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How To Get kosher Food Almost Anywhere In The World

For the Kosher Jewish traveler, finding food can be an issue. In some places, like in the United States it is not to hard to find plenty of kosher products in any major super market but what about in places like Japan or in Russia?

David, founder of Kosherwhere David Looking for Kosher foodDavid Avital, a 32 years old software engineer and entrepreneur has the answer. David lives in Israel, where kosher food is readily available. But David for a number of years worked at Marvell semiconductor as Marketing Manager. “My job, says David, “had me doing so much business travel around the world that I had to change my watch 3-4 times a month. At that time I was traditional Jewish and I found myself drawing closer to my origins while away from home. While being abroad I started to visiting local Jewish centers around the world and started to connect with my Jewish roots strongly. As I began learning more, I started to follow Shabbat and become a stricter kosher observer.”

David then had to make sure he had kosher food arranged along with his travel plans: Tokyo, Delhi or Las, he would get his kosher meals. “However, the process of ordering the kosher food in advance was a big hassle,” explains David. “I had to find the a kosher supplier in the destination, send an email, receive an email back, select meals, send back again and confirm that it will get to my hotel on time. I spent so much time on this, I had to buy kosher food products prior to my trip and carry an extra bag of luggage with me, just in case.”

After a trip to Brisbane Australia, and a headache of organizing kosher food, David decided to create a website, to solve the problem. It would connect the travelers to kosher suppliers anytime, anywhere. It would make the order process simple. David called the site KOSHWHERE a combination of Kosher and Where. The site now has more than 100 kosher suppliers around the world and growing every day. 

Click HERE for more information.




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The Shabbos Project: The Great Big Challah Bake!

The Shabbos Project: The Great Big Challah Bake!

In Adelaide, South Australia, I decided to organize our own challah bake in solidarity with Jews all over the world who were participating in their Shabbos Project challah bakes.  We may be a small community, but this was a great chance to have some unity!  Jewish women from all walks of life showed up to bake challah. It was an amazing event! Just check out some of the photos below!

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Rosh Hashanah and the Circle of Life

Rosh Hashanah and the Circle of Life

As I sit here writing, the smell of sweet challah fills the room. Yes, the holiday season is here – let the baking begin!  Round challahs, circular pies, and sweet spherical apples abound in my kitchen this time of year.

Undoubtedly the sweets are one of the parts of Rosh Hashanah we all look forward to most.  After all, most of us have a sweet tooth – even if we don’t like to admit it!  The New Year just wouldn’t be as tasty without sweet raisin challahs, honey on apples, simmering tsimmes, and delicious desserts.

The symbolism of honeyed foods during our New Year’s celebration is obvious in the way we wish one another a sweet new year.  But our celebration of symbols goes much deeper than taste. We also have the visuals to consider.

So, why are our challahs round?  The simple answer is the same reason we eat round foods like lentils and eggs when we are mourning: to symbolize the circle of life.  Circles and cycles are a crucial part of our Jewish faith.

The secular world tends to view birth as the start and death as the end, full stop.  Similarly, each year is viewed as its own entity that begins at January 1st and ends at December 31st.  Judaism is different.  We view life as a cycle that simply goes around.  We don’t look at death as an ending so much as a new beginning – before we were born we were spiritual beings with no physical presence and after we die we return to that state.  Similarly, we do not view each New Year as the end of an old year so much as the return to the beginning of a new one.  It is a circle.

This is epitomized in our reading of the Torah.  As soon as we finish the Torah we immediately begin again.  The Torah is not just a novel that has a beginning and an end.  Once we read it we don’t put it down and say “Oh, that was a great read.”  No! We immediately start again.  The Torah is circular (even the shape of a scroll is round!), so that the end is just the start of beginning again.  Think about it – a bar mitzvah boy does not wait for Bereishit to start his reading of the Torah – a bar mitzvah boy begins reading the Torah right away, as soon as he becomes bar mitzvah.  The Torah is a circle and can be begun at any time!

The round challah at Rosh Hashanah symbolizes this life cycle.  Just as the seasons go round and round with no definite beginning and end, so too does Jewish life.  Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of another season and the round challah reminds us that we would like to continue to go round and round until we once again arrive at Rosh Hashanah again.

We would like very much to thank the Adelaide Jewish community who has been so lovely to us during this past year.  We are looking forward to celebrating the cycle of Jewish life with you again in 5775.

Chag sameach and shana tova!

Read more on The High Holidays and the Significance of Food in Judaism

Read more on Rosh Hashanah Dessert Recipes

Read more on Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot Are Soon: Try Cooking Ahead

Read more on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in Sydney, Australia

Read more on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with the Jewish Community in New Caledonia

Read more on Blowing Shofar before Rosh Hashanah During the Month of Elul


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Israel Wine Bottle Challenge

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“Israel Needs Your Help”

Around the world anti-Semites are boycotting Israeli products. In Israel, rocket sirens disrupt work, negatively affecting businesses. Along the borders, soldiers continue to risk their life’s to fight terror and keep our land safe from those who wish to destroy us. Israel will survive this ordeal as it has with Gods help time and time again. Israel will be victorious. Israel will defeat her enemies. You ask, ‘what can you do?’ because you want to help. You can instantly make the path smother for those who fight and struggle.

Do you part to help.

1. Purchase a bottle of Israeli wine to use on Rosh Hashana.
2. Post a photo of the bottle, or you and the bottle together.
3. Nominate 3-5 people to take the challenge.

You have until September 24, 2014 to post a photo of the Israeli bottle of wine you are committing to drink on the Jewish New Year

Or else….

If you don’t buy a bottle of Israeli wine, you must give $18 to Tzedakah to one of the three following charities. We chose these charities because they are not as well known as some of the larger ones. The listed three charities are doing amazing work and every small contribution makes a noticeable difference.

LEKET Feed a Hungry Child

Serving as the country’s National Food Bank and largest food rescue network, Leket Israel works to alleviate the problem of nutritional insecurity amongst the growing numbers of Israel’s poor. In 2013, with the help of over 50,000 volunteers, Leket Israel rescued and distributed 25 million lbs of produce andperishable goods, 1 million prepared meals, and 1.1 million (8,000/school day) volunteer prepared sandwiches to underprivileged children. Food, that would have otherwise gone to waste, was redistributed to hundreds of nonprofit partners caring for the needy. Leket Israel offers nutrition education, capacity building, and food safety projects to further assist our partners.

ISRAEL FREE LOAN Assist an Israeli Business

Communities throughout the country have been under rocket attack. Most prevalent, this has hit home for small businesses in the south, which have been under constant fire, causing businesses to work only part-time or close for the time being. These small businesses serve as the sole source of livelihood for the families who own them. The donations we receive from you will enable us to respond quickly and help them. In addition, every donation to IFLA is leveraged, as it is recycled and results in a growing “helping value” over time.


Yashar LaChayal brings soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces what they need when they need it. Yashar LaChayal has developed relationships with IDF commanders around the country, and therefore they are quick to contact our representatives when their units or individual soldiers are in need of assistance. But we do not wait to hear from them! Yashar LaChayal representatives are on the move, visiting IDF bases throughout Israel, on the borders and in remote locations, to see what the actual needs of our soldiers are. Once we determine what is lacking, we set out to fill the gap.




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The Significance of Fasting on Yom Kippur; Fasting while Pregnant; Fasting while Nursing/Breastfeeding

The Significance of Fasting on Yom Kippur; Fasting while Pregnant; Fasting while Nursing/Breastfeeding

This will be my fourth Yom Kippur since being married.  For some reason, I remember the Yom Kippur before my marriage and all of those since, but the ones earlier than that fade into the oblivion of memory.

In the Yom Kippur before my marriage, what I remember has nothing to do with fasting.  I remember most distinctly Kol Nidre. I remember preparing myself beforehand, thinking about all the wrong I’d done in the year. I focused deeply on repenting for those sins and when I stood for the Kol Nidre prayers in the Young Israel of Miami, I cried.

My first Yom Kippur as a married woman is the first time the fasting aspect features distinctly in my memory.  Our first high holidays ever spent together took place in Mexico City and I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with what tourists like to call “Montezuma’s Revenge.”  Well, I don’t know what Montezuma wanted revenge on me for, but it must have been pretty serious.  By the time the fast was nearing, I was severely dehydrated, could hardly keep down water, and couldn’t even look at food.  A doctor came by and prescribed medication for me and the local rabbi declared that it would be dangerous for me to fast.  Instead of fasting, I was allowed one shot glass of liquid (I went for Gatorade) every 10 minutes; same for rice.  Although the truth was that on Yom Kippur, I found it just as painful to eat and drink as to not.  By the end of the fast, I was very weak in spite of the permission not to “fast.”  But hey, at least I was keeping food down.

My second Yom Kippur as a married woman I was at Newtown Synagogue in Sydney, Australia.  I was pregnant with Akiva, but because I was in my first trimester, nobody knew.  It was my first time fasting while pregnant and it was incredibly difficult.  Truth was, I didn’t have much of an appetite in those days.  My morning sickness was so terrible that I balked at the sight of food – sometimes even was made ill at the sight of it.  Yet, the only cure I had found for my morning sickness (at least with that pregnancy!) was to eat some crackers and drink some juice and water.  The longer I went without eating, the more nauseous I became.  If I ate anything too much, I got sick, too.  So for the Yom Kippur fast, I felt more and more sick.  If I stood to pray during services, I couldn’t control my nausea anymore and so had to sit for 95% of the time.  Ladies from the synagogue later confessed that they knew I was pregnant by how sick I was during that fast!

My third Yom Kippur as a married woman I was at Greenslopes Synagogue in Brisbane, Australia.  I wasn’t pregnant, but I was full-time nursing four-month-old Akiva, who was, Baruch Hashem, a voracious eater.  For days ahead of time, I expressed milk so that I would not have to feed him quite as much.  Unfortunately, he developed a fever erev Yom Kippur, which of course made him more thirsty than normal!  But beyond an unearthly thirst, I don’t remember the fast being particularly difficult.  It was in the days after when my milk supply was too low to feed my still-feverish baby that I had the most difficulty.  For me, last year’s Yom Kippur lasted more than one day – for me, it lasted a whole week!

This year I am pregnant again for Yom Kippur.  I’ve weaned Akiva (which was so easy to do I still don’t understand what the fuss is about), but at nearly 8 months pregnant, fasting is a very different experience than when you’re 8 weeks pregnant.  You see, fasting causes all sorts of changes in your body.  Decreased sugars make your blood sugar levels drop – and not just yours, but baby’s, too.  Lack of fluid causes dehydration and drops blood pressure.  Both low blood sugar and low blood pressure can result in a reduced flow of essential blood and glucose to all parts of your body – including your brain – and your baby.  This is why some people become faint, dizzy, lightheaded, or even pass out while fasting.  Of course, while you’re pregnant, your baby takes what it needs from you first, leaving you with even less resources than the person fasting next to you.  And when you run out of resources, you won’t be the only one feeling it – your baby will, too.

That’s why at every stage of pregnancy, a rabbi should be consulted before fasting, preferably one who is well-versed in halacha in this area.  A doctor should be consulted, too, to determine the level of danger to the baby.  You see, when a baby doesn’t receive enough of what it needs to survive, it can go into distress.  And a baby in distress will often go hand-in-hand with early labor.  That’s why there are such a large number of babies born on or just after Yom Kippur or Tisha B’Av.

If the baby is small enough, it is unlikely to need such a large amount of resources that it would go into distress from fasting.  If the baby is big enough, it is no problem if the baby’s stress causes the womb to open – it’s already healthy and fully-formed – just the world outside appears to be more hospitable than the world within.  But there is a point when fasting can be truly dangerous for a baby. If the mother has complications like placenta praevia or preeclampsia, for instance.  Or if the baby is in that kind of twilight zone where it’s big enough that it could go into distress and labor could begin, yet is still too young to enter the world without serious risk of permanent health problems.  I fall into that latter stage.  A baby born before 37 weeks of gestation has immature lungs, low birth weight, and a long list of potential complications. So if your doctor considers that fasting would be a danger to the baby, then your rabbi should know – and you should always ask, even if you really, really want to fast.  According to halacha, if fasting is dangerous, then it is forbidden, and it is as much of a mitzvah to eat and drink during a fast for health reasons as it is for a healthy person to fast fully.

All of this left me thinking this year about what the meaning of fasting really is.  Most people seem to wish each other an “easy fast,” but is that really the point?

I can think of three times when a person loses their appetite completely: someone who is very ill, someone who is deeply mourning, and someone who is incredibly nervous (as in, someone whose life is at stake).  These three types of people generally have no interest in food.  In all three cases, you feel the weight of your mortality.  Whether you feel your life is about to end because you could be put on death row, whether the death of someone very close to you brings your own mortality close to mind, or whether you are so ill you fear you might not survive, eating and drinking just seem so secondary.

On Yom Kippur our lives are, quite literally, at stake.  G-d is deciding our fate for the upcoming year and we are at risk of being put on death row.  This is why we do kapparot – we slaughter a chicken to remind ourselves that it is us who deserve to die for all the sins we’ve done.  We throw ourselves on G-d’s mercy to save us.  And if we have only one chance – literally – to save our skins, then we’d better take it pretty seriously.  On a day like that, how can we think about eating or drinking?

Unless, of course, not eating or drinking will end our lives.  In that case, we have to eat.  Just as a doctor will force an anorexic to have sustenance even if they do not want to eat, we must force ourselves to eat an drink if our life (or the life of our baby) is at stake.  We must do it in a way that shows we are not doing it for the pleasure of it, but because we have to.  We cannot sit down to a delicious steak dinner and say, “Well, I have to because I am so sick.”  If a rabbi tells us we must eat or drink on Yom Kippur, we must do so in a way that does not give us pleasure – a tablespoon of water at a time, a mouthful of plain rice, a plain crust of bread.  Enough to survive, but not enough to give us great gustatory joy.

After all, when your ultimate fate is at stake, when your life hangs in the balance, eating a delicious meal is the last thing on our minds.  We are Jews: we do not live to eat… we eat in order to live.

Shabbat shalom and may you all have a meaningful fast!

Read more about Yom Kippur in Sydney, Australia

Read more about Yom Kippur with the Jewish community in New Caledonia

Read more about Yom Kippur: Facing Your Truth

Read more about Yom Kippur & Jonah: Talkin’ About a Revolution

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The High Holidays and the Significance of Food in Judaism

The High Holidays and the Significance of Food in Judaism

Below follows my High Holydays message as published in The Voice, the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation newsletter.

I guess if I’m going to be Jewish (and a Rebbetzin, no less!), it’s a good thing I like cooking.  In these weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot, it seems like all I’ve been doing is cooking and baking up a storm.  My fridges and freezers are full to capacity, but with 18 (yes, eighteen!) meals this holiday season, I think it’s best to work ahead a bit.

Food and eating play a central role in Judaism.  You know the old joke about Jewish holidays: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”  But the reality is that eating is much more than that for us.  Food is a means of connection and connection is extremely important in Judaism.

On the one hand, we use food to connect with other people.  We often use food to show our love, by putting our time and effort into creating something for someone else to enjoy, even though we know it will not last (except maybe on our thighs!).  Family mealtimes are an opportunity to spend time together and to focus on one another, especially on Shabbat and Yom Tov, when there are no distractions like TVs and phones.  In fact, family therapists often recommend that their clients begin repairing damaged relationships by having one family dinner per week, with no interruptions.  Judaism is ahead of the curve – we do this every week anyway, helping us to build strong families and relationships before there is a problem.

Food in Judaism also serves the dual purpose of connecting us to G-d.  Before we eat or drink anything, we make a blessing on it.  This brings us into a state of mindfulness and an attitude of gratitude that experts on happiness all agree is essential to living a joyful life.  But making blessings on food does not just help us tap into a high spiritual state; focusing sincerely on our relationship with G-d actually changes physical reality.  A molecular photographer once took some photos of water molecules.  They were boring, straight-edged shapes.  But once a blessing was made on the water, the molecules miraculously changed shape.  They looked like beautiful snowflakes.  Yet these were the exact same water molecules.  By using them as a tool to connect with G-d, they were actually physically changed.  When we ingest something that has been changed in this way, we are not only emotionally and spiritually connecting to G-d, but we are physically connecting ourselves to Him.

On Rosh Hashanah there are a variety of symbolic foods we eat.  Using foods as symbols helps make their message a part of us, and has the added bonus of making their meaning more interesting and memorable.  Apples and challah dipped in honey signify that we should have a sweet new year, as does honey cake.  Round challahs remind us of the continuity of creation – as we finish the Torah in the holiday season, we immediately begin again.  We also eat a new fruit on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, on which we make a “shecheiyanu” blessing thanking G-d for keeping us alive and bringing us to this season.  Thus we are reminded to be grateful not only for every day we are alive, but also for the ability to enjoy the bounty G-d has given us.  We also eat fish (or lamb), generally with the head still attached, to signify that we should be a “head” and not a “tail,” as Rosh Hashanah is the “head of the year.”  Fish is also a symbol of abundance and fertility.  Some people even make up their own “symbols” to include, which can be as clever and creative as you like.  For example, you might make a little salad with half a raisin and some celery, so you can “half a raisin celery” (“have a raise in salary”).

On Sukkot, the food you eat is less important, but where you eat it is very important.  It is the Feast of Tabernacles.  While it is a great mitzvah to spend as much time in the sukkah as possible, it is much more important to be in the sukkah when you eat.  It wouldn’t be much of a Feast of Tabernacles if you did your feasting outside of the tabernacle, would it?  While we eat, we seek shelter in a makeshift booth, where we rely upon G-d for protection from the elements (and the bees!).  Within the sukkah, we shake lulav (made up of a date palm frond, willow branch, and myrtle) and etrog (citron).  The etrog is a fruit with a strong taste and smell, symbolizing Jews with Torah learning and good deeds.  The date is a fruit with a good taste but no smell, representing Jews who have Torah learning but no good deeds.  Myrtle smells good but has no taste, for Jews who have good deeds but no Torah knowledge. Finally, the willow has no taste and no smell, for Jews who have neither good deeds nor Torah knowledge.  All four are held together because all types of Jews are important and loved by G-d.  To remind themselves to strive to both learn Torah and do good deeds, many people eat etrog jelly after Sukkot is over, and it is seen as a segula (symbol) for easy birth when a pregnant woman eats it (maybe I should try this!) or for a blessing on the home when it is eaten on Tu B’Shvat.

Even less well-known holidays in Judaism come with special foods for us to eat.  On the day before Yom Kippur and on Hoshanah Raba (the seventh and last day of Sukkot) (as well as on Purim) we eat kreplach (pockets of dough filled with meat or other stuffing) to symbolize two things: 1) that it is a holiday (symbolized by the meat) yet not a complete holiday (symbolized by the dough covering and hiding it) and 2) that it is a time of judgment for the Jewish people – we ask that the divine judgment (meat, which is a dead animal) be tempered by G-d’s goodness and compassion (bread, which sustains life).  On Shemini Atzeret, although it is no longer Sukkot, we continue to eat in the sukkah.  On Simchat Torah, we eat foods that are rolled, like the Torah is.  (I know many people are thinking of deli rolls, but I am thinking of cinnamon swirls!)  We also drink wine or other spirits on Simchat Torah, to help us feel the joy of Torah and so we can celebrate G-d’s goodness without inhibitions.

For us Jews, food is much more than just a gustatory and epicurean activity.  It is a spiritual experience, a symbolic endeavour, and an interpersonal relationship builder.  It helps us to remember who we are as Jews, where we came from, and where we are going.

So as I cook for the holidays, I’ll be adding some extra honey to my challah and kugels, and extra apple to my cakes.  And most of all, I’ll be adding some extra love and care in the hopes that each and every one of us has a happy, sweet, and loving new year.

Shana tova & be’te avon,

Rebbetzin Rachel

Read more about the Jewish High Holidays:

Read more about Blowing the Shofar Before Rosh Hashanah During the Month of Elul

Read more about Rosh Hashanah Dessert Recipes

Read more about Rosh Hashanah & Sukkot Are Soon: Try Cooking Ahead! 

Read more about Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur in Sydney, Australia

Read more about Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur with the Jewish community in New Caledonia

Read more about Yom Kippur: Facing Your Truth

Read more about Yom Kippur & Jonah: Talkin’ About a Revolution

Read more about Celebrating Sukkot in Newtown, Sydney, Australia

Read more about What is a Simchat Beis HaShoeva Sukkot Celebration & Are There any in Sydney, Australia?

Read more about Hoshanah Raba: We Can All Be Kings

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