Part 2 – Freedom of choice – or what to do on Passover dinner when things go South?

We stopped here:

… And then it hit me – the bread crumbs. The stuffed mushrooms were covered with breadcrumbs!

I went to the kitchen right away, where my mother was just handing a beer opener to my new grandma to open a bottle of beer on Passover night for her new boyfriend.

“Ma, you can’t do it.” I tried to stop her, but the bottle was already open.

“Do what?” my mother asked while steering a dish on the stove.

“Ma, the beer, it is not ok for Passover and the stuffed mushrooms! They are covered with breadcrumbs! And your brother is eating it now. You know he keeps kosher!”

My mom turned around and froze for a second. We then both ran back to the dinner table and watched my maybe new grandfather enjoying his beer, my uncle looks shocked while watching the beer consumed while eating his third stuffed mushroom and my father sitting there, with a big smile on his face encouraging him to eat more. Everybody was busy eating and drinking, besides my new grandma that kept talking to her almost-fiancé and piling his plate with more food.

“What should we do?” I whispered to my mother terrified of what is going to happen soon.

“Well,” she said, “your maybe new grandpa is almost done with the beer, so no more there, and he is already tipsy.”

“But what about your brother??? He thinks he is eating kosher stuffed mushrooms!!!” I almost yelled, and my mom pulled me back to the kitchen.

“If you don’t know that it is not kosher, it is ok, and there is no need to say anything,” she said.

It made sense. Dinner continued while everybody was arguing with everybody and my father kept feeding my uncle with stuffed mushrooms. I didn’t have any of this dish, as I was thinking that it will be counted towards my uncle if there is somebody up there looking at us.

Forty years later – time flies – 2019 I’m living in Seattle, married to a non-Jew and visit the local Beit Chabad for at least once a month, for a Shabbat dinner. We also celebrate most of the Jewish holidays together as a family with a few more people that became our local family. A new community has been created.

I would never imagine in my wildest dreams, that I will enjoy the Shabbat ceremony. It is funny that I had to leave Israel to get familiar with my own religion and tradition. I now make sure to share it with my kids who were raised away from Israel within a very small family and moved a lot in the world.

I find the Shabbat nights’ gatherings interesting intellectually and more than that I love the social idea. Everybody is welcome and treated respectfully and with a lot of love in the air. Not a religious love, but more of love for people and acceptance of all.

This Passover, April 2019, we were in Beit Chabad with two of our kids – successful young adults.

A new family joined us and I immediately fell in love and felt a connection.  A young couple who came from Israel, from a Russian origin and had a gorgeous three years old sweet girl.

When introducing themselves they mentioned the fact that this is their first Passover ever, as their families never celebrated Passover by reading the Haggadah.

Another circle was closed thanks to the good people of Chabad Queen Ann, Seattle. Their goal was achieved – a place where people feel welcome and comfortable to be together and share the Jewish tradition.

I’ll always cherish the gatherings and the new connections we have established with people that otherwise we would never meet.

Happy Passover, Happy Easter and I hope you are having a good day!

Oh, wait, I’m sure you will be happy to learn that I did get a new grandpa, about three months after the Passover dinner.

As for my uncle and the stuffed mushrooms rolled in bread crumbs – we never told him this story.  Remember what my mother said? If he didn’t know, it is ok. Years later – I’m still debating with this theory. What do you think?

Cheers, Renata

*** If you enjoyed what you read, it will be great to see your comments below.

Thank you, Renata

Part 1 – Freedom of choice – or what to do on Passover dinner when things go South?

Passover is a big thing for Jews. Lots of cleaning involved and new rules for a week, such as no leaven or food mixed with leaven – things like pasta, bread, legumes and beer are a big No No. The house has to be cleaned from any trace of leaven – it is this time of the year when you really clean your place – Judaism is a very practical religion. You start your spring literally clean.  

During Passover dinner it is a tradition to read the story of when the Israelis left Egypt, according to the old testimonial – Haggadah. It is a fascinating story and it is all about making sure people remember and not forget their history and where they came from – tradition. It is also about sitting as a family and friends next to a table full of food and wine. An interesting fact: four glasses of wine are a must and are part of reading the Haggadah. I know, I told you, Judaism is a very practical religion. I usually summarize Jewish holidays in one sentence: “They wanted to kill us, they didn’t succeed, so we eat!”

I was raised in a very non-religion family. I was a year and a half old when my parents were kicked out of their jobs and life in Poland and decided to move to Israel – 1968 following 1967 Six Days war in Israel.

My parents had a choice to move to the States, or Canada or other places in the world, but they chose to start a new life in Israel, with two girls and later on a third girl. Funny fact – the three of us are moms to girls only. We are 11 women in our small family.

I remember Passover tables as a feast of Polish food, this kind of food that you never have during regular week days.

Passover was different – all the food that we all craved for during the year, was there on the table. It was all home made and from scratch. From a stuffed carp fish, a matzah ball chicken soup, three kind of salads, a beef stew, a chicken dish and four different side dishes. Desserts where never the highlights of my mom’s cooking, and Passover kosher dietary rule made it even worse, so we had a “Kompot” – cold fruits’’ soup. Don’t ask.

 Our house was a very non-kosher house, but on Passovers we agreed that we follow the “no leaven or food mixed with leaven” rule as a minimum, during the Passover dinner it is. More than that you could not ask from my father, who was against anything that had a smell of religion.

As my father refused to follow the tradition of reading the Haggadah, Passover nights where a night of a pure family gathering, where we saw relatives that we did not see for a long time and suddenly we got to see all of them together in one room for four hours. How fun, not.

I was the middle child and as 13 years old, my mother made sure to keep me busy all the time – cleaning the plates, bringing new dishes, pouring water or taking care of my younger sister who was too young to help. My older sister was in her mandatory army service, Israeli Defense Army, so SHE needed to rest.

That specific Passover night was special – my mom’s mom moved from Poland to Israel – eleven years after we moved. It was her first Passover ever and my mom wanted everybody celebrating together in our place as she was the eldest sister.

The “new grandma,” new as I last met her when I was a year and a half, was already dating a man in the nursing home she moved to when she arrived from Poland, six months ago. My grandma was 77 and he was 71 and she was doing anything she could to make sure he becomes her man. There was a fierce competition on men in the retirement home.

Some of the people who were sitting next to table put a Kippah on their head, as it is tradition when reading from the Haggadah. My father refused to do the same. They also brought with them their own copies of the Haggadah to read from and my father refused to take part of it. I gladly took a copy and made sure I sit next to them to hear the reading. It was a crowded table, 12 people in a small condo.

My uncle, my mom’s brother, brought the Haggadah copies, and was now trying to start the reading while my father continued other discussions that had nothing to do with the holiday.

I was fascinated. I learned all about it in school and heard about it from other kids at class, but I never had the experience in my own household. Weird but true. I always hoped nobody will ask me “How did the Seder go?” so I will not have to lie. I couldn’t say that we didn’t do the reading.

But still – a table full of Jewish people who are reading a story about Egyptian Jews and eating Polish food to remember them? It sounded like a joke. I thought it was hilarious and was waiting for the fun.

My uncle was very serious about the reading and knew what he was doing. His family was there as well, a wife and two young kids. It looked like they did it before and are enjoying every minute. This was the first time we celebrated the holiday together and I knew why – my father never agreed to go to their place and follow tradition and they didn’t want to come to our place as no tradition was followed.

New grandma kept piling food on her future husband’s plate, making sure he eats all the time. The way to a man’s heart is his stomach, or something like that, right? And boy, he had a stomach. In one point I heard him asking her if he can have a beer with his food. He was not into wine and the promise to have four glasses of wine during the evening was not as tempting as having a cold beer with the dry matzah that were the bread replacement for the night.

My new grandma didn’t hesitate for a second, and off she went the kitchen, opening the refrigerator where she knew she can find a bottle of a local beer. My father liked his Fridays’ beer and of course in our household cleaning the place from any “leaven food products” was not something that was followed.

At the same time that the beer bottle was getting ready to arrive the table, I saw my mother putting a beautiful dish in front of my uncle and father. It was a huge plate of mushrooms that were stuffed with ground beef, rolled in bread crumbs and fried to perfection. Our small family all loved this dish and I was suddenly drooling. My uncle took couple of mushrooms and so did my father, with a very weird smile on his face.

And then it hit me – the bread crumbs. The stuffed mushrooms were covered with breadcrumbs!

Want to Read more? You will have to wait… To Cont… Tomorrow)

Online Dating world – Fine and Dandy, Not!

One thing that took me by surprise, when I started online dating, was how quickly some men took early stages of chatting to a sexual setting.
I still remember my first dicpic… ahhh… memories. In the beginning, I was shocked.
A total stranger, that I know almost nothing about, sends me a dicpic with no warning. What is going on here?
In the first few times that it happened I blocked the guy immediately and reported the site’s admin. That was the right thing to do, I thought.
But then, I started thinking about it. Let’s see what happens if I answer.
I was just starting my standup performances and could use some good material. Thanks to my Israeli Chutzpa and the new improv skills I was practicing, I decided to play a game.
He: Hey, I have some nude pictures of myself.
Me: Really? We never met and you want to send me nude pictures?
He: I was just kidding.
Me: So was I, you can send them now.
Well, I got what I asked for, many more dicpics, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for at that time, so it was back to blocking but this time I didn’t report to the site admin. I had an epiphany – there are women out there who think it is cool and would like to receive one of these pictures. Maybe they have a collection? Maybe there is a FB page? And guess what – there is: Dic•Pic on FB, go take a look it is a hilarious page!
I was thinking of starting a new Guinness record: the biggest collection of dicpics ever received by using only online dating. This will be a great sales pitch when we choose what online dating site to open our profile with.
Oh, Yes! This site has the most chances that you will get dicpics!
Ok, maybe not.

I heard about the roofy from news and stories on the Internet. Lucky me I was never in a situation where somebody slipped a roofy to my drink and I did not know what is going on. I made sure to guard my drink where ever I went and never left it with strangers. That’s why when I once had a coffee date with a guy, he was obviously interested in chance of a second date, I was astounded when he told me: “why won’t you just put a roofy in my drink? Just put a roofy and do whatever you want to me.
It sounded funny when he said it and I was amused for a long time. I still think it’s a hilarious sentence and completely not PC. Sue me? Wait, there is more.

I was in a lunch date with Mike, who is a 6.3 handsome black guy from Uganda. We were having a great conversation, lots of mutual interests in life and sharing stories about food from our countries. In one point I asked Mike what is his real name? It made a complete sense to me that a 50 years old man that was born in Uganda will have a Ugandan name, right? Mike did not understand my question in the first time, and provided me with his last name. “No, no, no, your first name – what were you named in Uganda when you were born?” Jason looked at me, amused, and made a clicking tongue sound, for about two minutes, and asked me if this is what I’m expected to hear. I smiled wildly and said: “Yes, exactly this. Is this your birth name?” Mike started laughing. His name was Michael from birth. Mike was born to a Christian family and all his family members were named after different people from the bible. I apologized for my ignorance and we both had a good laugh.
Want another embarrassing story?
On an online dating site, I answered to a man named Dan.
I knew I made a mistake the second I clicked on the “Enter” button.
My message was: “Hi, Jason.” Remember? His name was Dan…
I immediately sent another message that said: “Sorry Dan, my bad.”
Dan took it gracefully and answered me right away: “Hi, Michelle. How are you? Whoops, sorry, Renata”. I burst out laughing when I read this sentence. It was a great unexpected ice breaker and provided us with our first private joke.
What am I trying to say with all these stories? It is all about your attitude, and having fun with an embarrassing situation is the best to do.
Mike clicking tongue, Jason… whoops Dan, put a roofy in my drink, are all situations that can be taken very seriously, become embarrassing and maybe even ruin a fun date with an awkward moment.
Own it – you said it, and now you have to deal with it. Hopefully, your date has a good sense of humor and you both will take the opportunity to laugh together and enjoy your own first private joke. It’s a memory.
Remember: no good story ever started with a salad and… when life gives you lemons, you can prepare a limoncello. It is our choice to decide how we process life – so why not enjoy what we are doing.
Cheers, and don’t be a stranger!
Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Scamming & Online Dating

   I love the “author reading” events that we have in place. They are a little different from the traditional author’s events that I have attended all the years.

I start with a standup comedy performance, continue to a short and exciting reading from the book with my husky voice and finish with a Q&A part – which is my favorite. I invite the audience to share their own experience from the online dating world and encourage other people in the audience to step into the discussion with their experience and thoughts. The fact that Mike #80 is there as well provides an interesting twist to the discussion – the male’s perspective. Mike #80 gives an opportunity to the women in the audience to ask questions that they always wanted to ask men and never had a chance – someone they can ask.

Questions that are often asked: Why do men take pictures holding a giant fish? Why do men post pictures with sunglasses? We get a lot of laughs and ideas as answers, and it all comes to one thing: a huge fish that was just caught is an achievement and proof that this man can provide! And what about the sunglasses, you might ask. Oh well, this just looks cool, as most of the men will tell you.

The discussions are very lively and we learn a lot from each other – WOW moments all over the place. During one of our “Dating when you are wiser” event, in Never Ending Book shop, Edmond, a man in the audience told us that he is “done with online dating!” Why, was the immediate question of course, why would you stop using a tool that provides you with a h (more…)