"We can’t change the world except insofar as we change the way we look at the world — and, in fact, any one of us can make that change, in any direction, at any moment."
-Pico Iyer, writer-journalist who has covered the Dalai Lama for 35 years-
Dear H.L & L.R.:
A perfect evening and the best way to break the fast - good food, good conversation, good friends and lots of love - doesn't that keep us all young and alzheimer free!!!
XOXO J, R, & A
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Yom Kippur 2013
It's been a whole month since Yom Kippur (Sept. 14, 2013) & I'm determined to get this post finished today. Would you believe I started writing it on Sept. 23?
I had it mostly written, & failing to hit the "save" button, I lost most of it in a flash. Aargh!! Computers! My stupidity!! I won't make that mistake again. Yeah, right! You know I will.
Eat, Pray, Fast, Love, Eat Plant-Based
Let me explain
Sometimes you just have to transform the traditional. Holiday fare doesn't always have to be brisket and matzoh ball soup, or lox, bagels & cream cheese. Plant-based can work just fine. Over the past 5 years I've had to forge some new traditions.
My kids are all grown-up & live on opposite coasts. We're stuck here in the middle. As for brisket? Haven't had it in years!
It's a fact of 21st century life. Holidays can't always be celebrated with your family. If your family lives out-of-town, your friends can be transformed into family. And you really can transform humble fare like rice, beans and squash into something truly spectacular. "Find a way to be grateful for what you do have."
1. Eat: We always eat a special meal before sunset on the eve of holidays. Yom Kippur is no exception. This year was as non-traditional as it gets! A plant-based meal in a Latin restaurant with family & friends. It was a workday. Cooking one more festive meal would have put me "over the top "-- after planning & preparing our Break Fast. "Eating Out" turned out to be an absolutely brilliant solution: easy, & relaxing. Why hadn't I thought of it before?
2. Pray: From the Kol Nidre prayer & service on the eve of Yom Kippur, until sunset the following a day, it's an 24 hour serious PRAYER FEST--reflection, repentence. I call it the "Report Card & Annual Tune-Up for Grown-Ups". This early HHLL post explains it so well--thanks to Rabbi Sharon Brous:
"Realize that you cannot control if you will live or die, but you can control the way that you're going to live over the course of the year--and that's not some big amorphous ambiguous statement, like "feel good." But it actually means: go out and do these three things":
- Build a spiritual life for yourself.
- Fix your relationships.
- And fight for justice in the world.
Because ultimately those are the three things that matter in life.
3. Love: Surrounded by family, friends, community, inspiration, music. Love, right?
4. Fast: No food. No drink. Simple as that. I draw the line on not brushing my teeth.
5. Eat Plant-Based: After sunset. After the final prayers & the shofar has blown. It's Break the Fast time. Food never tasted so good. And isn't that the point? Appreciation.
Whatever our faith, or lack thereof, if we're lucky, we all have those times during the year where we take time-out to reflect on how the year has gone. What went went well? What didn't? Where we screwed up, & what we wish we could have done better. Think, an "annual-this-is-your-life review".
I'm also talking about those special times, totally unbidden & unexpected, when we feel our hearts crack wide open with emotion in a way we can't explain, tears start to flow, we feel inspired, recharged, in touch with some core hidden part of ourselves. It's the kind of experience that helps us to inch forward in the direction of our better nicer selves. Like a thump on the head that wakes us up, & makes us think, "Wow, I never thought of it like that before! Thanks for clueing me in."
It can happen on a hike in the woods, at a meditation retreat, dancing at a wedding, at a graduation ceremony, the birth of a baby, or even at an outdoor concert on a starry night. Or at a house of worship. Or around your dining room table.
But Yom Kippur does it for me. Consistenly. Annually. The melodies, the music, the swaying, the choreography, the community, the combination of ancient prayers and always some "new-fangled twists on tradition" & new perspectives on how to do a better job with this messy-not-always-easy-business of living. Things don't always work out as planned. And other people can sometimes be annoying, disappointing & difficult. And so can we!
My family is spread all over the country. East coast. West coast. Southern Coast. And down-state. Lucky for me, I've got a group of friends whose families are also spread out far and wide. This year was a special bonus. My sister & brother-in-law traveled to spend the holiday in our neck of the woods. And it was wonderful.
The After the Fast Meal Plan
No bagels, lox, cream cheese, cheese blintzes, cheese, creamed pickled herring, or cheesecake at the Break Fast the Lab Rat & I hosted. Traditional Yom Kippur meals are always dairy.
This break fast was all plant-based. Most of it was also gluten-free.
The tough part? This meal has to be prepared ahead of time, which isn't so easy. We usually spend the whole day at synagogue--it helps to stay away from food when you're fasting all day.
The table has to be pre-set, the food all made the day or days before.
I had lots of help. Everybody brought a dish. I decided on a menu a week ahead & gave everyone a choice of what recipe they wanted to make.
Traditional, it wasn't.
Scrumptious, delicious, non-traditional--it was.
The Menu - Not Just for Break Fast, Anymore - It Can Work Anytime!
NOTE: The Recipage recipes sometimes load a bit slowly. I don't know why. Give it a little time, or try clicking on them at another time. Sorry.
Traditional red wine.
Traditional Apples, Honey, & Pomegranates
Non-Traditional 100% Whole Wheat Bread & Mary's Gone Crackers Gluten-Free Crackers
Dreena Burton's Wonder Spread (from the Plant-Powered 15 E-Book. Click here) This is a creamy slightly cheesy, slightly sweet, delectable plant-based spread/dip for crackers, bread, veggies. Makes up in a flash & is eaten up just as quickly. It's my Go-To "Company's Coming" appetizer. Thank you, Dreena!
Cut-up vegetable dippers.
The Main Event
Cheezy Black Bean & Corn Vegetable "Lasagna" (gluten-free, this one was made with corn instead or wheat tortillas) This is an "enlightened" version of a recipe by cookbook author Natalie Slater. It's an incredibly cheesy lasagna that will certainly please even the omnivores in your family. Very adaptable, too. Add some wilted spinach or kale or even cooked cubes of butternut squash or sweet potatoes if you want to "veggie it up"!
Curry Hummus & Cherry Tomato Chutney Pizza (I also made a gluten-free option with a GF baked tortilla) This is an OMG! enlightened appetizer/meal that helps to use up your bumper crop of cherry tomatoes. Truly a taste treat. The recipe is an "enlightened" version of a Chef Bobby Flays creation--and given to me by HHLL reader Cindy G.!
Kale Waldorf Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Honey Crisp Apples & Creamy Dressing This has become a family favorite, another recipe given to me by an HHLL reader, Lani S. This is an "enlightened" version of a Whole Foods recipe. A creamy sweet tart & savory dressing made without oil.
Triple Rice Salad with Dried Fruits, Nuts & Apple Sage Field Roast Sausage (serve the Field Roast on the side as a mix-in, if you have gluten-free guests) This is another long-time "enlightened" family favorite, made with the magical combo flavors of fresh parsley, basil & mint--along with currants, dried cranberries, apricots, & pecans. Oh baby!! I need to make some soon!
Dreena Burton's Amazing Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie with Nut Crust (gluten-free) An exta-special company dessert that everyone will love. Plan on having NO LEFT-OVERS! *My sister's tip (she's an expert baker): toast the nuts for a richer flavor; you could easily make this with fewer nuts.
"I Like It Green's" Hearty No-Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies (chocolate chips, almond butter, oats, & seeds) (gluten-free) I can't say enough about this "cookie"! It's not only delicious--it's also so ealthy you could eat it for breakfast. And you will. Trust me!
Pineapple & Grapes
Yom Kippur, Blue Zone Style? What Up with That?
Here I am in the most ordinary of towns, not "culturally isolated" in any way. But, if you look at the Blue Zones, we sure had a lot of these going for us on Yom Kippur 2013.. And really, for most of year.
The BIG NO-SHOWS on my list: Sun, "No Time Urgency" (gotta work on that one), Culturally isolated, No Alcohol (not much--but, certainly not zero), Fava Beans (rarely--only in falafel)
Here's what we've got going for us:
1. High Polyphenol Wine (check--holiday wine is ALWAYS red, at my house)
2. Nuts (check)
3. Healthy Social Circle (check)
4. Whole grains (check)
5. Family (check)
6. No-Smoking (check)
7. Constant Activity (check)
8. Social Engagement (check)
9. Legumes (check)
10. Gardening (check) Where do you think those cherry tomatoes came from??
11. Strong Women (check) Every one of the women in the picture above is astonishingly STRONG, in so many ways!!
12. High Soy (check)
13. Faith (check) The post is all about Yom Kippur! Right?
14. Turmeric (check) An ingredient in curry!
15. Likeability (check) Everyone is the pic above is exceeedingly likeable.
16. Plant-Based (check) The entire meal--and every meal, everyday.
The One Million Bones Project
Reflections on This Year's Yom Kippur Social Action Lecture: Naomi Natale
If you don't see the video on your screen click here
Heart-breaking. Breath-taking. Awe-inspiring.
To not ever feel paralyzed into inaction. Those are the words I jotted down in the margins of the only paper I had handy. They're words that describe the Washington, DC "One Million Bones" National Mall Exhibit, held June 8-10, 2013. I had no idea of its existence before last weekend. http://www.onemillionbones.org to find out more
Mid-afternoon, my synagogue's tradition is to have a social action lecture. This year, we heard from Naomi Natale, a 32-year old artist, an activist, & a TED fellow, whose work since 2009 has been a mammoth national project to bring person-to-person awareness & to inspire activism to the ongoing genocides and mass atrocities in places like Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Burma.
Her presentation started with this powerful video. And that was just the beginning. She shared heart-breaking stories of survivors from these atrocities--and how One Million Bones has affected them. And the powerful experiences of those all across the country who participated in the project.
In the margins of a little violet program, I jotted down notes of the words I wanted to remember:
In no particular order.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke-
It’s about the bones in our bodies--what’s inside of us. And how we’re connected to each other. How we’re not so different.
We lost so many people & we never knew what happened to them. Now we know.
You really don’t know something, until you know something. And it changes the way you act.
In my country, the skeletons are “IN THE CLOSET”. When you lay bones in public, you make them visible.
Naomi Natale: Intersection between art & social activism.
Maybe, just maybe, it would take us carrying bones to make us responsible for each other.
Bones are inconvenient & uncomfortable & it’s so much easier to look away.
The work we decide is not for us to do--is left for our children. It doesn't disappear just because we ignore it.
Art has a capacity to bring issues home.
It’s what we value, that we fight to protect.
To provoke a sense of national responsibility.
By calling something “GENOCIDE” & then not taking action - sets a precedent that it's OK to look away.
It’s a process of connecting your heart to an issue--to your community--and to someone in another country. Laying Bones--issues of genocide & mass violence.
Fragile hand-made bones were packed & shipped from Albuquerque to Washington, DC. They had a lot of broken bones on the day of the Washington, DC installation. Upsetting. Of the project’s broken bones, one women who lost 5 children to a massacre in the Congo said, “Everything in this world is broken--when you look at any of these bones, all laid out, separate from each other--they’re already broken."
From the One Million Bones website:
"One Million Bones was a large-scale social arts practice, combining education, hands-on art making, and public installations to raise awareness of ongoing genocides and mass atrocities in places like Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Burma."
We never cease to be amazed at HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE ONLY A VAGUE NOTION OF WHAT GENOCIDE IS, & HOW MANY MORE HAVE NO IDEA THAT IT'S HAPPENING TODAY.
While we must remember genocides throughout history and honor those lost to unimaginable horrors, the current crimes against humanity we focus on, require immediate attention and action. We understand genocide to be defined as outlined in the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:
“Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
One Million Bones is a project of The Art of Revolution, an organization dedicated to leveraging the power of art to inspire activism. We believe that art is such an incredible tool with which to engage and mobilize communities around a specific social justice issue. It offers tangible a way for people to connect to things that are not presented to them daily."