WORST: Sponge painting

The best (and worst) decorating trends from the last 30 years

In the past three decades, many home decorating trends have come and gone — and come back again. In the spirit of celebrating the Jewish Journal’s 30th anniversary, let’s take a look at a few of the most popular decorating looks from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Some are evergreen and still on trend, while others became dated almost immediately. And don’t worry if you’re clinging to a style from the “worst” category — it’s probably going to come back with a vengeance next year.

What will the next 30 years look like in the world of home design? I’d look into my crystal ball, but mystical home accents are so ’90s.


Best: Art Deco

The decade of glamour saw a revival of Art Deco with a decidedly new wave twist. Triangles, circles and wavy lines in bold colors brought a funky, sexy attitude to furniture and home décor, making homes look like an MTV video.

Worst: Mirrored walls

Mirrors stretching across walls were bad enough, but they were also smoky or had gold crackle.

Best: Preppy

The ’80s brought us Lisa Bernbach’s “The Preppy Handbook,” and furniture and décor also got the preppy treatment. Plaids, ticking stripes and monograms all made us feel a little bit Ivy League.

Worst: Glass blocks

I admit, my bedroom has glass blocks. My house was built in 1989. I sleep in “Miami Vice.” Don’t judge me.

Best: Gray and mauve

I used to love this pastel combination, and I still do. It reminds me of what a room would look like in “Dynasty.”

Worst: Southwest design

Navajo blankets, Native American patterns and animal hides were all the rage. Please, step away from the cow taxidermy skull.

Best: Brass

The metallic finish of choice in the ’80s was brass. And it’s back in 2017, in distressed and antique variations — as if we had the brass for three decades.

Worst: Wallpaper borders

In my first apartment after I graduated from college, I hung a wallpaper border of mallard ducks. All around my bedroom. Pinterest wasn’t there to save me.


Best: Canopy beds

What ever happened to canopy beds? They were so popular two decades ago. And yes, I had one. Hanging sheer panels from the rails of the canopy created a private retreat that made for a very good night’s sleep.

Worst: Television armoires

The armoires that housed our big televisions were not a particularly bad design trend. It’s just that with the introduction of flat screens, the armoires became obsolete.

Best: Blond wood

With the popularity of Scandinavian design and the expansion of IKEA in the 1990s, blond wood was the material of choice for both floors and furniture.

Worst: Sponge painting

Everybody tried faux finishing, and the results were not pretty. Faux finishing was an “old world” look that was applied with sponges, plastic bags, broom bristles or rags. I bought a faux finishing kit at Pottery Barn and sponge painted one wall in my bedroom. It did not look like a wall in Tuscany. It looked like a rash.

Best: White kitchens

All-white kitchens had that European flair, and any color scheme of accessories worked with the stark white.

Worst: Faux greenery

Potted artificial plants were all right if you didn’t have a green thumb, but the bigger design faux pas was the proliferation of painted ivy that invaded archways, walls above cabinets and bookcases, and powder rooms.

Best: Unusually shaped furniture

home-couchThe ’90s brought us dramatic furniture silhouettes like sofas with exaggerated arches in the back and arms. This trend was epitomized by designer Philippe Starck’s quirky pieces that graced hip hotels — and even inspired a line at Target.

Worst: Big window treatments

Puffy valances and oversized swags graced our windows and blocked our views.


Best: Art ledges

home-keep-calmThese shallow shelves introduced a novel way to display artwork, and best of all, allowed people to continually change things out without having to punch new holes in the wall.

Worst: Keep calm and carry onWhen we first saw these British wartime posters popping up in home décor stores, they had a zippy, retro appeal. They have since overstayed their welcome and need to Brexit.

Best: Stainless appliances

True, they are notoriously difficult to keep clean. But the gleaming surfaces do make a kitchen sparkle. (And make you feel like a professional chef, even if you can’t boil water.)

Worst: Vessel sinks

These sinks, which are free standing and sit directly on a countertop instead of within it, may look interesting, but water gets everywhere.

Best: Global accessories

An influx of home accessories and textiles from exotic places such as India, Thailand and Indonesia made us feel like world travelers, even if the goods were really made in China.

Worst: Buddhas

home-pillowsOn the other hand, there are way too many Buddha heads in home decorating.

Best: Reclaimed materials

A concerted effort in conservation has created an interest in reclaimed materials, whether for walls, flooring or furniture. The look is rustic and industrial, yet modern.

Worst: Industrial furniture

New furniture that’s made to look like it’s been salvaged from a run-down factory, however, just screams hipster pretension.

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself  projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.

What’s in for weddings in 2017: A look at the trends coming down the aisle

Certain things never go out of style when it comes to weddings: the ring exchange, the Champagne toast, the first dance. But as in fashion, there are trends  that come and go.

We asked a dozen Los Angeles-based wedding planners and coordinators to look into their crystal balls and tell us what will be hot in 2017, from dress design to dessert. Here are some of their forecasts:


Wedding gowns will be a little more streamlined. That said, bows are back in gowns with a big, beautiful bow right on the derriere. Plunging necklines and backs are in. And some brides are departing from traditional white gowns and opting for blush colors or blues. 

Jackie Dumouchel Combs, Lotus & Lily


For more upscale invitations, debossing stands out — for example, debossed roses on white or cream cardstock. The effect is akin to sculpted paper. Other au courant choices: printed or etched Lucite (typically square or rectangular panels of clear or frosted Lucite) and, in keeping with the vogue for all things metallic, mirrored silver or gold acrylic invitations. 

Paula Gild Stern, Gilded Events

Wedding Party

Many weddings no longer include bridesmaids or groomsmen. When they do, strict rules no longer are enforced. Women are making their best guy friend their “bridesman.” Grooms are having their sister be their  “best woman.”

 — Lauryl Lane, Lauryl Lane Botanicals


Flower walls will continue to be in demand. Those are generally 8-by-10-foot hangings composed of hundreds of fresh blooms — though paper flowers are a modern alternative. They make a great backdrop for photos, especially for social media posts. Sometimes a sofa will be set in front of a flower wall so eight or 10 people can be in a shot with a beautiful background.   

— Jonathan Reeves, International Event Co.

People are going back to a woodsy feeling. Think wildflowers and moss, and birch-wrapped containers or natural wood or cork containers. Some couples are opting not to use cut flowers at all, preferring greener elements. Alternatives include succulents or fresh herbs (avoiding those with strong scents). The effect can still be romantic and interesting, especially if you add votive candles.

 — Randy Fuhrman, Randy Fuhrman Events


Some color schemes are moving darker. Think Dutch masters-inspired palettes like deep emerald and burgundy, or even black linens on tables. Also, mixed metals are happening right now — typically gold, but also silver, copper, rose gold and pewter for floral vessels, chargers, flatware, candle holders and place settings. This is best introduced in little touches. Otherwise, it can feel ostentatious. 

— Lauryl Lane

Gone are the days of a roomful of identical round tables. Instead, people are choosing a variety of table shapes, chairs and benches for a more interesting look.  Some couples are even using bar-height pub tables with stools. Those appeal to a younger generation and represent a move away from formality. 

— Sara Holland and Jenny Goodman, At Your Door Events

Personalization is in. A monogram of the bride and groom’s names in a beautiful font on the invitation will also be picked up throughout the party, on cocktail napkins and menus, for example, or an appliqué on the dance floor.  

— Jonathan Reeves


People want to express their love for their guests through food, so they are seeking out caterers who can deliver delicious “farm-to-table” cuisine. Often they are having it served family-style, which brings together people and encourages conversation. Hotels and ballrooms tend not to do family-style, but people are seeking out alternative places to get married, such as private homes, bars, even old barns. Then you can easily break away from the plated dinner. 

— Ashley Bryan, Mein Schatz Events


Drone video and photography will be in demand, especially for outdoor weddings, whether beachside, mountaintop or resort. Couples want to capture the drama of the setting. They want those swooping aerial shots incorporated into their wedding video. 

— Katherine Dimas, Promise Events

Clever hashtags are the rage to share photos on social media. Often, they are a play on the couple’s names with some other matrimonial word. The hashtag also can be printed on the wedding program and featured on custom signage, sometimes done by hand by a calligrapher.  

— Lauryl Lane 

Because couples want to spend more time with their guests, many are scheduling “first-look pictures” in advance of the ceremony. So instead of the couple seeing each other for the first time when walking down the aisle, they will do a session with the photographer before the guests arrive. 

— Sara Holland and Jenny Goodman


Different is in. People want to push boundaries and integrate their personalities and pasts into the celebration. One couple who loved musicals, for example, turned their vows into a musical number. Another couple very involved in their tango community is planning an Argentine tango-themed celebration. 

— Amy Greenberg, Amy Greenberg Events


Dessert stations, in addition to the wedding cake, are more appealing than plated desserts. They can offer interactive treats like chocolate bark or peanut brittle broken with a hammer by a server in front of the guests. Persian tea stations with fresh and dried fruits, nuts and pastries are also big. 

Serena Apfel, Let’s Party Events by Serena Apfel

A Solution to Israel’s Demographic Peril

When Israeli Arabs protest that talk of the “demographic threat” is racist, can Israeli Jews blame them? If non-Jewish professors and politicians anywhere on earth spoke of a Jewish demographic threat to their countries, what would Jews call it? What, for that matter, would decent non-Jews call it?

Raising the specter of the Arab demographic threat to Israel is, in fact, racist — if you believe that Zionism is racism, that a Jewish state is a racist state.

I don’t believe that (even while I know there is no shortage of Jews whose Zionism doesn’t amount to anything more than racism). Although the Jewish state by definition “belongs” to the Jews more than it does to its non-Jewish citizens, I don’t consider it a force for racism, but the opposite: Whatever racism exists in Israel, the Jewish state came into being as an answer to racism of a rather larger magnitude — the habit of anti-Semitic oppression.

And however unjust a Jewish state is to its Arab citizens, if Israel stops being a Jewish state it will start being an Arab state, and I think the injustice to the Jews that would result from that is worse than anything Israeli Arabs have to endure.

So I don’t think it’s racist or anti-democratic or unfair to want a Zionist future for this country. And while Zionists are known to argue over what makes a Jewish state, I’d say the absolute minimum, the point every Zionist can agree on, is that it must have a solid Jewish majority.

How much is solid? Eighty percent, the current figure (including the Russian immigrants who think of themselves as Jewish, even if the religion does not), is solid. But I’d say that once the figure drops below 75 percent, which leading demographers predict will happen in about 20 years, the viability of a Jewish state with an Arab minority in the Middle East starts coming into question. And the way things are going demographically, it’s downhill from there.

Obviously, Israeli Arabs, and not just them, take all this in as racism. But as it turns out, the project to solidify Israel’s Jewish majority serves not only the purpose of preserving the Jewish state, but also — despite all the Jewish racists — of protecting the democratic rights of Arab citizens.

There’s no way to avoid it — the more Israeli Jews feel their majority threatened, the more hostile, fearful and punitive they will become toward Israeli Arabs. It can already be felt: in the denial of citizenship to Palestinians marrying Israeli Arabs; in Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s boast that his child welfare cuts brought down the Israeli Arab birthrate; in the growing Jewish majority telling opinion polls that the government should “encourage” Israeli Arabs to emigrate.

None of this would be happening, I don’t think, if the 80 percent Jewish majority were secure; if Israel weren’t inching steadily toward a demographically binational state; if its foundation — its citzenry — weren’t headed for a “tipping point.”

Demography is a dirty business. I don’t like dealing with it. I don’t like knowing that if an Arab friend has a baby, I’m of course happy for him personally, but in the abstract, as a Zionist, as an Israeli thinking about the national interest, I have to say that such a birth is bad news.

This is a miserable state of affairs. And it wouldn’t be if demographic trends showed Israel’s Jewish majority holding at 80 percent, or even a little less, for generations to come. In the name of the national interest, Zionists could celebrate the births of all the Israeli Arab babies just as much as the births of all the Jewish ones. (More than a few Zionists, I’m sure, would still refrain.)

So for the sake of Israel’s Jewish character and democracy, the demographic threat has to be overcome. There have been all sorts of suggestions, some of which are truly malevolent, such as Netanyahu’s stated motive in cutting child welfare, and the idea of encouraging Arab citizens to leave the country — to coerce them into leaving, to bring about “voluntary transfer,” to make Israeli Arabs’ lives so daunting that they will “choose” emigration.

And if these are the only ways to preserve Israel as a Jewish state, then let’s leave it for the Arabs and the Jewish racists and help the decent Jews find a better place to live.

Then there’s the idea of cutting out a heavily Arab section of the Galilee and joining it to a Palestinian state in the West Bank, maybe in exchange for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank settlement blocs.

There are a couple of drawbacks here: One, who wants to give up the heart of the Galilee? Two, the Arab citizens in the Galilee don’t want to become part of Palestine, so you can’t force them. (Incidentally, you can force Jewish citizens out of Gush Katif, because Gaza, unlike the Galilee, doesn’t belong to sovereign Israel.)

A couple of other notions to bolster the Jewish majority involve easing the conversion process for interested gentiles, and pushing aliyah with more enthusiasm and marketing skill among the 5 million to 6 million American Jews. There’s nothing objectionable about either of these ideas, I just don’t think they’re mass-scale solutions. I don’t think they’re going to get enough takers to make a dent in the demographic threat.

So here’s my idea: Secular Israeli Jews have to start making more babies, say one more per family. If the religious also want to have more babies, that’s, of course, just as good, but I mention the secular, because they only have an average of about two children per family, while the religious have more, often many more.

In the pioneering era, when there weren’t that many Jews here, Jewish fertility was an overt Zionist value. Among the secular, it’s long forgotten, and I think it’s time to remember it again.

The biological clock is ticking for the Jewish state — and for its democracy.

Larry Derfner is the Tel Aviv correspondent for The Jewish Journal.


Trendy Is New Trend in Wedding Cakes

A round, three-tiered white cake topped with white buttercream frosting is so yesterday. This year’s big wedding trend is the trendy wedding cake.

Modern brides are tossing out tradition along with their bouquets and matching their cake to their character. They’re designing desserts in every color, shape, texture and size.

"It’s about personalizing the wedding," said creative event planner Yifat Oren of Yifat Oren and Associates. "Brides are reading wedding magazines and watching celebrity weddings on TV."

"It inspires them to be creative with their own wedding and wedding cake," said L.A.-based Oren, who has worked with couples to create cakes out of their favorite desserts, such as apple tort and key lime pie, and to match their cake to their wedding atmosphere.

Where flowers were at one time the only splash of color on an all-white wedding cake, entire cakes are now covered in bright hues of frosting and fondant. Apple red, sky blue, sun yellow — wedding cakes are all about color this season. Couples coordinate the color of their cake with their bridesmaid colors, bouquet colors, college colors, favorite colors, even their theme.

"We just did a bright fuchsia cake for a Hawaiian-themed wedding," said Rachel Louw, owner, baker and decorator at Unusual Cakes in Huntington Beach. "People are often afraid to experiment with color, but they’re so happy when they do."

Brides and grooms have also moved away from the circular cake. Ovals, squares, hearts and hexagons are in vogue. These cakes are then stacked traditionally, set askew or manipulated to look like wrapped wedding presents, city skylines, even sand castles.

"A wedding happens once in a lifetime, and couples want to make the day their own," Louw said. "By designing their own cake, the couple stamps their personality onto their wedding dessert."

Couples are also forgoing one large wedding cake for smaller delicacies. The table cake, which serves 10-12 guests, is a hot reception trend.

Couples can place identical cakes at every table, but more often, each table’s cake is a variation on a theme or color. Table cakes can double as centerpieces during dinner (avoiding high florist costs) and allow couples who couldn’t decide between several cakes and frosting flavors to order them all.

Another popular alternative is the individual dessert. Couples are serving each guest their own petit fours, tiny two-tiered wedding cakes or miniature sculpted cakes. Single-serving cakes in the shape of potted flowers have sprung up at recent Southland weddings.

"It’s another distinctive touch that reflects the couple’s taste and style," Louw said.

Though serving individual cakes can be a more expensive option, it circumvents the high cake-cutting fee many hotels and halls charge.

Amanda and Dan Keston of Westwood replaced their wedding cake with a cupcake tree. Four flavors of cupcakes were stacked on pillared platters and topped with a tier of fondant flowers.

"When it came to ordering a cake, Dan said traditional, because he knows the fondant flowers are my favorite, and I said cupcakes, because I know those are Dan’s favorite," Keston said. "So we did both, and our cake was really personal and really us."

The Kestons also served platters of their other favorite — chocolate-dipped fruit — at every table.

"We wanted to create an experience that was unique and filled with things we enjoy," said Keston, who was married at her in-laws’ Santa Barbara house on May 22.

Designer cakes can be expensive. For couples on a budget, customized cake toppers, pillars and platters are a cost-effective way to personalize a conventional wedding cake. Why top the cake with an off-the-shelf plastic bride and groom? Cake accessories can add color, elegant whimsy and a touch of personal style to an otherwise standard cake.

"Custom cakes can cost $2,000 or $3,000. You can fake it by buying a $500 or $600 cake and adding designer cake accessories." said Tammy Massman-Johnson of L.A.’s Very Different Cakes and Cake Excessories.

"Toppers can take an ordinary cake and make it special," said Massman-Johnson, who creates Swarovski crystal letters, hearts, stars, butterflies and lovebird-cage toppers in any combination of 28 colors. She and her husband, Luke, also fashion cake platters with beaded fringe, beaded glass pillars and crystal flower sticks that can be added anywhere on the cake.

Cake accessories travel well to destination weddings, can be shipped out of state and, after the wedding, can be saved as keepsake art and displayed in the couple’s home.

Whether couples play with color, shape or detailed touches, they will be happiest with their wedding dessert if it reflects their personal flair and finesse.

"Cupcakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries and the giant bowls of York patties and $100,000 bars we had at the valet, those are all things we love," Keston said. "They helped turn our wedding into our special event."

Stuff Your Way Through the Week

In biblical times, long stalks of barley and lush fields of green garlic signaled that Passover was near. The holiday’s food was a reflection of the harvest.

In today’s industrialized society, where our foods are imported from around the world, seasons and their unique foods often have become meaningless.

Now Phyllis and Miriam Glazer’s new cookbook, "The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking," takes us back in time to celebrate the foods of ancestral Israel, where our holidays originated.

"We discovered that [since] the roots of the festivals were in nature, then the food had to reflect that," Phyllis said.

Their cookbook features one of the latest trends in cooking, informally known as "seasonal cooking," where chefs scour local markets and use the produce nature intended for their daily specials.

The festival of Passover, the first month of the Jewish lunar New Year, opens the book with delectable treats highlighting the earth’s renewal from the dormant winter months. Jews used the resources that were available to them. As they found themselves dispersed around the world, they adopted new symbols for the holidays. The recipes reflect the culinary traditions of both worlds. The European invention of gefilte fish and the British tradition of lemon curd on Pesach were not, of course, fare in ancient times, yet they pop up in many Jewish homes.

More than just recipes, the book is laden with the historical and religious origins of the symbols marking Passover. Miriam, a professor of literature at the University of Judaism and a rabbinical student at the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies, was responsible for adding the commentary to the book. She reveals the origins of the hagaddah, the seder plate, matzah and kitniot (the Sephardic tradition of eating legumes). The book, Miriam said, "is about rediscovering our heritage and the richness of it, and how our cuisine has echoed the miracle of our survival all over the world."

The cookbook gave the Glazers a chance to rediscover their sisterly bond, since Miriam moved away from their home in New York when Phyllis was a young girl.

"The love for healthy food and cooking has been in our family for generations, and it has been a precious opportunity to reconnect with each other, with our mom and, in absentia, with our grandmother in the process of doing this," Miriam said.

Although the process was rewarding, the sisters faced challenges. Phyllis, a well known food writer in Israel, and Miriam, a published scholar, had to find a way to weld their different writing styles.

"We screamed at each other over the phone," Phyllis said.

The cookbook highlights many recipes for all of the Jewish holidays, and recognizes a time to bond with family over food. Food is a major component of Passover — ridding the house of chametz, preparing the kitchen, assembling the seder plate and, of course, making the meal. The preparations for Passover are often what makes the holiday memorable. Everyone wants to contribute, even the little kids, and moms are always searching for ways to engage them, while keeping them away from the hot stove.

Stuffing food is a safe way to involve the kids in the cooking tradition. Walnut-and-Herb-Stuffed Eggplant, Iraqi Chicken-Stuffed Patties and Marzipan-Stuffed Dates are some of the many delicious recipes where kids can lend a helping hand. Moshe b’Tayva (Moses in the Basket), is a kitschy spin on marzipan-stuffed dates traditionally served at a Memunah, the celebration immediately following Pesach for North African Jews. Kids can roll out body parts for baby Moses and stuff them in the large Medjool dates — symbolic of the basket in which he floated.

When children grow up, they will remember the seder, but more so they will reminisce about the foods. The Glazers hoped to reclaim our old and new traditions through food, and give those who have no culinary history an opportunity to tap into the rich flavors of Jewish festival cuisine.

"I realized that if we do not pass on things with meaning to our children then we will have been responsible for the demise of those things," Phyllis said. "We can pass on food with meaning."

Nanuchka’s Fabulous Walnut-and-Herb-Stuffed Eggplant

Contributed by Phyllis’ best friend, Natasha Krantz, this Georgian (former Soviet Union) recipe of rich walnuts herbs and spices is perfect for an appetizer. Make extra of this flavorful filling and spread it over matzah as a snack.

3 3/4 pounds eggplant (two or three medium size)

Coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups walnut halves (about 1 pound)

2 medium garlic cloves, pressed (1 tablespoon)

1/2 teaspoon white or red wine vinegar

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1 small dried hot pepper or cayenne to taste

1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro

1/3 cup packed chopped fresh Italian parsley

Cut the stem end off the eggplant and slice the eggplant lengthwise into 3/8-inch slices. Sprinkle both sides with a little coarse salt and pepper and rub in. Let stand for 10 minutes, rinse off and pat dry.

Heat half the oil in a skillet and sauté half the eggplant slices on both sides until golden brown. Remove and place between two sheets of paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat with the rest of the oil and eggplant.

In a food processor, grind the walnuts to a powder. Add the remaining ingredients, blending until the paste forms a ball. Lay the eggplant slices on a work surface and place two or more tablespoons of filling (depending on type of eggplant) at the base. Carefully roll from the bottom into a compact roll. Serve on a serving platter decorated with fresh greens if desired.

Makes about 20-30 pieces.


Cabbage Walnut Salad: Cook 1/2 medium cabbage in boiling water until very tender, and squeeze out excess moisture by hand. Chop coarsely by hand together with a few tablespoons of the walnut mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Eggplant Walnut Salad: Roast one to two small eggplants. Chop by hand, blending in a few tablespoons of the walnut mixture. Use the filling to stuff fresh mushrooms, celery ribs and cherry tomatoes.

Iraqi Chicken-Stuffed Patties

Moshe Basson, a famous chef in Israel shared this Iraqi Passover treat. Biting into crispy mashed potatoes filled with sweet raisins, toasted pine nuts and chicken flavored in aromatic spices made all the stuffing preparation worth it.

1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes (about four to five medium), cooked, peeled, mashed and chilled

1/4 cup matzah meal plus extra meal for dipping 3 eggs, beaten


Freshly ground black pepper

Olive or vegetable oil, for frying


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup finely chopped red onion

2 butterflied chicken breasts, deboned, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

1/3 teaspoon each black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom

Combine the mashed potatoes, matzah meal and eggs in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.

For the stuffing: Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet and cook the onion until golden. Add the chicken, raisins and pine nuts, if using, and stir in the spices. When the chicken turns opaque, remove from the heat. Let cool slightly, then cover and chill.

Oil hands and make a ball of potato mixture the size of a large egg. Flatten it out between your palms and make an indentation for the filling. Put a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center, and fold the edges over it. Close and flatten out to make sure that there are no holes with stuffing peeking through.

Dip both sides in matzah meal and deep-fry as the Iraqis do, or fry in a generous amount of hot oil until golden. Turn carefully, and fry the other side. Place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve hot.

Makes about 25.

Moshe b’Tayva (Moses in the Basket) — Dates Stuffed with Homemade Marzipan

Crunchy pistachios garnish these marzipan-made Moses bundled in a date basket. Encourage your kids to get creative, suggests the Glazers and make his/her own Moshe with personality.

14 to 16 large Medjool dates


Slightly Rounded 1/2 cup slivered or whole blanched almonds, ground

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon "kosher for Passover" vanilla extract

A few drops rose water or almond extract 1 to 2 teaspoons hot water. Garnish 1/4 cup crushed, toasted, unsalted pistachio nuts, whole cloves as needed, coriander seeds or mustard seeds (for the eyes).

Makes 14-16.

American Jewry By Numbers

The National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) 2000-01, dubbed “Strength, Challenge and Diversity,” offers key findings on demographics, intermarriage, Jewish “connections” — that is, communal behavioral trends — and such “special” topics as the elderly, immigration and poverty.

Among the study’s key findings:


  • There are 5.2 million Jews in the United States, down from 5.5 million counted in the 1990 NJPS. Those Jews live in 2.9 million homes, with a total of 6.7 million people. So in Jewish households, two out of every nine people are not Jewish.
  • Jews are older, on average, than the American population as a whole. The median age for Jews is 42, compared to age 35 for Americans generally. So while 14 percent of Americans are age 9 or younger, only 10 percent of Jews are. And 23 percent of Jews are over age 60, compared to 16 percent of Americans as a whole.
  • A majority of Jews — 57 percent — are married, but they tend to marry later in life than other Americans. For instance, while 59 percent of American men in the 25-34 age bracket are married, only 48 percent of Jewish men are. Among women in that age bracket, 64 percent of Jews are married, compared to 70 percent of Americans generally.
  • Jewish women’s fertility rates are lower than most Americans. Ninety percent of Jewish women ages 18-24 and 70 percent of those 25-29 do not have children, compared to 70 percent and 44 percent of U.S. women in those age groups. Jewish women had 1.86 children on average overall, versus 1.93 children by all U.S. women.
  • Forty-three percent of Jews live in the Northeast, 23 percent in the South, 22 percent in the West and 13 percent in the Midwest. But while 77 percent of Jews born in the West still live there, only 61 percent of Jews born in the Northeast and just half of those born in the Midwest do, signaling a continued migration westward.
  • That migration was offset by immigration to the Northeast, where nearly 60 percent of Jews from the former Soviet Union live.
  • Jews are more affluent than Americans generally. More than one-third of Jewish households report an annual income of $75,000 or higher, compared to just 18 percent of U.S. households. The median Jewish household income is $54,000, compared to $42,000 for Americans generally.
  • Only 61 percent of all Jews are currently working, compared to 65 percent of all Americans, reflecting the higher median age of Jews.


  • Among all married Jews today, 31 percent are married to non-Jews. The intermarriage rate, which had been rising since 1970s, leveled off in the late 1980s and early 1990s to about 43 percent. Since then, it has climbed again slightly, with 47 percent of Jews who wed since 1996 choosing non-Jewish spouses.
  • Intermarriage runs highest among the young, with 41 percent of Jews under 35 who marry choosing non-Jewish spouses. By comparison, only 20 percent of married Jews over 55 have non-Jewish spouses.
  • The intermarriage rate is higher among men than women — 33 percent, compared to 29 percent.
  • The greater one’s Jewish education, the less likely one is to intermarry. Forty-three percent of those who lacked any Jewish education intermarried, compared to 29 percent among those who had one day per week of Jewish education. The rate dropped to 23 percent for those who had part-time Jewish education, and to 7 percent among those who attended Jewish day school or yeshiva.
  • Mirroring some earlier studies, NJPS also showed that intermarriage breeds intermarriage, with the children of intermarried couples three times more likely to intermarry. Intermarriage was 22 percent among those with two Jewish parents, versus 74 percent of those with just one Jewish parent.
  • Children of intermarried couples raised in a Jewish household were less likely to intermarry, though a majority still did. Nearly 60 percent of children raised Jewish by an interfaith couple intermarried, compared to 86 percent who were not raised as Jews. But only 33 percent of intermarried households raise their children as Jews, compared to 96 percent of homes with two Jewish parents.
  • Those who intermarry may experience alienation from the Jewish community. Just 24 percent of the intermarried say they have close Jewish friends, compared to 76 percent of those in all-Jewish marriages.

Jewish Connectivity

  • Among all Jews, 52 percent have close Jewish friends, 77 percent attend or hold Passover seders, 72 percent light Chanukah candles, 35 percent have visited Israel, 63 percent are “emotionally attached” to the Jewish State and 41 percent have contributed to a Jewish cause outside of the federation system.
  • NJPS further identified 4.3 million Jews, or 80 percent of the total Jewish population, as more “Jewishly connected” than others. These Jews replied to a more detailed NJPS survey, by first saying they either had at least one Jewish parent; were raised as Jews; considered themselves Jewish culturally, ethnically or nationalistically; or practiced no other religion. Those who practiced a non-monotheistic religion, such as Zen Buddhism, but still considered themselves Jews and practiced some “residual” Jewish activity were also included, said Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, the NJPS research director.

Of the remaining Jews in the overall population:

  • 800,000 met all those criteria but did not consider themselves to be Jews. The previous 1990 survey cast a wider net and counted these people as Jews in measuring rates such as intermarriage and other Jewish connections.
  • Another 100,000 Jews were estimated to exist, living largely in senior-citizen homes, prisons or as part of the U.S. military — the same number used in the 1990 study.

Of the more Jewishly active 4.3 million:

  • Forty-six percent said they belong to a synagogue, while 27 percent said they attend a Jewish religious service at least once per month.
  • Of those who said they were synagogue members, 39 percent identified as Reform Jews, 33 percent as Conservative, 21 percent as Orthodox, 3 percent as Reconstructionist and 4 percent as “other,” such as Sephardic.
  • Fifty-nine percent said they fast on Yom Kippur — meaning four in 10 Jews do not.
  • Twenty-eight percent said they light Shabbat candles, while 21 percent said they keep kosher at home.
  • Twenty-one percent said they belong to a Jewish community center, while 28 percent said they belong to another Jewish organization.
  • A fifth of all Jews said they have visited Israel two or more times, and 45 percent said they have Israeli relatives or friends.
  • Fifty-two percent said being Jewish is very important.
  • Thirty percent of these Jews said they contributed to a Jewish federation.
  • Sixty-five percent said they read a Jewish newspaper or magazine; 55 percent read books on Jewish topics; 45 percent listen to Jewish tapes, compact disks or records; and 39 percent use the Internet for Jewish purposes.
  • Nearly one-quarter said they attend Jewish education classes.


Secular and Jewish education plays a key role among American Jews.

  • Jews are highly educated compared to the population generally, with 55 percent having earned a college degree, compared to 29 percent of all Americans, and 25 percent of Jews holding graduate degrees, compared to 6 percent of the general population.
  • Seventy-three percent of the more “connected” Jews received some kind of formal Jewish education growing up, including 79 percent of those between age 6 and 17 at the time of the survey.
  • Twelve percent of the more “connected” subset attended a Jewish day school or yeshiva growing up, 25 percent had one day per week of Jewish education and 24 percent went to a Jewish school part time. In fact, NJPS found a dramatic rise in Jewish day school and yeshiva education, with 29 percent of those between the ages of 6 and 17 — and 23 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds — saying they have attended day school or yeshiva. By comparison, only 12 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds, and 10 percent of older Jews, say they had a day school education.
  • As for more informal Jewish schooling, 23 percent of children ages 3 to 17 attended a Jewish day camp in the year before the survey was taken, between August 2000 and 2001; 19 percent of those aged 8 to 17 went to a Jewish sleepover camp in the previous year; and 46 percent of those aged 12 to 17 participated in Jewish activities or organized youth groups in that period.
  • Among current college and graduate students, 41 percent reported taking a Jewish studies course, while only 11 percent of those 55 and older did so; 28 percent of those between 35 and 54 attended such courses; and 37 percent of those under age 35 took a college-level Jewish studies class.

The Elderly, the Poor and Immigrants

  • Nearly one-fifth of the total Jewish population is considered elderly (65 and older), with 9 percent age 75 or older. Fifty-four percent of the elderly are women.
  • One third of elderly Jews live alone, with 67 percent being widows or widowers. More than one-third report their health is poor or fair, three times the rate of those under 65.

Because the 1990 NJPS did not track poverty levels, the study could not spot any trends. It did, however, find that:

  • Nine percent of the Jewish elderly live in households below the federally defined poverty line; 18 percent of the elderly live in households with incomes of less than $15,000; and 43 percent of the elderly claim total assets of $250,000 or more.
  • Nearly 8 percent of all American Jews immigrated to the United States since 1980, amounting to 335,000 people. Of these, 227,000 — or slightly more than two-thirds — came from the former Soviet Union. The remaining immigrants came from 30 other countries, with those from Canada, Iran and Israel accounting for more than half of those 109,000.
  • Ninety-one percent of immigrants from the FSU were married to other Jews.

The study will be available at “>www.jewishdatabank.com.