Retivut? Get Riduvit!

Olim from Western countries get very upset when they find their home in Israel is beset with retivut. Often they are ready to pay any price to a shiputznik who promises to get rid of it. Or if they are renting an apartment, they may do their darnedest to break their lease and move. Are such dramatic reactions necessary? Actually, the answer is a qualified “no.” Retivut is generally not an unsolvable problem. There are a number of ways to prevent and/or clear up this issue.

What is retivut?

Retivut is a Hebrew word that is related to the adjective ratuv, meaning wet. It is sometimes used to describe its evil cousin, mold, which is more correctly called ovesh. However, retivut refers to dampness in walls or ceilings, or beneath the floor tiles, of a property. Signs that it may be present include:

  • Surfaces that are damp to the touch
  • Watermarks or discolored paint
  • Cracked, peeling or bubbling paint and plaster
  • A musty or other unpleasant odor
  • Dripping water
  • Mold or mildewMold

Where does it come from?

Dampness may come from a variety of sources inside or outside your building, such as:

  • A leak from a neighbor’s plumbing or balcony (in this case, the neighbor is responsible for repair)
  • A broken pipe – even a pinhole crack can cause a mini flood when water is rushing through the pipe at high pressure
  • Improper sealing of, or cracks in, your exterior walls which admit rainwater
  • Faultily installed windows causing condensation in cold weather
  • Poor insulation and/or ventilation
  • Other structural problems, such as poorly built windowsills that slant downward toward the window


Before you buy or rent a home

When you are considering an apartment or house to buy or rent, check carefully for signs of retivut or potential sources of damp, as just described. Do not be shy about inspecting in depth for this serious problem. Concealing retivut from a potential property buyer is illegal in Israel, so it is important to ask the owner explicitly whether there is a retivut problem even if you do not find any indications.

Engineer inspection

When you are planning to buy, you may want to consider having the property inspected by a professional engineer. He or she should use a special device to test for dampness, as well as checking for structural issues. Be aware, however, that there are potential problems with using an engineer.

There have been cases of suspected collusion between engineers and potential sellers, so be sure that you are present every minute if you go ahead with an inspection.

The fact of having had an engineer check the property will tend to work to your disadvantage if retivut is later found in the property and you wish to sue the seller in small claims court for your repair expenses.

Engineers often include in their inspection reports a clause absolving them of any responsibility for problems, whether reported or not.

Preventing moisture build-up

Once you are already living in a house or apartment, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent moisture build-up:

  1. Air out the rooms by opening the windows daily for at least 15 minutes if at all possible.
  2. Install electric vents in high humidity areas such as in bathrooms and over stovetops. You may also use an electric dehumidifier or inexpensive humidity absorption pellets*.
  3. Do not keep the inside of windows covered with furniture or heavy drapes.
  4. Close the trisim (blinds) during heavy rainfalls.
  5. Use humidifiers sparingly.
  6. Wipe condensation off window frame and surrounding areas with old towels.
  7. If you need to line dry laundry indoors, put it in an airy part of your apartment.


Dealing with mold

If you notice mold forming, photograph or make a sketch of where it appears in case you eventually need to consult a professional to deal with it. Infants and small children, elderly people and anyone suffering from a respiratory problem like allergy or asthma should stay away from the moldy room. Scrub off the mold as soon as possible – before it spreads – with a strong bleach solution. Make sure the area is well ventilated while you are working, and wear rubber gloves, old clothes and preferably a protective face mask. Air the room thoroughly afterwards.

Once the mold is gone, try to track down and eliminate/minimize the source of the problem.

Using a retivut specialist

If the mold returns, you may want to contact a professional in resolving retivut problems. Because such a specialist does not require licensing, choose carefully; ask friends or community e-bulletin boards for “tried and true” recommendations, and stay away from anyone who recommends himself.  If the dampness is coming from outside the building, the professional will probably not be able to proceed until after a few weeks of warm weather have allowed the area to dry out. (As an alternative, if you have determined that the problem stems from inadequate sealing of your home’s exterior walls, at this point you can apply sealant to the outer walls yourself.)

Make sure that your resource person treats the source of the problem and not just the symptoms. Have him sign a contract detailing the exact procedures, materials and deadlines involved, with a guarantee on the job of at least one year (preferably longer) so that you can see how the work holds up next winter.

Good luck! Here’s hoping you stay dry and warm this winter!

I found this at the grocery store and this image is taken from

I found this at the grocery store and this image is taken from

* The humidity absorption pellets (מילוי סופג לחות ומונע עובש) are found in the cleaning products section of large grocery stores. Sold in a small dark blue cardboard box,  the pellets can be purchased together with a plastic holder (about NIS 26) or in a refill pack (about NIS 12). I have used them successfully to absorb dampness in small enclosed spaces such as in bathrooms or under sinks.


Geveret Bubbly Meets a Suspicious Olah

“You’re too _____________ (FILL IN THE BLANK WITH “American/Canadian/uptight/awkward in Israeli society/etc.).” This is a phrase that pushes insecurity buttons for many Anglos. Whether we came to Israel temporarily or on aliyah, in the process we’ve often left behind loved ones, homes and professions, and most of us try very hard to fit in to this bubbling multi-flavored stew of a society. Yet sometimes it doesn’t hurt to hang on to a little Anglo reserve … especially because we’re dealing with an unfamiliar culture and language.


A few months ago, I answered my door to a smiling Israeli woman whom I had never met. She greeted me effusively.

“Shalom, motek! I just bought the apartment in this building!”

Well, I knew that there was a place for sale and assumed that’s what she was talking about.

“So tell me,” she continued with a warm smile, “are you an owner or a tenant?”

Wanting to get off on the right foot with this new neighbor-to-be, I answered her civilly. But her subsequent question made me uneasy: “How many people living here own their apartments and how many rent?” followed up with “How much did you pay for your apartment?”

I started to hem and haw. She was bypassing my comfort zone in a big way. However, she wasn’t discouraged and blithely went on to say, “I just want to see how other people in the building have fixed up their apartments” – as she attempted to walk over the threshold and into my home.

Time for a good old fashioned Canadian hockey style body check. Call me uptight, but I have a strict rule: I don’t let anyone into my apartment unless I know their name or business, preferably both.

“Sorry, but no,” I told the woman who was acting as if she was my long-lost best friend.

“But I already looked at your apartment when you had it for sale!” she protested. That really activated the warning bells in my head – I have never put my place on the market since I moved in. Still, she could have been mistaken, I thought. After all, these apartments all look alike.

So I used my all-purpose (true) excuse. “I have to get back to work. Kol tuv,” I said, as I gently closed the door.


Yes, I felt rude, wrong and guilty about my North American style suspiciousness at the time. Quite a few months have passed since then, though, with no further sign of Geveret Bubbly. The apartment she claimed to have bought is still standing empty. And I’m feeling a whole lot better about hanging on to that little part of me that is still too … well, you know.


Editor’s note:  Do you have an Israeli Army story — or other personal story of life in Israel — that you would like to share with us? We are always interested in stories that will inform, uplift and inspire our readers. Of course, we reserve the sole right to publish or not, and to edit before publishing. Please submit your story, preferably including (non-copyright) photos as well, to forward to hearing from you!

AACI is the home for English Speakers in Israel with offices in Jerusalem, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva and Haifa.
AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2 (across from Hadar Mall) Talpiot, Jerusalem
Buses # 10, 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.
(02) 566-1181 for more information about any programs or to register.

Canadian, Eh? Some Important Information on Passport Application from Israel

Your Canadian Passport

Summertime, and the Anglos are traveling. But if you’re an Anglo of the Israeli-Canadian persuasion, it’s important to prepare early if you are planning to travel out of the country this summer. Applying for a Canadian passport has become quite involved, with a number of new requirements, especially if your old passport expired more than a year ago. NOTE: Please see the bottom of this article for more information about office hours and requirements for processing your Canadian passport.*

I just visited the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv. The first thing you should know is that if you’re coming from Jerusalem, the embassy is very easy to get to. Take the 405 from the capital, and get off at the LaGuardia Interchange (the stop before the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station). From there, it is a five minute walk to Beit Canada; you do not have to transfer to a Tel Aviv city bus – or pay 40 shekels for a taxi the way I did the first time I went there as a new olah!

Inside, the passport office is a clean and pleasant place. Be aware that you will not be permitted to use your laptop, cell phone or iPad, but instead will have to check your electronic device with the security guard. You are also not allowed to bring in large packages or luggage items, or to eat or drink in the office. There is a water dispenser for your convenience.

I had left my home in Jerusalem at 6:30 in the morning to get to the embassy soon after it opened at 8:00 AM. There were just two people ahead of me, so I only had to wait about fifteen minutes. Apparently the passport office does get quite crowded later in the morning, though, and it is especially busy on Fridays.

Although I had checked the passport application requirements in advance with the embassy website, I was a little nervous, afraid that I had missed some detail. A friendly fellow Canadian who had arrived after me (but just to pick up passports that were ready – lucky her!) went over the list with me. She seemed impressed that I had brought a certified check rather than cash, and that I had gotten an acceptable guarantor.

When it was my turn to meet with the passport clerk, I felt fairly self-confident. She looked over my application. Proper form? Check. Filled out in black ink, all in capital letters? Check. Proof of citizenship? Check. Professional photos taken within the last 6 months, of the right dimensions and with the proper facial expression? Check. Payment? Check – and a certified one, at that.

Canadian Passport Photo Specs

However, if an applicant’s Canadian passport has expired more than a year ago, as mine had, an additional form of official identification, with signature, is required. I had my slightly – ok, very – battered Canadian social insurance card in addition to my old passport, but apparently that was not sufficient. The clerk asked for my Israeli passport or driver’s license (an Israeli “teudat zehut” is not acceptable). I don’t drive, and my Israeli passport had also expired. In fact, updating that was the next errand on my list.

Although the clerk was sympathetic and took the time to double check with her supervisor, my ID was just not good enough. So I’m off to renew my Israeli passport and then to head back to the Canadian embassy to prove that I am who I think I am.

Oh well … at least I got a walk on the beach out of the whole excursion.


The Canadian embassy in Israel is at 3 Nirim, Tel Aviv. Passport applications and renewals are accepted 8:00 to noon, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, except on Israeli and Canadian holidays.

Tel: (011 972 3) 636-3300

Fax: (011 972 3) 636-3380


If you are living in Israel, you will need to complete and submit the correct form for a Canadian applying from abroad – simplified renewal (if your passport is still valid or expired less than one year ago), adult application or child application. See for detailed information and to download the form needed in your case.

For an application, the form must be signed by an acceptable guarantor (judge, lawyer, physician or signing officer of a bank) after you yourself have completed and signed it. In addition, you will need to submit:

  • Acceptable proof of citizenship or immigration status
  • Acceptable proof of identity
  • Names & contact details of 2 references
  • 2 photos according to the specifications in the passport instructions. (Read them carefully and make sure the photographer is familiar with them as well.) One of these photos must be verified and signed by your guarantor. IMPORTANT NEWS FOR MANY ISRAEL RESIDENTS: In the past, photographs which showed the applicant wearing a head covering were not allowed; now they are permitted if the person wears a head covering every day for religious or medical reasons. According the requirements: “your full face must be clearly visible and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.”
  • For both application and simplified renewal:
  • The current fee in either Canadian Dollars or New Israeli Shekels, in the form of a certified check (“check bankayit”) or postal money order only, payable to “Canadian Embassy Tel Aviv.” THE EMBASSY DOES NOT ACCEPT PERSONAL CHECKS, CREDIT CARDS, DEBIT CARDS OR CASH IN ANY CURRENCY.

Processing time is approximately 15 working days.

Bon voyage!






Come Join Us: AACI’s Succot Walking Tours

Well, here it is – the end of September and the beginning of a new year according to the Jewish calendar. Summer is ending, the season is changing, and I for one am delighted … although I must admit I do feel a little off kilter. I still associate autumn with the splendid displays of red and gold and orange foliage of my old North American home (although some leaves do turn color in the Israeli autumn, the preponderance of evergreens tends overshadow them). I remember the brand new first apples of the season appearing on the trees and adding further to the glorious color scheme. The pleasure of these magnificent sights was somewhat allayed by the anticipation of winter, which in eastern Canada is not to be taken lightly.

In Israel, fall means something entirely different to me. The cooler days of autumn signify to me, not that snow will soon be falling, but that I can finally breathe.

And that is why I feel out of step.

The children of my neighborhood are heading off to school dressed in jackets and hats, while I am at last feeling comfortable going for a walk in my summer clothes … in the middle of the day! I no longer have to plan to get to the supermarket the minute it opens in the morning to make the long trek home, schlepping my shopping cart, somewhat bearable.

I remember years ago in my old neighborhood in Beit Shemesh, where the weather is much warmer even than in Jerusalem, being amused when the Israeli-born mothers began to dress their infants in snowsuits. It usually happened when the temperature plummeted from 40 down to a frigid 28 degrees C (that’s from 104 degrees Fahrenheit down to about 82).  My kids were still running around in shorts at that point, because I knew what snowsuits were for – to bundle up babies when the weather was below freezing, and the snow was too thick to push a stroller through, so instead we used mini baby sleds pulled by polar bears … hmm, wait, I think I’m getting carried away here.

Anyway, my point – and I do have one, as the comedian said – is that autumn in Israel, in addition to a whole holiday season, brings the loveliest weather. Perfect weather for all us, tourist or local, olim chadashim or vatikim, to get out, walk around, and enjoy this amazing country of ours. And what better way to do that than by taking part in one or more of AACI’s Succot Walking Tours?

Explore some new sights or revisit favorite sites. The tours are generally more walks than hikes, and last only a few hours, allowing all members of the family to participate. Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is relaxed yet festive. Come join us. And enjoy the beauty of Israel in the fall.

You will be welcome whether you choose to wear a short sleeved T-shirt or a full-length winter coat!

AACI’s Succot Walking Tours are offered from September 28 through October 10, 2012. Click here for details and a full schedule. Please call the tour guide for confirmation of the tour and to find out the meeting place.

Chag Sameach! Happy Fall!

MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE A BLESSING: AACI Annual Memorial Ceremony 2012


We invite you to view this video prepared by the U.S. Embassy.



September 24, 2012 

ח’ תשרי תשע”ג

The AACI Annual Memorial Ceremony will take place at 3:30 pm on Monday, September 24, 2012  ח’ תשרי תשע”ג at the AACI Memorial Site (see driving directions at the bottom of this post) near Sha’ar Hagay.

The Memorial Ceremony is held each year during the autumn High Holiday season to honor the memory of AACI members or other North Americans, and members of their immediate families, who have fallen while in service to the State of Israel or as victims of terror.  This is a moving tribute to those who have made the supreme sacrifice so that Israel can exist as an independent and strong Jewish state.

Our main speaker will be Sherri Mandell, the mother of Koby z”l, who was killed in a terror attack in 2001 at the age of thirteen.  She and her husband, Rabbi Seth Mandell, founded the Koby Mandell Foundation, which runs healing programs for families that have been directly affected by terror in Israel.  Mrs. Mandell has also written a transformational book about her son’s murder entitled The Blessing of a Broken Heart She has impressed many people with her ability to carry on after the horrific tragedy that struck her family, and is an inspiring and moving speaker.

US Ambassador Dan Shapiro is also expected to join us as he did last year.

Special mention will be made of the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics by Palestinian terrorists. In particular, we will remember David Berger, z”l, an American oleh who was a member of the Israeli Olympic team and was killed along with 10 of his teammates.

The following people will be remembered and their names inscribed on the Memorial Plaques this year:

Asher Palmer

Yonatan Palmer

Netta Blatt-Sorek

May their memories be a blessing.

(Scroll down for more background information on these three people.*)

Please join us for this very important and moving ceremony.


If you need transportation from Jerusalem, phone the AACI National office at 02-5661181 and sign up for the bus.


Take the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway. Take the turnoff toward Beit Shemesh (road #38) and turn right onto a dirt road when you see the AACI flags and signs.

Donna Grushka and Rabbi Jay Karzen,

Co-Chairpersons, AACI Memorial Ceremony



Asher Palmer was the son of Molly and Michael Palmer of Kiryat Arba, Americans who came to Israel as olim about 30 years ago.  Asher graduated from a hesder yeshiva and served in the Israeli Navy.  Shortly after completion of his Navy service, he began engineering studies, hoping to work in Israel’s high tech industry.

On Friday, September 23, 2011, Asher and his one-year-old son Yonatan were killed when their car overturned on the road near Kiryat Arba.  The incident was originally reported as a traffic accident. However, police and IDF officials later concluded that most likely Asher and Yonatan were victims of a terror attack. Apparently father and son were killed when rocks thrown at their car smashed the windshield, injured Asher and caused him to lose control of the vehicle.

They are survived by Asher’s parents and his wife Puah – Yonatan’s mother.  In February 2012, 4 ½ months after the death of Asher and Yonatan, Puah gave birth to a baby girl, Orit.


Netta Blatt-Sorek was born at Kibbutz Afikim on July 10, 1957, the daughter of Dina and Amos Blatt.  The family later lived in Beer Sheva and Rishon Lezion. Netta finished high school in Gedera, completed her army service, and then traveled to Sweden before settling for the next 17 years in New York where she completed her BA at HunterCollege.  During her stay in New York, Netta became an American citizen.

Although intending to continue for a doctorate, Netta decided to come back to Israel after her grandfather’s death. Falling in love simultaneously with a place – Zichron Yaakov – and with a man – Amotz Sorek, she returned to Israel, married, worked as a teacher, and studied drama therapy.

Her passions became storytelling festivals and advocating for peace between Jews and Arabs.  Netta dedicated her life to building a bridge between Israel and her neighbors by finding common ground for dialogue.  She taught at an Arab-Israeli school and took an active role in creating communities of Jews and Arabs.

In February 2010, Netta left home for a five-day vacation at the monastery of Beit Jamal near Beit Shemesh.  The monks reported her missing after she failed to return from an afternoon walk.  When her body was found, the initial police report called her death a suicide but that was subsequently changed to murder.  The investigation a year later into the attack on Kristine Luken and Kay Wilson led police to charge members of a Palestinian terror cell with the murder of Luken and later with Netta’s murder as well.

Netta is survived by her parents; her husband; a daughter, Noga; and a brother, Eran.

AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center
Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2 (across from Hadar Mall)
Talpiot, Jerusalem
Buses # 10, 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop  at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.
(02) 566-1181 for more information about any programs or to register.

For a Good & Sweet Year: Rosh Hashanah recipes

As a follow up to the post of two weeks ago calling for Rosh Hashanah recipes, here are a few favorites.


by Elisheva Lahav

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  This is the only honey cake that my late mother, Janet Ha-Levi, who passed away in May 2009, ever made. It is also the only honey cake that I have ever made. Why even try anything else? When you’ve got a winner, stick with it! Also, neither of us ever made it when it wasn’t Rosh Hashanah. Who eats honey cake on Purim or Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July?

What’s really good about this cake is that it’s not too sweet and not too dry.

Shana tova u’mevorechet (a good and blessed year) to all AACI members and blog readers.

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).

Separate 3 eggs and whip whites until stiff.

Sift together into a large bowl:

3 ½ cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. allspice

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ cup chopped nuts or raisins (optional)

Make a well in the center and add:

1⅓ cups honey

3 egg yolks

¼ cup oil

1 ⅓ cups cool black coffee (can also be decaf)

Blend all ingredients together thoroughly, and gently fold in egg whites.

Don’t worry that you’ve done something wrong if the batter is very thin!

Bake in a lightly greased 10” tube pan for approximately 1 hour.

ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR:  Elisheva Lahav is a volunteer at AACI Jerusalem, responsible for staffing the front desk.  She says:

The front desk is the interface between the AACI and its clients and the rest of the world.  All phone calls come through the front desk, and all visitors to the AACI’s offices pass by it.  Approximately 20 volunteers staff the desk, two each morning and two each afternoon, five days a week.
I, myself, had been a member of the AACI board for several years, but until I began volunteering here about 8 ½ years ago (right after my very, very, very early retirement), I quickly realized that I hadn’t really known what AACI was or what it did.  Only by speaking with the callers, or welcoming them as they come in, or signing them up for membership or for the myriad activities, or trying to answer questions on a plethora of topics (or, often, transferring their calls to whichever staff member deals with the particular topic), was I able to get a feel for AACI’s invaluable work – for which I have tremendous esteem.  I never cease to be amazed at how AACI helps English-speaking newcomers (or more veteran immigrants) to Israel find their way in the crazy, confusing, complicated world in which we have chosen to rebuild our homes.
On behalf of the AACI’s front desk volunteers in Jerusalem, I wish all AACI’s members and their families a very happy and healthy New Year.

ASSURE (Bulgur/Chickpea/Pomegranate Side Dish)

by Daniel Ashkenazi

This dish is traditional all over the Sephardic Balkans and Turkey. This variation is from Salonika (a frequent destination on our Kosher cruises), eaten on Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and Tu B’Shvat.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I personally sampled – well, more than sampled – this dish, prepared by Daniel, last Rosh Hashanah. It is amazingly flavorful; the ingredients combine and contrast delightfully.

You need:

– ½ cup of Bulgur per Person

– Chickpeas to taste (about 1/4 of the total weight)

– fresh pomegranate seeds (same quantity as the chickpeas)

– onion and fresh garlic to taste

– Extra Virgin Olive Oil

– Chopped Parsley

Soak the chickpeas overnight and cook until tender. Let them dry in a sifter or spread them on paper towels. When dried, fry them in Olive oil until golden-brown. Put aside.

Fry the chopped onion and garlic in lots of olive oil till brown, add the Bulgur and fry while constantly stirring for a few minutes. Cover with warm water and reduce heat. Let it simmer until tender, or till all liquid was absorbed.

Take off the fire and mix in the chickpeas while still hot. Add the pomegranate seeds right before serving and sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.

Buen Provezo (Ladino) or Kali Orexi (Greek).

ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR: My name is Daniel Ashkenazi, I grew up on the Greek island of Kos, near Rhodes, (also  oftentimes AACI Kosher Cruise destinations and studied in Salonika before I made Aliyah 6 years ago. I live with my wife in Jerusalem. I work in tourism and as a book binder.

Anyada Buena i klara skritos en el libro del vida! A Good New Year and a sure inscription into the Book of Life!



by Bryna Lee Jacobson

A Jacobson family favorite,shared by dear friends (and the friend’s Mom) from Skokie, Illinois.
Super easy to make and also freezes well. I usually cook rice to go with it. For a very elegant and beautiful presentation, my friend serves portions of 3 meatballs in stemmed dessert dishes.


Meatball mixture

Grate by hand or with food processer:

1 potato and 1 onion

Mix in:

1 kilo ground meat. I use beef.

2 eggs

Mix this together. Add some salt and pepper or other seasonings at this point if you like.

Sauce ingredients for 1 kilo meat

1 ½ cup ketchup

2 cup water

2 8-oz cans tomato sauce (not paste)

1 tsp sour salt

1 tsp salt

1 bay leaf (optional)

¾ cup sugar

Bring sauce to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven that is big enough to hold the sauce and the meatballs you will add to it. When the sauce is boiling, start gently placing the raw meatballs into the sauce. NO STIRRING! Reduce flame and shake the pan a little to cover the meatballs. It doesn’t look like it will be enough sauce but trust me – that it is enough liquid. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 60-90 minutes. 

ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR: Bryna Lee works in AACI Jerusalem’s Development. department. She made aliyah from the Chicago area 3 years ago and now lives in Ma’ale Adumim.


by Tehillah Hessler (adapted from Mishpacha magazine)

I start with a batter:

1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
 1tsp paprika
dash pepper
½ cup beer or water
2 tbsp oil
2 eggs

Coat the chicken – 1 ½ kg boneless chicken breasts cut into nuggets – in the batter and fry until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and place in a deep casserole dish.

Fry – 1 pkg (approx 250 g) pastrami cut into½ inch strips –  in the same oil that was used for the chicken. Remove from pan when brown and crispy on the edges and add to the casserole dish.

1 can of pineapple chunks (reserve the juice)

Toss the pineapple chunks in the hot oiled pan and stir until seared.


Juice from the pineapple (¾ cup)
1 cup of duck sauce or apricot jam
add any desired spices if you want it to have a bite (for example, chili powder or cayenne pepper, chili sauce, sriracha sauce, minced jalapeno)

Heat to boiling, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in:

1 TSP cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup cold water

Cook and stir till mixture thickens. Pour over the chicken/pastrami mixture and toss.
Serve with rice or noodles.


PUMPKIN TWO WAYS (Soup or Salad)

by Laura Firszt (adapted from Phyllis Glazer’s Cumin-Scented Pumpkin Soup)

Erev Rosh Hashana is a busy time for cooks. who need to prepare the equivalent of four (!!!) Thanksgiving dinners for the holiday. Besides being tasty, this dish can save you time and stress by doing double duty. Serve it as a siman and/or side dish the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Then transform it into a soup for another of the festive meals. Can be prepared in advance and frozen.

Have a good and sweet year!

2 large onions

4-5 cloves garlic

1 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp or more turmeric

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp soy sauce (optional but gives much richer flavor)

5 cups pumpkin, shredded

1 large potato, shredded

1 large carrot, shredded

½ cup vegetable stock or water

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pkg fresh coriander or parsley, coarsely chopped

Mince the onion and garlic. Cook in olive oil over low heat until deep brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spices, then add soy sauce and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the remaining vegetables and the liquid. Raise heat, bring to a boil, then lower heat once again. Cover the mixture and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until pumpkin is very tender.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Puree if desired and serve hot or at room temperature as a side dish. Stir in the fresh herbs before serving.

To transform this into pumpkin soup, add another 6-7 cups liquid. I like to add a package of fresh spinach, chopped, to the soup for the last 10 or so minutes of cooking.

AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center
Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2 (across from Hadar Mall)
Talpiot, Jerusalem
Buses # 10, 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop  at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.
(02) 566-1181 for more information about any programs or to register.


What’s Cooking for Rosh Hashana? You Tell Us!

Rosh Hashana is just around the corner, and all over Israel, folks are digging out their old family recipes — or wracking their brains for new and exciting ideas — for holiday foods.

We at AACI would like to hear from YOU. Which special dishes are a traditional part of  your New Year celebration? What new Rosh Hashana food traditions have you adopted since coming to Israel?

Please send us your descriptions, recipes and photos (as JPG files) of Rosh Hashana favorites to (Please include your phone number and/or email.) Deadline 5 PM, Wednesday, September 5, 2012.

We will then share recipes from both blog readers and AACI staffers in time for your holiday cooking.

Here’s one of my time-tested recipes to get you started:

Tangy Carrot-Herb Salad

10 medium carrots, peeled, sliced, & simmered till tender (you could skip peeling them if they are very young and sweet)

Cool, drain and buzz in the food processor with:

2-3 cloves fresh garlic
a big handful of fresh cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, or other fresh herb of your choice (stems & all)
3 TBSP olive oil
lemon juice & salt to taste 

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

I like this with a still-slightly chunky texture, but that’s up to you. This may be used as one of the simanim (symbolic foods for a good year) at the Rosh Hashana evening meal; it’s an interesting change from carrot-and-raisin salad. It can also be made for Passover … but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves :-).