eaten a good Rosh Hashana meal, had a meaningful Yom Kippur fast, looked at your watch countless times in services, and found numerous ways to entertain the kids throughout this marathon of Jewish practice.  Now its time for some good old-fashioned fun- Sukkot!  On Sukkot we literally pitch a tent in which we are supposed to eat and sleep for eight days.  If that doesn’t bring up thoughts of Jewish camp, I don’t know what does. 

There are two main reasons given for why we are commanded to sleep and eat in the sukkah.  One reason is that the sukkah reminds us about the time the Israelites spent wandering in the desert, sleeping in temporary dwellings like sukkot.  The sukkah also serves to remind us of the rich, agricultural history of the Israelites.  Sukkot is a harvest holiday, and in Ancient Israel the people would build huts similar to sukkot at the edges of the field in order to maximize their work time (and minimize their commute!).   On Sukkot we have the chance to give up some of the comforts of heated homes and cushiony beds to live like the Israelites lived.  In many cases, this is similar to how the less fortunate, particularly farm workers, live in our country today.  Sukkot is the perfect opportunity to discuss the less fortunate among us.  More specifically, you can educate yourself and your family on the treatment of farm workers in America to truly bring new meaning to an ancient tradition.

Try this:  Build a sukkah and chose one night to both eat and sleep under the stars.  Make one of the tasty recipes below, bring out some sleeping bags, ask your kids to teach you a few camp songs, and have a dialogue about the treatment of farm workers in this country and how it relates Sukkot and to you and your family.

For midnight snack…
Homemade Cheese Crackers
Makes about 30 crackers

Ingredients
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cups whole grain spelt flour or while whole wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon onion or garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk, plus more for brushing

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Combine the cheese, butter, flours, onion or garlic powder, salt and 2 tablespoons of milk into the bowl of a food processor or mixer. Pulse or mix until the dough forms a ball.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface. Roll it out until it is a square about 1/8 of an inch thick (or a bit thinner). Brush the dough with additional milk.
  6. Using a pizza wheel or knife, cut the dough into 30 squares. Using a toothpick, prick a hole in the center of each square.
  7. Place the squares on the baking sheets, leaving about ½ an inch between crackers.
  8. Bake about 15 minutes until the crackers are just slightly brown around the edges.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

For breakfast…
Breakfast Quinoa
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 ½ cups skim or 1% milk
½ cup quinoa
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons amber agave nectar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup dried fruit and nuts 

Instructions

  1. Bring milk to a boil over medium high heat- be careful not to let it boil over!
  2. Add the quinoa the salt, stir once, cover and turn the heat down to very low.
  3. Simmer about 15 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed, then stir in the remaining ingredients and re-cover for 1 minute.
  4. Serve hot or put in refrigerator for up to 1 week and reheat.

Posted on September 16, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Reflections After Our Camp Nearly Burned Down

miriamShanah Tova from the Ranch Camp! We wish your family a year full of happiness, health, and fulfillment.

The High Holiday season is a like a spa for the soul. Each year we are given the opportunity for rest, reflection, and renewal and if we seize this opportunity wholeheartedly, we can achieve a true sense of cleansing, empowerment, and renewed purpose.

In thinking about my past year and the year that awaits us, we are bombarded by imagery of both personal and professional triumphs and challenges. We think about all the wonderful relationships that we have been able to maintain over the year and all the new friendships that we’ve begun to cultivate with parents, campers, staff and alumni. Camp is really about Kehillah (community) and the many facets that this word embodies. Our role as directors of Ranch Camp, at its essence, is really about relationships and community. It is incredibly important to us not to serve to our constituents but to work together with them as partners. It is only through partnership that we feel like camp can truly have a meaningful and lasting impact, one built on trust and respect, which carries on from the summer into the rest of the year. We are grateful for the trust that our families have all placed in us in the last year that has enabled us to run a successful camping program and carry Ranch Camp through its 60th year of operation.

It’s hard to believe how close we were to losing our beloved camp this year to the Black Forest Fire. It was a humbling experience to have to evacuate our campers, staff, and animals from camp in June and not know if were going to be able to return. But sometimes it takes events like this to refocus on the big picture of what really matters in life. We know that it certainly did for us. Now that we’ve been faced with losing everything, we know with utmost certainty that the only things of value in life are the intangible things that you cannot take with you in a suitcase – memories, relationships, and love.

We think that these lessons learned will serve us well in the next year as we undertake perhaps the biggest adventure our lives – parenthood. We will welcome a baby girl to our family around the first of the calendar year; this is both an exciting and daunting prospect. But as with everything in life, we know that all highs and lows that await us will only help us in our on personal paths towards learning and enlightenment.

Posted on September 16, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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