A Sukkot Tea

“And thou shalt rejoice in thy festival” (Deuteronomy 16:14)

Continuing to follow the suggestions of Guide for the Jewish Homemaker, I had five days after Yom Kippur to get ready for Sukkot. The book suggests that I build a sukkah after “a family planning conference that can be great fun.” As in prior years, I did not prepare ahead of time to coerce my husband into helping me build a hut in our front yard so taking that suggestion was out of the question. I was able to “help decorate the congregational sukkah” in that I lent them my eldest child to make paper chains during religious school and was therefore, exempt from scouting “vegetable markets for squashes, eggplants, peppers, Indian corn, cranberries, and other autumn fruits and vegetables” to decorate a sukkah. Following along in the guide, it was suggested that a Sukkot Tea is a way to invite guests into the sukkah. Well since I was taking our congregational sukkah as my own, I asked my friend/rabbi if I could borrow the sukkah for a tea party where I would serve “Strudel, Assorted Cakes and Cookies, Tea and Coffee” and lucky for me, he said yes!

I used Paperless Post to make invitations that I posted all over Facebook inviting anyone who was around on Thursday, 10/4 at 11am to come to Congregation Beth Emeth for “A Sukkot Tea”

GFTJH not only provides directions/suggestions, there are also recipes. Including the recipe for the suggested strudel. The night before the tea, I made strudel and pumpkin cookies, all the while subjecting my husband to recently discovered Yiddish Love Songs. He asked me to save him some strudel; he asked me to turn down the music as he was trying to get work done. Here is the recipe:

Studel (Stretched Dough)

  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsps. salad oil
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water


  • 4 or 5 apples chopped
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Sift together the flour and salt. Combine the eggs, oil and water, and work them into the flour, mixing until the dough leaves the side of the bowl. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth, Place a warm bowl over it, and let stand for about 20 minutes.
  2. Cover a large working surface with a clean tablecloth. (A kitchen table about 24 to 30 inches square is about right; you should be able to walk around the table.) Sprinkle the cloth with flour and roll out the dough as thin as you can; be careful not to tear it.
  3. Now begin the stretching process. Flour the knuckles of your hands, form your hands into fists and place them under the pastry. Carefully and gently pull the dough toward you with the back of your hands. Change your position around the table from time to time so that the dough is stretched in all directions without strain. Continue stretching until the dough is transparent and as thin as tissue paper. Cut away any thick edges. Brush with oil or melted shortening.
  4. Place filling down the length of one side about 2 inches in from the edge. Turn this 2-inch flap over the filling and lift the cloth to continue to roll the dough over and over from that edge. Cut rolled strudel down the middle into two loaves. Place the loaves on a heavily greased baking pan, brush the tops with oil, and bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until they are crisp and brown. Cut into slices.

On Thursday morning, I put hot water into a thermos, stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a Box o’ Joe and headed off to greet any guests who might come to eat strudel. I brought with me “cards decorated with Sukkot designs and symbols” including my own version of “miniature etrog made of yellow jelly bean and lulav made of bits of green plants”.

I had hoped to be able to set-up in the beautiful outside sukkah but due to weather, I got to make use of the sukkah decorated by my child.

In the end, it was just my best friend @shoshuga, Singing PhD Rebettizin, BDT and the Queen Mum in attendance but coffee was drunk, strudel was consumed and etrog/lulav were shook with care not to “handle the etrog carelessly”. It was a lot of fun and I know this is an event I want to repeat again next year, maybe even in my own sukkah as I am lucky enough not to “live in an apartment house” and have no need to “ask the landlord’s permission to build a sukkah on the roof.”

As a side-note, Simhat (Simchat) Torah is only mentioned briefly in GFTJH and so there was not much to do in that respect. It was suggested that I should “see that the children take part in the Simhat Torah procession” and “check the time schedule for hakafot so that the youngsters’ mealtime and bedtime can be arranged accordingly”. My girls were more than happy to comply with the first suggestion. I failed in the second suggestion as I kept the girls up way too late on a school night dancing to the The Sally Mitlas Orchestra and getting caramel apples that I paid the price by having to drive into school the next more. Who cares though, it was a good chag and I can’t wait for next year!

Make appropriate arrangements for your children during the holidays

“On Yom Kippur Eve, those who have to leave their homes before it is time to light the candles (in order to reach the synagogue in time for Kol Nidre) should make arrangements to light candles at the synagogue.” I started the holiday off totally rushed. Rushed home from DD gymnastics. Rushed to put together vegetarian burritos. Rushed to finish eating said burritos before 6:32 p.m. Rushed to get everyone in bed so I could pick @Shoshuga up at her house to go together to Kol Nidre (lest she scare the synagogue staff and my husband again).

“Many women wear some white article on Yom Kippur.” Some of us break out the electric blue blazer and make our way to synagogue for family service, afternoon service, and avoiding the smell of pumpkin french toast casserole in their homes. Which bring us to the title of this post: “Make appropriate arrangements for your children during the holidays.” Note to self, when asked to take the 3rd Aliyah at Yom Kippur afternoon services, do not accept in excitement without confirming details like, “Will I be sitting on the bima?”, “Is there babysitting?”, and “Will my mind go completely blank and will I become unable to read a transliteration when it is my turn?”

Things that I did NOT do during Yom Kippur services:

  • Carry the prayer book in newspaper or a paper bag.
  • Stay at services through the very end (see Make appropriate arrangements…)
  • Visit friends during services.
  • Serve fish at the midday meal of Erev Yom Kippur as a symbol of fruitfulness and plenty.

Things I DID do during Yom Kippur:

  • Be sure that you and your family conduct yourselves at all times with the sanctity of these Holy Days.

And really, in the end, isn’t that what really matters?

Next up: Sukkot Tea – strudel for everyone!



It is the woman of the house who ushers in the Holy Days


This year, we went to my in-laws for Erev dinner – which is nothing like 5725/1964. There was no “father and other members of the family proceed to the synagogue for the evening service” or “the housewife too busy to attend service stays home to greet the returning worshippers with a cheerful “leshanah tovah”.”

Instead, there was football, gay uncles, Face Timing college students, and my rice ring which was surprisingly yummy and kind of impressive looking.


The next morning, we packed up the kids and went to services because “you will want to join your family at the beautiful and impressive services on Rosh Hashanah morning.” The baby (BDT) went to babysitting and the big girl (DD) stayed in the sanctuary with us and some of her friends. She is determined this year to be recognized in Religious School for attending services and made me so proud by sitting nicely, listening, and running up with a friend to see/hear the shofar.

We had our festive midday meal at a friend’s parent’s house and taking my cue from GFTJH, I brought a “gift of the season” – mums. The book suggested a holiday memento such as a divided dish for apples and honey – I didn’t have time to find one but I am so going to do that next year! We had talked about heading back for family services, that didn’t happen as we got all wrapped up in “unstuffed cabbage” and the time just flew by.

GFTJH says that “after the festive midday meal, it is customary to be “at home” to relatives and friends, to exchange Rosh Hashanah greetings and good wishes.” Instead, we headed back to the synagogue with our “bag o’sin” and did our own tashlich ceremony. What I discovered was that aside from some obvious changes in family roles, Rosh Hashanah in 5773 isn’t all that different from 5725.

Next stop: Yom Kippur and GFTJH would be happy to know, I did not “arrange weddings or banquets during these ten days”. :)



“Familiarize yourself beforehand with some of the special aspects of the Mahzor”

The section in “Guide for the Jewish Homemaker” on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur has some suggestions to prepare myself and my family ahead of the coming holy days. Along with questions like “Have the children had a long-standing quarrel?”, “Has a neighbor been offended?”, “Is there a relative who has been neglected” and the suggestion that I take steps to remedy these situations, there is a whole section on what to expect at services. I am taking the suggestion today to familiarize myself with the Mahzor my synagogue uses but first, realized I needed to know the title. Being that this is 2012 and not 1964, I tweeted to my best friend/synagogue board member and friend/rabbi asking for the title so I could do some work beforehand.

The title of the Mahzor we use at Congregation Beth Emeth is “Gates of Repentance“, edited by Chaim Stern. According to the CCAR website:

“Gates of Repentance, containing services, readings, meditations and songs for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, features contemporary, gender-inclusive language throughout. Like its companion, Gates of Prayer, this volume combines the old with the new and supplies each congregation latitude in establishing its own patterns of worship.”

Gender-inclusive language? Check. Combines old with the new? Check. Contains services, readings, meditations and songs for the High Holy Days? Check.

Amazon.com actually has 4 customer reviews on our Mahzor. 5 star reviews – 3; 1 star reviews – 1. Only two of the reviews actually commented on the the content. One went on about the beauty, poetry, and passion of the prayers within. The other, called it repugnant, utter drek and an averah (which I had to look up btw – means sin against G-d).

I feel sufficiently familiarized and ready to head off to services.

Call me Betty Draperwitz

It started with an offhanded comment that I’d be more likely to make Kiddush on Friday nights if my husband was home for dinner. Then a friend posted on Twitter wanting to know how everyone’s Rosh Hashana prep was going. Lacking the inspiration to do either of those things, I turned to “Guide for the Jewish Homemaker”, published first in 1959 (I have the 1964 edition), it suggested I serve a meal of fruit cocktail, chicken soup with mandlen, roast chicken, and a “rice ring” for my “Holy Day” menu. This led me to search Pinterest to find out what the heck a “rice ring” was (it’s exactly what it sounds like). Suddenly, I was inspired – I could spend the next year living the life of a Jewish Homemaker circa 1964. In 5773, you can call me Betty Draperwitz. Shabbat dinners, holidays, educating the children, life events, you name it – I’ll be taking my cues from Shonie B. Levi and Sylvia R. Kaplan. Erev Rosh Hashana is Sunday, we’re eating at my in-laws that night but I’m so going to bring a rice ring and then we’ll be in services on Monday followed by dinner with friends. I’ll post on Tuesday with reflections on how my first day in 5773/5725 went and we’ll go from there. L’shana Tova everyone!