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Relying on food to get through this New Year

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Lifestyle

Rosh Hashanah is usually a time of delicious food shared with precious loved ones and friends, but this year we need to rely on just the tasty treats to get us through this New Year. Sharon Lurie and Lauren Boolkin have given you some delectable foodie options.

SHARON LURIE
Rookie sushi salad

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I battle to make sushi rice: mine always turns out sticky-gritty-mashed something or anything unassociated with the wonderful world of this Japanese cuisine. That was until my granddaughter said: “Bobba, use brown rice, it’s just as good” and she was quite right. Her recipe included a layer of rice on the serving platter, topped with sections of smoked salmon/trout, chopped cucumber, coriander and radish, and sesame seeds. This recipe, however, gives you the opportunity to include other vegetables.

One thing we did agree on was that ready-fried onions (available at many kosher supermarkets) have to be piled, really high, on top of the salad.

Ingredients

3 cups ready-cooked brown short grain rice

1 English cucumber, cut in half, pips removed, and chopped/julienned/sliced on the diagonal

2-3 sticks of celery, finely sliced on the diagonal

250g baby mealies, sliced/chopped (you can use two cups of corn, defrosted)

250g sugar snap peas, sliced in thirds on the diagonal

1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced/chopped

1 green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced/chopped

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced/chopped

2 carrots, julienned/finely chopped

8-10 sliced/chopped red radishes

½ cup chopped spring onions

100-200g smoked salmon/trout bits

2 avocados – sliced/cubed when ready to serve

100g salted cashew nuts

1 packet dry crushed ramen noodles (optional, but different textures make a salad special!)

Handful of chopped fresh coriander for garnishing

Fried onion rings

½ cup sesame seeds (dry-fried or baked to bring out the flavour and crisp up)

Method

Cook rice as per instructions on the packet.

Allow to cool and place on a serving platter.

Place selected vegetables on top of the rice in rows so that you section off the vegetables. (sliced or chopped depending on how you want your salad to look – I prefer chopped.)

Pour over salad dressing just before serving and finally sprinkle generously with fried onions and sesame seeds.

Dressing

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup orange juice

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp finely grated ginger

¼ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup sesame oil

½ cup sunflower oil

1-2 teaspoons chilli flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)

Plus sachet of powdered stock from noodles if you are using noodles.

If not, add two teaspoons of powdered vegetable stock.

Method

Shake up all dressing ingredients in a jar with a secure-fitting lid.

When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and garnish with the coriander and cashew nuts, and crumble the optional noodles (crushed in your hand) over the top of the dressed salad.

Finally, sprinkle with fried onion rings.

Serves 8–10

Sriracha and honey chicken

Although Sriracha sauce is quite spicy and one should symbolically eat sweeter dishes over Rosh Hashanah, the honey in this dish does that without making it too sweet.

The glaze on the chicken should be quite dark and sticky with a Thai-flavoured twist. Serve with jasmine rice and peas.

Ingredients

1 chicken braai pack cut into 10 pieces

Little oil for frying

3 cloves garlic

⅓ cup honey

⅓ cup Sriracha chilli sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp rice vinegar or apple cider

3 tbsp sesame oil

Fresh coriander and sesame seeds for decorating

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.

Blend garlic, honey, Sriracha, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil until smooth.

Fry or braai (BBQ) chicken pieces until golden brown.

Place chicken pieces side by side in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish — not too large or the lovey glaze will evaporate too quickly. Cover with sauce and tinfoil.

Cook for 45 mins to one hour or until cooked through. Remember the chicken is cut into portions so it will cook a little quicker than a whole chicken.

Remove tinfoil and, if the glaze isn’t a lightish brown, then allow the glaze to brown up a little.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and fresh coriander.

Fruit compôte brȗlée

Ingredients

500g mixed dried fruit, including raisins

4 cups of your favourite fruit juice or juices e.g. mixed berry, grape, apple, cranberry, etc.

1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1½ tbsp custard powder dissolved in one cup juice set aside earlier

1 packet vanilla instant pudding

Coconut milk (enough for pudding) — follow instructions on package of pudding using coconut milk instead of milk or water

Brown sugar, enough to cover the ramekin dishes of fruit

Method

Place dried fruit, ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon in a medium-sized saucepan.

Cover with three cups fruit juice, keeping one cup aside for later.

Bring fruit and juice to the boil with lid on.

As it starts to boil, reduce heat and allow the fruit to simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until the fruit is soft.

Dissolve custard powder in the cup of juice set aside earlier, and slowly add to fruit while it’s simmering. Keep stirring carefully as you add the custard juice so that it doesn’t get lumpy.

Allow fruit to continue simmering over low heat for another 10 minutes until it thickens.

Remove from heat and allow to cool then refrigerate.

Beat instant pudding with coconut milk until firm.

Remove fruit from the fridge and place in small ramekin dishes or in a single ovenproof dish.

Cover with a layer of firm vanilla instant pudding, about 1-2 cm.

Top with: A generous sprinkling of brown sugar, then caramelize it under the grill on the top shelf, watching all the time to ensure it doesn’t burn. Or you can use a blow torch, carefully!

LAUREN BOOLKIN
Kreplach soup

Kreplach have been around since medieval times. They originated in Eastern Europe, and can be filled with meat, chicken, or cheese. They are traditionally eaten at the start of the Yom Kippur fast, on the seventh day of Sukkot, and on Purim.

Don’t be nervous to make them. Start by making your dough thicker, and as you get better at them, roll your dough thinner and thinner. If you are lucky enough to access wonton wrappers, you’ll have your kreplach done in a jiffy.

Ingredients

2 jumbo eggs

1¼ cup flour

¼ tsp salt

100g mincemeat flavoured with 1½ tsp chopped onion, ¼ tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper

Method

Place the sifted cake flour in a bowl, and add the salt. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs, and mix with a fork until a dough forms. Roll the dough into a ball, and rest it covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes. Flour the board or countertop and your rolling pin well, and roll the dough out as thin as you can get it. Make sure the board is well floured underneath. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into squares 7cm by 7cm.

Place a small blob of meat in the centre of each square. (Tip: don’t put meat into all your squares until you have the hang of the folding.)

Form into triangles by bringing the two sides together, and then the bottom up. (Shape into half moons if this is going to put you off making the kreplach!)

Flash freeze these for an hour uncovered, and then put into a Ziploc ready to pop into the boiling soup. When you cook the kreplach, make sure your soup is boiling. They are ready when they float up to the top of the pot.

Pavlova Grazing Board

This must be the most spectacular, simplest dessert ever invented. A special fellow foodie WhatsApped me a picture of a pavlova grazing board, and I’m now obsessed. The PGB went viral when Shalini Nestor posted a photo on her Swish Biscuits Instagram towards the end of last year. Feel free to put whatever your family loves on the board. I have included a pavlova recipe, but honestly, the bakeries in Joburg have gorgeous readymade ones. Similarly, Staffords makes a perfect bottled lemon curd which is kosher and parev.

Mini pavlovas

12 egg whites at room temperature

660g castor sugar

Preheat your oven to 120 degrees. Place the egg whites into a very clean bowl. Beat until frothy, then gradually add the sugar. Beat until the meringue is thick.

Using a spoon, plop the meringue onto a paper-lined baking sheet in rounds. It helps to draw the rounds with a pencil and teacup (the teacup for sizing), but make sure the leaded side is on the underside. Using a spatula, make peaks up the sides. Bake for 1½ hours, and then switch off the oven and allow them to cool.

Suggested ingredients

Lemon curd

Pomegranate seeds

Cherries

Blueberries

Strawberries

Granadilla pulp

Chocolates

Honeycomb

Lisianthas and roses to decorate

Fenugreeked lamb shoulder for Rosh Hashanah

Fenugreek is one of the earliest traditional foods of Rosh Hashanah. It’s a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. I have included some carrots as these, too, are a symbolic food eaten on Rosh Hashanah. The baby potatoes are there because they are delicious! The lamb is best marinated the day before cooking. It freezes well, and can be made the day before, sliced, and warmed. Start early, as it cooks for a long time.

Ingredients

1 lamb shoulder

2 lemons

4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp fenugreek seeds

1 pkt mint leaves

1 pkt coriander

4 tbsp olive oil

4 carrots peeled and thickly sliced

1 head of garlic cut in half horizontally (don’t worry, you’re wearing a mask)

Salt and pepper

Method

In a dry pan, toast the fenugreek and cumin until fragrant. Grind in a pestle and mortar. Zest the lemons, and place them in a food processor with the ground spices. Squeeze the lemons, and add the juice to the processor with the olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Grind these all together to make a paste.

Massage the paste into your washed and dried meat making sure to get into all the crevices. I like to stab the meat a bit with a sharp knife before spicing! Marinate overnight.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and place the lamb into the oven covered. Baste every hour. After two hours, add the carrots, garlic head, and potatoes, and reduce the temperature to 160 degrees. Continue cooking the meat for another two hours, uncovering your dish for the last half hour. If there is insufficient gravy to baste, add one beef cube dissolved in a cup of boiling water, but I rarely need to do this. Serve surrounded by the vegetables garnished with lemons and rosemary.

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Enough vaccines to go round, say experts, but not for a while

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There is a widespread perception in the community that South Africa is lagging way behind in its vaccine rollout, but insiders say there will be enough vaccines to go round and herd immunity isn’t a pipe dream.

Discovery Group Chief Executive Adrian Gore told the SA Jewish Report this week that South Africa had secured 51 million doses of vaccines. These include 31 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“Together, these should be sufficient to cover more than 40 million adults in South Africa, exceeding the population herd immunity target of 29 million people,” he said.

He said cabinet had indicated an intention to vaccinate all high-risk groups, including essential workers, people over the age of 60, and people living with multiple co-morbidities by the latest October 2021.

“Discovery, together with public and private-sector partners, is pushing hard to achieve this sooner, pending the available supply of vaccines.”

Professor Barry Schoub, emeritus professor in virology at the University of the Witwatersrand and the former director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, agreed that there was a perception that the country was lagging behind.

However, Schoub said South Africa was lucky that the lag hadn’t been too damaging, because of the low transmission rate of the virus. This, he said, was “unlike the continuing devastation in the northern hemisphere in spite of extensive vaccine rollouts in those countries”.

“We do hope that there will be sufficient vaccination in good time for a large proportion of high-risk individuals to be covered before we experience our third wave and before winter,” he said.

“Unfortunately, financially, we weren’t able to race with the hounds and grab all the good vaccines, as most of the high-income countries have selfishly done, procuring far more than their populations needed.”

Schoub, who also chairs the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 tasked with advising the government on vaccine-related matters, said there were a number of important things to remember about the rollout.

“First, many of the middle and lower-income countries have opted to roll out with vaccines which haven’t yet been approved by what are called stringent regulatory authorities, for example the United States Food and Drug Administration,” he said. “For example, vaccines from China and Russia, which may well be very good vaccines and are also undergoing review in South Africa, but haven’t yet been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).”

South Africa is “very fortunate” in having an excellent regulatory authority in SAHPRA, Schoub said, advised and supported by a team of excellent local scientists, in order to uphold high standards of safety and efficacy in approving vaccines for use in this country.

“Also, it’s indeed fortunate that we didn’t, in fact, like high-income countries, rush to buy large amounts of vaccines because of the dominance of the B.1.351 variant in South Africa. This variant is proving to be a major determinant of vaccine efficacy.

“We are also fortunate in this country to have a network of scientists which ranks amongst the top in the world in the COVID-19 field, who can provide the most advanced scientific evaluation of the suitability of vaccines for the South African environment, especially given the dominance of the B.1.351 variant.”

South Africa’s vaccines are expected to start arriving in the middle of this month, according to Gore.

A total of 0.6 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses are scheduled for delivery this month, and a further 4.5 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses are scheduled for delivery in May and June, with the remaining 15 million doses scheduled for delivery in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

Gore, who has been working with the task team (chaired by Schoub) appointed by the health minister to support vaccine procurement, said 2.8 million Johnson & Johnson doses were scheduled for delivery from April to June, with the balance scheduled for delivery in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

He said Discovery had been working on detailed plans to ensure its medical-scheme members and clients were able to access vaccinations as soon as they were eligible according to national prioritisation criteria.

“In alignment with the national priority setting process and three-phase rollout, we have segmented and stratified our member base based on those at highest risk. Through this exercise, we have identified more than 550 000 clients and members as high-risk,” he said. “The aim is to vaccinate this group as quickly as possible, then to go on to provide access to vaccination for the remaining 2.5 million members and clients as quickly as possible in the following phases of the rollout, ideally before the end of 2021.”

He said Discovery was also preparing to help its members navigate the vaccination process. This includes how to register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System, how to locate accredited vaccination sites, providing follow-up reminders for second doses, and providing access to vaccination certificates.

“Discovery is participating in Business for South Africa workstreams that are planning the roll out of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme alongside the national department of health. We are contributing skills and expertise to support this national effort,” Gore said.

He said Discovery remained in regular contact with vaccine manufacturers, while making every effort in co-ordination with the health department to speed up availability to members of the medical schemes it administers.

“Schemes administered by Discovery have ring-fenced funds for vaccination for all members. We are ready and waiting to disburse these funds pending the arrival of vaccines and official launch of the next phase of the rollout,” he said.

According to the health department, the number of healthcare workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol remains 269 102, a tiny figure compared with the United States, where a record four million people received a vaccine last Saturday alone.

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Labia Theatre’s nine-year battle against anti-Israel film

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It’s been nine years since Labia Theatre owner Ludi Kraus was unwittingly caught up in a fight with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) over the screening at his theatre of a documentary which compares Israel to apartheid South Africa.

“This is a battle I didn’t choose,” he says in an exclusive interview with the SA Jewish Report. “I stood up for the rights of independent cinemas and in particular my theatre. It’s been enormously stressful, but I didn’t want my theatre to be used for an event that was central to something as divisive as the opening of Israel Apartheid Week (IAW). So, I stuck with those principles.”

In a judgment delivered on 26 March 2021, Western Cape Judge Andre Le Grange of the Equality Court ruled that the Labia must screen the film The Roadmap to Apartheid within 60 days, and it was ordered to pay costs.

Kraus, who is Jewish, couldn’t at the time of going to press share how he and his legal team would respond to the judgment, but he recalled how it all started. “I received a request from a publishing company to rent a cinema on a Sunday afternoon. It was called, somewhat innocuously, Workers World Media Productions.

“An arrangement regarding the screening of the film was made, and I was told to send an invoice to the PSC. I was puzzled because I thought it was a South African movie linked to apartheid. The publishing company hadn’t mentioned the PSC at all. So I googled the film, and to my surprise, found that it was about comparing apartheid to Israel and the Palestinians. I didn’t feel comfortable showing the film, especially when I found out that the screening at the Labia was to be a central part of the opening of IAW in 2012.

“I was unhappy with the film and the event. I felt it wouldn’t be popular with the majority of my patrons, especially considering the hundreds of other venues that could be used to screen it instead. I phoned the publishing company, and told it that I didn’t want to proceed. Communication was initially polite. They were understanding, and said they would discuss it with their colleagues.

“The next thing, I was by accident sent some in-house emails that weren’t intended for me, in which one person said that they were happy to find an alternative venue, but others insisted that it be shown at the Labia, which would generate publicity for their cause.

“We were then subjected to emails, threats, boycotts, and pickets every Friday for a year. They got academics and the media involved. Meanwhile, the film was shown on UCT [the University of Cape Town] campus, and went on a national tour.

“They also got organisations to boycott us, and some of it did affect us. We were then approached by Right2Know (R2K), which said it was prepared to mediate. It culminated in our agreeing to a screening of the film on condition that the South African Zionist Federation [SAZF] be present to debate the film afterwards. We obviously wanted to try and have a balanced debate. But the SAZF pulled out. Because the condition hadn’t been met, we cancelled the screening, which led to a further outcry.

“That was followed by both the PSC and R2K lodging complaints with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The SAHRC found in favour of us.

“Unbeknown to us though, the PSC and R2K then appealed the SAHRC decision without notifying us that they were doing so,” Kraus says. “This time, on appeal, the SAHRC overturned its initial decision, and found against us. The first we heard about the appeal ruling was a year after it had taken place. Yet, it’s a legal principle that you can’t rule against someone if you haven’t given them the opportunity to hear their side of the story, as was the case here.

“So, we took the SAHRC’s decision on review to the High Court, and we won that battle. But the Equality Court, in a separate matter brought by the PSC, ruled against us, ordering a screening of the film.”

Going forward, Kraus is most concerned about the ongoing funding of legal costs, especially if the case goes all the way to the Constitutional Court. The cinema has had a tough year financially as it was in lockdown for five months. It was then hit by the second wave during the holiday season – the only time it could have ‘caught up’. Having now fought two high court cases, it simply doesn’t have the resources to continue to fight with an appeal to the Supreme Court and then, if necessary, the Constitutional Court. Kraus says that even with his attorneys acting pro bono, the cost of driving these matters through the courts is still substantial for a small business.

“It’s a struggle. Many of our patrons are older people who aren’t ready to return to the cinema, even though we have COVID-19 safety protocols in place,” says Kraus. The cinema is hoping to draw a younger audience with more commercial titles. It has also launched a streaming service that is available anywhere in South Africa.

Kraus believes that the PSC and its supporters don’t care much about the actual screening of the film at the Labia anymore. “For them, all these years later, it’s more about the publicity that’s being generated over the issue,” he says.

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Photos reveal Africa’s Jewish tapestry

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“My photographs try to weave together the complex tapestry of the Jewish African peoples segregated by historical, cultural, linguistic, and regional divides yet united by a faith in Hashem.”

So says Jono David, a British-born photographer living in Japan who has travelled the globe to amass what is perhaps the most extensive archive of contemporary images of Jewish heritage and heritage sites in the world.

Included in his growing compendium of more than 120 000 photographs from 116 countries and territories is his collection of photographs of Jews in Africa from 30 countries on the continent. The best of these photographs are in a book titled, The Jews of Africa: Lost Tribes, Found Communities, Emerging Faiths that includes essays by scholars, rabbis, and African Jews.

“Between August 2012 and April 2016, I embarked upon eight unique Jewish Africa photo tours comprised of about 60 total weeks of travel to 30 countries and territories,” David writes. “Ultimately, I archived about 65 000 Jewish Africa photographs, and I did so with the aim of answering one primary question: who are the Jews of Africa?

“I was particularly interested in the emerging black Jewish communities in places such as Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Gabon, and Cameroon. Over the past 20 or so years, the phenomenon of religious renouncement and self-conversion to Judaism has, in some cases, as in Ghana, Cameroon, and Gabon, grown with the rise of internet connection there. Real-time connection is weaving a black Jewish tapestry across the continent,” David writes in his book.

“So far, these small but fervent communities remain largely ignored by official entities in Israel and in the mainstream Jewish world. The century-old Abayudaya community in Uganda is officially recognised by Conservative Judaism, but that’s an exception. Connections with outside Jewish organisations and rabbis are increasing, however, and official Jewish recognition remains an important aim.

“In my travels, these communities held a particular fascination, but I was equally mindful of the European-rooted congregations. I was curious not merely about their history, but about their manifestations of Jewish life in comparison to familiar ways in Europe.

“Today, while Jewish communities of the southern African region shrink and ancient ones of the Maghreb cling on [notably in Morocco and Tunisia], black Jewish groups are growing in number, in location, and in commitment,” David concludes. “Following subjugation over the centuries by invaders both political and religious, motivating factors for this Jewish awakening are rooted in a quest for truth and identity, truth rooted in the tenants of Judaism and the Torah, an identity founded in self-determination.”

  • See more of Jono David’s Jewish work at JewishPhotoLibrary.com

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