Posted by Orit Arfa
Erica Tucker is no stranger to sugary battles. The baker has proven herself to be a valiant fighter on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” With the expansion of her delivery and catering baking operation into the Sweet E’s Mini-Bake Shop off the corner of Pico/Robertson—LA’s own Jewish quarter—her war has become a religious one.
The native-Texan has definitely made kosher way more hip and glamorous with her red carpet style opening on November 18. Pictures of her Tinsletown clients were served up as marketing frosting near the neat displays of the “mini-cakes” and other goodies.
But the LA branch of Magnolia Bakery has proven a stalwart kosher cupcake warrior. Founded in 1996 in the Jewish hood of all hoods—Manhattan—the New York favorite was bought by Steve Abrams in 2007. The good Jewish boy opened three new branches in New York and made them all kosher. The LA branch opened this past July on the corner of Third Street and Orlando, not far from the other Jewish quarter—Third/Fairfax—bringing back some kosher bakery glory to a hood overshadowed by the rise of Pico/Robertson.
I had the difficult job of throwing my waist in the ring to determine which kosher cupcakes were better. Since cupcakes are a matter of taste, Angelenos really have to bite the caloric intake and judge for themselves. But if I had to choose just one cupcake worth an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill, it would definitely be Magnolia’s “Snowcap”—a devil’s food cupcake with meringue icing.
Sweet E’s cupcakes are smaller, the icing and cake denser than Magnolia’s. Magnolia’s cakes are fluffy, buttery goodness. Like the design of its shop, the Sweet E’s cupcake is characterized by perfect grooming: the icing is meticulously swirled over perfectly round tops. At Magnolia, you can watch the bakers simply slab the icing and pat it down at the bakery’s open kitchen. I guess you could say Sweet E’s is the more refined, conservative cupcake; Magnolia the loose, liberal one.
But I could see this war becoming less about the batter-at-hand—the cupcake—and more about the turf, with the Jews of Pico/Robertson rallying behind their Hood and the Jews of Fairfax desperately clinging to their side of town as the local Jewish capital. Lucky for my waist, I live in Hollywood, far enough from them both. The last thing I need from a cupcake is a muffin-top.
Sweet E’s: 1417 S. Robertson Blvd; (323) 422-8885; www.sweetesbakeshop.com.
Magnolia Bakerly: 8389 West 3rd Street; (323) 951-0636; www.magnoliabakery.com
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November 19, 2010 | 3:16 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
On Nov. 15, popular American rock bank Linkin Park performed in Israel, despite the fact that other bands and artists refuse to play there on account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One of the founding members of the band, Brad Delson (lead guitarist), identifies as Jewish, according to the Delson’s Wikipedia page (his Jew-fro seems to confirm that; check out the photo on the Wiki page), and the site also says that he went to L.A.-area high school Agoura High with Mike Shinoda, the rapper in the group.
The six-piece band performed at HaYarkon Park in Tel Aviv (other band members include Chester Bennington, Rob Bourdon, David Farrell and Joseph Hahn).
Linkin Park started out as a nu-metal band, mixing heavy rock riffs with hip-hop, but nowadays they do more emo-rock.
In high school, I rocked-out to their song “In the End,” off their debut album, “Hybrid Theory,” which sold a zillion records (certified Diamond, actually, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, which means 10 million albums sold in the U.S., which puts them in a club with only 104 other albums in the history of record sales, according to a list easily found with a Google search. Yup, I counted).
I didn’t think they could achieve that level of success on subsequent records, and they didn’t, but they still continued to do well, really well considering the sad state of the music industry, with their follow-ups, “Meteora” (2003) and “Minutes to Midnight,” (2007) each selling between two-to-four million records in the U.S. (Wikipedia).
The band released their latest album, “A Thousand Suns,” last September and the album, which the band described in a recent MTV interview as one with “concepts [that] blend human ideas with technology” – so a Concept Album, perhaps, which possibly addresses nuclear warfare (song titles include, “Burning in the Skies,” “Blackout, and “Fallout”)?—features the semi-reggae-infused single, “Waiting for the End,” a song that currently receives a lot—maybe too much—airplay on local L.A. rock radio station, KROQ. How do I know that? When my iPod battery runs out, I listen to KROQ.
The band went to Israel as part of the A Thousand Suns World Tour. At the beginning of 2011, they come to North America, with a stop at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 23. You can see more tour dates here.
November 19, 2010 | 12:34 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Delicious recipes from Jewish Journal staff friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving!
From the kitchen of Jeffrey Hensiek (and his father, Barry)
1 package frozen chopped spinach
3 eggs, beaten
1 16 ounce container cottage cheese
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 stick butter, melted
3 tablespoons flour
Cook down spinach. Melt butter and mix with flour. Mix spinach, butter and flour, and the rest of the ingredients and pour into a casserole dish. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes at 375F.
Grandma’s Molasses Cookies
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 to 1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375F.
Melt the butter and shortening in a small saucepan. Allow to cool slightly. Transfer to bowl of mixer. Add sugar, molasses and egg and mix well. Sift flour, cloves, ginger, salt and cinnamon into mixture and mix well. Chill batter about 1/2 hour.
Roll batter into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in sugar and place on a baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Transfer to rack or plate.
From the kitchen of Olivia Gingerich
Pumpkin pie martinis
Spiced Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 dash allspice
1 dash ginger
1 dash cloves
(Don’t be afraid to be generous with the cinnamon.)
Simmer everything until all the sugar and spices are dissolved, stirring often. Chill simple syrup. A little bit might settle out to the bottom once it’s chilled, that’s fine, just be sure to shake it well before using it.
Pumpkin pie martini’s
1 1/2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
2 ounces (1 1/3 shot glasses) Vodka
1 1/2 ounces (1 shot glass) vanilla soy milk or light cream or heavy milk
1 1/2 ounces (1 shot glass) spiced simple syrup
Put everything in a shaker, fill with ice, and shake sharply until frost forms on shaker. Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon.
This is a basic recipe and good jumping off point to get you started. The main spices in the simple syrup are the cinnamon and vanilla, if you don’t have one or any of the others it’s not a big deal to leave them out. For the martinis, you need to taste one after you make it to see how it comes out with the particular milk/cream, vodka, and spiced syrup that you are using. If it comes out too strong, use more milk/cream and a little less vodka. If it tastes bland, use a bit more spiced simple syrup. If it tastes a bit like cough syrup or just too pumpkiny, use less canned pumpkin.
From the Kitchen of Jay Firestone (Courtesy of his mother, Debby)
Broccoli Corn Bake
10 oz pkg frozen chopped broccoli thawed
17 ounce can cream style corn
1/4 cup saltine crackers or Tam Tam’s crushed
1 egg beaten or egg beater equivalent
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 tablespoon instant onion flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
In a 11/2 quart casserole, combine broccoli,corn, 2 T margarine, 1/4 c crumbs, egg, onion and salt.
Blend topping-crumbs and 2T margarine. Sprinkle over top. Bake 350 degree oven for 35 minutes
From the kitchen of Ryan Torok (Courtesy of a family friend)
Pumpkin Butter Dip Appetizer
8 ounce cream cheese
1/2 jar pumpkin butter
3 slices crisp turkey bacon, all natural, nitrate free, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
2 Tablespoons pecans, chopped
Put cream cheese on serving plate. Cover with pumpkin, then turkey bacon, onions and pecans
Serve with pita toasts
Balsamic and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower, cut florets into pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Toss cauliflower, oil, spices. Roast on large rimmed baking sheet until softens and browns on bottom, 20 minutes. Toss with vinegar and return to oven and roast until moisture evaporates, 5 to 10 minutes more.
8 mini pumpkins
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place uncut pumpkins in large shallow dish and add 1/4 inch water, cover with foil and bake 40 minutes or until tender. Let cool. Reheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove tops from pumpkins with paring knife Remove and discard seeds, then scoop out flesh, leaving ¼ inch thick shell. Place 4 cups pumpkin flesh in mixing bowl. Separate eggs, stirring yolks into pumpkin flesh and placing whites in separate bowl. Stir flour and baking powder into pumpkin mixture, then add salt and pepper. In clean separate bowl, Whip egg whites into stiff peaks. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Spoon soufflé mixture into pumpkin shells. Place on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed up.
November 17, 2010 | 3:30 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
Following the success of the one-million-youtube-hit-strong “Hanukkah Flash Mob”, which had hundreds of new immigrants (olim) surprising Ben Yehuda Square in Jerusalem with a choreographed flash mob, the aliyah organization Nefesh B’Nefesh produced another youtube music video showing the hip and fun side to making aliyah.
The new music video entitled “Eight Days” takes the reggae-tinged music of Matisyahu’s “One Day” and puts it to lyrics about “living the dream” of making aliyah—also NBN’s slogan. In the video eight good-looking olim go on an idyllic road trip in a beat-up Mercedes convertible, marking their beloved territory by lighting hanukkiahs and eating (and dropping) sufganiyot at eight of their favorite spots, including the Mediterranean, the Jerusalem souk, the Negev, the Dead sea, the Golan, of course the Kotel.
Just 24 hours after its release on November 14 garnered over 5,000 hits.
November 13, 2010 | 11:25 pm
Posted by Tom Tugend
The Lord’s Prayer, widely considered to undergird the very foundation of Christianity, “is utterly, totally, fully Jewish, there’s nothing in it that is particularly Christian,” according to one of the foremost theological interpreters of the historical Jesus.
John Dominic Crossan, a former Catholic priest and now professor at DePaul University, puts forward this startling thesis in the latest of his 26 books, “The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer” (HarperOne 2010).
The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer are “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” and the first two words are key to Crossan’s reinterpretation.
In traditional Christian thinking, the prayer is seen as establishing a relationship between the individual petitioner and God, but Crossan takes a different view in his book and in interviews with CathNews, a Catholic Internet news service, and the Los Angeles Times.
Within the context of Judaism in the 1st century CE, the term “Father,” or “Abba” in Aramaic, would connote a Householder, who must provide equally for all members of his family, Crossan argues.
In that sense, God is “The Big Householder in the Sky,” who exercises “distributive justice” and who would be appalled by the huge discrepancy between rich and poor.
That concept “reflects the radical vision of justice that is the core of Israel’s biblical tradition,” Crossan writes. “The Lord’s Prayer come from the heart of Judaism to the lips of Christianity.”
There is “a huge discrepancy between what most people think Christianity is really about and what Jesus thinks Christianity is really about,” Crossan observed in an interview.
Crossan is an old hand at questioning Christian dogma and is one of the founders of the Jesus Seminar, a liberal Christian group.
The Seminar has proposed that many of the miracles attributed to Jesus did not occur, at least not as written in the New Testament, and that Jesus did not physically rise from the dead.
November 11, 2010 | 8:30 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
The Arc Project for Palestine, an innovative master plan for a future Palestinian state designed and conceived in Los Angeles, received the “2010 Future Project of the Year” at the World Architecture Festival, a coveted international architectural prize.
Designed by Suisman Urban Design of Los Angeles, in partnership with RAND Corporation, the project looks forward to a Palestinian state in peace with its Israeli neighbor.
Unfortunately, the recognition comes as the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that could lead to a Palestinian state become less and less likely. But perhaps the prize may again shed a bit of light on a visionary proposal that would turn the West Bank and Gaza into a cutting edge region of mass-transit-linked, sustainable, and economically viable communities.
As I wrote during the unveiling of the project back in April 2005:
This is what the Rand people did—treated the existing topography, resources and society as a kind of blank slate for state-of-the-art, sustainable urban planning. The result makes you wish Rand was around to plan Los Angeles 60 years ago. The plan’s centerpiece is visually and intellectually simple, in the best sense of the word. It calls for a light-rail line, which it calls “the arc.” The rail line would essentially bisect Palestine, freeing the proto-nation from a future dependence on cars while also providing the backbone for a high-tech infrastructure and adjacent green space. Picture a stylized “J.” The top of the letter starts in the upper West Bank, in Jenin, and the stem runs down along the ridge of already settled towns—Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem. The hook goes through Israel via a secure path, and reappears in Gaza, where it runs upward through that narrow strip from Rafah to Gaza City. The “J,” located just east of existing towns, would connect the major Palestinian population centers in an efficient, car-free way. (“Cars ruin everything,” Glazer told me. “Israel’s all car-ed up.) Water, utility, sewage and fiber-optic lines would follow the same J-shaped trunk line. Efficient, relatively cheap high-speed buses would link the old town centers with new high-tech, industrial zones and settlement corridors forming horizontally along its route. A greenbelt would border the line, forming a single park up and down the country’s length. Electricity would flow from wind and solar generators. This “J” would contain sprawl, preserve other open spaces, obviate the need for most cars, smooth the flow of goods and services, and help preserve the character of old, tourism-friendly Palestinian towns while allowing for new industrial and residential growth. In Palestine, demography is destiny, and the Rand report assumes that the population will double over the next 10 years. The plan is estimated to cost $41.5 billion over the next 10 years. That’s about the same amount the international community pays to keep the peace in Bosnia—over $700 per person per year.
Also in my column, I addressed the unusual fact that the Arc project funding came in part from a Los Angeles Jewish businessman named Gulford Glazer. I wrote:
Glazer had been involved with Rand for years, ever since his close friend Moshe Dayan urged him to retain Rand to assess Israel’s financial contribution to America’s Cold War struggles. The Santa Monica-based think tank was already at work on a Palestine study, initially funded by Santa Monica residents David and Carol Richards, when it contacted Glazer and tapped into his long-standing interest. “My father used to tell me that a man with nothing to lose is very dangerous,” Glazer said. “We need in our self-defense to make sure they have something,” he said, referring to the Palestinians. In other words, Glazer and the Rand people have turned the old formulation on its head. Is it good for the Jews? now has a corollary: “Is it good for the Palestinians?” Failure, Glazer said, is not an option. A seething, destabilized state of Palestine would pose a constant security threat to Israel. A viable, sustainable state might just ensure a regional calm. “You need to do something to get them started,” he said. “These people are not just gonna lose everything anymore for no reason.”
The announcement of the prize electrified the crowd. According to The Swedish magazine Arkitektur, “The greatest jubilation in the festival hall was heard when the winner in the category of “Future projects - master planning” was presented. Winner Suisman Urban Design, in its Arc project for Palestine, has produced a stunning vision of infrastructure for a future Palestinian state.”
According to a press release from Suisman, The three judges – from the U.S., England, and China - were unanimous in their decision. They praised its “fearless example of architecture and masterplanning, helping to promote a political solution…The Arc excels in translating a complex context into a clear and powerful diagram…it is rigorous, practical, and believable.”
“The team at Suisman Urban Design, and our partners at RAND Corporation, are thrilled to accept this award. It has been a privilege to work on a project related to the peaceful hopes of two peoples, Palestinians and Israelis,” said Doug Suisman, FAIA, Principal of Suisman Urban Design, “Through architecture and urban design, we have tried to show that a successful Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace, security, and prosperity, is not only imaginable, but feasible, and could begin now. It is our deepest hope that this project can contribute in some small way towards peace in the Middle East”.
Now that there is talk of a unilateral Palestinian statehood declaration—something Israel and the United States firmly oppose—the question is how a plan like this could take hold under such circumstances. Five years after Suisman & Co. dreamed up the plan, peace seems as elusive as ever. Too bad: look what everyone is missing.
You can watch a film presentation on the Arc here:
November 9, 2010 | 5:07 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
Yesterday, leaders of L.A.-based synagogues, mosques and churches spoke at rally in support of the Responsible Banking Iniative, a pending city ordinance which aims to increase local banks investment in small businesses and communities and seeks to prevent home foreclosures.
An estimated 800 people attended the rally, according to a spokesperson for L.A. Voice PICO, the organizing group behind the event, which took place at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Los Angeles.
Speakers included Rabbi Ron Stern of Reform congregation Stephen S. Wise Temple and Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann of IKAR, a synagogue that operates out of the Westside Jewish Community Center. Toward the end of the 90-minute program, Stern stood up, from his seat onstage, to lead everyone in a closing prayer, alongside Father Margarito Martinez of Our Lady Our Talpa, a Catholic church in Boyle Heights, and Pastor Byron Smith of Curry Temple, a Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Compton, CA.
“So you’re going to hear a prayer from one who’s brown, one who’s white and one’s black,” Stern said, which caused the people in the audience, mostly silent and attentive throughout the evening, to laugh.
“The power of this city comes from the times that we stand together like this,” Stern added, in a more serious tone.
The people in the audience represented over 20 synagogues, churches and mosques, all apart of L.A. Voice PICO, an interfaith, community-organizing network with congregational membership.
IKAR congregant Joseph Levy attended for personal and political reasons. “A lot of people I know directly and indirectly, parents and friends, [have] been in the situation of losing their homes,” Levy said. “There’s a lot of injustice and imbalance in the system and it’s kind of encouraging to see a community come together from a grassroots perspective.”
November 8, 2010 | 4:45 pm
Posted By Rob Eshman
The heckling came in well-coordinated waves. As Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a packed ballroom of 300 delegates Monday in New Orleans at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, the first protester started shouting, forcing the Israeli prime minister to stop. Security personal grabbed the protester and rushed him out of the room.
If they came to delegitimize Israel, Netanyahu said, they came to the wrong address. The crowd erupted in applause
The pattern repeated itself four times in the course of Netanyahu’s half-hour speech. Each time the prime minister returned to the rhythm of his major annual address to north American Jewry, another single protester stood up and shouted. Security rushed each of the obstructionists out as the crowd chanted “Bibi, Bibi,” in approval.
The constant interruptions were the same tactic anti-Israel protesters had used against Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren during a speech at the University of California, Irvine last February. Constant shouts and catcalls eventually drove his remarks to a stop.
Though the protesters Monday at the General Assembly used the same strategy, there was a marked difference: Where the protesters in Irvine identified themselves as Muslim students, these protesters were young Jewish college students who see themselves as representing the best interests of Israel.
“What were they against?” one Israeli journalist in the audience asked rhetorically. “The loyalty oath? The occupation? Gaza? Most Jews would agree with them.”
For many, the drama echoed the GA in Boston in 1969, when Jewish college students held a sit-in that actually shut down the GA business. Monday’s protest was just the second time the GA had faced that level of dissent.
In comments to the press, the ejected protesters sounded like a younger generation of Jewish activists, rather than the often anti-Semitic protesters who make up left-wing anti-Israel movement.
These protesters, who worked their way into the GA by virtue of being Jewish college students—the GA’s organizers have boasted of the 700 college students participating in what is usually a generally older skewing conclave—are not questioning Israel’s legitimacy, but rather specific policies. They see a moral urgency in questions of Israeli policy that the mainstream of American Jewry is content to seeworked out at a pace of the Israeli government’s own choosing.
“Hey, we talk about getting the younger generation involved in Israel,” said one GA attendee. “Here they are.”