Moth Rodfei Hour, Shavuot Special Edition: Revelation

Adapted from The Pink Elephant, a tequila and strawberry frozen drink and also the elephant in the room, when someone realizes you haven’t always been Jewish but doesn’t quite know how to ask what and when and why. It’s a little bit from everywhere and a whole lot of come-as-you-are-and-we’ll-figure-it-out. Conversion, in a glass.

  1. It’s Shavuot, so you need ice cream of some sort. You’re not sure why, but the other option is boozy cheesecake shots and you mastered that four years ago. (With your great-aunt’s recipe from Christmas Eve, no less.) 
  2. It turns out your rabbi doesn’t know why about the ice cream, either, but he offers to discuss the technicalities of the Cuisinart freezer anytime*. 
  3. You’re having trouble keeping up with your own kefir** production, so you’ve been making frozen raspberry kefir. You scoop ¾ c. of that into the high-powered blender you’re still not sure why you bought, two Pesachs ago. 
  4. Any frozen berry yogurt would be great, though. Strawberry ice cream would work but be super sweet, not unlike the drinks you make for Sisterhood Shabbat. 
  5. Tequila is canon here, and tequila is delightful and also tequila-shame is one of your signature Torah-drinking jokes. Also your best shul-drinking buddy makes really great margaritas, and you’re not used to her not being here for Shavuot.
  6. But you also have the almost-full bottle of slivovitz she left at your place when she moved to Pittsburgh. Slivovitz makes anything Jewish, it’s like the mikveh of mixology. A tablespoon of each, then. They splash as you pour them into the blender. Probably you went a little overboard. 
  7. You could probably use pisco in place of the slivovitz (maybe you can convince people that pisco is the Sephardi version?)
  8. Add a splash of lime, because tequila. 
  9. Homemade kefir is pretty tart, and raspberries are even more so. Plus you became Jewish in Iowa, so you need a scant tablespoon of corn syrup. 
  10. (You’ve learned recently that corn syrup is a secret weapon in home ice cream making. Your origins never make sense, until suddenly they’re exactly who you’re supposed to be.) 
  11. Add a little milk, no more than a tablespoon. 
  12. Unless it’s really cold in your kitchen, or your ice cream is really frozen, add an ice cube or two. 
  13. Whir the crap out of the thing, just now realizing it’s the wrong container (have you ever used those groovy smoothie cups that came with the blender?) and the jar of your blender is way too big for just one drink. The ice cube rattles around, intimidated and unlike everything else in there, but soon settles into a smooth whir. 
  14. The blender is supposed to pulverize all of those raspberry seeds but some of them remain***. Seeds of knowledge? The little ways you’ll never quite assimilate? Enh, fiber, it’s good for you, bubeleh. .
  15. Add a little more milk if it’s too thick. Pour it into a mason jar and freeze a bit if it’s too thin (if you’d used the smoothie cups, you could have avoided the mason jar part. If you’d spent summers at Ramah, would you get stuff like this right on the first try?) 
  16. Pour into a glass, with a straw. Probably you could top this with whipped cream for the clouds on Sinai that Moses came down through (you Googled that part).  Definitely you could make a ribald joke about Boaz, Ruth, Naomi and whipped cream. 
  17. You could maybe have rimmed the glass with salt and something minty green (agriculture!) or smoky/spicy (see ribald joke above). Or the metallic sparkle sugar that the Junior Kiddush Club snitches behind your back (or at least that’s what you let them think). 
  18. Drink while reading the book of Ruth, and wonder if she understood just how she got to where she was, and if she could even imagine being anywhere else.

Recipe: Revelation: In a blender, combine ¾ c. berry frozen yogurt, 1T. Tequila, 1T. Slivovitz (or other clear brandy, like pisco), dash lime juice, and a scant 1 T. corn syrup. Blend until smooth; add 1-2 ice cubes and/or 1T. milk until desired consistency is achieved (you can also freeze the mixture for ~30 minutes after blending). Pour into a glass and serve with a straw. (Recipe makes one ~1c. milkshake)


*Yeah, my rabbi is cooler than yours.

**Want kefir grains? Hit me up!

***Blueberries would probably assimilate with no problems whatsoever. If your Judaism was a berry, which berry would it be?

****Resisted the urge to craft a “my milkshake brings all the Jews to the yard and their dvar, is better than yours…” parody. You’re welcome.

Tippling Through the Torah on Tour

Ventured Up North (still not sure if it’s safe up there) to spread tipsy Torah. This happened–who knew Liquid Smoke was so central to Rosh Hodesh?

(Pittsburgh had its second Tippling Through the Torah event this week–and the first since the Soror’s bat mitzvah. I’ll see if I can get some evidence….)







The Gemara Responds, “But Wine Is Different.”

(We don’t know how, though. To be continued, next week.)

Demon count: same

Chapter count: same

Failed attempts to start a Hangout: 5 (all the Millennial’s fault)^

References to pickles in “Daf Yomi For Women Podcast”: I think 4 days in a row?

Week 6.

I’m pretty sure “having a blessed day” wasn’t a thing when/where I grew up. (Emphases on the -ed, of course.) I remember the first time I heard in, on a voicemail while trying to get Miguel del Valle elected almost a decade ago*.  I couldn’t decide what I thought about it, then; in the meantime, I’ve developed an allergy to being told “bless you.” (The phrase is “Gesundheit, or maybe “Gesund.”)

It’s been a blessed week around these parts, though. Obviously** I’m talking about Daf Yomi’s obsession with which bracha, when, and in what order (and how big is an olive, anyway?). It’s a little more complicated by the Soror, who ^[finally] answered the WhatsApp accompanied by a bottle of Malort. “I’ve had a bad day and I also have my drink. It’s front note is soap, followed by gasoline, finished with nail polish remover. And also herb water (39a).”

“Really? For Malort, I get grapefruit with a hint of cinnamon. Maybe a little bit of herb (35a).” Not that I was hopping on the Malort train, mind you. As soon as I saw beets in the reading (39a), I had my direction; even better when Daf Yomi for Women explained that “cooked” vegetables included pickles. I almost found time to make this recipe, even…but I’m still not sure if you’re supposed to bless the bread while you’re in the middle of cutting it (39b), and I’m just not coordinated enough for that. Besides, if a drink consists of gin and vermouth, the Nuclear Engineer knows exactly which one she’s blessing (37, and then some); I’ll stop just short of making fun of her, since I’d like for both of us to survive the year (39a).

Recipe: Say Shehekol***: Pour a shot of Malort. Sip. The purported taste of soap will do nothing to clean up your filthy mouth, btw.

Recipe: Say HaAdamah: Swirl 1 part vermouth in a martini glass, or whatever you have that roughly approximates such. Pour the vermouth into a shaker filled with ice, 4 parts gin, and a few sprigs of herbs (I was fresh out of dill, so I used oregano), shake until cold. Drop a few slices of pickled beet into the martini glass; strain the contents of the shaker over the beets. Garnish with herbs. Revel in the good health of your heart, your eyes, and your intestines****.

*I have terrible taste in primary candidates. By which I mean ideologically totally fine, but zero electoral chops.

**Oh yeah. While you were out, I developed a chronic disease and changed jobs in a blaze of furor, while Nuke raged out of government life and into…government grant-funded graduate work. We’re both much better now, except for the liquor taxes in Pennsylvania.

***My first attempt at spelling this took me here.

****Oh shit, we’re back to poop again.



A Wild Night [at the Beit Midrash]

Demon count: Same

Chapters finished: 5

Winner of the Iowa Caucus: still unclear*

“Wait, what is this drink about?” asked the Junior Mixologist. (This has been a logical question for basically half her life.)

I explained about Daf Yomi, with brief interruptions for texted consults with Nuke. “This week, a lot of the discussion was about how to say prayers with a community. You know, in synagogue.”

“Drinks in Synagogue” is, of course, a completely pedestrian concept at the South Side Shul. It’s not such a stretch to imagine the Talmud rabbis there… R. Gamliel chairing the security committee (28a), Rav Avya being “sick” and getting JFK-shamed (28b). I’m framing the difficulty in filling out this week’s Torah-reading schedule as the modest and desirable “refusal for the sake of propriety” (34a), taking comfort in the thought that we’ve struggled to fill committees since Talmudic times.

(Can someone else make a joke relating davvening on the 6 bus to praying on the back of a camel? (30a)?)

So many of this week’s rules related to the kiddush cup, it was clear we needed wine…and a pitcher drink to serve all assembled to davven…and whose congregation isn’t a crazy mixed-up fruit salad? “Sangria**!” I announced to Nuke. “We’re making sangria. Fit for Junior Congregation, of course.”

Nuke came back with her own version, which she shared with The Physicist. You can decide who has which cup.

Recipes:  Minyan KatanIn a large pitcher, mix 3 parts grape juice, one part pomegranate juice, 3-4 parts seltzer. Add your favorite chopped fruit and steep for a bit (don’t forget rambutan eyeballs…gotta keep the next generation engaged***!). Substitute wine for grape juice if MiniMinyan is away at camp.

One for Good, One for Evil (33a): Nuke’s typical approach to sangria is wine that’s too crappy to drink, topped off with curacao if not sweet, vodka if it is. Apples are a must; looks like she used frozen berries to complement the red wine. (White gets grapes and peaches.) She usually remembers to add the sparkling water just before serving. Her “home shul” is a little less chaotic than the one I borrowed last night.


*Seriously, if anyone wants to revoke my terminal degree in mathematics, I understand.

**Later in the evening, Nuke noted that sangria makes coding in R more bearable. My version is even work-appropriate!

***The Junior Bartending Captain had just finished reading Poe for English class and ran away in horror from his siblings’**** macabre drinks.

****Those are totally heads bowed in prayer. (*hahahahahaha*)




The Sh*t hits the…Talmud?

Demon count: 3 (all in the first week).

Chapter count: 3 (finished)

Dad Yomi Jokes: 1 (By Rav Pappa, no less! 24a, “splitting hairs”)

Poop references: If you managed to count, gross.

“We can make some midrash on the midrash that’s already there. Because Rabban Gamliel bullying people (27b) is like pooping on people. Probably he got kicked out for his pottymouth.”

“That’s probably a Yiddish proverb.  Bullying people into silence is like pooping on their mouths.”

“I mean, he is a total poophead.”

“Hey, how come there’s nothing about burping or puking? That totally happens when you daven.”

“There probably was. But, like, we aren’t even teaching the prayer for farting (24a). Wouldn’t Sunday School be way more popular if we did?’

Sorry, folks, but week 4* of Daf Yomi was literally basically a pile of shit. And a puddle of pee. Among other unspeakable bodily outputs….


George Carlin Goes Gemara: Shake together 1 shot whole milk, 1/4 c. frozen raspberries**, 1/2 shot creme de cacao, 1/2 shot eggnog liquer, 1/2 shot chocolate liqueur, 1 T. fudge sauce. Strain into a glass; top with whipped cream and a golden shower of decorating sugar. It’s unclear how many feet you’ll need to step back (25a) after drinking this concoction.

Abuse of Power #1: Unbridled arrogance, 1 shot vodka, 1 shot milk, 1 shot coffee, chocolate sauce to taste, shake, strain into gold-rimmed glass, top with the fluffy white sweet product of your choice.


*We read week three, and I was totally stoked about the reference to the woman at the pickle pot. But one of the chevruta had a big-number birthday (well, in binary) and stuff kinda happened.

**I still swear they’re called zerberts, but the Junior Bartending Club insists the proper name is raspberries and I’ll let them be school of Hillel since it fits my purposes.

Beruriah’s Songs

Demon count: 3 (all last week).

Chapter count: 1 (finished)

Boob count: Innumerable, but they’re clean and pure! Blessed be humankind.

“Our drink should be about Beruriah (10a), since who knows when we’ll find another woman in this thing.”

“But…but…but…but….there’s so many discussions with boobies! There’s even some dude who grabs that woman by the boobies(10b), which means there was Talmudic precedent for 2016.”

“As if there’s anything new about men talking about boobs. But the Beruriah story totally gives us a Talmud version of the Bechdel test–when someone is talking about a woman, is the context something other than what leaves or enters her vagina?”

(Yeah, I know that I should identify the speakers here, both for clarity and in imitation of Talmudic style. But, unless you’re new here, you know who’s who.)

“Also, seriously, chick was the OG sick burn. ‘Fool, go to the end of the verse’! That’s RBG level smackdown.”

Two takes on Beruriah, and one on mixing up your blessings (12a). They’re both worth interrupting the Shema for (13a)  (and, honestly, they’re rich enough that they might kill you, so it’s halakahicly  legit). The feminine of milk, together with bouquets of spice and richness evoking Beruriah’s wisdom. One migraine-friendly (reflecting reality, but a nod to B in its own right), one that leaves you beginning with a blessing for milk but realizing you actually need borei piri ha-gafen. You’re intending to praise, so the mitzvah still counts. (We think. We’re also intending to be pretty snarky, so maybe not.)

Recipe: The Barren Woman’s Song:  Heat together 12 oz milk, 1 T cocoa, 1/2 T sugar, 1 t rosewater, 3 judicious sprinkles of cardamom; top with1 judicious sprinkle of mini hot chocolate marshmallows.

Recipe: Mixed Blessing: Heat 4oz milk, 3 T brown sugar, 1.5 t butter, 1 T cocoa, and a pinch of chococolate chips in a saucepan, whisking constantly. When steam begins to rise, add a few drops of vanilla, a generous sprinkle of smoked cayenne, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a generous 2oz of a rich red wine. Continue to whisk until hot; pour into a mug. Serve topped with a cherry if you’d like a free pass out of tonight’s Shema (11a) .

Honestly, the Talmud talked about beer this week, which I think is enough evidence for drinking the daf. But note that (12b) tells us that the way to atonement is through shame, and if there’s anything more likely to bring about shame than alcohol….

This is holy work. Just sayin’. 




Drinking Through The Daf Yomi: Berakhot 2-6

I don’t know if you can say we’re doing Daf Yomi. I mean, I listen to the podcast; there’s a text thread that’s incomprehensible if you don’t have Sefaria open in front of you.

But, well, you have to make tefillah your own, or your tefillah will not be acceptable (2b, “Daf Yomi for Women” commentary). And when the phrase “Drinking Through Daf Yomi” comes to you…there’s no turning back. Even if your chevruta* moved to Pittsburgh, because there’s always Skype (or there is once the Physicist spends 10 minutes messing with the audio).

“Who knew the rabbis were so into demons?” mused Nuke. “I mean, first, if you don’t have whores, you might have demons(3a)**, then demons surrounding your bed and leaving footprints in your bedroom(6a).” Then we realized that studying together was preventative, at least per the Gemara***: “demons are only  a threat to individuals.” (3b)

“Got any cat placentas to burn?” (6a)

“No. But tequila’s pretty useful for confronting demons.”

“True, and we also have salt (5a) and vinegar (5b) to work with. ”

We decided to work in the fruits of those possibly demon-infested (but likely hooker-free!) fields, and to strive for the pious, learned, apple-blush of David (4a). “And tequila would have helped out Jacob a lot (4a): I’m sure way less afraid of transgressions once I’ve had a couple of shots.”

“And if tequila lands you on the floor? All the better for communing with demons.”

“Pass the cat placenta. I think we’ve distilled this week’s drinks.”

Hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere in the world, Tipplers. It’s not clear if it’s midnight, though (2a,2b,3a,3b…you get the drift). Keep working on that, and on saying the Shema in bed (or anywhere you’d like, if you’re a Torah scholar. bow-chicka-bow-wow…).

Recipe 1: Whores, Ruins, and Blushing Demons: In a blender, combine 5 frozen strawberries of the fields (guaranteed free of demons if you buy them at Aldi), three ice cubes, .75 oz of cider vinegar, and 1-2 T. of honey. Blend. Add 2oz of tequila and a splash of orange blossom water, whirring again until smooth. Pour into a margarita glass rimmed with salt….or blobbed, in the absence of Nuke.

Recipe 2: Demon Goggles:  Shake together: 3/4 shot cassis, 3/4 shot apple cider vinegar, Sugar to taste, 1.5 shots tequlia, 1.5 shots lime juice. Serve on the rocks. This drink will start to separate after about 15 minutes, into a watery layer and a demon-dark booze layer….which confirms many of my suspicions about Pittsburgh.

*Pretty sure the Torah Fairy is still sorry he assigned that one.

**Which is a pretty whack consolation prize

***Luckily we couldn’t enter any ruins together, since I’m pretty sure we’d be under suspicion. Keep reading the rest of 3b, I’m totally hilarious.


The Marriage

(Posted, with much love, in honor of the Sage of Hyde Park and the Moscato Maiden.)

Mawage*. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…**

We’ll start from the earthy flavor of a concentrated tea, for the bedrock that you will be for one another. Infuse it with the sweetness that your love weaves throughout your lives…but also with as much fire and smoke as you can handle, because passion is essential (there’s three versions on offer today…cinnamon, medium chipotle, and XXX spice…you choose). Bring a strong spirit (I’m leaving out the whiskey bottle, so you can decide how much), and then add enough hot water (of life) to warm the drink, and to fill your cup of happiness to the brim***. 

Recipe: The Marriage If you’re making this for just the blessed couple, start by brewing some tea; add the syrup and whiskey as below. To prepare this for a crowd on Shabbat, prepare a strong tea essence by making triple strength tea (chai or rooibos is nice, though Throat Coat was an early contender in testing^), boiling the water with a fair amount of chopped ginger if you can organize it. Cool and strain. Meanwhile, mix 1 scant cup of agave (or honey) and  1/4 c. of maple syrup; add 1T of cinnamon and, optionally, 1t-1T of chipotle powder. Stir well (or pour out just over a 1/4c. of the agave nectar in the bottle from Trader Joe’s; add the spices to the bottle, shake for a while, add the maple syrup, and shake some more). Combine equal parts tea essence, sweetener, and whiskey in a teacup; add boiling water, adjusting all of these to taste and feeling about your betrothed. Garnish with lemon if desired. Sip slowly; you’ve got a lifetime ahead of you to enjoy this sweet flame. 

*I really did try to create a marriage themed drink that linked to the aufruf portion****, or the portion for the week of sheva brachos. But a drink called “Don’t Imitate These People, Please” seemed less than loving. 

****OK, fine, I gave some thought to ribald versions of wrestling with an angel. But there were children present. (I still had to explain ‘XXX’ to one of them, but we did that while learning to curl her hair and put on eye makeup for that evening’s performance of The Nutcracker, so it felt like a rite of passage. #BadIdeaAuntie4Evah

**/end{Obligatory Princess Bride reference.}

***Assuming your cup of happiness is a teacup. If a big ol’ tankard makes you happy, adjust the recipe accordingly and share with a group.

^Many thanks to the Token Israeli, whose first attempts at this recipe got me off my sick-couch and back behind the bar.


Just for one post, let’s abandon our pretense of anonymity and talk a little bit about the real place that indulges the Kiddush Club and its shenanigans. (Cool your jets, Security Committee, I’m not revealing anything you can’t find on Google Maps and the shul website). Last night, we celebrated 18 years in our current building, and of course Kiddush Club had to represent.

We settled on a martini bar within a few minutes of planning; somewhat predictably, an evening of inventing recipes took a turn for the inane.  (“We have to use curacao and slivovitz.” “In the same drink? Don’t we like these people?”)  We nearly came to blows over our non-alcoholic drink–was it subversive and cheeky to tweak a Christmassy cranberry sparkler, or a heresy we would never recover from?  Then someone dropped a synonym for mocktails that we’re usually careful not to use, and a genius idea was born.

A few days after our planning session, we had a rare moment of maturity and decided to run our jokes past their butts. (Um. Run our ideas past the butts of the jokes? Sorry, y’all, I’m a little rusty at this.) We nervously approached one of the most venerable of our past presidents, asking if she’d mind if, maybe, one of the special event drinks was named in her honor; since she didn’t tipple very often, we could reserve the un-boozed drink for her eponym. To our surprise, she grinned immediately. “You could even call it the Shirley Temple!”

With the addition of an apostrophe-S, that was pretty much exactly our plan.

Thanks to all of our past presidents for inspiring these cocktails, and for always inspiring, leading, and invigorating our community.

Recipes: With the exception of the Loevy-ly martini, all drinks can be mixed in a pitcher and poured for maximum crowd-serving efficiency. 

Shirley’s Temple: Make a cranberry simple syrup by mixing equal parts water, sugar, and whole cranberries and bringing to a boil. Add orange peel, sliced ginger, and a cinnamon stick; reduce to 2/3 of the original volume and strain. When cool, mix 1 part syrup, 2 parts ginger ale, and 2 parts seltzer with a splash of orange juice; garnish with an orange twist. (Upon request, vodka can be added.)

Bob-tanical: Make a botanical simple syrup by boiling together equal parts green tea and sugar with rosemary, winter savory, lavender (and juniper berries would be ideal, but we failed to track any down in time). Again, let the syrup reduce to 2/3 of its original volume, strain, and cool. Mix 1 part syrup with 2 parts tonic water and 2 parts seltzer; garnish with a spritz of lime and a dried Jamaican sorrel flower (or any edible flower). (Also delightful with gin.)

Shak-Ed, Not Stirred A standard* gin martini. 5 parts gin, 1 part vermouth, lemon twist.

O-Lou-ve Martini A standard* dirty martini. A splash of vermouth, plenty of vodka, olive juice and an olive garnish.

Diane Apple-korn**: 7 parts unfiltered apple juice, a splash of standard simple syrup, 3 parts slivovitz, 2 parts vodka. Garnish with a rosemary sprig. (We’d recommend also shaking with the rosemary sprig if you’re serving a smaller group.)

Loevy-ly Chocolate Martini***: Combine 2 parts creme de cacao, 1 part caramel schnapps, and 2 parts vodka. Shake with 2 parts cream and ice. Strain into a glass and garnish with chocolate sprinkles (ideally) or mini chocolate chips.

The Rodfei Zedek (dedicated to all the future presidents in attendance): 1 part blue curacao, 4 parts sake; garnish with lemongrass.

*Note that the individuals honored by these drinks are anything but standard.

**The runaway hit of the evening, much to our surprise–who knew slivovitz served for anything more than a punch line?

***Design credit to the supremely talented Nuclear Engineer (who faced her fears of vermouth while laying this out).