Thursdays at the Conservative Yeshiva are a unique experience. Every other week we all sit down to a communal meal cooked by yours truly and we enjoy some sort of educational or community building program called Kehila Midaberet, or community speaks.
Two weeks ago was our first Kehila Midebaret of the year with all of the students for the fall semester present. We enjoyed a tasty curried butternut squash and pumpkin soup for lunch (recipe below!) and sang some songs followed by a creative program led by Nathan, a Ziegler Rabbinical School student. The activity started by asking us to write a single sentence that summarized the beginning or end of something in our lives. It did not have to be specific or major, but it needed to be real. We then broke into groups and each group got two of the sentences at random. Our task was to compose two scenes using those sentences in specific ways. The results ranged from a scene about a woman looking for lemons to impress a new girlfriend, finding only etrogs in the markets and later having her new girlfriend mention a love of etrogs and strong dislike of lemons, to a scene of a young woman who is not allowed to play football for her high school team because of a third arm sticking out from under her shirt and her anxiety about having it removed. Each scene portrayed a light and comical version of real emotional reactions to the small and large changes that make up our lives, even if the scene could never happen in the real world.
Last Thursday we added a segment called Pina Ishit, in which a Yeshiva student tells a brief story from their lives. As we finished eating our lunch, we heard from Collin, a Torah Lishma Student, who told us about a summer at a camp where he was a staff member that had a particularly bad problem with bears and about an elderly man who defended a goat by punching a bear so hard it was knocked unconscientious. What he took from that story is you do not have to be big and intimidating to knock out a big problem metaphorically or literally. We then enjoyed listening to and discussing a selection of Israeli music compiled by Rachel M., a Ziegler Rabbinic Student, covering topics from the excitement of getting ready for Shabbat even in a secular family to the fear of living in Israel during the second Intifada to simple party songs that remind us that life is good even if we are scared. We ended the afternoon with a second Pina Ishit from Laura, who told us about getting arrested as part of a group of people of many different faiths joining together in the name of social progress and how that led her to choose to become a rabbinical student at Hebrew College. Our last speaker was Maya, a Native Student, who spoke about the changes in the relationship between Sarah and Hagar from before Ishmael was born through Sarah casting Hagar out of the home. Maya spoke about how she struggled with Sarah’s cruel treatment of Hagar.
Next Kehila Mideberet will feature a Sermon Slam where anyone who wishes may prepare a slam poetry style D’var Torah and present it to the community.
As promised, here are the recipes for the soups:
Curried Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup
1 medium butternut squash, cubed
1.5 pounds of pumpkin, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Sautee onions in olive oil until soft, add curry, cinnamon, salt and pepper and cook for one minute. Add carrots, squash and pumpkin and cook for 3-4 minutes then add water to cover the vegetables. Simmer until the veggies are soft and blend with a hand blender (or use a standard blender or potato masher)
Potato Veggie Curry
2-3 potatoes, cubed
1-2 carrots, chopped
2 bell peppers, any color
1 14 Oz can chickpeas
1 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Curry
2 Teaspoons each cumin, turmeric and cinnamon
Pre-school Teacher in Los Angeles
Synagogue: Temple Beth Am
Hometown: Livermore, California