Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Thoughts on Being the Jewish Convert Mom

Almost suddenly, I've realized that where I thought I was empty, I'm full. My point of view here on the blog was once as a woman going through a conversion, then as a Jewish woman navigating life as a convert, navigating life as a divorced convert, navigating life as an Israeli, navigating life as a mom ... and now?

Now I'm navigating life as a Jewish woman watching her children grow up in a completely different universe than the one she grew up in.

Every day I realize how completely and utterly unprepared I am for parenting Jewish children, but I also realize how lucky I am being able to watch my kids grow up with the gift of being members of Am Yisrael. I came late to my destiny, they'll grow up knowing theirs.

Here's to another adventure!

Monday, March 11, 2019

On the Backs of Women: Sheli v'shelechem shelah hu.

New favorite quote/piece of Torah?
My Torah knowledge and yours is actually hers.
Sheli v'shelechem shelah hu.
שלי ושלכם שלה הוא
The whole of the story goes like this about Rabbi Akiva and his wife Rachel:
He went back and sat for another twelve years in the study hall. When he came back he brought twenty-four thousand students with him. His wife heard and went out toward him to greet him. Her neighbors said: Borrow some clothes and wear them, as your current apparel is not appropriate to meet an important person. She said to them: “A righteous man understands the life of his beast” (Proverbs 12:10). When she came to him she fell on her face and kissed his feet. His attendants pushed her away as they did not know who she was, and he said to them: Leave her alone, as my Torah knowledge and yours is actually hers.
I read this in Eishes Chayil, and it came at the culmination of the book in explaining the culmination of what it means to be an Eishes Chayil. All that you do for your children and your husband and family and community, from dawn until dusk, working, and providing, and tidying, and everything else you do to allow those you love to become their best, most amazing selves, all comes back to the Eishes Chayil

The world is built on the backs and strength of women, of wives, of mothers. And that is quite the responsibility and point of pride. 

I'm gearing up to write a longer review of the book for publication, and I've got so many highlights, so many questions, so many thoughts. Stay tuned, it's coming!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Book Review: G-d versus gods by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

Sometimes, it's just easier to do things in a video. Check out my review of Rabbi Klein's newest book G-d versus gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry, out now from Mosaica Press!

Get your copy on Amazon or Mosaica Press

Friday, January 11, 2019

All Shuk Up: Mujadra Basmati Rice Recipe, Vegetarian Jerusalem Mixed Grill, and More!

Hey hey happy Friday! Ah, it's nice to not have the pressures of work (it's been a long week, so I'm slacking today sort of but not really).

So I've been going all in on Instagram these days, and I've fallen deeply in love with the stories function. So, if you're on Instagram, make sure you're following me at @TheChaviva. I like how quick and easy it is to engage and interact with people, and it just fits in a bit better for me these days with all that's going on than long-form blogging does. I know, it's tough, but there we are.

First up: All Shuk Up! This is my new favorite obsession ... it's a company that importants goodies straight from Machane Yehudah (aka the shuk) in Jerusalem. Go there, buy all the things, and enjoy. Here are some of our favorites:

Shakshuka spice mix!
I ordered a bunch of the $2.50 samplers of the dried fruit, and my kids were super jazzed with the ones mentioned above. They weren't huge fans of the watermelon or the banana rolls, but I thought they were both pretty awesome. 

Pistachio mix. DROOL!

If you place an order with them, mention my name in the comments so they know how you found them! There's also a discount code right now just in time for Tu B'Shevat. Enter TBSHVT at checkout for free shipping.

And now ... recipes!

So the mujadra mix is one of my husband's favorites. On my recent trip to Israel, I mulled back a TON of stuff from the shuk, including a mujadra mix that came pre-mixed with rice in it. This one doesn't have the rice in it, but it was easy enough to throw together a recipe for the Instant Pot. 

Mujadra Basmati Rice

  • Spray the IP with your oil of choice to prevent sticking.
  • Throw everything in the IP. 
  • Cover and make sure the vent is sealed. 
  • Cook for 10 minutes on high pressure.
  • Let pressure release naturally or do a quick release >> it's up to you
  • Enjoy! (I like to serve this with salmon.)
Mr. T would eat this every day of the week if he could, no lie. This will be one thing I have in stock always. He misses Israeli cuisine (he did live there for like 10 years), and so do I!

Next up is another spice mix Mr. T asked me to pick up: meurav Yerushalmi mix. One of the most popular meals you can get in Israel basically anywhere is the Jerusalem Mixed Grill: chicken hearts, spleens and liver mixed with bits of lamb cooked on a flat grill, seasoned with onion, and a ton of spices. 

Now, we're vegetarian at home but he's been jonesing for this, so I put on my kosher-cooking thinking cap and came up with this: Jerusatarian Mixed Grill. It's a vegetarian twist (really it's vegan) on the Mixed Grill using the meurav Yerusahlmi mix!

The proteins were Gardein's Beefless Crumbles + Chickpeas + Gardein's Chick'n Scallopini, and the recipe looks roughly something like this: 

[I wanted to put a picture here, but it's not the most photogenic of foods HA!]

Jerusatarian Mixed Grill

  • 1 bag Gardein's Beefless Crumbles
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 3 Gardein Chick'n Scallopini
  • 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
  • Plenty of All Shuk Up's meurav Yerushalmi mix
  • Fry up/sauté the yellow onion until it's brown and caramelized and set aside.
  • Cook Beefless Crumbles according to package directions. 
  • Cook Chick'n Scallopini according to package directions and then slice them into strips or chunks. 
  • In a large wok-style or saute pan, mix together the onions, crumbles, chickpeas, chick'n, and meurav Yerushalmi mix until thoroughly combined. 
  • Serve with pita, hummus, tahini, Israeli pickles, green olives, baba ganoush, and more. 

Are you going to order from All Shuk Up? Have you already ordered? What are you most excited about? 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Ask Chaviva Anything: Am I a Religious Jew?

Not related to this post, but ... I highly recommend getting this book. 

Ah another rousing installment of Ask Chaviva (Almost) Anything, and I got a few doozies. Let's start with the easy, yet incredibly offensive one, shall we?

Are you deeply religious? This seems like an absurd question given your conversion journey however it seems as though you mention surface things of a Jewish lifestyle (cooking, kids, Shabbat) but not the joy/love you have for the Gd of Jews and the actual faith itself. I suppose what I’m attempting to say is that you seem to be culturally Jewish without being religiously Jewish.

Well hello there. Now, I could get super offended at how completely offensive your question is, because you've asked a question based on reading some blog posts and not seeing me in real life or knowing me or really digging into the thousands of blog posts I've posted about my relationship with HaShem (which, by the way, is meant to be deeply personal and private) or things beyond the superficial, but that would be an exercise in futility. 

Making a statement suggesting that I'm not "religiously Jewish" is, well, gosh. I don't even know where to begin. It's presumptuous, it's offensive, it's hurtful, and, if you're a Jew, then you're breaking quite a few mitzvot regarding converts

I am a married, full-time working mother to three kids ages 5, 2.4, and nearly 9 months. On top of that, I do marketing work for my kids' preschool and work other side hustles to help keep our family on the up and up. First and foremost, I'm a Jew. Then I'm a mother. Then I'm a wife. Then I'm an Israeli. Then I'm writer. And so on. Capiche? 

This is the period in basically every Torah-observant Jewish woman's life where she can barely find five seconds alone to use the bathroom, let alone to spend hours online writing about her deepest inner feelings about HaShem and what it means to be a Jewish woman and mother and how I can't seem to find the brain space and focus to formally daven. That being said, I cry out to HaShem daily ... for strength, shalom, guidance. 

So, before you go throwing around things like "Oh you sure seem like a cultural Jew, but not a religious Jew!" take a step back and recognize that I'm a real human with a real human brain and a real human life that is a whole heckuva lot more busy that you can possibly imagine. My religiosity is my business, not yours, not anyone else's. 

I'll also say that I am sorry for whatever it is that you're going through that you have to project these sentiments on me. We often project our greatest struggles onto others as a means of deflection, so I hope you find your peace and direction as well.

Oh, one more thing, this:


And now for the tougher one ...

Did you know you have a huge “Messianic” following? How do you feel about that and what do you think of their lying by omission to be in Jewish places (such as mikvas)?

Wait, WHAT?! No, I had no idea. How do you know this? Where do I find this following? How, what, where, when ...? I'm baffled here. 

Okay, now to compose myself ... I'm not sure that there is such a huge problem with these people making their way into mikva'ot, because that's such a personal experience it's not like they're influencing others while they're there. Messianics who go door to door or work their way into Jewish preschools or organizations and slowly plant materials and ideas among communities, that's what seriously bothers me. The sneaky factor of Messianics drives me nuts. I'm an advocate of being loud and proud about who you are and what you believe, not sneaking around and defining yourself by what you aren't or by some kind of mask of who you are. If Messianics want to be Messianics, they should own it and stop trying to sneak their way into people's minds. 

But seriously, who are these people and where is this following!?

Are you in imamother? Favorite topics?

I'm not. Should I be? What are YOUR favorite topics?

Want to ask me something? Try not to be an offensive jerk about it, okay? Ask away!