Saturday, December 31, 2016

Exploring the Shuk | Chanukah Day Five

On the fifth day of Chanukah, I explored the shuk, the local marketplace-- minutes from my house! It was crowded and lively, filled to the brim with the usual fresh fruit, spices, flowers and produce.


ביום החמישי של חנוכה, בקרתי בשוק מחנה יהודה-- מרחק שתי דקות מהבית שלי! היה עמוס וחי, מלא בפירות טריים, תבלינים, פרחים ודגים.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Family Party and Old City Walk | Chanukah Days 3 and 4

On the third day of Chanukah, I made quick visit to the very lively shuk and then was joined at home by my family long distance and local family join for a Chanukah party.

The next day, we went on a beautiful walk in the Old City. I am so grateful to live in such a wonderful place! There are lovely courtyards sandwiched between tight alleyways, and nature springs up between the cracks everywhere.

My YouTube channel is growing from all the Chanukah content. Thanks to everyone who has subscribed!


ביום השלישי של חנוכה, הלכתי לשוק ואז המשפחה שלי הגיעה אליי הביתה למסיבת חנוכה.

יום למחרת, טיילנו בעיר העתיקה. זה נפלא לגור במקום שכזה. יש חצרות יפות דחוקות בין סמטאות צרות, והטבע צומח בכל סדק.

הערוץ שלי ביוטיוב גדל עקב הרבה תוכן חגיגי. תודה לכל מי שנרשם!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Doughnuts, Sufganiot or Sfenj? | Chanukah Day 2

On the second day of Chanukah, I made and unholy amount of sfenj-- a special type of North African doughnut!

In case you are thinking...deep fried food...American Heart Association... you should just know that Maimonides' father writes that preparing sfenj on Chanukah is an ancient custom that should be taken seriously!* Plus, Chanukah only comes once a year.

Sfenj is named for its light, airy, sponge-like texture. Regular doughnuts attempt to make up for what they lack in their core identity with all manners of frivolous ornamentation-- both inside and out. Sfenj is fundamentally sound, and is therefore completed by a simple dusting of sugar.

I am a solid, unbiased source when it comes to judging Chanukah doughnut traditions. I grew up with Ashkenazi Lithuanian traditions, and only started practicing Sephardic customs after I got married. It is thus with great gravity that I declare Sfenj the all around winner.

* Rabbi Maimon ben Yosef, Shut Yavatz, Part A, section b


ביום השני של חנוכה, הכנתי כמות מטורפת של ספינג׳, סוג מיוחד של סופגניה מצפון אפריקה!

אם אתם תוהים לעצמכם... אוכל בטיגון עמוק...AMHA... שתדעו שאבא של הרמב״ם כותב שאכילת ספינג׳ בחנוכה זה מנהג חשוב כדאי לקחת ברצינות!* ובכלל, חנוכה זה פעם בשנה.

ספינג׳ נקרא על שם הטקסטורה הקלילה והאורירית שלו (כמו ספוג). סופגניות רגילות מנסות לפצות על החולשה שלהן עם כל מיני קישוטים מיותרים מבפנים ומבחוץ. ספינג׳ הוא טוב באופן יסודי ולכן צריך רק שכבה פשוטה של סוכר להשלים אותו.

אני חסרת הטיות בנושא סוגי הסופגניות. גדלתי עם מנהגים ליטאים, ורק התחלתי לעשות מנהגים ספרדיים אחרי שהתחתנתי. לכן, לאחר מחשבה יסודית אני מכריזה שספינג׳ מנצח.

*הרב מימון בן יוסף, שו״ת יעבץ, חלק א, סימן ב


Monday, December 26, 2016

A Jerusalem Chanukah | Vlog Day 1

In my old age (24), I find I get infected with Chanukah spirit really easily!

On the first night of Chanukah, I went to the Old City in Jerusalem and prayed at the Kotel (Western Wall) with my friends. We also explored the archeological excavations in the area, including ruins from the Second Temple period.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, and of special importance on Chanukah. We share the memory of the miracle that occurred when the Jews regained control of their Temple and their religious freedom by lighting the menorah in the window for all to see.

For many years, the Kotel was the closest that Jews were allowed to get to the Temple Mount, making it a very special place to visit on the holiday. Many people from all over the world came to celebrate there. Our ability to practice and pray publicly cannot be taken for granted. 

I will be vlogging every day for the next seven days of Chanukah! Subscribe to see tomorrow's video.
Happy Chanukah!


בזמן האחרון, אני נכנסת לאווירה החגיגית של חנוכה ממש בקלות!
בלילה הראשון של חנוכה, הלכתי לעיר העתיקה בירושלים והתפללתי בכותל עם החברות שלי. גם ביקרנו באיזור של השרידים שיש שם מתקופת בית שני.
הר הבית הוא המקום הכי קדוש ליהודים, ויש לו חשיבות מיוחדת בחנוכה. כשאנחנו מדליקים את החנוכיה בחלון, אנחנו משתפים את הזיכרון של הנס שקרה כשהיהודים זכו בשליטה מחודשת בבית המקדש השני, וזכו שוב לעשות מצוות בפרהסיה.

במשך הרבה דורות, הכותל היה המקום הכי קרוב להר הבית שהיהודים יכלו להגיע, ולכן זה מקום מיוחד לבקר בו בחנוכה. הרבה אנשים מכל העולם מגיעים לחגוג שם. את היכולת שלנו לקיים מצוות ולהתפלל בפרהסיה אסור לקחת בחשבון.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Not Your Grandmother’s Chanukah Story

In honor of the start of Chanukah tomorrow night, I have unearthed a little piece that I wrote for a social movements class way back when. It is long, but hey, so is Chanukah! 
If you like history then this is for you. If you would prefer a short version, wait for the first Chanukah vlog coming on Monday!

Chanukah is known as the “Festival of Lights.” The particularly cosmopolitan American may even associate the holiday more specifically with the lighting of the chanukia, an eight-branched candelabra that mimics the structure of the solid gold menorah of the ancient Jewish Temple. What most people do not know is that the chanukia is a symbol of a long-ago social movement for religious freedom—the Hasmonean Revolt.

The start of this struggle with Hellenization emerged from the Seleucid conquest of the Land of Israel under Antiochus III in 198 B.C.E.[1] Initially, Jews retained the right to practice their religious tradition, and conflict was contained to disputes between the Jewish Hellenists, or Misyavnim, and the Chasidim—individuals intent on preserving the tradition.[2] However, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes took the throne, he intervened in favor of the Misyavnim, and created a series of decrees forbidding observance of Judaism, and enforcing them with a death penalty.[3] The severity of this authoritarianism left the proponents of Judaism no choice but to respond with violence. Further, the protestors understood from Antiouchus IV’s involvement that success in ideological battle was now tied to success in establishing political autonomy.

While Seleucid rulers did not usually impose Hellenism[4], there are a number of reasons suggested for Antiochus IV’s involvement in the Land of Israel’s domestic strife. According to the first century B.C.E. historian Diodorus Siculus, Antiochus was subject to influence from various friends who advised that he “wipe out completely the race of the Jews” as a punishment for their resistance to outside cultural influences.[5] However Bringman, a German historian, refutes this position, rather emphasizing Antiochus IV’s ambition and consequent political motivations. Due to many costly battles fought elsewhere in the empire, Antiochus IV had a vested interest in obtaining access to the wealth of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. [6] Thus, he needed to develop a more powerful presence in the Land of Israel, to appoint the High Priest of the Temple who would provide him with access to the storage of the funds collected on behalf of the orphaned and the widowed in fulfillment of the Jewish Commandments. Antiochus sold the priesthood to an obliging Misyaven, Jason.[7]

Never the less, it is likely that Antiochus IV’s friends did influence the severity with which punishment was executed. The persecutions enacted in the winter of 167/166 B.C.E. attacked customs specifically unique to Jewish Tradition. Sabbath observance, circumcision and kosher were all punishable by death. In a singular case of Seleucidian cultural intrusion, royal officials enforced the regulations with a vengeance, burning Torah scrolls, and executing those who hid them.[8] Still many Chasidim resisted, often at the cost of their life. The famous story of Chana, who watch each of her seven sons murdered after they refused, one by one, to engage in paganism became a rallying point later in the unification of forces.[9]

The first mass revolt surfaced in response to Antiochus IV’s placement of idols, and appropriation of the orphans’ fund,[10] in the Temple. To the Jewish people, this was symbolic of the complete inundation of Seleucid influence, not only culturally, but politically as well. The Maccabees developed from this revolt, creating the Hasmoenan Movement that combined the religious fervor of the Chasidim with a desire to establish a crucial political independence. The Chasidim were not initially an organized force, but the Hasmonean family came from Shevet Levi, a tribe that historically was dispersed among the people as an inborn network of educators and leaders.[11] Fittingly, they united the dissenters as Maccabee fighters.

Gathering in the forests, the Hasmonean forces engaged in guerilla warfare, using their intimate knowledge of the surrounding area to their advantage. They sabotaged idolatrous altars and main roads, thus disrupting the basic functions of the government and mercenary forces. By 165 B.C.E., they had taken control of Judea.[12] A series of Seleucid generals attempted to quash the uprising, but the Hasmoneans, under the military guidance of Judah the Maccabee, proceeded to conquer until they controlled virtually the entire country. On October 15, 164 B.C.E. the Seleucid government restored the right to practice Judaism and provided amnesty to fighters, however, the Hasmoneans did not accept, refusing to acknowledge the political legitimacy of Antiochus IV and his government.[13]

The Hasmoneans were, however, painfully aware of the religious and political significance of the Temple, and, in December of that year, Judah and his men captured Jerusalem. On the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, Judah purified the Temple, and relit the menorah, which subsequently became a symbol of religious freedom and political autonomy. [14]

This victory was not complete, however. In 162 B.C.E., Antiochus V, the new Seleucid ruler, appointed a moderate hellenizer, Alcimus, as the High Priest. The Hasmoneans refused to tolerate this encroachment of their political power, and though Judah the Maccabee fell in the ensuing war, his brother Jonathan ultimately succeeded in replacing him as leader of the Hasmoneans, and became High Priest in 152 B.C.E. [15]

This marked the beginning of the Hasmonean dynasty and the progression of the Maccabee protest, from an ancient social movement to an independent Jewish government that ruled for hundreds of years in relative peace, and produced a golden age of religious study.[16] The emergence of such an illustrious era from the realization of the movement’s goals indicates that the initial conflict was not simply a religious spat, a “civil war between the Jews,”[17] but rather, it was a significant fight for cultural opportunity.

[1] Schiffman p. 42

[2] Feldman p. 10

[3] Schiffman p. 44

[4] Momigliano p. 100

[5] Feldman p. 13

[6] Bringmann p. 111-140

[7] Schiffman p. 42

[8] Schiffmann p. 44

[9] Haber p. 7

[10] Schiffmann p. 43

[11] Tcherikover p. 127-140

[12] Schiffmann p. 44

[13] Schiffmann p. 44

[14] Schiffmann p. 45

[15] Schiffmann p. 45

[16] Levine p. 254-257

[17] Feldman p. 15


Bringmann, Hellenist Reform and Religion in Judea (Gottingen: Vandenhoek and Ruprect, 1983) 111-140.

Feldman, “The Maccabean Revolt: The State of the Question.” (New York: Yeshiva University, 2011) 9-18.

Haber, “Living and Dying for the Law: The Mother-martyrs of 2 Maccabees.” Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal Winter 2006 Volume 4 Number 1

Levine, “The Age of Hellenism: Alexander the Great and the Rise and Fall of the Hasmonean Kingdom.” Ancient Israel from Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. (Washington DC: Biblical Archaeology Society 1999) 254- 257.

Momigliano, Alien Wisdom: The Limits of Hellenization (Cambridge, 1975) 100.

Schiffman, “The Maccabean Revolt: What Really Happened.” (New York: Yeshiva University, 2012) 42-45.

Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1959) 180.
--> -->

Monday, December 19, 2016

Beautiful California Coast Vlog

The nature of the coast has a ragged originality, and yet it has an underlying organic logic.
I find it is an endless source of inspiration.

As promised for every Monday, I have uploaded another YouTube video featuring a road trip from Carmel-by-the-Sea to Los Angeles. It is filled with footage of spectacular beaches, elephant seals, a waterfall, and the redwood forests of Big Sur.

Nine minutes of sunshine to warm our wintry minds.

Next week you can expect a video for every day of Chanukah, subscribe so you don't miss it!


הטבע של החוף פרוע אבל עדיין יש לו הגיון יסודי. הוא מקור השראה אינסופי.

כמו שהבטחתי, עבור כל יום שני, העלתי עוד סרטון ליוטיוב, עם טיול מ"כרמל-על-הים" ללוס אנג'לס. הסרטון מלא בחופים מהממים, כלבי ים, מפל, והיערות של "רדוווד" בביג סור.

תשע דקות של שמש לחמם את המוח שקפא מהחורף.

שבוע הבא יהיה סרטון כל יום של חנוכה, תירשמו כדי לא לפספס!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Right to Free Speech and the Obligation to be Silent

Not everything we observe bears publication.

This week, a visual media student in my university submitted a project, editing an Obama "hope" poster to picture a prominent politician with a noose and the word "rope". It was hardly avant-garde or well-executed (pun intended), but in her defense she only started studying a couple of months ago. Everyone would have moved on to other projects, and better art, had not some popular news outlets taken it upon themselves to transform a mediocre homework submission into a fight for the right to free speech. 

This whole event reminded me that the health of our society is as dependent upon an obligation to be silent as it is tied to the right to free speech. I don't fear serious punishment for speaking out against the establishment in Israel. But, I do fear that the media's inability to filter their content cheapens ALL of the dialogue we conduct as a society. It is important that the right to free speech be carefully guarded and celebrated. If the press continues to dramatize the insignificant and desensitize the public to genuinely crucial issues (Syria), they will render free speech moot.

There is a right to free speech, and an obligation to be silent.

סייג לחכמה שתיקה

Monday, December 12, 2016

San Francisco Part II: MoMA and Japanese Gardens

Today, being a bright and sparkling Monday, brings you part II of our San Francisco vlog. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is an exciting and exhausting experience which contrasted nicely with the calm, relaxing morning we spent in the Japanese Gardens. Subscribe to the Liba Land YouTube channel to see the San Francisco video and more videos coming at the start of every week.

As time passes, Liba Land is taking a more defined shape. You can now expect a new video every Monday, with a coinciding discussion appearing on the blog. An additional Friday blog post will address the latest in design, architecture, and lifestyle, just in time for the weekend. 
Don't forget to subscribe to the blog by putting your email in the box on the right-hand side of this page.

היום יום שני צח וזוהר, ולכן יש סרטון חדש-- חלק ב׳ בסן פרנסיסקו. המוזאון לאומנות מודרנית היה חוויה מרגשת ומעייפת, בניגוד פוזיטיבי לגנים היפניים שביקרנו בבוקר, שהיו שקטים ורגועים. תרשמו לערוץ היוטיוב של ליבא לאנד לראות את הסרטון, וכל הסרטונים שאפרסם בכל יום שני.

ככל שעובר הזמן, הבלוג שלי, ליבא לאנד, מתפתח. אפשר לצפות לסרטון בכל יום שני עם דיון מקביל בבלוג, ובלוג פוסט נוסף בכל יום שישי שדן בנושאים בעיצוב, אדריכלות ולייפסטייל, בדיוק בזמן לסופ״ש.
אל תשכחו להירשם לבלוג ולמלא את המייל שלכם בצד ימין של העמוד הזה כדי לקבל עדכונים שוטפים.


Monday, December 5, 2016

San Francisco Vlog I

These cold winter days are perfect for a throwback vlog involving the sunny beaches of San Francisco. This vlog has some of the best stuff in life-- 

Architecture:  The Palace of Fine Arts
Nature: The beautiful San Francisco Bay
Wildlife: A variety of birds and some very vocal seals

Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to catch part II!


הימים החורפיים הם הזדמנות מושלמת לראות סרטון בחוף השמשי של סן פרנסיסקו. בסירטון הזה יש כמה מהדברים הכי טובים של החיים--

אדריכלות: ארמון האומנות
טבע: מפרץ סן פרנסיסקו
חיות: מגוון של ציפורים וכמה כלבי ים שיש להם מה לומר

אל תשכחו לעקוב אחרי הערוץ שלי ביוטיוב כדי לראות את חלק ב׳!


Friday, December 2, 2016

City Life: The Studio Apartment

The concentration of people in cities is constantly increasing. My apartment was built more than a hundred years ago, with meter-thick walls, a high, vaulted ceiling and one main room. In today's terms, it would be referred to as a studio apartment.

The studio apartment allows for people to live in one large, well lit space in an age when space is increasingly scarce and increasingly subdivided. Because there are no walls dividing the apartment, it is more flexible and efficient. What is. in the morning, a large spacious bedroom, in the evening becomes a living room space with couches that fit twenty friends for a projected movie. A window seat can function as dining room seating, a study space, or a place for a friend to nap.

Of course, the studio apartment has obvious limitations, but with careful planning they can be mitigated significantly.

 A high ceiling height is crucial to reducing claustrophobia and aiding ventilation. It is also important to resist the temptation to use Ikea bookcases and curtains to break down the space. The apartment feels much smaller when the pathways and light is blocked. Areas are best demarcated with rugs and moveable furniture. Even lighting can be a great tool in this regard. Of course, as with any apartment, good natural lighting is essential. Keep in mind that excessive and overly specific decoration is distracting. It gets tiresome, and there is nowhere to hide.

The smaller the apartment, the more important it is that every possession has its place. Often the kitchen mess, drawing mess and clothing mess will overlap, and it is really helpful to be able to address each problem as a separate task and put them away separately. It allows you to reduce the mess to more more manageable sizes.  Special furniture pieces like beds with storage and build it closets are useful. Draws on wheels can be easily tucked under a table. A projector works instead of a screen, and fits easily behind the Talmud set on the bookshelf. The high up spaces above the refrigerator and in the closets are the best spots for items used less often.

A studio apartment is not a great place to start a collection. But many people actually enjoy throwing stuff out and donating. It is worth a try. Also, bulky appliances that aren't used often are easily borrowed from a neighbor or family member.

It is a great feeling to come home to a space that is compact and organized. Though I must admit, it is shocking how easily things can get lost in such a small apartment...
© Liba Land | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig