Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Getting My Garnet Fix

For as long as I can remember, I've loved the connection between garnets and pomegranates.

I was reminded of this association this past Shabbat during a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. (The details of why I was there amidst the endless swarm of families and tourists on perhaps the busiest day of the year is a story for another time.) Nonetheless, I enjoyed the hour or so I spent in the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems oogling the colorful gemstones from bright pink rubies and green emeralds to citrine, quartz, sapphire, and my favorite, the deep red garnet.

Confirming what I knew to be true, the didactic text accompanying the displays indicated that the word "garnet" derives from the Latin word "granatus," which means seed like appearance or containing many seeds. Early biblical writings, the text continued, often associated garnets with faith, constancy, and truth.

Is it any wonder then, that Noah, according to tradition, used a garnet lamp to help steer the ark safely through the flood?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Rugalach from Nebraska

I love the way the Jewish world works.

Here's a case in point.

Last Thursday, I went with a friend to the Philadelphia suburbs for the funeral of another friend's father.

On the ride down, he said, "Don't let me forget to ask R. about a place near her for pastries." Another friend, this one from the midwest, wanted to send sweets for shiva.

On the ride back he said, "Sh*t, I forgot to ask R. about the pastry place."

I happen to have a cousin who lives in R.'s town, so I sent her this Facebook message: "Q: where near you can someone order pastries and sweets for a shiva--to be delivered? Thanks."

Within an hour, I'd heard back from her: "Edible Arrangements in Manalapan. Kosher deli?"

The conversation continued: "Kosher deli would be better."

She offered three possibilities: "Fred and Murray's. Or Jerry and Harvey's. Or Lox Stock and Deli in Miltown (my choice)."

When I got home, I emailed the information, including website links, to the midwesterner.

Her reply? "The guy on the phone was incredulous that he would get a call from a Jew in Nebraska!"