Cooking lessons


Pour three cups of rice into a bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water. Stir the rice in the water, making sure you don’t crush the grains, then throw out the water. Repeat five times.

I’m 9 years old — in my mother’s kitchen on the second floor of our house in Tehran. It’s mid-morning, early summer, but the heat is already oppressive.

I’ve been out of school for a week. I spend my days playing in the yard with my two sisters and with the occasional cousin who comes over for a visit. I harass the gardener to let me water the lawn, even if there’s no need for it, sit with the maid in the narrow strip of shade in the servants’ yard and watch her soak our clothes in enormous pewter tubs that she has filled with water, soap and lavender. When she’s not looking, I dip my hands, up to the elbows, in the cool water and watch the soap bubbles coat my skin.

The sixth time you fill the bowl, don’t throw the water out. Put a piece of rock salt in it and let the rice soak overnight.

My mother is 26 years old. Every summer, she teaches my sisters and me things every woman needs to know. We’ve learned to sew buttons and hems, to crochet and knit, to iron shirts and dresses. This year, she’s teaching me how to make rice, because she’s going to Israel with her sisters for two months. One of them is having surgery in Tel Aviv, and the others are going to take care of the patient while she recovers.

This is the first time since she’s been married that my mother will travel without my father, but she tells me she’s not afraid, she’s actually excited, looking forward to what she thinks will be a great adventure.

The next morning, bring half a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Pour out the saltwater from the soaking rice, and add the rice to the boiling water in the pot. Add two tablespoons of salt and a tablespoon of oil. Stir the rice once, making sure you don’t crush the grains.

In Tel Aviv, my mother and her sisters rent an apartment by the month. There are four of them, plus the one who’s had surgery, and some cousins who live in other parts of Israel and come by for extended visits. It’s like they’re kids again, my mother writes in her letters to us, living together on Simorgh Street, without husbands or kids or the weight of their daily routine back in Tehran.
In the pictures she sends, my mother’s always laughing. Her hair has grown longer; it has blond highlights from the sun. She looks happy, and confident, and younger than I’ve ever known her.

Let the rice cook in the boiling water, with the pot uncovered, for seven to eight minutes. Take a grain or two out of the water, blow on it till it’s cool, then test it between your front teeth. Make sure you wait till the rice is cooled off, or you’ll burn the tip of your tongue. If you can bite into the grains without much resistance, turn off the flame, put up the pot and pour the rice and the water into a large colander.

When she comes back from Israel, my mother talks more loudly, more openly, than she had before she left. She laughs more easily, as well. In Israel, she says, women are not expected to be quiet and solemn all the time.
She has bought herself a red leather bag. She says that in Israel, she felt “at home” for the first time in her life. It had to do with being surrounded by other Jews, instead of living as a minority and feeling threatened all the time. But it also had to do with seeing the way other women live in other parts of the world — all those young girls who put on uniforms the minute they finish high school, who pick up a gun as if they were boys, file away to the army, to the desert, to war.

Let all the water drain out of the rice, then toss it gently in the colander to make sure the grains are not stuck together. Be careful you don’t crush the grains.

After that trip, my mother stops teaching her daughters how to cook or do housework.

“Don’t waste your life making rice,” she tells us. “Go to school and find a career and become something you can be proud of.”

She starts taking painting and piano lessons, talking about moving to America, where women are not expected to be solemn and quiet all the time.

Rinse the pot till it’s clean. Pour a cup of water, a third of a cup of oil, a pinch of turmeric and a teaspoon of tomato juice into the empty pot and put it back on the stove, with the flame on high, till the mixture comes to the boil.

Through college and graduate school and the first five years of married life in Los Angeles, I never make Persian rice again. I’ll start only after my children are born, and then without much confidence.

I cook every day, almost without exception, because I can’t stand the thought of feeding my kids out of a jar, but I’m always torn when I’m in the kitchen, always thinking there are better things for me to do, better ways to use my time. I should be working, or playing with my kids, or helping them learn to read, to ride a bike.

When the mixture is boiling rapidly, pour in the rice from the colander and arrange it in the shape of cone. Lower the flame, wrap the top of the pot in a kitchen towel, cover the pot and let the rice cook for at least an hour. Before serving, sprinkle a mixture of water, saffron and oil onto the rice. When you spoon it onto the platter, make sure you don’t crush the grains of rice.

Comforting Mothers Without Mothers


“My childhood skidded to a stop on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of my 15th year, with my mother’s first mammogram results,” writes Hope Edelman in her moving new book, “Motherless Mothers: How Mother Loss Shapes the Parents We Become” (Harper Collins). For Edelman, her mother’s illness and subsequent death from cancer two years later in 1981 were the beginning of a journey of loss, self-exploration and eventual emotional redemption that has spanned nearly a quarter-century and spawned three well-received books on the subject.

“I wanted to find ways to help women cope, and even thrive in the absence of a mother,” says Edelman from her home in Topanga Canyon.

A native New Yorker who graduated from the Northwestern School of Journalism, Edelman first explored “mother loss” while studying creative nonfiction writing at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the late 1980s. She discovered that, other than a few pieces of clinical work gathering dust in university archives, women seeking guidance and reassurance had few resources.

Her first book, “Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss,” published in 1994, fused her own experiences with research and with excerpts from interviews with hundreds of women. She received thousands of letters from women who heard their voices expressed in her pages. The book became a New York Times best seller that sparked dialogue and helped pave the way for a more open discourse on the subject.

In the midst of this success, her own life was about to change dramatically — a seismic shift that would inspire her next major book project.

Edelman was living in New York in 1996 when she began dating Uzi Eliyahou, an Israeli high-tech executive based in Los Angeles. Seven months into their whirlwind long-distance relationship, she discovered she was pregnant. Within the year, she was married, living in Los Angeles and the mother of Maya, now 8 (Eden, 4, followed a few years later).

Through this experience, Edelman became convinced that as a motherless daughter, she faced a unique and different set of challenges that she wanted to share with both laypeople and medical professionals.

She was motivated in part by a disturbing interaction with the first gynecologist she saw after becoming pregnant. When faced with Edelman’s particular concerns about coping, as a pregnant woman, with the loss of her own mother, the doctor just wasn’t interested.

“Let me know when you get it figured out,” he told her.

She later heard similar tales of insensitivity from other women.

Edelman hoped that in her book she could help doctors and psychologists develop empathy for the experience of the motherless mother.

“As with most of the women I interviewed, the big question that arose was, ‘How will I know how to be a mother?'” Edelman says.

Other issues that loom large for soon-to-be or new mothers include the fear of dying young, the anxiety of losing a loved one and the desire to give their children an emotional security they did not have themselves.

“I’m about to reach the same age my mother was when she died,” Edelman says. “And that looms large.”

In the course of her research, Edelman discovered that becoming a mother often brought the pain of her mother’s passing into the forefront, but that the process of pregnancy, birth and childrearing can be healing. Even so, there’s a multigenerational effect to account for.

Since most women keep photographs of their late mothers prominently displayed in their homes, the pictures spark curiosity, and discussion.

“We talk about my mother often and openly,” Edelman says.

Another unexpected result of motherhood has been reconnection with faith.

“My mother was the center of Jewish identity in our house,” Edelman says. “When she died, our family’s connection to Judaism loosened.”

According to Edelman, the mother typically serves as “kinkeeper,” the one who brings friends and family together for holiday meals and rituals.

“When a Jewish woman loses her mother, she loses the most important role model for how to sustain a Jewish home.” Edelman says. “You are suddenly without the person who is primarily responsible for cooking Shabbat dinner or preparing the seder. We became religious orphans when my mother died.”

It was her older daughter, Maya, named for Edelman’s mother, who helped bring the family back into the Jewish fold. Edelman and her husband enrolled Maya in school at Chabad of Topanga. Maya soon came home bursting with knowledge about all of the holidays. “She wants to observe all the holidays,” says Edelman. “It’s a connection I only recently made,” she added, explaining that the process of Jewish ritual and community has helped heal the wounds of her mother’s premature passing.

Edelman is pursuing a variety of writing projects, but doesn’t want to overlook a main theme of her work: the importance of spending meaningful time with your family.

“There were far too many 14-hour days in the past three years,” Edelman says. “I’m enjoying spending more time with my husband and children.”

Hope Edelman regularly holds one-day Motherless Daughters writing workshops For more information, visit

Obituaries


Michael Angel died June 12 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; daughter, Judith (Bob Salvaria); son, Stephen (Ellen); five grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Ruth Anne Baim died June 16 at 91. She is survived by her daughter, Beverly (Sol) Mandelblatt; grandchildren, Michael Mandelblatt and Andrea (Bobby) Rashtian; and three great grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Yahouda Benji died June 8 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Faideh; son, Albert (Sarah); daughters, Jaklin and Marilyn (Babak) Younessi; and six grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Milton Bloom died June 18 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; sons, Steven (Sue) and Mark (Jill); and five grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Lillian Libby Chester died June 17 at 99. She is survived by her daughters, Sharon Kaye and Sandra Bercow; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Groman

Bernard Corn died June 14 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Judy; sons, Ronald and Robert; daughter-in-law, Eileen Filler-Corn; two grandchildren; and brother, Charles. Groman

Leo Elmon Eisenkop died June 13 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Winifred; son, Dr. Scott (Teresa Claus). Groman

HOWARD ELINSON died June 17 at 65. He is survived by his brother, Mark. Chevra Kadisha

Barbara Essenfeld died June 15 at 58. She survived by her daughter, Lauren (Paul) Di Cocco. Mount Sinai

Bernard John Gales died June 14 at 84. He is survived by his wife, Berta; son, Ron; daughters, Lilly Rubin, Susan Hochstein and Debbie Stern; and five grandchildren. Groman

Abraham Gelfand died June 16 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Beatrice; son, Harold (Janice); six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Steven Gilman died June 12 at 58. He is survived by his wife, Ann; mother, Renee; brothers, Richard and Chuck. Mount Sinai

Cecil Greenwold died June 15, at 92. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; son, Mark (Betty); stepdaughters, Joanne (Jim) Jubelier and Jill (Bob) McKay; three grandchildren; two stepgrandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and sister, Julia Yorke. Mount Sinai

Ruth Haas died June 14 at 93. She is survived by her sister, Florence Levis. Groman

Irving Halperin died June 19 at 101. He is survived by his son, Michael (Marcia); five grandchildren; and sister, Ethel (Leonard) Smith. Mount Sinai

Carol Hersh died June 15 at 74. She survived by her sons, Jeffrey (Arie), Gary (Maria) and Brian; eight grandchildren; and brother, Donald (Geri) Froomer. Mount Sinai

Freda Hinden died June 13 at 95. She is survived by son, Barry (Marilyn); daughter, Sheila Gruskin; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Groman

Josef Hodes died June 17 at 89. He is survived by his wife, Sara; and daughters, Zipora (Tibor) Miller and Etta (Alexander) Kogan; four grandchildren; and great-grandchild, Gabriella. Chevra Kadisha

REUBEN HYAMS died June 14 at 75. He is survived by his wife, Celia; sons, Michael and Steve; brother, Joe (Marilyn) Hyams; sisters, Annette (Louis) Sherman and Freda (Clayton) Ferree; and nieces and nephews. Chevra Kadisha

Yolanda Marie Jimenez died June 12 at 74. She is survived by daughters, Linda (Larry) Ross, Nilza Cusamano, Advilda (Jim) Deleneve and Nivea (Mike) McEachern; five grandchildren; and six great-granchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Ruth Krischer died June 19 at 85. She is survived by her daughters, Naomi (Alan) Spiegelman and Judith (Mike Greene); son, David; four grandchildren; and brothers, David and Paul Levin. Mount Sinai

Roselle Lillian Marcus Lewis died June 14 at 77. She is survived by her husband, Earl; son, Dr. David; daughter, Madeline; and one grandchild. Groman

Jerome Irwin Lopin died June 19 at 78. He is survived by his wife, Hope; sons, Michael (Madonna) and Steven (Ty); stepson, Jeffrey Arden; stepdaughter, June (Stacey) Rios; and seven grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Ruth Lubinsky died June 18 at 81. She is survived by her daughter, Katherine Butcher; son, Ralph W. Hood Jr; five grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and brother, Robert (Danna) Khaler. Mount Sinai

Hattie Nadel died June 15 at 92. She is survived by her son, Stanley; three grandchildren; one great-grandchild; brother, Jack Adler; and sister, Florence Kusher. Groman

Shlomo Offer died June 7 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Marion; sons, Willie Daniel and Thomas Yecheskel; nephews, Yisroel and Boaz Amit; and nieces, Devora Meschulam and Dita Amit. Chevra Kadisha

Anna Rosenberg died June 11 at 98. She is survived by her daughters, Eleanor (Joseph) Schwarz and Claire (Rabbi Arthur) Abrams. Malinow and Silverman

Meyer Rubin died June 19 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Lessie; son, Craig; daughter, Andrea (Jason) Feldman; and six grandchildren. Groman

Dorothy Salgo died June 15 at 65. She is survived by her son, Charles Rice; daughters, Kathleen Rice and Rosemary Ponder; mother, Shirley; seven grandchildren; and brother, Jeffrey. Groman

Harriet Samson died June 14 at 84. She is survived by her son, Ronald (Janet) Shlesman; daughter, Naomi (Dr. Michael) Bailie; four grandchildren; and one great- grandchild. Mount Sinai

Aziz Sanandajian died June 17 at 78. He is survived by his wife, Maryam; son, Robert; daughters, Rachel, Roya and Rebecca; and five grandchildren. Groman

Rita Scharf died June 19 at 78. She is survived by her sons, Steven and Lance (Renata); five grandchildren; and brother, Jerry Gold. Mount Sinai

GARY JAMES SHAPIRO died June 14 at 68. He is survived by his wife, Louise; daughters, Allison and Jennifer; and son, Darin.

Makhlia Shoulov died June 17 at 81. She is survived by her daughter, Inga (Moisey) Khanukhov; sons, Joseph (Svetlana) and Yuri (Luda); 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Henry Silber died June 14 at 59. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie; parents, Josef and Esther; brother, Abe (Cheryl) sister, Marlene (Roy) Alter; uncle, Eliezer Klavansky; aunt, Ida Taublib; and many relatives. Mount Sinai

Harold Skolnick died June 12 at 91. He is survived by his friends, Arthur (Esther) Brown and Jerry (Mimi) Sisk. Mount Sinai

William Smith died June 16 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Ray; daughters, Kim (Ken) Leigh and Jill (David) Brody; son, Peter (Lisa); and five grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Pearl Starr died June 19 at 95. She is survived by her daughters, Linda (Bob) Russo and Vicki Pass; four grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and nephew, Jim (Linda) Joseph. Mount Sinai

Bernard Stock died June 12 at 78. He is survived by his wife, Claire; sons, Robert and David; brothers, Murray and Malcolm; and one grandchild. Groman

Herman Trop died June 13 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Hilda; sons, Philip (Shelly) and Bob (Billie); daughter, Andrea (Gary) Gleckman; six grandchildren; and brother, Dan Trop. Mount Sinai

Richard Joseph Tuber died June 18 at 74. He is survived by his wife, Iris; sons, Douglas, Rick and Keith; nine grandchildren; one great-grandchild; brother, Arthur; sister, June Lurie. Groman

Renee Viner died June 18 at 71. She is survived by her husband, Jerome; sons, Steven (Suzi) Blonder and Mitch (Jennifer); daughter, Wendi (Jimmy) Gonzalez; and grandchildren, David and Alison. Mount Sinai

Harry Weinberg died June 16 at 88. He is survived by his friend, Mary Mendoza. Mount Sinai

Gilbert Herbert Weintraub died June 15 at 88. He is survived by daughter, Jo Anne Bardini; sons, Alan and Dana; four grandchildren; and sisters, Carrie Werchick and Arlene Lipper. Groman

Esther Winkler died June 17 at 96. She is survived by her daughters, Ann Bose and Joyce Gibson; and four grandchildren. Groman

Esther Winterman died June 13 at 89. She is survived by her daughters, Ruth Zaray-Mizrahi and Lore (Thomas) Sturm; son, Stanley (Viarica); and nine grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Nanette Wintheil died June 10 at age 98. She is survived by her daughter, Perissa Busick. Chevra Kadisha

Sheila Zimmelman died June 17 at 70. She survived by her sons, Mark and Paul (Helen); granddaughters, Molly and Julia; and sister, Randy Medall. Mount Sinai

Shimon Zvi died June 12 at 66. He is survived by his wife, Elana; sons, Ronen (Tanya), Abraham and Guy (Desiree Sanduval); grandson, Jonathan; sisters, Chaya Beran, Zahava and Esther; brothers, Menasha, Meyer and Ezra (Ruthie); and sister-in-law, Sylvia. Mount Sinai

 

The Matchmakers


My friend, Clark, is a 38-year-old entertainment executive who enjoys the services of two full-time matchmakers.

"They’re always on the lookout for someone special for me. They call it scoping for ladies," he said with a laugh. And who wouldn’t be doing the same? Clark is intelligent, witty and handsome. I, for one, find it remarkable he’s still unattached.

Sometimes the matchmakers nudge Clark to push the boundaries on one of his platonic friendships. One of them will say, "I’m sure she’s interested in more than just coffee."

Yet, they never meddle too much in Clark’s efforts to discover his soul mate. And while most men would bristle at such regular consultation, it is different when the matchmakers in question are your own lovely daughters, ages 11 and 13.

Clark’s daughters spot unsuspecting women at every turn. All over Los Angeles they find creative excuses to strike up a conversation. The girls have even admired a woman’s slobbering three-legged dog at the park just to find a reason to introduce Clark to an attractive single Jewish female. One of them will gush, "Wasn’t it sweet of our daddy to take us to the park today?" Then they duck out of the way to let the chemistry take its course.

A couple of years ago, the girls weren’t terribly hip on the idea of daddy dating after the divorce and pursuing mates who weren’t their mom. While living on the beach in Santa Monica, Clark’s daughters conjured up the idea of building a chute in the sand that began at their front door and ended in the ocean: "If we don’t like her, she goes down the chute, daddy."

He tried to reassure them: "You think I’d get remarried to someone who you girls didn’t like?"

Now, because they are fast approaching dating age themselves, the two girls have gained more perspective on the importance of courtship. Clark found himself pulled aside for a father-daughter/daughter talk. "We discussed it last night and we’d be very happy for you to get remarried," one of them told him. "It is time, dad. We want you to date."

The girls’ involvement opened Clark’s eyes to one unpleasant truth: his kids have more insight into women than he does. "She’s too pretty," they telegraphed after meeting one of his dates. It was a diplomatic way of indicating their distaste for a date’s self-absorbed character, which later turned out to be prophetic.

"The older I get," Clark sighed, "the more I realize I don’t know much of anything."

They say children and pets are superior judges of character. So why do we hire matchmakers who walk upright and are old enough to drive? I think we may have it all wrong. Perhaps the best matchmakers are the young family members who know and love us, and perhaps our dogs and cats. My felines see things instantly in the men I date — the same things that take me months or even years to learn for myself.

Why is it kids and critters might be better judges of character? Age. The myth is that we get wiser with age and closer to the truth. But isn’t it also true that as we get older we make things unnecessarily complicated? We lose that clarity of vision and naivete that we had as children. Clark, I asked him, does it get any easier to date at 38 than at 28?

"Moxie," he sighed, "it’s hard until it isn’t."

Clark told me most of the issues remain the same no matter what your age — except for one.

A man like Clark discovers in his potential mates a bias against the kids that are now a part of his life. When surfing for companionship online, it’s far too easy for a woman to plug in her dream criteria for the perfect man and click the "no kids" box. But in not considering a man with kids, she risks filtering out a dream date.

Maybe if she met him through mutual friends, at a party or a synagogue, she’d see beyond those misleading demographics.

If they know you and like you, Clark believes, their notion of the ideal mate would seismically alter. Besides, he points out, shouldn’t you be wary of a man near 40 who has never committed to anyone?

And that’s when my guilt set in. I thought about all the times men contacted me through an online personal ad and I’d instantly rule them out as a result of their profile. You know the score — they either had children or failed some other arbitrary requisite I’d deemed essential.

Clark reminds me to just look for the chemistry and follow your heart.

Good advice, but I’ve found these clichés are — to use a cliché — easier said than done. In a few years Clark will be able to offer this sage advice to his own daughters. And perhaps even return the matchmaking favor.

And while I have no apparent shortage of unattached female friends around to help in the commiseration process — and a few I should probably introduce to Clark — a dad who is back on the prowl is a terrific person with whom to discuss my own mate-finding foibles. Of which there are many.

In fact, when I got burned recently, Clark was one of the select few (all right, he was one of several) who heard my tale of woe. "How did I fall for that?" I brayed. "I should’ve seen it coming."

"Oh, don’t worry. The older you get," Clark reassured me, "the easier it is to fool yourself."

Madison “Moxie” Slade is a Los
Angeles-based freelance writer who keeps a running tab of her thoughts,
experiences and other debacles at

Hollywood Mitzvahs


When one person helps another person, it’s a mitzvah. When 1,500 people from 30 different organizations join together to help out in over 50 volunteering projects, it’s Temple Israel of Hollywood’s (TIOH) Mitzvah Day.

The April 29 event attracted volunteers of all ages from both religious and secular organizations. Other Reform synagogues included Congregation Kol Ami and Beth Shir Shalom, and Conservative Knesseth Israel of Hollywood and Orthodox Congregation Shaarei Tefila joined in. St. Brendan’s Catholic Church, Hollywood United Methodist, St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal, Hope Lutheran, Fifth Christian Science, New Life Four-Square Gospel, Oriental Mission Church and the Orange Grove Friends Meeting were among the diversity of churches that sent volunteers to join in the mitzvah-making. Secular groups helping out ranged from the Daughters of the American Revolution to the Mothers of East L.A.

Together, members of all these groups collected food, books and furniture for distribution and delivered flowers to nursing homes. They joined with the Achilles Club, a group of disabled runners who need assistance to keep running and collected clothes for A Place Called Home.

Event chair David Levinson remembered the temple’s first Mitzvah Day two years ago, a solely TIOH affair. "That was all great, but I thought, let’s do this alongside the rest of the city, let’s make this a community-building day as well."

Also changed from previous years were a few of the groups that volunteered — groups that previously had received help. Both Covenant House, which provides shelter and outreach services for homeless youth, and Beyond Shelter, which assists families in breaking the cycles of poverty and homelessness, sent volunteers to Mitzvah Day projects after last year’s projects helped them. "It’s so much more dignified this way," noted Levinson. "It’s not just rich people helping poor people."

Buoyed by sponsors including Toyota and Strouds, and fed by Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and In ‘N Out Burger, the volunteers worked throughout the day. Many will return often to help before next year’s Mitzvah Day, and that, says Levinson, is the point. "We’d like to see this be a catalyst for activities throughout the year," he said.

+