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Cantor Evan Kent

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Three blintzes on a plate garnished with peach slices and a dollop of sour cream

When you marry someone, you not only get a spouse, you also get another family. When I married my husband, Rabbi Donald Goor, I inherited his mother and father, his siblings, their children. I even inherited his grandmother: Jeannette Multer. Jeannette wasn’t “Nana” or “Bubbie” or “Safta” or “Gramma.” She was “Grandmother.” Grandmother. And the properness of “Grandmother” embodied who she was: exacting, precise, and at times a bit rigid.

But Grandmother was also a voracious reader (she had once owned a bookstore), an astute student of politics and world affairs, a lifelong,...

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Watermelon halves on display in Israeli market

Jerusalem’s large outdoor market – Machane Yehuda – serves as my calendar for the cycle of holidays in the Jewish and Israeli year. As I write this piece, in the days following Passover, the shuk starts to reveal Israel’s summer bounty: piles of dark green avocados, mountains of thorny purple artichokes, magenta plums, and burgundy cherries all start parading through the market.

But here in Israel nothing announces summer as boldly as the seemingly sudden appearance of barbecues in the shuk and in the supermarket. And these barbecues come in a variety of shapes and sizes: permanent...

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Plate of hamantaschen with different fillings

I’m in Machane Yehuda – the big shuk or market in Jerusalem – just like I am every week. The “oznei Haman” have arrived. In Israel, hamantaschen are called “Haman’s ears” and with a bit of imagination, I can almost make sense of that. Every year, I wander from bakery to bakery during the weeks preceding Purim, and I end up carbohydratedly disappointed. My search for the hamantaschen of my youth are nowhere to be found.

The bakeries in Jerusalem, and especially in the shuk, make amazing hamantaschen. You want hamantaschen filled with halvah? We have that. Chocolate dough...

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Bins of colorful dried fruit -- mango, banana, kiwi, pineapple -- in Jerusalem supermarket

Recently, on a flight home from the U.S. to Israel, I was sitting next to a woman from Pittsburgh on her first trip to Israel. “You live in Jerusalem…that’s so exciting.” As I was a bit drowsy from the Advil PM I had taken to help me sleep on the long flight, I nodded and said, “Hmmm mmm…it’s always exciting.”

“When you land, what’s the first thing you do? Oh, I bet you go and visit the Kotel (Hebrew for the Western Wall).”

“Hmmm…mmm well, not exactly. Usually, the first thing I do is unpack my bags, throw the dirty laundry in the machine, feed the cat and then…”

“...

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Trays of colorfully decorated donuts for Hanukkah

The Jewish holidays always fall “early” or “late” – never “on time.” That, of course, is because as Jews we follow both the Hebrew calendar with its special holidays and the Gregorian calendar with its own special days. In some years, therefore, Hanukkah arrives early – around Thanksgiving (remember Thanksgivukkah a few years back)?  And other years, Hanukkah arrives late – coinciding with Christmas or even extends into the secular New Year. This year, Hanukkah arrives “on time,” with the first candle on the hanukkiyah (nine-branched candleholder used during Hanukkah) lit on the evening of...

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