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Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

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April 14, 2014

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Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

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Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

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Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

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April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

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Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

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Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

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April 9, 2014

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Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

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Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

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Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

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Jewish World Review May 3, 2007 /15 Iyar, 5767

Middle Eastern Lag B'Omer Barbecue

By Ethel G. Hofman

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Lag B'Omer is a happy, carefree semi-holiday occurring between Passover and Shavuos (Pentecost). In Israel, it's a school holiday. Families and friends gather together for a bonfire or a picnic. Grills are set up in parks, on the beach and even on tiny balconies. But by far, the largest celebration takes place in and around Miron, the town near Safed where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Elazar are buried. Their Yahrtzeit is joyfully celebrated which may seem rather odd but that was specifically requested by Rabbi bar Yochai of his students. An estimated 250,000 people visit Miron and enormous bonfires can be seen from miles away.

Lag B'Omer takes place on the thirty-third day after the second day of Passover in the midst of the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuos, the time counted off day by day. (Lag is the Hebrew numerical equivalent of thirty-three). There are many explanations and customs linked to the holiday. One, according to the Talmud, is that a plague which had struck down thousands of Rabbi Akiva's students ended on that day. A boy's hair is not cut until he is three years old. Because this idea is tied into Kabbalistic thought concerning hair, many put off the ceremony, called an Upsherin, until Lag B'Omer. Another custom is that because weddings are not held during the mourning period of the Omer, many people (as my husband and I did) choose to get married on Lag B'Omer

Barbecuing in America has skyrocketed for year round eating and entertaining. But in Israel barbecue goes beyond tossing a naked steak or chunks of meat on the grill. Instead, there's careful do-ahead preparation. Meats such as lamb are minced together with herbs and spices or tiny pieces of meat are marinated in an aromatic mixture. Minced mixtures are shaped into patties and grilled or threaded onto skewers. Marinated meats are interspersed with tomatoes, onions or other vegetables and cooked on skewers. This showcases the combined influences of neighboring countries and the treasured flavors brought by immigrants to their adopted country all melding comfortably with Israel's indigenous fresh ingredients. Desserts are usually fresh, locally grown fruits eaten out of hand. On Lag B'Omer , peaches, apricots, oranges and apples or fresh or dried figs and dates are more delectable , spiked with wood smoke, the outdoors and steeped in tradition.

On Lag B'Omer , light the grill and celebrate the day. Choose one or all recipes from the selection below. Any one is guaranteed to become a firm year round family favorite.


Makes about 3/4 cup

Coriander is related to the parsley family. The seeds are mildly fragrant and are used in pickling, for mulled wine and in this recipe, for a dip. The leaves, known as cilantro, have a completely different flavor. The intense pungency lends itself to highly seasoned foods and should be used sparingly. Serve this dip with sesame crackers to eat while the kebabs or fish are cooking.

  • 1 cup pitted green olives

  • 1/4 teaspoon bottled minced garlic

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  • 2 teaspoons cut up jalapeno pepper or to taste

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Salt to taste

Place the olives, garlic, coriander, jalapeno pepper, lemon juice and olive oil in the food processor. Process to a paste. Season to taste with salt.

Spoon into a bowl and serve with crackers or sliced cucumbers and carrot sticks.

Approx. nutrients per tablespoon: calories - 20 protein - 0g carbohydrates - 1g fat - 2g cholesterol - 0mg sodium - 110mg


Makes 4 kebabs

  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut in chunks

  • 1 cup parsley sprigs, packed

  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves, packed or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

  • 3 thick slices soft brown bread

  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef

  • 3/4 pound ground lamb

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 2 teaspoons cumin

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

  • 12 cherry tomatoes

Place the onion, parsley, mint and bread in the food processor. Process until onion is finely chopped. Add the beef, lamb, eggs and seasonings. Process to mix ingredients thoroughly. Shape into patties about 3/4 -inch thick. Thread patties onto skewers alternately with the tomatoes. Grill over hot coals, 4 - 5 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.

Note: these may be wrapped in wax paper and refrigerated before transferring to a cooler and carried to picnic site.

Approx. nutrients per kebab. Calories - 529 protein - 37g carbohydrates - 24g fat - 31g cholesterol - 199mg sodium - 440mg


Serves 6

From Turkey, "cop sis" which literally means "rubbish kabob" because it is made with tiny scraps of meat marinated in onion and cumin. Serve in warm pita bread and top with parsley, red onion and a squeeze of lemon juice. Lamb, beef, or poultry may be used.

  • 1 large onion, cut in chunks

  • 3 cloves garlic, each split in half

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder cut in small bite size pieces

  • 6 pita breads, warmed

  • Bunch of flat leaf parsley, coarsely snipped

  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

  • Juice of 2 medium lemons

Place the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and cinnamon in the food processor. Process until the onion is finely chopped. Transfer to a shallow dish. Stir in the oil. Add the lamb chunks and toss with the onion mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Thread the meat onto skewers. Cook over hot coals, turning frequently, 4-5 minutes or until desired doneness. Split the pita breads. Carefully push the meat into the pockets. Top with the parsley and onions. Drizzle the lemon juice over, close pockets, and munch with joy!

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories - 366 protein - 29g carbohydrates - 35g fat - 13g cholesterol - 70mg sodium - 591mg


Serves 4-6

This may be served cold. 1 cup regular basmati rice will yield 3 cups cooked.

  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice

  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries

  • 1/3 cup diced dried apricots

  • 1/3 cup golden raisins

  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios

  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds*

Place the cooked rice in a large bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients except the sesame seeds. Stir to mix. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over. Serve at room temperature.

* To toast sesame seeds. Spread on a small baking sheet (or in the tray or a toaster oven).

Place under broiler and heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove when seeds are just beginning to turn golden. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Use as above.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories - 249 protein - 4g carbohydrates - 50g fat - 5g cholesterol - 0mg sodium - 2mg


Serves 6

Bake the potatoes at home or bake over hot coals on site. Wrapped in foil they will take about 1 hour to bake at the edge of hot coals. Cool before peeling.

  • 4 large baked potatoes

  • 2 cups shredded fresh spinach, packed

  • 1 cup bean sprouts

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

  • 6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard

  • 3 tablespoons finely snipped chives

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Place in a large bowl. Add the spinach, bean sprouts and green onions.

Prepare the dressing: whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and chives. Pour over the potato mixture. Toss gently to mix. Serve warm or cold.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories - 271 protein - 3g carbohydrates - 3g fat - 14g cholesterol - 0mg sodium - 433mg


Serves 4-6

Invest in an inexpensive grilling basket or container which prevents vegetables from falling through the bars of conventional grills. Tahini is a thick paste made of sesame seeds and is available in supermarkets. Stir well before using as it tends to separate.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup vinaigrette salad dressing

  • 2 tablespoons tahini

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 16 baby carrots

  • 2 zucchini, sliced about 1/2-inch thick

  • 3 small red bell peppers, seeded and quartered

In a shallow dish whisk together the oil, salad dressing, tahini and thyme. Pour into a large plastic bag. Add the carrots, zucchini and peppers. Close bag and toss to coat vegetables with the tahini mixture.

Arrange the vegetables over hot coals or place inside a grilling basket or grilling container. Place over hot coals. Cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, turning often. Some vegetables will cook more quickly than others. Remove with tongs and keep warm.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories - 177 protein - 2g carbohydrates - 6g fat - 17g cholesterol - 0mg sodium - 89mg

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JWR contributor Ethel G. Hofman is the former president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, whose members include the likes of Julia Child. She is the author, most recently, of "Everyday Cooking for the Jewish Home: More Than 350 Delectable Recipes". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

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© 2007, Ethel G. Hofman