Nights of Oil

Hanukkah Candle Lighting
Cottonbro at Pexels

The nights are coming marked by light

Little twinkles in the window, darkness to defy

Memorial of an underdogs’ victorious fight

And a temple defiled newly cleansed

A single jug of oil, they say

Just enough for one single day

For eight burned by God’s grace

Until by a supply pure it was replaced


Padre

Manchester Jewish Museum and a Couple of Places to Stay

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The Manchester Jewish Museum is housed in the Victorian era former Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, which is the oldest surviving synagogue building in Manchester. It has beautiful stained glass windows, and elaborate fittings. The bimah is large, and and the upper galleries are equally impressive.

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Jewish Museum

The collections of the museum give a really good portrait of the life of the Jewish immigrants and traders that made Manchester their home.  There are also several Torah scrolls housed here from The Memorial Scrolls Trust.

 

There are exhibits that relate to the Holocaust, and to the resettlement of Jewish refugees from that sad era.

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Anne Frank Rose

This is an interesting and moving place to visit.

I stayed at the Townhouse Hotel for three nights while attending a conference. I found it clean, comfortable and very professional. The staff were welcoming, and helpful. The breakfast servers were particularly so. The room was of a good size and the decoration tasteful, but maybe a bit dated. The bed was very soft, but a bit high. The quality of sleep was very good. The shower had good pressure and plenty of hot water. The laptop safe provided was easy to use. The breakfast was good, with buffet continental items and hot items cooked to order. It was a very pleasant place to stay.

 

Another conference related stay was at the Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre. This is a good business hotel, and very convenient to the conference centre and the city centre. The room was comfortable, and the staff attentive.  The Glasshouse, as far as hotel restaurants go, was otherwise average. The general atmosphere was pleasant, but had that “business” feeling with the tables a bit too close together. The vegetarian selections were rather constrained, and the risotto was overly runny, and for the price not a great value. I was really not impressed with it as a place for an evening meal, so only ate dinner there once. To be fair to the establishment and the Crowne Plaza more generally, the breakfast buffet for the three mornings I was there was abundant and well prepared, though once again the “veggy” offerings were limited.

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Museum Link

 

Poppy Seed Cookies (Inspired by Hamantaschen)

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Wednesday is Purim. It is the celebration of the survival of the Jews and the thwarting of the cruel and ambitious plans of the Persian Minister, Haman. The events are recorded in the book of Esther and every year a festival is held to remember this brave woman and her kinsman Mordechai. During the festival the name of Haman is drowned out when ever uttered by rattles, shouts, and the like.  Also special treats are eaten, some of which are called Hamantaschen, which are symbolic of evil Haman’s triangular hat.

This recipe can be made as proper hamantachen, or as a very nice small tart or biscuit. With apologies to Esther, and to biblical purists, I offer this recipe “for such a time as this.”

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Poppy Treats (some triangular, some round)

Ingredients:

Filling –

  • Poppy Seeds 3 Tbs
  • Honey 3 Tbs
  • Butter 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Salt large pinch
  • Raisins 5 Tbs

Cookie –

  • Eggs
  • Stevia 3 rounded Tbs (or 1/2 cup sugar)
  • Oil 3 Tbs 
  • Vanilla Essence 1 tsp 
  • Plain Flour 1 1/4 cups 
  • Baking Powder 1 tsp 
  • Salt 1/8 tsp 
  • Water 1 to 3 Tsp (if needed)

Method:

In a large bowl whisk together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Using a spoon, stir in flour,  and dry ingredients.  Stir until it begins to form a crumbly dough. Now manually kneed this together adding small splashes of water (as needed) to form a consistent cookie dough.  Set aside. In another bowl, cream together the honey,  butter and salt, then add the seeds and raisins.  For a smoother filling these can be whipped together in a food processor (optional).  Now roll out the dough to about 1/5 to 1/4 inch thick (about .5 cm). Use a drinking glass to cut the dough into circles. Place 1 tsp of the poppy mixture in the centre of each circle, (and if you want a traditional hamantaschen, fold the edges of each cookie to form a triangular shape – but do not totally enclose the filling). Or as a cookie/tart be sure filling is well centred as it will spread while baking.  Place on a lightly greased flat baking sheet, and place in oven at 175 C / 350 F for 15 – 20 minutes. If you have made dough on the thick end it may take a few extra minutes.

Padre

Vilnius Day 2: Holocaust Links

 

Paneriai Memorial (ww2mus)

Paneriai (Ponar) Memorial

On my second day in Vilnius, I did research into the Holocaust, and visited sites associated with it.  First stop was Ponary Wood, the site of the killing of an estimated 100,000 people.  Paneriai is easy to access from the main train station in Vilnius and the rail journey is very brief.  There is then a short walk from the village into to woods and the memorial site.

There are multiple monuments and memorials here marking the deaths of Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, and Soviets.  Many of these are from the Soviet era, and make more of a political statement than a religious one.  This does not mean there is no acknowledgement of the 70,000 + Jews who died here.

Ponary Pit

One of the many grave pits in Ponary

 

There is a small museum on the site, and the rail which winds through the memorial park, takes visitors past the large pits, and the various memorials.  This is a moving place to visit, and the grey monuments, and the darker history, stand in contrast to the peaceful woodland surroundings.

 

After several hours visiting the woods and memorials, I made my way back to Vilnius. On arriving at the station, taxis became my mode of transport. My objectives were the Holocaust Museum (The Green House), and the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.  Along the route I saw the KGB Museum, the same building had also been used as the Gestapo Headquarters.

Vilnius Gestapo (and later KGB) Headquarters

Vilnius Gestapo (and Later KGB) Headquarters

The Jewish Museum has exhibits detailing the rich Jewish culture of “The Jerusalem of the North” as Napoleon dubbed it.  It is a really useful resource in understanding the scope of the events of the Holocaust, and “what was lost.”

Chijune Sugihara Memorial (2)

Chijune Sugihara Memorial

The Green House Museum is a small but information packed venue. It has exhibits, but also really important documents about the ghettoisation, and later killing of the Jewish population of the city.  I read several really interesting documents and articles, one of which was a testimony to the doctors and officials of the ghetto, as it illustrated that the public health provision within the ghetto was superior to that of the city as a whole.

Outside the green House is the memorial to the Japanese diplomat Chijune Sugihara.  This man took it upon himself to issue exit visas to as many Jews as he could, before he was relieved of his post.  Thousands of Lithuanian and Polish Jews managed to flee with his assistance.

Vilnius proved to be a really great place to visit.  I enjoyed the Baltic culture, architecture and food.  I managed to do one of my favourite travel activities and visited beautiful churches and shrines.  And, I was able to continue my research into the Holocaust, and to become even more familiar to the richness of the Jewish culture of the region.

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Jewish Museum link