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Two opposite approaches are emerging in response to the school walkouts and demonstrations that followed last month’s mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., in which a man admitted murdering 17 people at his former high school. One is the “and the children shall lead them” response, which argues that adults somehow need the innocent honesty of children — particularly the survivors of the killing — to tell the nation how to solve the problem of gun violence.
At its extreme, this faux naiveté is a cynical tactic to advance the gun control agenda. But this cynicism pales in comparison to the chutzpah of the opposite approach. On his Fox News show last week, Tucker Carlson asked why kids who are “too young to be buying guns” should be allowed to “make [his] gun laws.” This bit of pro-gun sophistry was a transparent attempt to change the subject, and really made no sense. As Trevor Noah correctly pointed out in his “Daily Show” segment which focused on Carlson’s comments: “If kids are old enough to be shot, they’re old enough to have an opinion about being shot.”
And yet, the students protesting gun violence, despite their feared unripe understanding of policy, have managed to upend the conversation, which for years has returned to and been stopped by the question of gun rights. The student protesters have found an equally compelling problem that needs solving. Having turned this from a gun-rights issue into a safety issue, the school-age protestors have reminded Americans, many of whom are parents, that the safety of children needs to be considered carefully in any conversation about guns. And that is so not just in the relatively rare occurrences of mass school shootings, but also in the daily outrage of gun deaths around the country.
Thousands of students participated in the 17-minute school walkout on March 14 — one minute for each life taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On Sunday, the March for Our Lives will take place in Washington and other cities around the country. Will the walkouts and marches lead to change? Maybe not immediately. The gun lobby is, after all, very powerful.
But since President Trump’s election, this school-age generation is getting practice in marching, walking out and lying down. Schools have thus had to grapple with behavior that at once disrupts the order of their institutions, but is at the same time a walking, marching lab experiment in American democracy and nonviolent protest. Any school that discourages its students from participating in this lesson doesn’t understand its job. And as the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. approaches, such protests are a reminder of how much change can be made through a determined yet peaceful approach, and the magnitude of the work that still needs to be done.
For a while last week it looked like Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu would call early elections for June, with his coalition partners deadlocked over a bill to exempt haredi Orthodox Israelis from the draft. At the last minute, the crisis was averted.
The winner was Netanyahu, who remains popular even while under investigation for corruption. A symbol of stability — he’s second only to David Ben-Gurion in terms of length of service in the premiership — he again burnished his credentials for his staying power by avoiding an election. Yet polling during the height of election fever showed that if Israel had gone to the polls early, Netanyahu would likely have won then, too.
Two polls released March 12 showed that the prime minister’s Likud party would remain Israel’s largest, with 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset. The opposition Yesh Atid, a centrist party, would be second, with 21 to 24 seats, up from 11 today.
One of the polls, though, had bad news for the two parties at the center of the draft legislation crisis. It showed the secular Israel Beiteinu party of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which opposed the bill, and the haredi Orthodox Shas party, which supported it, barely passing the electoral threshold that would keep them in the Knesset.
The polls also reported the rise of a new, unnamed party led by independent Knesset Member Orly Levy-Abekasis, allotting it five seats. Levy-Abekasis, the daughter of former Foreign Minister David Levy, last week won the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement. Levy-Abekasis has focused on social welfare issues in the Knesset. She wants to break the left-right paradigm, telling the Times of Israel she hopes to create “a new order.”
That movement toward “a new order” may be a symptom of the continuing shrinking of a left. The polls gave the center-left Zionist Union 11 to 13 seats, down from 24 today. Some of those votes may be moving to the Meretz party, expected to win 7 to 9 seats (currently 5).
This isn’t the full roster of parties, and the polls themselves are not considered entirely accurate. But they do give a sense of the electoral mood in Israel and reinforce Netanyahu’s dominant position, even with the baggage he appears to be carrying. One opinion writer suggested that Netanyahu has proved resilient because Israelis like scrappers, not elites, and having a leader whose hands aren’t exactly clean isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
As Israel’s 70th anniversary approaches, we can’t help but note that the Jewish state was created with two sometimes contradictory ideals in mind: It would be a light unto the nations and it would be a country like any other. The political jockeying we have seen over the past several months is an example of the latter. We hope that when the next elections are held, the process and the results will reflect the former.
1 cup pitted dates, halved
½ cup blanched slivered or whole
½ cup walnut pieces
1 cup dark or light raisins (or a
1 medium-size navel orange, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons sweet Pesach wine
Put the dates, raisins, apple, walnut pieces, almonds and orange into the food processor. Grind with steel blade. You may have to do this in batches. Add the wine and mix to form a soft, slightly coarse mixture. Refrigerate the charoset in a covered container.
Stays fresh for several days in the
refrigerator. Makes about 3 cups.
Barbara Friedman’s Eggplant Gratin (Papeton d’aubergines)
¼ cup olive oil
1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
3 large eggplants (about 4 pounds)
1 sprig fresh oregano or ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
1 cup grated Gruyere, Kashkaval or mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons of matzah meal
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 6-cup gratin dish with some of the oil.
If grilling the eggplants over a gas stove, make small slits all over the outside. Using tongs, hold them over the open flame, rotating them every few minutes, until they are soft and collapsed.
If roasting them in the oven, cut them lengthwise. Brush the cut sides with olive oil, and place them, cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until very soft.
Place the cooked eggplant in a sieve over a large bowl, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, and let cool and drain for about 15 minutes.
Peel, discarding the skin and any liquid that has accumulated, and using two knives chop the eggplant in a sieve over a bowl.
Stir together the feta and Gruyere cheese, the thyme, the oregano, 3 tablespoons of the matzah meal, a few sprinkles of pepper and all but a tablespoon of the remaining oil.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl and stir into the eggplant mixture. Then pour everything into the gratin dish. Brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining matzah meal.
Bake for an hour or until golden on top.
Learn more about the “Eat In Good Health” cookbook here.
For North Potomac resident Matthew Ratz, struggling with mental illness is as much a personal journey as a professional one. Last September, the 34 year old became executive director of On Our Own of Prince George’s County, a health and wellness center that helps substance abusers and others with cognitive health problems, people he calls “members.”
Ratz himself has cyclothymia, a type of bipolar disorder that causes a frequent change in moods. His is a former learning specialist at the Yeshiva of Greater Washington.
What kinds of issues do you typically see?
A lot of people here are dealing with multiple diagnoses. Some people are dealing with homelessness, unemployment, substance use recovery. Some members are counting single-digit days of sobriety. A lot of these members live in group homes or assisted living. When you’re indigent and you lack resources, and you’re dealing with something like schizophrenia or Bipolar I, or depression or anxiety, and your only option is to go to the emergency room and get a seven-day prescription, many members turn to self-medicating.
We need to be cognizant of the fact that people are dealing with a lot of heavy stuff, and more and more the resources just aren’t there. For some members, when it’s cold they call an ambulance, because they can get three meals and a warm bed. I had three police officers here this week because one of the members was expressing suicidal ideation and I had to call 911. It’s devastating, but the goal is to connect them with resources and positivity and support.
What goes on here every day?
I’m a one-man team. I open the doors. I plan the programs. We do meditation. We do a poetry workshop. We have a program called In the Studio that my predecessor started, because we have two members that like to rap. And every couple of weeks we produce an original rap song. Everything we do here isn’t focused on the illness. It’s focused on wellness and recovery. What can we do to make ourselves feel well? What can we create? What can we invent?
How does having cyclothymia affect you day to day?
What happens to me is that I get low. If happiness is a scale of one to 10, I’ll get to about a four. I have to be careful with an elevated mood. If I’m too busy or too frantic, I find I talk too fast. I can’t necessarily control my spending in the moment, so I don’t carry cash on me. My wife is very sensitive to it, so she’ll say, “You need to call your doctor.” If it’s been three or four days and I’ve been depressed and moody, that will often be followed by a spike.
How do you deal with that?
There’s no cure for it. You have to have a management strategy, so it’s medication plus therapy and creative outlets.
Has your illness shaped your experiences in the workplace?
What I like about being here at On Our Own is that in previous professional experiences, the employer’s expectation is that you come in, and you deliver at this level ad infinitum, or constantly. There was no recognition that “I’ve busted my butt for three weeks and now I need to take a break.”
I understand you do a lot of local theater in your spare time. Do you find that the arts are a good escape from stress?
The opportunity to put on a different person’s clothing for a while and imagine their background and look through their eyes isn’t playing pretend, as much as a vicarious experience. I played Bert in “Mary Poppins.” And Bert is so optimistic and loves everybody and believes in the honesty of humankind. That was a nice character to occupy for a couple of performances and rehearsals because it was so different from my day to day.
And you write poems as well?
A lot of my poems come from life. When I was dealing with my mental health issues, I wrote a lot about overcoming struggles. I wrote one called “Brain Stem” that uses a lot of garden imagery. It talks about the oasis of the mind and the bramble and the thorns. Then on the flip side, the forget-me-nots and chrysanthemums.
Do you incorporate this creative side of you into your work at On Our Own?
We have a collection of members’ poems, and I have a friend coming in who is a haiku artist, and he’s going to work with us on sharpening the language. And we’re going to prepare these poems for publication.
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At their Frederick cannabis facility, the Goldberg brothers, Philip, left, and Kevin, push hard for medicinal perfection.
If not for the smell, one might not know it’s there.
In the middle of a commercial office complex in Frederick sits a deceptively large gray concrete building. Aside from the tall barbed wire fence around the perimeter, the facility looks completely unremarkable.
Although the structure leaves no visible clues as to what’s inside, the smell is unmistakable.
It’s the redolence of cannabis, detectable even before a security guard (one of many who look after the property 24 hours a day, seven days a week) grants clearance through the gate.
This is the headquarters of Green Leaf Medical, LLC, a medicinal cannabis cultivation facility run by the Goldberg brothers: Philip, the company’s CEO, and Kevin, its general counsel and chief compliance officer. Although they were raised and reside in the Washington suburbs, they have roots in Baltimore’s
During a tour of the facility, Philip speaks pointedly, sharing a wealth of information — everything from the facility’s impenetrable security and the business side of medical cannabis, to the origins of the names of the company’s products. Names like Blue Cheese, Cookies ’n’ Cream, Air Force One and Sour Diesel. Pineapple Skunk, L.A. Chocolate and Painkiller XL are Green Leaf’s most popular strains.
Philip says each strain of cannabis is typically named after either its place of origin, an allusion to the smells and tastes made up by its terpene profile (apparently, Blue Cheese actually smells like blue cheese), or is simply a holdover from the names hippies came up with long ago while cultivating cannabis under the radar.
For Philip, these names seem no more absurd than the names of prescription drugs one gets at the pharmacy.
“Drug companies have ridiculous names for their products. Maybe it’s based on molecular components, maybe they just think it’s catchy,” he said with a shrug.
The area of medical cannabis that Philip speaks to with most authority is the biological side. He chats about complicated cultivation techniques with such specificity, one would easily believe he’d spent decades as a botanist. But neither he nor his brother Kevin did that kind of work before starting Green Leaf. Each owned his own business for years before entering into the medicinal cannabis field. Philip is the owner of an ad agency, Interactive Market Solutions, and Kevin is a partner of the law firm Goldberg & Finnegan.
When it comes to cannabis, they are largely self-taught, relying on extensive research and meeting with consultants. Resources such as cannabis business conferences and trips to places such as Colorado, where the medicinal business is already in full swing, also play a part in their proficiency.
“Quite frankly, when we first got into this industry, it was a profit move,” said Philip. “But we realized we needed to start meeting with patients.”
It was after these meetings with people suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis and intractable epilepsy, Philip said, that the humanitarian element in this line of work became evident.
“We met with a lot of different families and patients who were suffering, and their kids were suffering,” said Kevin.
He remembers a young man with cancer, who died before Maryland was able to get its program up and running. “Getting to know this gentleman confirmed that we were on to something more than just making money. We were on to something that could make people’s lives better.”
The Green Leaf Medical facility, in its current state, has more than 10 separate rooms, all with a distinct purpose, catering to a plant’s needs at different points in its growing cycle. This includes the veg prop room, where clones of mother cannabis plants, which are continually cloned, are cut and then placed in a small cube of spun molten rock to cultivate.
At this point in the process, each plant is given a radio-frequency identification tag. This ensures being able not only to track the plant for quality assurance, but also to prove to the state that each plant is accounted for during inspection.
After more than a month in the veg prop room, each batch of new plants moves to a flower room, where they stay for another two weeks. To ensure consistency, the plants are under constant automated maintenance, including carbon dioxide monitoring and temperature control, and they receive nutrients from a watering system that feeds the plants 24 times each day.
From there, the plants are sent to the harvesting room, where the fan leaves are picked, leaving the buds, and the stalks are placed in a drying room. Once dry, the buds are ground and packaged to be sold.
Green Leaf Medical cannot cut corners when it comes to harvesting. Every bit of waste — the leaves and stalks — must be weighed and accounted for.
With mulitple flower rooms equipped with specialized growing lights, feeding systems and fans, and a massive dehumidifying system among the technology required to run the operation, Green Leaf’s January electric bill topped out at around $45,000.
The company sells approximately 500 pounds of cannabis a month to 26 dispensaries throughout the state, with 20 more in the process of coming online with the cultivation facility. The Goldbergs also own Green Leaf Extracts in Ocean City, a processing company where cannabis products such as oils are made.
The company employs 28 team members, but in as little as seven months, the facility size, and therefore its capacity to produce, will nearly double. The company expects to employ as many as 60 people.
One might assume the employees of a cannabis cultivation facility would be either master botanists or a gaggle of giggling stoners. Philip says that’s not the case.
“They come from all walks of life. We train everyone here; you don’t need any kind of special education,” said Philip. “You do need to pass a drug test, including cannabis.”
With each grow comes the opportunity for a learning experience. “Everything here is about identifying success and failures. We try to optimize the successes and minimize the failures,” said Philip.
Kosher or Not Kosher?
“When our family members and close friends initially questioned our decision to enter the medical cannabis business, we always made sure to remind them that there is a biblical precedent for what we are doing,” said Kevin. “In Exodus 30:22-23, God told Moses to mix spices with holy anointing oil. Many historians believe that this oil is, in fact, made from cannabis.”
Whether or not the holy anointed oil was truly a cannabis product, the Goldbergs are so interested in making medical cannabis available to Jews, they’ve been trying to receive a kosher certification for all of their products.
“Both rabbis I talked to said, ‘This is probably something that doesn’t need a kosher certification,’” said Philip.
In fact, in 2016, it was reported that Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, considered the leading haredi Orthodox rabbi in Israel, ruled that cannabis is kosher for Passover. But receiving a branded kosher certification might be trickier.
Dr. Avrom Pollak, president of Star-K, the Baltimore-based kosher certification entity, said his organization receives many requests for certifying cannabis products.
“However, our policy is that we turn them down,” he said. “If it is a true medical need, it does not require a kosher certification. If it’s for recreational use, we don’t want to take a position on endorsing the product because there is so much uncertainty about it.”
Rabbi James Kahn, co-owner of the Liberty Medical Cannabis Dispensary set to open in Rockville this month, said that he is pursuing a kosher certification as well.
“Cannabis the flower does not need to be certified as kosher, but some of the processed products could be certified,” said the rabbi, who was ordained in the Conservative movement. “The goal of all of this is to expand the number of people who have access to cannabis as medicine. We want to make sure that that is not a stumbling block.”
In addition to kosher certifications, isolating cannabis’ therapeutic value from the cannabis plant itself to help those outside of Maryland is a stumbling block the Goldbergs hope to work around. Cannabis products cannot cross state lines since the drug is not recognized as medicine by the federal government.
So they started a new company called Novel Molecules, LLC. The company, owned by Green Leaf, has obtained a processing-lab license with the intention of isolating the compounds and molecules that have therapeutic value in medical cannabis and reproducing them.
“We’re trying to come up with novel molecules that elicit the same healing effect found in cannabis,” said Philip. “Once we create these novel molecules that have the same effect, they are not bound to the same restrictions that the cannabinoids are. We’re really restricted to Maryland right now.”
For Philip, the progress of medicinal cannabis programs in Maryland and across the country comes as no surprise. “It has bipartisan support from the staunchest Republicans to the staunchest Democrats,” he said.
In Maryland, this has been true for quite some time. The first medical cannabis bill was introduced in 1980 by then-Del. A. Wade Kach (R-District 5B).
However, it wasn’t until 2013 that the Maryland General Assembly created the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. Further legislation in subsequent years specified the broad list of conditions for which doctors can recommend cannabis, and that there would be 15 grower licenses.
“This replaced the prior medical cannabis law in Maryland that limited those who could grow/process/sell medical cannabis to universities and hospitals,” said Kevin. “No universities or hospitals participated because of the fact it was illegal federally. Therefore, the law was amended.”
Debbie Miran, a resident of Old Lutherville, is a former commissioner on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, where she played a unique role between 2013 and 2016. She is not only a chemist with 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical business, but also a former medical cannabis patient.
In 2006, Miran underwent a bone marrow transplant to combat chronic myeloid leukemia. The medications she was prescribed afterward left her without an appetite. At her worst point, Miran said she was losing 1 to 2 pounds per week.
“The recovery from a bone marrow transplant is very difficult,” she said. “I used a little bit [of medicinal cannabis] once a day about five minutes before I wanted to eat something. I used it for about four months while I was still on the CML medication that made me so sick. When I got off the medication, my appetite came back, and I didn’t need it anymore.”
Del. Dan Morhaim (D-District 11), who has been one of medicinal cannabis’ strongest legislative advocates and sponsored the bill that created the Medical Cannabis Commission in 2013, recommended Miran for the position as a patient representative for the commission. For Morhaim, Maryland still needs to step up its game.
“I’m glad it’s finally underway,” Morhaim said about the state’s medicinal cannabis program. “We still have a ways to go. Corrections and adjustments will need to be made, but at least some patients are finally getting some relief from our medical cannabis program.”
Morhaim first introduced a bill for medical cannabis in 2003. “It did not pass, but it did make a small step because it allowed for an affirmative defense,” said Morhaim. “That is, if you’re arrested with possession of cannabis and you can prove to the judge and the jury that you were using cannabis for legitimate medical reasons, instead of getting a criminal record, you would get a fine.”
Miran is in agreement with Morhaim. Although the state has made significant strides, it must make more.
“We set up the process of patient and physician registration to be really user-friendly,” she said. The problem lies in the amount of licenses that the state can issue to doctors who wish to prescribe cannabis, which Miran says is far too few. “I think the total number is somewhere around 800. We should have a couple thousand.”
While the number of doctors with licenses to prescribe remains low, the number of patient applications continues to grow. At this point, Miran estimates there’s around 21,000 people who have submitted applications. “The good news is these patients are registering; the bad news is that the commission has a backlog now in getting these processed.”
In addition to the commission working through this backlog, Kahn believes that deflating the stigma around cannabis use will ultimately make medical cannabis available to as many people who need it. He believes that making the connection between the work he has done as a rabbi to the work he is doing with cannabis will also help normalize its medicinal use.
For him, the Jewish community’s acceptance, and perhaps enthusiasm, toward medical cannabis comes as no surprise.
“Jews are boundary crossers; we go beyond limits,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons there are so many Jews in this industry. There are so many people willing to stand up and say, ‘This is a justice issue.’”
Connor Graham is a reporter for the Baltimore Jewish Times.
Attending the Israel Bonds’ annual International Prime Minister’s Club Dinner in Miami Beach, Fla., on Feb 11, are, from left, Israel Bonds President and CEO Israel Maimon, Symcha Weinblatt, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Israel Bonds Board Chairman Richard L. Hirsch. The Weinblatts were presented with the Israel70 award for their commitment and dedication to Israel and Jewish causes. Photo by Peter Halmagyi.
Washington artist and designer Nora Fischer, second from left, visits with representatives from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington on March 5. With Fischer, an American Technion Society supporter, are, from left, cancer researcher Roana Schiopu, ATS regional director Irv Elenberg and budding rocket scientist Nathaniel Drellich. Photo by American Technion Society.
Dr. Jordana Fein, center, of The Retina Group of Washington, was part of a group that went to Comayagua, Honduras, in December to perform surgery on people blinded with cataracts. Fein, a Vienna resident, is a member of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church. She is pictured with Dr. Laura Keuny, left, and Dr. Melissa Kern.
Photo by Virginia Hospital Center Medical Brigade
Eva Hayman of Vienna was elected international mazkirah of B’nai B’rith Girls at the BBYO youth movement’s international convention last month in Orlando, Fla. Emma Herman of Chevy Chase was elected international sh’licha (vice president) of Jewish heritage, community service and social action.
Eva is a sophomore at Oakton High School, in Vienna, where she belongs to the Jewish Student Union Club, DECA and a marketing club where she competes against other high schools. Eva also works with students with disabilities in Best Buddies.
Emma is a junior at Georgetown Day School, where she is a member of the varsity soccer team, Notified a capella group and GDS singers chorus. She also volunteers for Social Coach, providing assistance with technology and social media to senior residential communities. Photos provided.
This week’s Torah portion is Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26. The reading for Shabbat Hachodesh is Exodus 12:1-20.
Time moves differently after trauma. We know this collectively (think of the days following Sept. 11, 2001), and we know this individually. As Rabbi Kerri Olitzsky writes about his personal trauma in “Facing Cancer as a Family”:
“I was ushered into the doctor’s office. There were no smiles, no polite exchanges, nothing that softened the numbing reality that I was about to face. Only these four words of welcome: ‘Your wife has cancer.’ To say that the life of our entire family changed in those few seconds may seem like a hackneyed phrase, but that day in the surgeon’s office and the journey of the spirit that followed were the greatest challenges of my personal faith in God — and that of my family — that we ever experienced.”
The relationship of time and trauma is a relationship of which our Torah is well aware.
“This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you” (Exodus 12:2).
These words are the opening of the maftir or additional Torah reading on this Shabbat, known as Shabbat Hachodesh, at the beginning of the month of Nisan. They are an instruction given to Moses and Aaron in Egypt. “When you leave Egypt,” God says, “mark time anew.” Restart your calendar. The month of Nisan, of liberation, will be the first of the months.
Why the need for a restart? Simply, slavery was trauma. Freedom demands a new counting of time, for time now has purpose. We are no longer biding time as slaves of Pharaoh, but celebrating time as a free people, free to become servants of God.
It’s critical to note the timing of this instruction. God speaks to Moses and Aaron while they are still in Egypt (Exodus 12:1). The people of Israel were still physically enslaved. Indeed, the Exodus has not yet happened but the liberation had already begun. The instruction to mark time anew was the first step in the process of redemption.
This important lesson serves as a valuable reminder in our individual stories of redemption. Redemption, recovery from disease, divorce, personal setback, can begin whenever we are ready to mark a new day. A disease may not be cured, a divorce may not be final, a death may not be fully grieved, but recovery begins when we are ready to see time anew.
In “Living with Cancer, One Day at a Time,” Roxanne Dinkin, a clinical psychologist, writes: “Living with cancer, even terminal cancer, can lead to a deep sense of self- acceptance and peace. A friend facing death from metastatic colon cancer told me that the year since her diagnosis of inoperable cancer had been the happiest of her life. I understood what she meant. The reality of facing life and death issues allows you to live fully in the present moment…The present moment is all we have, no matter how much time is left, and living with cancer lets us deeply appreciate that moment. According to Psalm 118: “Zeh hayom…” — “This is the day that God has made, let us be joyful and glad in it.”
How do we come to this view of time? Jewish ritual can help. Again Roxanne Dinkin: “Jewish ritual can provide you with ways to set boundaries in time around your illness and healing experiences. Saying a blessing before treatment, immersing in mikvah to mark the end of aggressive treatment.”
Marking time anew, setting one moment apart from the next allows us to leave the confining places of our own personal and collective Mitzrayim (Hebrew for Egypt, meaning “narrow place”) and pushes us along the road of healing and redemption.
Rabbi Benjamin Shull is rabbi of Tikvat Israel Congregation in Rockville.
For several years, I’ve been a fan of the family-run Gush Etzion Winery, a modern boutique winery about 20 minutes southwest of Jerusalem. Attached to the winery is a kosher dairy and fish restaurant — the service is nearly always slow (is this taught specifically to kosher wait staff around the globe?), but the food is satisfying, as are the wines produced there. Interestingly, the winery’s inspiration began not with grapes but with blackberries.
When Shraga Rozenberg and his wife, Tamar, relocated from Jerusalem to Efrat in 1986, their new neighbors informed them that the blackberry bush in their new yard produced fabulous fruit. Routinely saddled with more fruit than he knew what to do with, Rozenberg — a former social worker and retirement home manager — decided to tinker with producing blackberry wine and liqueur in his home. Before too long, Rozenberg progressed from blackberries to grapes as he began to dream of vineyards and winemaking.
By 1995, the Rozenbergs had given up their day jobs to devote themselves to establishing the Gush Etzion Winery. Skip ahead to 2005, when the Rozenbergs opened a newly constructed winery at its current location. To this they added a visitor’s center, the kosher restaurant and an outdoor event garden/space.
Today they grow 17 different grape varieties on about 200 acres, selling grapes to a variety of larger wine producers, as well as producing around 50,000 bottles of wine annually under three labels or series: Emek Bracha or Blessed Valley, Alon HaBoded or Lone Oak Tree, and Nachal HaPirim or Spring River.
Here are a few of their wines to consider:
Gush Etzion Winery, Spring River, Red Blend, Judean Hills, 2014 ($28): A charming blend of 40 percent cabernet sauvignon, 35 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet franc and 5 percent petit verdot, positively bursting with vibrant and fresh aromas of dark fruits (blackcurrants, wild berries, blackberries), tobacco, dark chocolate, a touch of spicy oak and a hint of toasted herbs.
Gush Etzion Winery, Spring River, GSM, 2014 ($28): This engaging and thoroughly enjoyable blend of 54 percent syrah, 36 percent mourvedre, and 10 percent grenache is less Rhône and more eastern Mediterranean — light, bright, fresh and refreshing. Medium bodied with forward and generous dark fruit notes, decent spice, a touch of oak and a hint of earth, balanced by soft tannins and nice acidity; offers a deeply pleasing finish.
Gush Etzion Winery, Cabernet Franc Reserve, Judean Hills, 2014 ($43): A medium-bodied, ripe fruit-flavored (dark plum and spicy black cherry) charmer, showing accents of chocolate, cassis, a touch of anise and pepper, and then with vanilla oak and leather in the finish. Nice overall balance.
Gush Etzion Winery, Lone Oak Tree, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Judean Hills, 2014 ($43): This medium-to-full bodied Cab offers fresh and attractive aromas of cherries, menthol, earthy minerals and vanilla, gliding onto the palate with red and black berries, vanilla and a smidge of green bell pepper. It has good balance and nice complexity, yet is still supple and easy to drink.
Gush Etzion Winery, Blessed Valley, Red Wine, Special Reserve, Judean Hills, 2012 ($57): This alluring yet still tight full-bodied blend of 55 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent merlot, 10 percent petit verdot and 5 percent cabernet franc is earthy and fruity and with some spice, but the tannins are still quite firm and the wine is overall still fairly closed. Give this just a little bit longer to mature, or decant vigorously to aerate before serving. L’chaim!
Fill Joshua E. London’s email bag with your questions about wine and spirits: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New kosher-for-Passover items dot the shelves at Giant on Rockville Pike. Photo by Jared Foretek.
The kosher-food world is once again in fifth gear as brand new, never-before-seen kosher-for-Passover products hit grocery shelves and the holiday approaches.
Nearly 55,000 items will be available for Passover this year, the Jewish Link of New Jersey reported. And according to USA Today, the eight days of Passover make up $1.3 billion of the $12 billion kosher market annually.
But what about locally? What’s new this year? We went to find out.
This year’s selection sees new twists on old favorites from heavy hitters Manischewitz and Lieber’s, but an exhaustive search through area aisles also reveals new items from smaller, scrappy upstarts.
There are brand new entrants to the trend of gluten-free and coconut products. La Bonne organic virgin coconut oil is available at the Giant Food Store at Montrose Crossing in Rockville, which is also featuring Absolutely gluten-free raw coconut chews (cranberry chocolate or chocolate and cacao nib-flavor).
Meanwhile, Moti’s Market in Rockville and Safeway on Rockville Pike are selling Lieber’s new organic coconut milk this year. And if you’re planning on “breading” something delicious, Jeff Nathan has new gluten-free Cajun panko flakes on sale at Giant.
Brand new to the Shopper’s in Rockville’s White Flint Plaza is one of the fiercest 2018 entries: Lieber’s hot sauce. It packs a punch and can rescue any bland Passover food. And there’s more in terms of new sauces and dressings. Shalom Kosher in Silver Spring is featuring two new items: Mikee’s marinara sauce and apple cider vinegar by Tonnelli.
As always, there’s plenty new for the sweet tooth. If you’re baking, Moti’s Market has a new line of kosher for Passover flours from Pereg. There’s banana flour, coconut flour, quinoa flour and almond meal flour. (For the mornings, Pereg also has new instant quinoa flakes).
But if you don’t want to worry about dessert yourself, as always, Manischewitz has something to offer with new gluten-free hazelnut chocolate macaroons at Giant. Shopper’s also has some sweet treats in new animal-shaped gummies and “fruit twiggs” by Shefa, and there’s more where that came from with new fruit-flavored candy from Elite at Safeway.
In fact, the Safeway’s dessert section is full of new kosher-for-Passover items, starting with Geffen’s cherry and apple pie fillings. And they feature a slew of new items from Haddar: chocolate covered orange peels, chocolate covered marzipan cream, Mandel mini croutons and Mandel crouton sticks.
Teddy & the Bully Bar, near Dupont Circle in Washington, will host first- and second-night seders on March 30 and 31. Photo courtesy of Emma Anzelone
If you’re coming up on Passover with no seder plans on either or both of the first two nights (March 30 and 31), you still can celebrate. Across the Washington area, there will be Haggadah readings and multi-course meals at restaurants, synagogues, JCCs and in the homes of Jews eager to answer the Haggadah’s call to “let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in want come and celebrate the Passover with us.”
Here are local seders that will get you so involved, you’ll feel as if you were leaving Egypt: Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington will host two first-night seders — a traditional celebration led by Chazzan Larry Paul and a social justice seder.
A PowerPoint Haggadah will lead participants through the social justice seder, said Rabbi Suzy Stone. The presentation will include photos and videos of world events since last Passover.
Stone said the purpose of the social justice seder is to use the symbolism of Passover as material for discussion. The seder plate will include not only an orange — a custom begun in the 1980s to illustrate equality for women — it will also include a tomato. Stone said several rabbis began that custom after observing poor working conditions of tomato growers in Immokalee, Fla.
“The seder provokes the question of, ‘why this?’” Stone said. “That’s what we Jews do. We ask questions on Passover.” $56, sixthandi.org.
There will be small group discussions at Kesher Israel’s first-night seder, held at the kosher restaurant Char Bar in Foggy Bottom. The Orthodox congregation’s rabbi, Hyim Shafer, was once a Hillel rabbi, and said he tries to make his seders interactive.
One of the most interesting table discussions, he said, occurs during reading about the four children — the wise one, the wicked one, the simple one and the one who doesn’t know how to ask.
“It’s trying to give the message that everybody’s different,” he said.
Matzah toast with heirloom tomatoes, basil, chive labneh and other seasonings will be on the menu at Teddy & the Bully Bar’s two seders. Photo courtesy of Emma Anzelone
Shafner said the meal will include brisket, chicken, fish and vegetarian options. $70 for adults, $45 for children. For congregation members: $59 for adults, $39 for children. Register at kesher.org.
Teddy & the Bully Bar, near Dupont Circle, is holding seders on both the first and second night of Passover. Chef Demetrio Zavala, who is Jewish, is using all-local ingredients in his four-course meal. It will include entrees such as salmon rillettes with caper, lemon and mustard seasoning and gefilte fish with horseradish beets and pickled carrots. As an appetizer, there will be matzah toast with heirloom tomatoes, labneh and spices.
The dining room will be decorated in blue and white, Zavala said, and 10 to 12 people typically sit at one table. The restaurant provides seder plates and Haggadot for a 30-minute service, led by one person at each table. Guests typically include families and students from area universities.
“You have a lot of students in the area that don’t have a lot of time to go home,” he said. “This allows them to still be able to celebrate their seder. We do it for you.”
$45 for adults, $21 for children under 12. Teddyandthebullybar.com.
For those who prefer a small, intimate first-night seder with people in their 20s and 30s, the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center’s group EntryPointDC has recruited volunteers to host “satellite seders” in their homes.
EntryPointDC manager Stacy Miller said these seders include three to 25 guests, depending on the size of the host’s home. The advantage of the satellite program, she said, is that each seder is different.
“Sometimes people are looking for a seder where there’s vegetarian food, or one that’s more relaxed, so we take that into consideration as well,” Miller said.
A group gathers in Mandy Newport’s house in Washington for an Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center “satellite seder” in 2016.Photo courtesy of Stacy Miller
Already going to a seder on the first night? The Edlavitch DC JCC will also host a community second-night seder, led by musicians Micah Hendler and Ari Jacobson. There will be a mix of singing, reading and discussion, and a kosher meat meal will follow. $60 for adults, $45 young professionals, $20 for children under 12. washingtondcjcc.org.
Other community seders include a second-night community seder hosted by Kol Ami Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Jewish Community, held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. $20 for adults, $5 for children under 13. kolamivirginia.org.
In Maryland, Conservative Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County in Bethesda will host a second-night seder. $57 for adults, $47 for member adults, $27 children ages 7 to 12, $18 children ages 2 to 6 and free for children under 2. bethelmc.org. Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, an Orthodox synagogue, will hold a second-night seder. $25 ages 13 and older, $15 ages 4-12, free ages 3 and under. bethsholom.org.
There will also be a pre-Passover women’s seder on March 18 at the Bender Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville that will feature a dinner prepared by cookbook author Joan Nathan. $45. benderjccgw.org.