Tag Archives: Holiday

Shabbat Shira – it’s music

Halleluhu by Laya Crust

Parshat B’Shalach                        Haftarah: Judges 4: 4 – 5: 31

Music is magical. We can’t see it, touch it, smell it or taste it. We can hear it and magically it can transform our mood and take us to other places in our imagination. We all know about love songs (a billion), break-up songs (2 billion), songs of tribute (“Starry Night” about Vincent Van Gogh) and patriotic songs (“La Marseillaise”and “HaTikvah”). All our secrets can be unearthed (“Killing Me Softly”) and raw emotion can be exposed (Stravinsky’s compositions).

Music is a beautiful union of art, science, math, and imagination. I remember a friend of mine- a physicist- being amazed and unbelieving when I told him I loved music. “How is that possible? ” he asked. “You’re an artsy.” I was really surprised by that comment because I had always thought that music was art and emotion. That was when I found out that there is a close relationship between science and music.

Miriam’s Song by Laya Crust

Music is an integral part of joyous Judaism. In the Torah portion B’Shalach we read “The Song of the Sea”.  It is Moses’ song of praise to God that was sung after the Israelites safely crossed the Red (or Reed) Sea, and were saved from the angry Egyptian army. The women, led by the prophet Miriam, sang and danced and made music on their “tof”, a handheld drum. There is a beautiful painting of the women led by Miriam playing their drums in The Golden Haggadah, and another lovely rendition in The Sarajevo Haggadah.

Devorah the Prophetess by Laya Crust
(inspired by a painting from a 17th C. Judeo-Persian book)

This Bible reading describing the escape into the desert, across the sea, and the ultimate Song of the Sea is paired with an adventure story in the Book of Judges. Led by the prophet Devorah the Israelites won a battle against Sisera’s Army. A woman named Yael completed the defeat by killing Sisera. Devorah then sang a song of praise about the triumph and Yael’s conquest.

 When we are happy, when we are sad, when we want to remember or forget, when we want to meditate or pray, be left alone or celebrate with others we often turn to music. Because it is a comforting, joyous and spiritual medium the most beautiful parts of prayer are often paired with music. The painting at the top of the page shows biblical instruments mentioned in “psoukei d’zimra”, prayers we say in the morning.

On this Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song, pay attention to the songs and music composed by Moses, Miriam, and the prophetess-judge Devorah. Enjoy the art, the sounds, and the music around you and have a Shabbat Shalom.

Laya

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Hanukkah 5776


                                                      Hanukkah shabbat 1 sigart by Laya Crust

This week we’ve been celebrating Hanukkah, the holiday of light. Each night we light candles or  small cruzes of olive oil to celebrate the success of the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd C.  BCE.  Antiochus IV was in control of the region, forbidding the observance of Judaism and ultimately desecrating the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Hannukahh is a visually beautiful observance. We light candles in our doorways, windows, and even outside, sharing the holiday with every person who knowingly or unknowingly walks by a  hanukiah .  It’s somehow compelling to realize that the Festival of Lights occurs during the coldest, darkest time of the year. The days are shorter, the winter is coming or has already arrived – whether it’s rainy and cold in Israel or snowy and cold in the northern hemisphere. So in this cold dark part of the year we have the glow of light around us.

It’s a wonderful time to get together with friends and family to share a cup of tea and watch the candles burn low.

It’s an even better time to get together with someone you know who might be alone without friends or family to celebrate with. If you know someone who is alone for the evening give them a call. Share a candle, tea, and cookies. And if you know someone who is isolated, depressed, not well- give them a call to share the warmth and joy.  And if you feel really energetic you can make yummy potato latkes and share them!

Here is the latke recipe I like to use.P1120454

8 medium potatoes. ( if you scrub them well you don’t have to peel them)

1 largish onion

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour or matzah meal (you can even leave this out if there is a gluten allergy or sensitivity in your circle)

1 – 2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

oil for frying.

P1120444

Grate the potatoes.

Cut the onion in half then slice it nice and thin.

Mix all the ingredients together- EXCEPT FOR THE OIL.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When it’s nice and hot put in a 1/4 cup of potato mixture for each latke.

Let them cook for about 6-8 minutes, until golden on the bottom. Then flip gently and let it cook another 5 – 7 minutes- until golden on the other side. I like to make the latkes on the thin side so they cook all the way through. Add a small amount of oil as necessary, gently and carefully tipping the frying pan so the oil finds its way throughout those sizzling critters.

P1120447

Place the fried latkes on an opened (clean) paper bag or on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.

If you want to “change them up” you can add grated zucchini, sweet potato, parsnip, beets or carrots- you get the idea.

Warning- it doesn’t matter how many you make- there will rarely be enough.

It’s popular to eat latkes with sour cream and apple sauce, but I grew up eating them with chrein (horseradish).

Yehudit Permut of Israel  told me, “A family tradition started in my maternal grandmother’s family in Russia was latkes from a different vegetable each candle – using the root vegetables that were stored in the root cellar and had been grown in their garden in the summer. We continued this and I have already passed it on to my children. It can be potato mixed with other veg or things like beets and parsnip, parsnip and carrot, potato and either veg, even potato mixed with some shredded cabbage and onions… anything goes. They used what they had.”

Enjoy the latkes and enjoy the last of Hanukkah.

Chag Sameach, Laya

 

 

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Tu B’Shevat Treat

20150201_114720[1]

Tu B’Shevat- The 15th of Shevat, and birthday of the new Trees.

I love pomegranates- clay pomegranates, ceramic pomegranates fresh pomegranates, dried pomegranates, silver pomegranates, gold pomegranates- you name them, I love them. I love their colour, the richness, the shape, and I love the juicy tart yet sweet seeds.

I’ve been waiting for Tu B’Shevat so I can share this recipe with you. I call it “Pomegranate Bark”. It’s the same idea as almond bark but it’s chocolate with pomegranate seeds, fresh ginger and a sprinkling of salt.

20150201_115733[1]You’ll need:

1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

a pomegranate

fresh ginger root or candied ginger

a sprinkling of salt (I would suggest Malden or kosher salt)

20150201_120801[1]20150201_121337[1]

 Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Peel a 1″ section of ginger. Slice the ginger and dice into tiny pieces. (You can toss the ginger with a small amount of potato starch to absorb  the moisture from the fresh ginger.)

20150201_122338[1]Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.

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Combine 1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds with 1 Tbsp. of ginger, and stir into the melted chocolate.

20150201_122707[1]

Pour onto parchment paper and smoothe it out. Sprinkle with a little kosher or Malden salt.

20150201_123337[1]

Chill the pomegranate bark in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve and enjoy.

20150201_123658[1]

Another option, courtesy of my sister Libby, is pomegranate seeds, a light sprinkling of cinnamon, slivered toasted almonds, and sea salt.

Try it and share it with your friends.

Happy Tu B’shevat,

Laya

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Shabbat Shira – it’s music

Miriam's Song

Miriam’s Song by Laya Crust

Parshat b’Shalach

Haftarah: Judges 4: 4 – 5: 31

Music is magical. We can’t see it, touch it, smell it or taste it. We can hear it and magically it can transform our mood and take us to other places in our imagination. We all know about love songs (a billion), break-up songs (2 billion), songs of tribute (Starry Night  about Vincent Van Gogh) and patriotic songs (Le Marseillaise). All our secrets can be unearthed (Killing Me Softly) and raw emotion can exposed (Stravinsky).

It is a beautiful union of art, science, math and imagination. I remember a friend of mine- a physicist- being amazed and unbelieving when I told him I loved music. “How is that possible? ” he asked. “You’re an artsy.” I was really surprised by that comment because I had always thought that music was art and emotion. And then I found out the close relationship between science and music. I’ve been working on a new composition (visual, not musical) for an engineer (physics, not train). Because he is, from what I can tell, equally music and science oriented I wanted to merge the two fields in my painting.  My intention is to merge the spectrum of tone, the measure of the notes and the background ordering of the staff. Here is a draft of my ideas:

20150127_183737art by Laya Crust

Music is an integral part of  joyous Judaism. In the Torah portion B’shalach we read “The Song of the Sea”.  It is Moses’ song of praise to God that was sung after the Israelites safely crossed the Red (or Reed) Sea, and were saved from the angry Egyptian army. The women, led by the prophet Miriam, sang and danced and made music on their tof, a hand held drum. There is a beautiful painting of the women led by Miriam playing their drums in The Golden Haggadah, and another lovely rendition in The Sarajevo Haggadah.

This Bible reading describing the escape into the desert, across the sea, and the ultimate Song of the Sea is paired with an adventure story in the Book of Judges. Led by the prophet Devorah the Israelites win a battle against Sisera’s Army. A woman named Yael completes the defeat by killing Sisera. Devorah then sings a song of praise about the triumph and Yael’s conquest. halleluhu0052

 The painting here shows biblical instruments mentioned in prayers we say in the morning.

When we are happy, when we are sad, when we want to remember or forget, when we want to meditate or pray, be left alone or celebrate with others we often turn to music. Because it is a comforting, joyous and spiritual medium the most beautiful parts of prayer are often paired with music.

So enjoy the art, the sounds, and the music around you.

Shabbat Shalom, Laya

I would love it if you would share your thoughts or stories about music. Even if it’s lyrics to ballads by cowboys, the loneliest lyrics in the world.

 
Artist in Residence,  The Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Textiles, Toronto

website  layacrust.com

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The Latke Edition

P1120442                                                      Laya at the latke post

 

Well, Hanukkah is almost over. For many of us, other than lighting the Hanukkah candles, oil is the theme. And Hanukkah begins and ends with potato latkes.

As promised, here is the recipe I use for a whole mess of those yummy fried spuds:

P1120454

 

8 medium potatoes. ( if you scrub them well you don’t have to peel them)

1 largish onion

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour or matzah meal (you can even leave this out if there is a gluten allergy or sensitivity in your circle)

1 – 2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

oil for frying.

P1120444

 

Grate the potatoes.

Cut the onion in half then slice it nice and thin.

Mix all the ingredients together- EXCEPT FOR THE OIL.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When it’s nice and hot put in a 1/4 cup of potato mixture for each latke.

Let them cook for about 6-8 minutes, until golden on the bottom. Then flip gently and let it cook another 5 – 7 minutes- until golden on the other side. I like to make the latkes on the thin side so they cook all the way through. Add a small amount of oil as necessary, gently and carefully tipping the frying pan so the oil finds its way throughout those sizzling critters.

P1120447

Place the fried latkes on an opened (clean) paper bag or on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.

If you want to “change them up” you can add grated zucchini, sweet potato, parsnip, beets or carrots- you get the idea.

Warning- it doesn’t matter how many you make- there will rarely be enough.

It’s popular to eat latkes with sour cream and apple sauce, but I grew up eating them with chrein (horseradish).

This just in from Yehudit Permut of Israel- “A family tradition started in my maternal grandmother’s family in Russia was latkes from a different vegetable each candle – using the root vegetables that were stored in the root cellar and had been grown in their garden in the summer. We continued this and I have already passed it on to my children. It can be potato mixed with other veg or things like beets and parsnip, parsnip and carrot, potato and either veg, even potato mixed with some shredded cabbage and onions… anything goes. They used what they had.”

 

Enjoy the latkes and enjoy the last of Hanukkah.

Chag Sameach, Laya

 

 

 

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First Day of Shavu’ot

Shavuot day1 sig

 

 

Ezekiel 1:1-28, 3:12

The Torah describes the appearance of G-d at Sinai. It says that G-d came down in smoke and fire, there were the blasts of the shofar and thunder and lightning, and the entire mountain trembled. The Torah portion continues with the recitation of the Ten Commandments.

The haftarah begins with Ezekiel saying that the heavens opened and he saw visions of G-d. The depiction Ezekiel gives of the panorama of sound and light is quite incredible. He describes amazing sounds and flames, flashes of light and smoke.

He goes on to describe the creatures he saw. They were like flashes of flame. Each had four animal faces, 6 wings, and legs with hooves. They were balanced on a wheel within a wheel, and the wheels had eyes on them, all about.

The description in the haftarah is quite beautiful, amazing, and detailed.

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