Wednesday, December 5, 2012



Let’s Eat - The Traditional Meal in Jewish Living

Perhaps the most traditional meal in Jewish living  takes  place  not  on  a  special  holiday,  but every weekend when millions of Jews acknowledge the Sabbath.  Many make it their custom to have a special meal on Friday night, after the  men  come  back  from  the  Synagogue  and  the women have lit the Shabbos candles. 
For Natalie the main character in  Next  Year  in  Jerusalem,  Romance,  Mystery  &  Spiritual Awakenings, she often partakes of part or all or the traditional  meal.   Natalie  and  David  (her husband) do not always observe the complete rituals of  the  dinner.   But  Natalie  often  makes homemade chicken soup, one of the most traditional items on the menu around the world.  She loves  to  add  lots  of  red  onion  chunks  and fresh garlic  to   a   fairly   standard   recipe.   Her basic ingredients are: small whole chicken quartered, water, salt, pepper, sliced carrots, sliced celery, and lots of  other  seasonings,  depending  on  Natalie's  mood.   Sometimes  she  even adds curry powder and brown rice.  Nothing is set in stone for her cooking habits.
Natalie always buys a fresh Challah for the weekend.   This sweet,  white  bread  has  been  the traditional bread of Jews for thousands of years.  Many  women  bake  their  own  challah  every week.  This is considered  a   privilege  and  even  a  special  good  deed  in  the  Jewish  faith.  However, Natalie, busy working as a school psychologist, hasn't felt inclined to put in the baking time.  However, on rare occasions, she and David have baled a batch of loaves  together.   The last time was five  years  ago  during   a  snow  storm.   They  had  great  fun  getting  the  dough ready, letting it rise and shaping the loaves and braiding the dough on top of the loaves. 
The ingredients in a basic Challah are: yeast, water, flour, salt, sugar, oil, one egg beaten  and if you wish a glaze on top then  one  egg  yolk  diluted  with  water,  poppy  seeds  and/or  sesame seeds.
Typically a full Sabbath meal is as follows:
  • Gefilte fish, Chicken soup, Challah and of course wine for the Shabbat Blessings.
  • A main course of chicken or beef, potato kugel, and a  cooked vegetable
  • Then dessert that might be a cookie called Mandel Bread or fruit compote or fresh fruit.
This meal is repeated in many households every  weekend  all  year.   You  would  think  people would get tired of the menu.  But usually they don't.  There is the nostalgic part of the  meal  and the memories that are evoled by always eating a tasty meal in just about the same way.  Natalie is a little more adventurous and plays with the meal.   Sometimes  she  completely  diverts  and they  have  homemade  chili  for  the main   course.    But   for   many   Jews   the   meal   is   the acknowledgement of a gift from God.  The gift  being  a  day  of  rest  and  one  of  the  ways  of honoring that day is to dignify it with  the   same  opening  meal  every  Friday  night  soon  after sundown.
Like any good ritual, the meaning is often more than half of the flavor!  So if  you  are  Jewish,   I suggest you try  the  menu  on  Friday  night  if  you  aren't  doing  it  already.   And  if  you  aren't, hopefully you will have a chance sometime to experience the ritualized menu and just Christmas sugar cookes you may enjoy, you will see how ritual around food plays a critical part in all of our lives. 

About Next Year in Jerusalem

You may be wondering why I chose the title Next Year in Jerusalem! for my new novel.  Why not Forbidden Romance or Romantic Travel or Spiritual Awakenings  or  Lust,  Memories  and  Old Friends on Facebook?  After all Natalie and Maggie are two women, both caught  up  in  issues that many of us face: a somewhat dull but faithful husband; a bad marriage  leading  finally  to  a divorce; a desire for adventure; unsatisfied spiritual longings.  They have a great friendship with each other, something research keeps confirming, keeps us young and emotionally happy,  but life is far from easy for either women.

So again, why would I focus on a strange title that comes out of a book written thousands of years ago?

Here is one of the reasons.  Next Year in Jerusalem! is actually a phrase that shows up at  the end of the  Haggadah.   Those  of  you  who  are  not  Jewish  may  wonder  what  that  is.   The Haggadah is a book that the Jews have used for thousands of years to celebrate and relive the Passover experience.  Many people know that the central theme of the story  is  how  the  Jews, who were slaves in Egypt, were finally able to escape and began their long journey of 40 years to get to the promised Land, which was Israel.  However, what a lot  of  people  don't  realize  is that this theme is universal and can be taken metaphorically for all of us.  That is why  when  the Haggadah ends  with  the  fourth  glass  of  wine  being  drunk,  and  the  words,  Next  Year  in Jerusalem! the phrase becomes so significant.

About Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein         

Dr.  Barbara  Becker  Holstein,  internationally  known  positive psychologist, inspires thousands  with  her  ENCHANTED  SELF®. Around  the  world  people  benefit  from   her   techniques   to enhance well-being, and to live up to their potential. Known for her  ability  to  make  complex  psychological  concepts  easy  to understand and to implement, she has now turned her talents  to novel writing.   "A  great  fiction  read  is  a  great escape,  and  yet, it is more! It is the gateway to  new  ways  of  thinking  and behaving."

Dr. Holstein  received her Doctorate  in  Education  from  Boston  University  and  her  BA degree from  Barnard College. Dr. Holstein has been a school psychologist and taught  first and second grades. She is in private practice with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein,  in Long Branch, New Jersey. Find her at   and

Her previous books include:
·    THE ENCHANTED SELF, A Positive Therapy
·    Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!
·    The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything)
·    Seven Gateways to Happiness: Freeing Your Enchanted Self



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