Fish Croquettes for Shabbat

Reading the recipes from the Kosher Cooking Carnival in my previous post inspired me to post a recipe of my own.

When we were first married I spent quite a few Shabbosim at my in-laws house (although not as many as Israeli couples do!). My mother-in-law made a lot of wonderful dishes, but the one I started to make myself was salmon croquettes. These can be made and eaten warm from the pan, or can be refrigerated and eaten on Shabbat as a first course at lunch. When we moved to Israel, and I found it difficult to find canned salmon, I just substituted tuna for the fish (salmon, of course, tastes better – although some kids prefer the tuna anyway!).

400 grams canned salmon

2 eggs

plain bread crumbs or matzo meal

dill weed, other spices to taste

grated onion (optional)

Oil for frying

Drain the water from the canned salmon. Pick out the bones and discard the skin. Mash the salmon, add the eggs and the spices and grated onion, if using. Add bread crumbs until it becomes “pasty”. (I start with about a third of a cup of bread crumbs and go from there). Heat oil in a frying pan, make ovals from the mixture, and fry on both sides until golden. Drain on paper towels.

These are good with tartar sauce or horseradish sauce.

Kosher Cooking At Its Best

This month’s version of the Kosher Cooking Carnival is hosted by Batya. Pretty soon we should be seeing a new logo….can’t wait!

Joy and Pain on the Same Day

Living in Israel has its unique characteristics, but the one thing that strikes me over and over is the combination of joy and pain. Today symbolizes that mixture.

Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar (the first day of the Hebrew month of Adar) and it starts a two week marathon of fun and joy, culminating in the holiday of Purim.

This year it is also the first anniversary of the massacre at Mercaz HaRav (a prominent Yeshiva in Jerusalem).

I saw the following video at Israel Matzav, (highly recommended, if you are not familiar with the blog already) and decided to embed it in mine also.

No, I Haven’t Disappeared

No, I haven’t disappeared. I just finished making westbankkid’s Bar Mitzvah (the third and last for this family) so I have been very busy.

I will hopefully post again soon. Meanwhile go on over and read this  week’s HH hosted by Sara.

Those Who Wanted to Punish Bibi Ended Up Punishing Themselves

After a few days to cool down, I will try to explain why I  am angry at those who voted for the small religious parties.

In my opinion, those voting for the small religious parties have basically shot themselves in the foot. Instead of looking at the whole picture and using their heads, they wanted not only to “punish” Bibi Netanyahu, but also to vote for their small “boutique” parties, where everyone looks just like them and has exactly the same idealogy. Now these voters are happy because they have representatives who agree with them about everything, but it is a hollow victory, for one very simple reason – these representatives  don’t have enough power to do what they want done. And the people who DO have the power, don’t care about these issues.

Who has the power now? Avigdor Leiberman. (Granted, Tzipi Livni theoretically has the right to try to form a government, since she won more seats than  Bibi, but most people agree that her chances are very slim). The real power broker now is Leiberman, since he knows that both sides are desperate for his seats.

Let’s take a look at Avigdor. His voters are right wing, but they don’t really care about the specifics of settlements. What they really want is to separate themselves as much as possible from the Arabs. Leiberman has said in the past that he is willing to do a “land swap” – whereas Israel would annex certain areas and give up other areas to the Palestinians, including uprooting Jews from their homes. This attitude is a lot more left-wing than the Likud’s stance, and is anathema to those who voted Ichud HaLeumi/HaBayit HaYehudi.

Religious issues: Avigdor Leiberman is in favor of loosening the laws governing civil marriages in Israel. For those of us who are Orthodox Jews, this is a serious problem, and it will open a Pandora’s box of issues in relation to the future status of children born to these couples. The Likud party’s stance regarding these issues is much more traditional, and is closer to what Ichud HaLeumi/Habayit HaYehudi voters want.

Avigdor Leiberman believes that citizens of Israel must either serve in the army or do some sort of National service in order to receive Bituach Leumi (social security) benefits. This attitude is directed at both the Arab population and the Charedim (Ultra-Orthodox), who neither serve in the army or do national service, but do receive Bituach Leumi benefits. Granted, most of those in the National Religious camp do the army or national service, but by no means all. At this point, due to the move to the right (both because of the disengagement and because of the trend toward more stricter observance by some of our youth), there are many Dati Leumi young men who are putting off their army service indefinitely in order to learn. The Likud party has no desire to change the status quo regarding this issue, and is closer to the attitude held by those who voted Ichud HaLeumi and HaBayit HaYehudi.

Nu? What did you gain by voting for Katzeleh and What’s his name?

Not much.

I Am So Angry I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

I am so angry about the election results here in Israel that I don’t trust myself to post (maybe in a few days, when I cool down).

Just four words – “I told you so!”

A Vote For the Religious Parties is a Vote For Kadima

Jameel says it all here. Right now the Likud and Kadima are neck and neck, and voting for the small religious parties may tip the balance away from the Likud.

Vote with your head, and not with your heart.

Havel-Havalim Is Up

Esser Agoroth has this week’s HH, including a lot of information about the Israeli elections, and various endorsements.

Take a look.

Why I Am Voting for the Likud, and Not For the Religious Parties

Politics in Israel is very complicated. Choosing a political party to vote for in the elections involves both intellectual and emotional aspects, and sometimes people don’t even realize what is pushing them in one direction or another. I have thought about this a lot, and I will try to explain why I am endorsing the Likud, and I am vehemently against the religious parties, from both the intellectual and emotional points of view. The intellectual aspect is the easiest, so I will start there.

The first place to start is of course the issues. This year there is an Israeli Electoral Compass to help you identify where you are on the issues, and which party reflects your positions. (I came out 78% Ichud Leumi, and 77% Likud).

Unfortunately, in Israel, there is an additional factor that you must keep in mind. You have to ask yourself, “who will have the power to implement policies that reflect these issues?”

Here the situation gets complicated. The Israeli electoral system is not based on proportional representation but on party lists. Which means that when a Member of Knesset votes on an issue, he is, in theory at least, supposed to be loyal to the party platform – but he is not concerned with a specific group of constituents. This means that as long as he is popular with the powerbrokers in his own party, he will be ok, no matter how he votes. He is not afraid of the voters’ reaction to him. Therefore the individual voter in Israel has to try to factor in the character of the Knesset Members in each party, and how this will affect how he votes.

As far as the issues themselves, I feel comfortable voting for either the Likud, or the two small Dati Leumi religious parties. As far as implementation of these issues, I think there is no question that the Likud is the better bet, for the following reasons:

1. Do the math. The party with the largest number of Knesset seats has first shot at creating the government. This means that they have to bargain with the other parties (and I use the term literally) in order for them to form a coalition. A small party, no matter how close it may be ideologically to the large party trying to form the government, will be less attractive than one with a large number of Knesset seats. Which means that the small religious parties cannot assume that they will be included in the government, and more importantly cannot dictate terms to the larger party for its inclusion. According to every poll, the Likud at this point leads, and will probably form a government. The small Dati Leumi parties have at most 4 or 5 seats, and one or both of them may not even reach the minimum number of votes and may not go in to the Knesset at all. Why should I vote for a party that may have no power at all? The Likud is the better bet.

2. Look at the party lists, and how they were chosen.  Here is the Likud party list, “first edition” with an excellent explanation by Jameel of why each member is significant. The “updated edition”, with some changes, is here. 

Here is the Bayit Yehudi list (sorry folks, only in Hebrew). Here is the Icud HaLeumi list. (also only in Hebrew).

All three have proven Knesset Members with “right wing” credentials and some new unknowns. Granted, the Likud has a few left leaning members that I am not happy with, and the unknowns in the religious parties will probably vote right wing in any case.

Up to now this has been my intellectual take. Now for the emotional one, which can be simplified into two words: inclusion, and the pride that it makes me feel, and exclusion, and the anger it makes me feel.

I feel a tremendous amount of pride in the Likud list, for a number of reasons. One, it was voted on democratically, by members of the Likud party. For technical reasons my membership ran out, but I know that if I join again I can vote the next time.

Two, those past Likud Knesset Members who voted against the disengagment were given high votes, and most of them are in realistic places on the list. It saddens me that Ayoub Kara and Miki Ratzon were not higher on the list, and maybe my vote will get them into the Knesset.

Three, there is not only one but two Orthodox women in realistic positions on the list, which gives me pride as a woman.

I only feel anger against the religious parties, because they shut me out. One, as a member of Klal Yisrael, I wanted very much for the religious parties to stop arguing over petty differences and unite to form one party. They didn’t listen. (If a group of people who are very similar can’t even get it together to unite, how do you expect them to unite the people of Israel? And if they can’t do that, then why do they deserve my vote?)

Two, as someone who is interested in politics and has been in Israel for almost 20 years, I may have joined the party and voted in primaries, if they had them. Instead, the parties rejected the idea of primaries. They more or less said, “don’t worry mameleh, we know better how to choose the Knesset list than you do” and had their elitist group come up with a list. Not only did it contain complete unknowns, but they put the unkowns ahead of trusted and efficient past Knesset members! (Nissan Smoliansky was on numerous finance committees and worked very hard for those kicked out of Gush Katif. Why is he lower on the list than Daniel Herskovitz, a complete unknown, and Uri Orbach, who is known for his comedy routines but has no political experience?)

Three, the Ichud HaLeumi list has factions that don’t think it is appropriate for women to run for Knesset, and as such there are no women at all on the list. I am a very traditional woman who was a stay-at-home mother for 18 years, and I am completely comfortable with the fact that women cannot be Rabbis. But it infuriates me that you don’t have women on your list, and I would never vote for you.

One week to go – we’ll see how many others agree with me.

On the Outer Edges – Olim Write About the Gaza War

Note: If anyone has other posts that they want to share, please send them in. I will be updating this post with additions. Scroll down for updates.

We made aliyah 18 years ago in May, so I am not sure if we still qualify as “new immigrants”. But in one respect we are still newbies – in our involvement in the IDF. My oldest is 19 and still learning (and since he has “frummed out” to the point of black hat, he may never do the army at all. Subject for another post, if not a complete blog!) My other sons are 14 and almost 13 respectively, so the IDF is still some way in the future. Westbankpapa was told, politely of course, that the IDF didn’t need him (we made aliyah at the age of 30), so he isn’t directly involved either.

We live in a yishuv in the Shomron, where most of the men do yearly reserve duty, since they belong to combat units. Watching some of my friends deal with husbands going off to war was difficult. One day, during the Second Lebanon War, as a few of us were sitting in the park, I just blurted out that I felt terribly guilty because I didn’t have anyone in uniform.

A woman sitting next to me gave me a funny look. “My husband isn’t in a combat unit, and my sons are too young also”, she said. “You have nothing to feel guilty about – not every Israeli family is sending their loved ones to war now.”

Another woman also piped up and said, “You know, we really admire the olim from America. You chose to come here, not because you are running away from persecution, but out of free choice. You don’t have to worry about not doing enough.”

These comments made me feel a lot better, although I was still a bit uncomfortable until everyone I knew came safely home.

I thought about this incident for the past three weeks, especially when I read other posts by olim chadashim who expressed their feelings about the Gaza war. Some felt at the “outer edges”, like me, and some were about as close to the center as they could get, sending sons to war. I decided to host a roundup of posts by olim and how they felt.

A Soldier’s Mother does a good job of describing her feelings about sending a son to war. Rutimizrachi does the same, but with the added perspective of a past in the military herself. (This was also published at the OU Shabbat Shalom site)

Benji writes about how normal it was in Tel-Aviv, and how he wanted people from the States not to hesitate to come visit Israel.

Mrs. S. of Our Shiputzim writes about the her daughter’s fears about the future soldiers in her family.

EmahS writes about trying to keep her little ones innocent of the situation. Baila tries to deal with her first war.

Gila expresses a whole range of emotions. Imshin wrote about how angry it makes her that some called Israelis bloodthirsty.

UPDATE: Soccerdad was good enough to send me this post, about the Gaza War and how it reflects the political viewpoints of the younger members of Israeli society today. He also sent me this, which is an excellent first person account from a soldier (and shame on you Ruti for not sending it to me yourself!)

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