Friday, June 04, 2010

Half-Full, Right?

Dedicated to my amazing wife, on our anniversary. You must be the epitome of patience and tolerance, to have put up with me for 14 years!

To my wife’s sometimes chagrin, our children have learned a very Roman ritual from their father that they insist on practicing every Friday night. Read on.

This will be my attempt to counter all the bad news out there about oil and Israel….

OK, the oil spill is really, really bad news. The isolation of Israel is really, really bad news. Is there any good news out there? Especially about Israel? Or about oil?

First of all, it's always a good idea to remember that about 50% of what we hear about Israel on the news is simply false.

The best way to understand this phenomenon is to watch this video:

(For more info, visit

Thus, although the evidence points to a terrorist operation under cover of humanitarian aid, the media firestorm makes the defenders into the criminals! Brilliant flank, if this were chess, Israel would be losing on points.

Question #1 for your table - What's your favorite bit of good news from the Land of Israel?

Can't think of anything? There’s so much, from the serious to the light-hearted. Here's a giant vegetable to break the ice: In fact, the world's largest ever, evidently.

Here’s something else inspiring, from just a few weeks ago.

OK, now to oil. There's really no good news about crude oil, so could we talk about olive oil?

As I mentioned, some time ago, I found myself in Rome. I wasn't the first Jew to live there, no the last, but I may have been the first Jew in Rome to watch the sunrise from the Gianicolo. (Or maybe not.)

Anyway, while there, I observed some very strange customs using olive oil. Until then, I had thought of olive oil as something to dress a salad with, and that's about it. But those crazy Mediterranean folks have all kinds of ways to use olive oil that haven't caught on in this country...yet.

For example:
- Dipping. They put some first-cold-press oil in a dish, add salt, and dip bread in it. With the right kind of bread (let's just say, for the sake of discussion, Mrs. Seinfeld's fame-us challa), it sounds crazy to a lot of "real Americans" but can add a little taste of Heaven to your Friday night dinner table.

- Pizza. Some Romans will tell you that the original and best way to make pizza is to coat the crust with a layer of olive oil, and nothing else. If you want to add cheese or other toppings, OK, but only after you've slathered with O.O.

- Suntan lotion. take a bottle of extra virgin, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice, and presto, you have a lotion that will let you tan, but not burn. Or so they say, I was never able to overcome my aversion to rubbing salad dressing on my body.

By the way, speaking of pizza, did you know that the very first pizza was created when Imperial Roman soldiers put olive oil on Jewish matzas? (if this trivia interests you, and you have an iphone or ipod touch, please send me an email).

Question #2 for your table: What's your favorite olive oil, and your favorite way to enjoy this miracle fruit?

Shabbat Shalom

Do not let spacious plans for a new world divert your energies from saving what is left of the old.
- Churchill

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