Natasha’s articles

A Community’s Heartbreak, My Article for

xo jane logo

Well, it’s been quite a past couple weeks, huh? No recipes or menu plans this week.

I’m dealing with the events of the past 2 weeks through my writing. I’ve been honored to hear from others that they share my views and think that I articulated them in an accurate and compassionate way. I only wish my compassion for Rabbi Freundel’s family could comfort them at this time. I’m afraid they need a lot more than the comfort of our support. Nevertheless, we should never stop providing that support because they have given everything to the Kesher community and it’s the right thing to do.

In addition, I was grateful for the television news/phone break during the last days of Succos. I know Potomac isn’t called “Kesher North” like Kemp Mill, but we have our fair share of former Kesherites/current affiliate members. We walked around to each others houses and found the support we needed.

Communities of former Kesherites from Maryland to Israel have been able to support one another online, but face-to-face interaction, especially in those dazed and confused early days, was irreplaceable.

Click on the xojane logo above or the screen capture of the article below to read about my reaction to Rabbi Barry Freundel’s arrest for voyuerism.

p.s. In the second to last paragraph, the editor cut out part of my sentence, so my thoughts sound a lot harsher than they’re supposed to and the result is an incomplete thought. I’ve been waiting on the change, but wanted to share the article with you in the meantime. Basically, I’m NOT saying all men are jerks. The opposite!

IT HAPPENED TO ME- My Rabbi Was Arrested For Voyeurism - xoJane 2014-10-27 14-11-05

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. As always, I encourage you to participate in any discussions you’d like to on my twitter or facebook pages.

My first blog for The Nosher, My Jewish Learning

My first blog for The Nosher, My Jewish Learning

See below for my first blog for My Jewish Learning’s The Nosher Blog.

Maple Squash Pudding

When I first tasted the delicious, and later ubiquitous, butternut squash kugel, I thought I was eating something healthy. However, there is a reason it tasted like cake: It was cake.

My Shabbat host readily admitted that that kugel was full of flour, sugar and oil. That was many years ago. Since then, some version of a squash kugel (whether made from sweet potatoes, butternut squash or pumpkin), has graced most Shabbat tables at which I have had the pleasure of eating, including my own. I never could bring myself to make the classic cake-like recipe.

Instead, for years I used a Hungry Girl recipe that called for egg beaters and artificial sweetener. As I no longer eat animal products or artificial sweeteners, I had to come up with my own healthy alternative.

maple squash kugel 2

I don’t think you’ll find an easier recipe that can be made so quickly and for a crowd…

maple squash kugel









Click here for the full article and recipe.

New Kveller Blog: How to Use Tu Bishvat to Help Kids Stop Wasting Food!

New Kveller Blog: How to Use Tu Bishvat to Help Kids Stop Wasting Food!

kveller logo

You’ll never hear me tell my kids to join the “clean plate club.” My father used to always push back when my grandparents told me to clean my plate. Somewhere in between their depression-mentality and his realization that giving your kid a stomachache and making them overeat really didn’t accomplish anything lies that reasonable parental desire to help curb our kids’ seemingly innate tendency to waste food.

Whether you’re that parent that really won’t let your kid eat anything else except what is served for dinner, or you’re that parent who gives in and let’s them have a bowl of cereal, or, heaven forbid, the one who becomes a short-order cook, most of us cringe when our kids waste the food they’re served or serve themselves.

How convenient then that we can use Tu Bishvat, the Jewish “Birthday of the Trees,” as an opportunity to reduce their wastefulness (Tu Bishvat is from sundown on Wednesday to sundown on Thursday). Kids really get a kick out of this birthday concept and want to learn more. If the trees are so special that they deserve their own holiday, we should have respect for the food that comes off of them and be sure to use it respectfully.


Have you ever become frustrated at how much your kids waste or wondered if it really is as much as you think it is? Here’s what you can do at home:

1. Introduce the concept of a contest for Tu Bishvat and ask them to practice wasting as little as possible for the next few days. Starting today, take two buckets (they can be small like you would use to pick berries) and tell your kids that at the end of the meal a contest between siblings or kids vs. parents will begin. One bucket is for pesolat (waste) and one for klepot, things you can’t eat but can compost, like peels and shells. I guess if you don’t compost you wouldn’t even need the second bucket, but I think it is a good way to illustrate the concept of composting to kids. Let them experience the wonder of the way our world works. Peels and shells can actually help grow and fertilize their future food! Nature does design some waste. They can prevent other waste by taking only a little food at a time.

2. Weigh the buckets at the end of each meal, either on a food scale or a regular scale if that will work better. You can keep a chart on the refrigerator or corkboard and record the weights at the end of each meal. Whoever has the least (total or even most improved) waste at the end of the week wins a prize! Well, that’s one way to do it. What might be healthier for family unity is to stop the measuring right before Shabbat, review the week’s accomplishments and then provide a Shabbat treat for the entire family as a reward for everyone’s hard work. Telling kids it is a contest all week will keep them motivated, but then keep it fun if you throw out the winners and losers concept in the end. Everyone worked hard and everyone wins.

I learned about the bucket concept at the recent Hazon Food conference at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT. There, the Teva Learning Alliance practices this year round with the school groups they educate.

Hopefully this week-long contest will instill new habits in your family. If you feel your progress sliding, you can take a different approach and have kids win prizes (dollar store toys or outings with mom and dad, not candy!) if they guess the weight of the waste after each meal. Be sure you have a scale that can weigh less than a pound because you don’t want to encourage the kids to waste more in order to have something to measure. Zero pounds is also an option and can also qualify for a prize!

I’ll let you know how it goes for me and I want to hear back from you too, OK?

p.s. If you don’t compost or have a neighbor who does, throw out the food each day after you’ve weighed it. Your house will smell better that way!