Chi’s Special Mashers



2 1/2 potatoes (Idaho’s are the best) peel and cut into small chunks
3/4 cup of milk
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Cook potatoes in a large pot for about 15 minutes of until tender. Drain cooked potatoes and return in a pan. With a masher, put warm milk in pan, butter, salt, pepper and beat until smooth. Then add cheese and parsley and stir in. Serves 4-6 people.

Chi’s Unique Potato Salad



5 Ib. potatoes
1 large onion
1 can of tuna
2 stalks celery
1 cucumber
1/2 medium red bell pepper
3 large boiled eggs
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 tbps. mustard
3 tbps. relish (diced sweet pickle in a jar)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper


Clean and boil potatoes for about 15-20 mins or until soft.Cool for 10 minutes and then scrape and peel skin (if you want). Then dice potatoes in small cubes and put in small bowl. Then add the finely chopped onion, celery, cucumber, red bell pepper, and salt and black pepper to taste. Then stir in tuna, mustard, mayo, relish and chopped hard boiled eggs. Chill in refrigerator for 60 mintues, then serve. Delicious! Serves 6-8 people.

Bubbie Ruth’s Mandel Bread



1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (approx) semisweet parve chocolate chips


Mix together oil and sugar until combined, and then add eggs one at a time.

After the eggs are combined, add vanilla.

Sift together all the dry ingredients and add them slowly to the sugar/egg mixture.

Once the dough is smooth and sticky, pour the chocolate chips and mix. Put the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours (at least 2) or overnight.

The dough will be extremely get-under-your-fingernails sticky, so oil your hands and form 4-5 rows with the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Take the mandel bread out and turn the oven down to 250.

Combine about 1/2-3/4 cups of sugar with enough cinnamon to turn the mixture light brown.

Slice the mandel bread into biscotti sized pieces and carefully roll each one into the cinn/sugar mixture.

Put the pieces back on the cookie sheet, on their sides, and bake for another 15 minutes at 250. If the slices are big or wide, you might need longer than 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it because if it overbakes, it dries out quickly.

Serves: Makes about 3 dozen pieces

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Gidon Strikes Again

David Stuck Stephen J. Gordon’s new thriller, “Confluence,” is the second in a series.

David Stuck
Stephen J. Gordon’s new thriller, “Confluence,” is the second in a series.

It’s a typical Friday evening in Jewish Baltimore. Observant Jews are preparing for Shabbat dinner and walking to evening services. The scene is commonplace to those who live in or around Northwest Baltimore.

All at once, something horrifying occurs, dramatically altering the peaceful neighborhood milieu. Gunshots, police cars, ambulances, screams of terror. There’s been a murder attempt on a young rabbi and his family.

But wait, don’t panic. The violence is not really happening. Instead, it’s the opening pages of Stephen J. Gordon’s new thriller, “Confluence,” the second book in his Gidon
Aronson series.

Readers first met Gidon Aronson, the protagonist and hero of the series, when Gordon’s thriller “In the Name of God” debuted in 2011. Gordon, 58, a husband, father and middle school social studies department chair at Krieger Schechter Day School, said he first decided to write “In the Name of God” as a reaction to the “bad press” he felt Israel was receiving after the second Intifada. Although the book was completed shortly thereafter, it took 10 years of “shopping it around” before it was published.

“I wanted to create a character who was unabashedly pro-Israel,” said Gordon. “The book moves between the U.S. and Israel because I wanted readers to see the beauty of Israel and learn about life there.”

Although he lives in Baltimore and teaches at a school almost identical to Krieger Schechter Middle School, the character of Gidon Aronson, Gordon said, is for the most part not based on himself.

“He’s really a mix. Probably he’s got my sense of humor,” he admitted.

“The back story [of Gidon] is that he grew up in the U.S. and was as a star pupil in martial arts. He wanted to go to Israel to serve his country, and he ends up in the elite special operations unit. When he comes back to the U.S., his life has fallen apart. He has self-defense training, so he opens a martial arts studio and gets a part-time teaching gig,” explained Gordon. “Serving was his passion, and he has a strong sense of right and wrong. In the second book, the weight of his past deeds brings him to synagogue; he needs to be someplace holy. He’s adrift and soul searching; he’s in pain.”

“Confluence” is not all crime and punishment though. There is also romance, and as Gordon puts it, “a few racy scenes.”

Katie, Gidon’s love interest in the book, also helps readers develop a more nuanced view of the Israel they may hear about in the news.

“Katie says she wants to go to Israel with Gidon. She wants to see what he sees and what he loves. She wants to fall in love with the country he’s fallen in love with,” Gordon said.

“As a character, Katie voices questions about such things as Israel’s security wall. Gidon from his perspective is able to express the realities of life there, that the wall has virtually stopped terrorist infiltration.”

Gordon, who’s been writing since his early teens, finds the process “fascinating.” The positive feedback he received on his first thriller — and is beginning to receive for the new book — makes it all the more rewarding.

“There’s nothing like having someone say, ‘I missed my subway stop because I was reading your book,’ or ‘I was late for work because I couldn’t stop reading your book,’ or ‘When is the next one coming out?’” said Gordon.

Gordon said he is already toying with ideas for the next Gidon Aronson book. At this point, the writer will only say that he may focus more on some of the series’ other characters. “I’d like to maintain the Baltimore-Israel connection. But that’s my summer work. I can’t do it while the school year is on. I get lost in the stories,” he said.
“Confluence” is available at the Ivy Bookshop in Mount Washington,

Hope Amid Tears

Tisha B’Av is observed with mourning and contemplation

“Tisha B’Av is an appointed day when you relate to Hashem [God] by discovering how far you are from him,” said Rabbi Aaron Kahn, a director of the Advanced Institute of Talmudic Studies at New York City’s Yeshiva University. “Relating to Him gives us the opportunity to do teshuva [repentance].”
[Read more…]

Historical Overview

Throughout Jewish history, an array of tragic events fell on the ninth day of the Hebrew calendar month of Av.

1312 B.C.E.: According to Jewish tradition, 10 of the 12 spies returned from Israel with malicious reports about the land and its inhabitants, and the Israelites fell into despair
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Ways And Customs

Traditionally, Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, is observed in several ways:

At the end of the afternoon prior to Tisha B’Av, one eats the Se’udah Hamafsekes, a meal of bread, water and a hard-boiled egg dipped in ashes.

Beginning at sundown, one must refrain from consuming food and drink until the following sundown (unless one is ill).
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The Mortar of Sadness

Toby Brookes is decidedly undecided about Tisha B’Av. The product of modern Orthodox day schools and summer camps, Mrs. Brookes has vivid childhood recollections of this traditional mourning day. As a girl at summer camp, she fasted. She read from Eicha, the graphic and terrifying Book of Lamentations, and even joined other campers in re-enacting the fall of the First and Second Beit HaMikdash, or Holy Temple, in Jerusalem.
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Nine Facts On Holiday Of Tisha B’Av

The following are nine things you should know about Tisha B’Av, the final holiday of the Jewish year:

1. Tisha B’Av means “ninth [day] in [the month of] Av.”

2. The holiday begins at sunset on Wednesday, July 17, and ends the following evening.

3. The day marks a number of tragedies in Jewish history that occurred on or near the 9th of Av: The destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E.; the fall of the last Jewish stronghold in the third revolt against the Romans in 135 C.E.; the Romans’ ploughing the Temple site to build a pagan temple in 136 C.E.; the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
[Read more…]