Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tastes Weird but Does the Job! Natural decongestant

I cannot take credit for this one - I found it as a composite remedy for natural decongestion and wanted to share it. We have been experiencing congestion for the better part of the week, and this really helped to loosen it up:

In a 12oz mug or hot cup

3/4 teaspoon hot paprika or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on what you can handle)

A few tablespoons each lemon juice and apple vinegar

1/3 teaspoon of powdered ginger or a good solid slice of fresh ginger

1 heaping tablespoon of honey

1 ginger/lemon herbal tea bag

Cover and fill the cup the rest of the way with boiling water.

I don't recommend more than three of these in a day because of the acid content.

Supplement the rest of your soothing decongestion needs with black tea, herbal mint tea, or other things you like. It's important to also stay hydrated, especially when using lemon, because it can dry you out a little bit, making congestion and inflammation worse.

Another good and soothing potion is hot vegetable broth or chicken broth with a 2" cut of a fresh leek sipped slowly!

A common mistake people make during the winter months is to forego raw fruits and vegetables
in favor of more hearty, hot foods. Certainly feel free to load up on warming, filling meals but don't lose out on immunity-boosting fresh produce!! And take the opportunity during the winter to make and enjoy soups of all kinds - especially those without dairy - to further improve your health and vitamin intake and congestion combative power!

I am not a doctor nor a medical professional. Just a person who learned these good tips over time and had success via trial and error.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Refooda Shelemah Profile: The Jewish Student Organization (JSO) at Berklee College of Music

The Jewish Student Organization at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA provides programming, activities and educational opportunities for all of Berklee's Jewish students as well as their friends and allies in the community. I had the honor of serving as the JSO's founding Staff Advisor and helped to shape its early development. (Kathy Zerlin in the Film Scoring Department serves as the current Staff Advisor). The JSO is sponsored by The Department of Student Activities with a tremendous amount of support from The Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Rabbi Shmuel Posner of Chabad of Kenmore Square serves as rabbinical advisor. Many JSO events, especially around Shabbat and holidays, are spent at Chabad at Kenmore. The JSO is not affiliated to any particular Jewish sect and serves the needs of all Jews at Berklee, regardless of affiliation or level of observance.

I caught up with the current JSO Co-President, Eli Cohen (pictured below wearing Tefilin) for an email interview!

Tell me about some events and projects the JSO at Berklee is up to these days!

We are currently in the process of adding two members to our board to become coordinators and also in order to continue a strong club for the future. Rebecca Fisher and I, we will be graduates of the school as of Spring 2018. I also changed our email recently and have recently updated the form for sending our Newsletters out. We also have an Information Table once a week on campus.

What are some activities that the JSO participates in and offers students?

In some of our semesters we have weekly meetings, and this semester we have had planned events. For this particular semester, our strongest event so far has been for Sukkot. We were able to be inside a portable Sukkah, our school owns, and also stores for us. There was a populated area on campus where we had our set-up during a school day, with Kosher foods, such as pita, bissli, juice, and cookies. As Berklee College of Music is surrounded by downtown buildings and busy people, we're fortunate to find a place for us on our school property, and also to have public meet up locations for Jews!

How has the JSO benefited you?

The JSO has given myself, and as a current Co-President of the club, a chance to be a hub, a pluralistic connection for Jews and Israelis in our school. It has made me feel a part of something I'm pursuing lifelong, and that I would feel missing, had I not found or started something Jewish in my school. I was raised with sephardic orthodox influence in Seattle, Washington, and everything I got from my parents and family, and Jewish summer camps, and organizations were just more reasons to be a leader, or be a part of what I'm continuing. For my time in JSO, we have been trying and wanting to engage more of the students here, who are Jewish. It is difficult to bring many of the students in, but putting ourselves out there is more than half of the work. I must also mention the Chabad, and specifically the Chabad on Commonwealth Ave in Boston; Rabbi Posner is at all of our meetings, bringing Tefelin, Kosher snacks when we don't have them, and so much more. He also helps us coordinate, and pushes us to plan better, he uses social media, and also as a neighbor to our school, hosts students for weekly Shabbat Dinners, all of the Holidays, and also Summer BBQ's. JSO will be a benefit to me when I make more improvements with the club, before I graduate and move away.

What do you have planned for this school year? 

We have one more event for this semester, and one of our school's Ensemble is performing for us as they did last year, as well! We have a Pre-Chanukah Party the week before this current Fall 2016 semester ends, and students go on winter break for a month. We're excited to have the Berklee Klezmer band perform!

If you could have one dream JSO event, what would it be?

Something big, which is also simple, such as a holiday event which brings WAY more people than we have ever seen, who come together, carrying a message to everyone to want to be more involved and make time in everyone's busy schedule to anticipate future JSO events, and become even stronger as a club!  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Funny Zucchini Solution


The other day, I found myself in a stove predicament (long story) and I really wanted to cook this rather large zucchini I had, so what was I to do?

I have one of those big hot water catering size kettles so I filled it 1/3 of the way, put the zucchini in whole, and boiled it for about 15 minutes, then put it on the Shabbat switch "keep hot" mode and went for a walk. I came home 30 minutes later and had the best zucchini! I sprinkled it with a pinch of salt and Ethiopian Berbere spice from Whole Foods - Ate it with big pieces of romaine lettuce wrapped around it!! YUM!!!

Monday, November 7, 2016



Today, I happened to see a beautiful story online from my friend Erica. Her story was so poignant and perfect for the spirit of Refooda Shelemah that I asked if I could share it here. She said yes!

This is a story about how a few small choices can restore so much dignity and bring so many opportunities for future good. Thank you, Erica!!

This morning I was waiting for the crosswalk light to change, deep in my election-flavored Monday-morning ruminations, when I was approached by a gentleman probably just a little younger than my father. He assured me he didn't want my money, but he asked if I might buy him a bagel because he was hungry. The Dunkin Donuts was literally at my back, so without missing a beat I said, "Sure. Let's go get you some breakfast."

We chatted in the line—a lucid, painful, but hope-filled conversation about PTSD, dealing with people's judgement for being on the street, and carrying the weight of his own negativity around all the time. He told me, with $3 and 10 minutes, I had helped turn his morning around. We exchanged names and I told him I had to get to work, but before I left I asked him, aside from the obvious, how I might pray for him. He told me "You know, when I call my mom she asks me how I'm doing. When I call anyone else in my family, they ask me what I'm doing. I could just use a little more love and a little less judgement from the people who are supposed to love me." If you're so inclined, would you join me in sending some prayers and good energy Jim's way? I actually believe that's every bit as powerful as a bagel. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016



There is a tremendous thing in this world called tzedakah (justice) and another called chesed (giving from the heart) and one of the most predominant things one can do in this world is to provide food for others. Whether you are simply bringing food over for a person who is unwell, cooking for someone whose power went out, donating to a food bank, volunteering at a kitchen that feeds the needy, or providing meals for people for holidays or the Jewish Shabbat, it's something that helps to restore someone's health and dignity.

I was thinking today of 1985 when Hurricane Gloria hit in Connecticut and took out power from homes throughout the state. We managed to get power back sooner than others did and my mom Shelby (Surah Batyah) opened our home to a woman who was dedicated to providing food to elderly people whose homes were still cold and dark - as was her own!

She helped the woman cook lots of hot foods and soups that could be easily stored in long-lasting Thermos containers. My mom also gave constantly - even out of need - and had an open-door policy in our home for feeding friends. She was always cooking, even when she was ill and in use of a wheelchair she cooked massive amounts of food for any guest that walked through our door.

With an open heart and hospitality likened to that of Avraham Aveinu (Abraham of the Torah) [who also threw his door open to guests while he himself was physically impaired] she taught me the deep importance of giving, in all circumstances, and sharing the warmth and caring of home cooked meals with true love for people.

Her extension of kindness not only made others feel good, but it gave her a sense of purpose even when she was extraordinarily disabled at various points in her life. Refuah means healing, and my mother's approach was a healing in two directions!