Posted on October 4, 2011. Filed under: Cakes, Cherries, Dairy, Desserts, Ethnic Recipe, Family, Jewish, Kosher Recipe, My Ramblings, Recipes, Sour Cream, Yom Kippur | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The theme running through Yom Kippur that I like the best is remembering and honoring our ancestors.  In our busy daily lives, we often don’t take the time to remember those we cherish who are no longer with us.  We don’t take the time to remember those past generations that we might not have had a personal recollection of but who are a factor in who we are.


In Judaism, a memorial service, called Yizkor (meaning “remember”), is recited as part of the prayer service four times during the year. This is based on the Jewish belief in the eternity of the soul. Although a soul can no longer do good deeds after death, it can gain merit through the charity and good deeds of the living.[1]  It is a proven fact that more people attend services on Yom Kippur Day than any other time of the year because Yizkor is said on Yom Kippur.  In the synagogues, not only do we pick up a prayer book and a Chumash  (Jewish scriptures are sometimes bound in a form that corresponds to the division into weekly readings (called parshiyot in Hebrew). Scriptures bound in this way are generally referred to as a Chumash.), but we also pick up a pamphlet that gives the names of the congregation’s deceased and a form to fill out for charity.

In many, if not all, the synagogues, you will find a large plaque with the names of deceased loved ones of the congregation and next to it will be a lit light bulb, and in our homes we light a Yahrzeit (memorial) candle or plug in one of the more modern Yahrzeit lamps that is left on from Erev Yom Kippur (the night before Yom Kippur Day) until we end our fast on Yom Kippur at sundown.  We do this in honor of our beloved ancestors, especially for a parent, a grandparent or a child as we believe that the candle flame symbolizes the human soul.  We only light one candle that includes everyone.

History is of the utmost importance in Judaism. Whereas the sacred texts of most ancient religions focus on myths and philosophical concepts, the Jewish Bible is centered on historical narrative; and most Jewish holidays are intended to connect modern Jews with their historical ancestors and traditions.  We see this most acutely on Yom Kippur when we remember our own recent history.

We remember our ancestors during the year in others ways too.  If there is a birth, the baby is named after a deceased relative.  We do this because people believed that if they would not name their children after their ancestors, their heritage would be forgotten. Naming children for the grandparents (which is normal but a baby can be named for any deceased ancestor) fosters a sense of continuity and purpose.

At Passover we recall our ancestor’s Exodus from Egypt and their journey to the Promised land.  As children we are told bible stories which tell the history of our people.  Each time the Torah is read, we remember those of biblical times that came before us.

But the best way to remember and honor our ancestors is to practice charity in whatever way we are able to.  We should strive to be the best person we can be so we can live up to their expectations of us.  We may fail, but if we at least try, that is a mitzvah (a good deed).

So, this year, as you sit around the table at your break fast, tell family stories, remember and pass those stories down to the next generation and remind your own generation of stories that may link them to you whether you know it or not.

This year, I will take the time to remember my beloved father, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles who are no longer with us.  I will remember my cousin, Roger, who died way too young, and I will remember my best friend, Beverly Clark.  I will remember my friends Sam & Florence Vyner, Elaine Rubin, Sam Goldstein and Florence Epstein.  I will remember those that died during the Holocaust at the hands of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party.  I will remember those martyrs that died because they were Jewish.  I will remember those who have fought to protect our freedom and our country in all the wars that we have been involved in.  I will remember those who died on September 11, 2001. May they all rest in peace.  Amen.

To help sweeten the remembrance of these special people, I offer you this sour cream cake recipe:

Sour Cream and Cherry Coffee Cake

Sour Cream & Cherry Coffee Cake


1 – 18 oz package white cake mix

1 – 8 oz container sour cream

3 – eggs

1/4 – cup water

1 – 21 oz can Lucky Leaf cherry pie filling

1/4 – cup sliced almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a jelly-roll pan or 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Mix together the sour cream, eggs and water. Combine with the cake mix. Spread mixture into a greased baking dish and drop the pie filling over the batter in spoonfuls. Make sure to swirl the pie filling throughout the batter. If not the pie filling will settle in the middle.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through. Test with toothpick for doneness. Cool in pan and drizzle with a simple icing if desired.

Simple Icing

1 ½ – cups powdered sugar

2 – tablespoons milk

½ – teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Drizzle over coffee cake and garnish with sliced almonds.



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Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Cakes, Cherries, Dairy, Desserts, Family, Honey, Jewish, Kosher Recipe, Lemons, My Ramblings, Paerve, Parve, Recipes, Rosh Hashannah Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Today I haven’t felt well so this is a short one…just enough to post today’s honey cake recipe. Tomorrow look for a Rosh Hashanah Gift from me to you.

Just a note…I want to say how proud I am of my step-daughter. Rhona made 14 challahs yesterday and is making 11 more today! WTG, Rhona!!! Being out of work for a while made Rhona go crazy, so she decided to go into the challah-making business. She’s just beginning and does it mostly for people from her synagogue. But word of mouth is making business boom for the holidays. She even has my grandson, Marc, working for her! He gets the profits from whatever he makes. Rhona tells me he is an expert braider now. So, it goes to show you, you don’t have to sit back in these lean times. Keep up the good work, Rhona!

My husband is out shopping for Yom Tov groceries. I can’t wait to see what he brings home. I’m going down in a bit to take the brisket out of the freezer so I can make it tomorrow.

Here’s today’s honey cake recipe. Don’t forget, keep your eyes out for tomorrow’s post and in case you can’t stop by tomorrow, I’ll take the time now to wish all of you and yours a Sweet, Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, Love-Filled New Year! L’Shanah Tova Tikatavu.

Golden Crown Honey Cake

Golden Crown Honey Pound Cake
Makes 3 loaves

1 cup Butter or margarine
3 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup whole maraschino cherries, drained
1/2 cup broken pecans

Bring butter and eggs to room temperature.

In large mixer bowl, beat butter on medium speed of electric mixer
about 1 minute. Gradually add honey, then sugar; beat 5 to 7 minutes
after all honey and sugar are added.

Add vanilla and lemon peel; mix well. Add eggs one at a time; beat
after each addition. Scrape bowl frequently.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; mix well.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture; beat on low speed only until
ingredients are blended; gently stir in cherries and pecans. Pour
batter into three* (6 x 3-1/4 x 2-1/2 in.) greased and floured loaf

Bake at 325°F 40 to 50 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near
center comes clean. Cool 15 minutes in pan. Remove from pan; cool
completely on wire rack.

Makes 3 loaves.

*One 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan may be used. Bake at 325°F about 60

Prep Time: About 30 minutes

Bake Time: Less than 1 hour

Serving Suggestion: For gift-giving, wrap in colored plastic wrap.

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Posted on September 5, 2011. Filed under: Family, Friends, My Ramblings, Recipes, Rochester, Traditions, Tried and True Recipe, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

 I just learned that my young friend Sammy is having an honor (an aliyah) bestowed on him at his synagogue this morning, so in his honor, I thought I would write about tradition(s).

Figure 1 Sammy and Gil at Rhona’s Birthday Party

The Free Dictionary defines the word “tradition” as “the handing down from generation to generation of the same customs, beliefs, etc., especially by word of mouth.”  But that negates the feelings that are inherent in the word “tradition.”  I would define it as the sharing of customs and beliefs by example and teaching.  Most traditions are good and have a modicum of warm fuzzies associated with them.  A person can have religious traditions, citizenship traditions and family traditions.  One may also have traditions with friends.  Traditions are between two or more people.  And, yes, you can have your own personal traditions, but they usually involve other people.

My religion teaches me many traditions, most importantly the tradition of close knit family and how to behave in a civilized world.  It governs my life cycle; how I was named, what my rite of passage was and how I married.  It will govern how I die.  It also governs my daily life and my spiritual life. My religion teaches me the importance of celebrating momentous occasions and many times teaches me how to celebrate those occasions.

Figure 2 Temple Beth Am, Henrietta, NY

My country teaches me the traditions of its laws, its values.  It further defines how I should behave in a civilized way.  My country teaches me a sense of community and a pride in belonging. It teaches me the preciousness of freedom. My country declares country-wide holidays (what we call “legal” holidays).

Figure 3 Statue of Liberty

My family teaches me most of my traditions, fine tuning the traditions of our religion and country to our way of life.  My family is really the core of my traditions and my celebration of all momentous and “legal” holidays.

Figure 4 Rhona Saying the Blessings Over Candles

My friends and I have traditions that we share.  My friends teach me how to share traditions and respect other traditions.  They teach me tolerance.

Figure 5 Fernando and Laura at Our Annual Chanukah Party Held at Their Home

My personal traditions are traditions that I create for myself and others. These traditions teach me creativity and the importance of all traditions that I follow in my life.

Figure 6 Rhona and Paul at a Restaurant in Kingston

So, what are some of my favorite traditions?

My favorite religious tradition is learning.  I love to learn about everything and that comes from a long line of people who love to learn.  Also, my favorite religious tradition is the retelling of the Exodus from Egypt at Passover time.  I love the symbolism and the rich poetry of the Haggadah, so I began giving a new Haggadah to my husband every year.  When we hold our own Seders, we use the Haggadahs that I have written.  That gives me a lot of pride.  Haggadahs tell the story of the Exodus and has special prayers of thanks to G-d.  Many Haggadahs include songs and poems.  We celebrate freedom.

Figure 7 A Sample of a Haggadah Cover

My favorite United States tradition is celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday.  I love to take the time to be grateful, to spend quality family time and eat some great food.  I love to make turkeys.  It is my very favorite food to cook!  Lately though, we go to a restaurant so that no one has to bother with clean up.  All of us though prefer to celebrate it at home as the food is so much better there!  My Thanksgiving duties have now been taken over by the next generation.

Figure 8 Scott and Lisa at Thanksgiving Time

My favorite family tradition is playing games with my parents.  We usually played board games as we were growing up, but when I became an adult, we played more card games.  Of course, our favorite board game to play was Monopoly by Milton Bradley.  My favorite card game was and still is Euchre.  Today I would still enjoy playing board games, but the grandkids are into electronic games.  For a short while though, my youngest  grandson and I played an online MMORPG called Wizard 101 together.  But school interfered and he played less and less, so I cancelled my subscriptions and went back to my favorite MMORPG which is World of Warcraft.

Figure 9 The Monopoly Game I Played as a Kid

My favorite friend tradition was going over to our friend’s Leo and Laura’s to celebrate Chanukah.  Leo and Laura are more like family than friends and sadly they moved out-of-town last year and due to my own fault, we’ve lost touch.   But, Scott, Lisa and the kids and our friend, Rob would all gather at their house for a marvelous time.  Rob came all the way from Baltimore, Maryland to celebrate with us.  It’s been a long time since we saw him, but we still keep in touch.  We celebrated holidays together for many, many years, beginning when Leo and Laura’s eldest son, Fernando, was 4 years old.  Nando is now almost finished with medical school.  Alex I think graduated college this year.  I miss them!

Figure 10 Leo & Laura

My favorite personal tradition is trying out new restaurants with Paul.  We loved going on “mystery adventures” where we would get into the car, head out in a direction and set a time limit on our drive.  Then we would look for a restaurant that we hadn’t tried before.  We usually had good luck doing this and we sometimes took our friend, Joey, with us on these mystery treks.  Unfortunately, these drives had to end with the price of gas and our drastically reduced finances.  I miss them and I’m sure Paul does too!  And we lost touch with our sweet Joey, unfortunately.

Figure 11 We never used maps on our mystery treks.

Stay tuned for Part II of this article…some of my recipes that I equate with some of our traditions.

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