A top worry among seniors is the possibility of outliving their savings. Yet, as we explore in the summer cover story of B’nai B’rith Magazine, longevity is not the only threat to their savings. Seniors can also be vulnerable to financial scams and exploitation.
“Most financial exploitation is perpetrated by family members or caregivers at an intimate level,” observes Leah Nichaman, founder and president of Everyday Money Management, a fee-based Rockville, Md. firm that helps seniors with financial matters.
Seniors often need a trusted adviser to help them manage their financial affairs. Unfortunately, she says, too many advisers attempt to control the senior—and their money—through emotional or psychological abuse. “Having an objective third party involved makes exploitation less likely to happen in the first place,” says Nichaman. “It’s also more likely to be detected if it does occur.”
“It’s important to make sure that your financial life is transparent to at least one other trusted person. The ideal relationship would be an attorney, money manager, financial adviser and family members, all working together.”
To avoid scams, Nichaman offers these prevention tips:
- Identify a trusted individual to have power of attorney over your funds. It should be someone willing to accept fiduciary responsibility who can document everything and act as a legal agent.
- Establish transparency. Be sure to specify how this individual can use money, his or her powers and boundaries, and who else can see what’s going on.
- Use direct deposit and lock up the checkbook. Seniors often have increased traffic of persons passing through their homes. Remove these temptations.
- Have someone review monthly statements. This is especially important with automated payments.
- Choose a financial adviser who is not tied to any specific product. Seek out an independent adviser with a broad perspective.
By Bruce H. Wolk
The presentation ceremony of the Distinguished Flying Cross to copilot Loren Millard at Wright Patterson Air Field in Dayton, Ohio. From left to right: General Janet Wolfenbarger; Harvey Horn’s wife, Minverva Horn; Harvey Horn; and three of Millard’s four children, Norma Stefanik, William Millard and Kenneth Millard.
On March 20, 1945, Harvey Horn, a Jewish flight officer from Brooklyn, N.Y., was navigating the bomber dubbed “Pretty Baby’s Boys.” The plane, on its way to bomb railroad yards south of Vienna, Austria, was hit by flak over Zagreb, Croatia. The engines began to fail, and the plane began to sputter out of control. Pilot John Lincoln and copilot Lorin Millard wrested control of the bomber as it came in over Fiume at just 500 feet. Anti-aircraft batteries opened up on them. The pilots ditched the bomber under fire into Kvarner Bay, Yugoslavia, at 100 miles per hour, saving the lives of all 10 crewmembers. Their feat would go unrecorded and unappreciated. Yet for Horn, there remained the nagging feeling that something had to be done to honor his pilots. The feeling did not diminish with time. B’nai B’rith Magazine recently interviewed Horn about his efforts to get his pilot and copilot the recognition they deserved.
BBM: When did you realize the pilot and co-pilot needed to be honored?
Horn: I always believed that any pilot who ditched a plane and saved lives should be awarded a medal. Years ago, our tail gunner Sergeant Louis Brown, asked me to put in a medal for the crew. I replied, “Why? We didn’t do anything. John and Lorin should be awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for what they did to save our lives.” I also told him that I wasn’t high enough in the chain of command. Only John, who had passed away by then, or Lorin could have initiated the application. By then, Lorin was about 88. He had no interest in pursuing this claim.
BBM: Then why did you feel responsible to start the process?
Horn: Simply, they were my heroes. Then on Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger magnificently landed his U.S. Airways jet into the Hudson River. I said to my wife that my guys did the same thing but in a B17, under fire, that had a ball turret sticking out of the bottom. Then and there, I made up my mind to apply for the DFC for John and Lorin.
BBM: Was it difficult to make the application?
Horn: First, I was told that the cut-off date for WWII commendations was May 1951, and I almost quit; I then learned the rule was rescinded in 1996 to a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, I started by writing to Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, then to the senators and congressmen from my state of New York, and then Ohio and California, Lorin and John’s home states. One of my roadblocks was that someone of higher rank than I needed to have first-hand knowledge of the ditching. As it turned out, the only eye witnesses I had were two local kids in Fiume, Italy.
BBM: How did you learn this?
Horn: In 2007, my wife and I visited Rijeka. Incredibly, the travel agent had a cousin, Stelio Vranicich, who was nine years old at the time and saw the crash landing. Also, there was a 12-year old boy, Ivo Simonic, who was standing next to two SS officers. One of the officers said to Ivo, “The pilot must be very efficient and competent and have great skill.” They remembered that day with great accuracy. Stelio Vranicich, now 74, wrote a letter on behalf of the pilots that I submitted as part of the application.
BBM: Was anyone else helpful to you during the process?
Horn: The offices of New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan were particularly helpful. They wrote letters of support. The real breakthrough came when I called the Air Force Review Board and spoke with former Sgt. Raymond Diaz, chief of intake analysis. He helped me fill out all the proper forms. I also gave Ray information on contacts for John and Lorin’s families. I pleaded for the process to be expedited as Lorin was dying of cancer. (Lorin died July 9, 2011.)
BBM: Despite your hard work, the first application was rejected.
Horn: They said my story had inconsistencies. They said we weren’t hit by flak, but that the engines were pulling too much power, an engine malfunction. Incredibly, the tail gunner was awarded the Purple Heart from being hit by a piece of flak on that same mission. Sergeant Stover, the radio operator, wrote that they were hit by flak in his story for the 772nd Bomber Group history book. Then the review board said I wasn’t under John’s command. That was obviously incorrect. Nevertheless, it was rejected.
BBM: But then it was reversed?
Horn: Yes, a letter submitted by Louis Brown, my fellow crewmember who had been hit by flak, was not previously considered by the Air Force Review Board. Therefore, the board reviewed the entire application process. Surprisingly, on March 16, 2012, Ray called and said the board reversed its findings. John and Lorin would be awarded the medal. I was literally brought to tears and walking on air. John Lincoln’s family declined a presentation and had the medal sent to them. The Millard family was informed the presentation could be made at Wright Patterson Air Field in Dayton, Ohio.
BBM: How many crewmen remain from Pretty Baby’s Boys?
Horn: I believe I am the last.
BBM: You told me that you were the only Jewish airman on the crew. We are taught tikkun olam, to help heal the world. Do you feel you performed such an act?
Horn: In a way, yes. These two men made a difference for all of us. I would not have lived my life; none of us would have lived our lives. I’m persistent. I believe that if something is doable, I find a way to do it. I stayed with it.
Jews and Muslims in America
In response to our winter 2012 cover story on Jewish-Muslim relations in America, we received several letters to the editor. Below is an exchange between one letter writer—Eric Rozenman, the Washington, D.C. director of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)—and Dina Kraft, who reported and wrote the story. The initial letter by Rozenman and response by Kraft (below) were published in the spring 2013 issue. The follow-up letter and response (which are posted here, below the initial exchange) were recently submitted and are being published online only.
The article “Jews and Muslims in America: A New Flowering Amid the Tensions” in the Winter issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine relates some moving vignettes about Jewish-Muslim outreach. Unfortunately, it relies too heavily on Prof. Ingrid Mattson and the organization of which she is a past president, the Islamic Society of North America.
The article refers to the Islamic Society of North America as “the largest umbrella organization for Muslim groups.” That is how the society presents itself. However, it is hardly “Islamophobic” to point out that:
The society traces its roots to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to spread sharia, Islamic law, globally.
It was an unindicted co-conspirator in America’s largest terrorism funding trial to date, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development case. Though society officials claim it has moved beyond its Brotherhood roots, a Brotherhood list of “our organization and the organizations of our friends” seized by federal investigators in the successful Holy Land Foundation prosecution included ISNA.
FBI records from the 1980s indicate “ISNA conferences provided opportunities for the extreme fundamentalist Muslims to meet with their supporters.”
Money from Saudi Arabia has been a key source of ISNA support since its creation; and ISNA conferences have continued to feature anti-Israel, anti-Semitic publications and speakers.
During Mattson’s 2006–2010 presidency, she discounted the existence of radical Muslims in the United States despite a spike in homegrown extremism. As a professor of Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations at Hartford Seminary, she downplayed the extremism of Saudi Arabia’s puritanical, anti-Western Wahhabi school of Islam…
Jewish-Muslim outreach is important and, as the article noted, so is knowing to whom we are reaching out.
Washington (D.C.) Director
CAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Writer Dina Kraft responds:
The accusations [CAMERA] cites are dated and discounted. The Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement swear by Mattson and ISNA. As I note in the story, Eric Yoffie (past president of the Union of Reform Judaism) was a featured speaker at their convention a few years ago.
A federal judge has said that the status of the group as an unindicted co-conspirator should never have been revealed, because the federal government needed the unindicted co-conspirator not to implicate ISNA and other groups, but to facilitate entry of evidence against Holy Land. He said the revelation harmed groups that committed no criminal activity. The feds agreed and admitted the mistake. It’s more than a little McCarthyist to continue using it against them.
CAMERA cites ISNA as having origins in the Muslim Brotherhood. ISNA has stated in legal documents that it has no part in the organization. But the accusation continues, something the organization and its defenders, among them prominent Jewish leaders and religious figures I interviewed, say is part of a bid to discredit the organization…
As for having Saudi funding…if they do benefit from such funding, it would be worth mentioning, but only once the source in Saudi Arabia was determined. Several U.S. institutions receive funding from Saudi sources, including prominent universities.
Eric Rozenman responds
Dina Kraft’s reply to our letter (spring, 2013), criticizing her article “Jews and Muslims in America: A New Flowering Amid the Tensions” (winter, 2012), misleads readers.
Kraft claims evidence CAMERA cited disputing the Islamic Society of North America’s moderation is “dated and discounted.” Hardly. In the successful 2009 terrorism funding prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a key Muslim Brotherhood list of “our organization and the organizations of our friends” included ISNA.
Kraft makes much of the fact that a judge determined ISNA’s unindicted co-conspirator status in that case should not have been made public. She doesn’t mention that the status was not revoked.
In support of her portrayal of ISNA as mainstream, she says Rabbi Eric Yoffie, past president of the Union for Reform Judaism, spoke at a recent society convention. But so have Holocaust denier Yasir Qadhi and Siraj Wahhaj, Siraj Wahhaj, listed by the U.S. government among “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators” in the early 1990s plot lead by the “blind sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, to blow up New York City landmarks.
Kraft dismisses CAMERA’s observation that Saudi Arabian money is a key source of ISNA’s support—“if they do benefit from such funding, it would be worth mentioning, but only once the source in Saudi Arabia was determined.” Saudis have spent tens of billions of dollars underwriting “charities throughout the Islamic Diaspora,” according to former Treasury Department general counsel David Aufhauser. They’ve done so to teach “unforgiving, intolerant, uncompromising and austere views” of Islam.
Kraft alludes to “a bid to discredit” ISNA. CAMERA’s interest is in accurate reporting, in context, whether such coverage makes ISNA look good, bad or indifferent. Our objection is to glossing over an organization rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that, despite denials, still hosts individuals and offers for sale publications with extremist views and, according to a recent Gallup survey, speaks for no more than 12 percent of American Muslims.
Washington (D.C.) Director
CAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Dina Kraft responds:
CAMERA claims it seeks accurate reporting and then goes and repeats its circular arguments and disingenuous statements.
The fact that ISNA turned up on a “key Muslim Brotherhood list of ‘our organization and other organizations of our friends’” seems to be guilt by association twice removed. More to the point, the Muslim Brotherhood can claim whatever it wants. While their claims may be pertinent in gathering information about the Holy Land Foundation (i.e. how the Muslim Brotherhood had aspirations of influencing American Muslims), how on earth is it probative of what ISNA’s status is—why is CAMERA lending credibility to an unverified claim by the Muslim Brotherhood?
During the 2009 trial against the Holy Land Foundation, ISNA and two other Muslim organizations were named as “unindicted co-conspirators,” but what Mr. Rozenman, as someone who would have followed the case closely, chooses to omit, is the murky legal definition of the term and the fact that federal authorities themselves later regretted publishing the names in what was supposed to be a sealed case. Why? Because they knew that unwarranted stigma of ISNA and other organizations would likely follow if their names as such were made public—which is exactly what happened.
The category of unindicted co-conspirators ISNA fell under was the type that the government lists in order to expand the evidence against the group or person it is indicting but whose identity the government works to keep anonymous because the so-called “unindicted co-conspirator” is thought to be innocent of the alleged crime.
ISNA, which has condemned Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism, cooperated with the government in prosecuting the Holy Land Foundation. It’s also worth noting that in November 2005 the Senate Finance Committee issued a report concluding that ISNA had no ties to terrorists.
CAMERA criticizes Saudi funding, but is all Saudi funding to be condemned in blanket terms? CAMERA appears to be suggesting that any money from any Saudi citizen or group to any citizen or group is tainted. Shouldn’t the source of the funding be determined before blacklisting it? I think that is what Harvard and Georgetown universities did, when they, for example, took donations from a “Saudi source,” in this case a prominent businessman. “Saudi” money has also gone to institutions like the Louvre and to South East Asian victims of the Tsunami.
In regards to one of the individuals CAMERA cites as among the many who have addressed ISNA, Yasir Qadhi did make a Holocaust denial statement in 2000 but recanted in 2010 when he and other imams visited Auschwitz and signed a statement decrying the Holocaust and condemning anti-Semitism.
The American Shtetl
Uriel Heilman’s “The American Shtetl” exemplifies good social reportage. It presents communal facts in straightforward fashion, without evaluation and with no bias. Thank you for this excellent report.
Dr. Leo Shatin
Boca Raton, Fla.
Uriel Heilman’s article on “The American Shtetl” is an informative piece about one aspect of ultra-Orthodox Jewish life in America. However, the term “shtetl” is inappropriate in this context. While it is true that the Yiddish was the lingua franca of both the Eastern European shtetl and towns like New Square and Kiryas Joel, no shtetl was 100 percent Jewish, nor did any of them manage to keep the outside world at bay. Indeed, there is a fundamental difference between the two: The European shtetl was an organic creation of hundreds of years of history where Jews maintained a particular Jewish way of life while still interacting with Christians on a daily basis and incorporating (albeit sometimes slowly and reluctantly) elements of the surrounding society and of secular culture into their lives. The Hasidic towns in the United States are artificial creations engineered to isolate their residents from all outside influences and to keep them, as far as possible, from interacting with any others outside their own communities.
Lokey Associate Professor of Judaic Studies, Portland State University
Much of American Jewry came from Eastern Europe to escape the constraints of shtetl life. Among the many was my father. Has common sense been abandoned in exchange for poverty and self-imposed righteousness?
Makes one 10” Bundt cake (original recipe was for five cakes)
To prepare the cake pan, brush the inside with olive oil and then dust the inside with matzah meal.
To prepare cake
2 tablespoons matzah meal
2 cups almond flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
6 whole eggs (whites and yolks separated)
6 tablespoons pure olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange zest
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat convection oven to 350°F
In a mixing bowl, combine matzah meal, all brown sugar, ¼ cup of the granulated sugar and almond flour--whisk to blend.
In a separate bowl, add another ¼ cup of the granulated sugar to the egg yolks and beat until thick and fluffy, approximately six minutes with a whip attachment. Once thick and fluffy drizzle in the olive oil. Once that is combined, add juices and zest.
Fold in the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt to soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar and keep beating until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. It should be a thick batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans halfway up the sides.
Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
1/2 cups honey
3 tablespoons Manischewitz wine
To taste kosher salt
To taste ground black pepper
In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and cook until honey begins to bubble up. Remove from heat and set aside at room temperature.
Nut topping mixture
¼ cups roasted pistachio
¼ cups roasted hazelnut
¼ cups roasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse several times until all the nuts are coarsely chopped.
½ cup of honey
3 cups of Manischewitz wine
1 orange zested and juiced
1 lemon zested and juiced
½ teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups of dried figs cut into ⅛’s
2 cups of dates, seeded and cut into ⅛’s
Combine all ingredients and place in a medium sauce pot. Place the pot on a low flame and cook until the mixture has thickened. Approximately 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
When the cake comes out of the oven and it is still hot, brush it with honey syrup and then sprinkle with the nut mixture all over the top. Once it cools, fill center with room temperature fig marmellata
Ezekiel’s Wheels performs at the International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam. From left to right: Abigale Reisman (violin), Jon Cannon (violin), Kirsten Lamb (upright bass), Peter Fanelli (trombone) and Nat Seelen (clarinet). Photo by Jan Penninkhof
By Dara Kahn
With the emergence of new ways to learn Yiddish, such as immersion at the Yiddish Farm
in Goshen, N.Y., or the Yiddish Book Center’s new program for young adults
, those interested in learning the language have more options. For some, however, the connection to Yiddish has less to do with fluency than with enjoying Yiddish through klezmer music.
Today, klezmer music—played by people of all ages—can be heard worldwide, at venues like the International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam
, at Jewish lifecycle events, local concerts and at large-scale events like New York State’s annual KlezKamp
, a week-long Yiddish immersion program, now in its 28th year, where participants from all over the world explore Yiddish music, language, food, crafts and more.
Among the many new klezmer groups, Ezekiel’s Wheels bills itself as “experimental klezmer and folk.” Its ensemble includes two violinists, a bassist, clarinetist and trombonist—all under the age of 30. Recently, it won both “Best Klezmer Band” and “Audience Choice Award” at the October 2012 International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam, where the band members reported that the judges liked their improvisational skills and democratic nature.
Ezekiel founders clarinetist Nat Seelen and fiddler Jon Cannon met during their freshman year at Brown University in September 2004. Throughout their four years at Brown, they played in the klezmer band Yarmulkazi. After school, they decided to establish their own klezmer band. They initially turned to Craigslist to flesh out the group.
Seelen’s interest in klezmer started as a child when his parents bought him klezmer sheet music and records.
“I loved the idea of a type of music where the clarinet was the head person,” he said. “From a cultural standpoint, klezmer really spoke to me. My family is Jewish, but we're not at all religious, so learning, playing, studying klezmer music seemed like a perfectly good way for me personally to become engaged in the culture of my ancestors.”
One of the group’s violinists, Abigale Reisman, a graduate student at the New England Conservatory, has been with the band for a little more than a year. She took the strictly classical music route until her junior year at the Manhattan School of Music when she realized that her robust Jewish upbringing had had a profound effect on the music she felt most strongly about: klezmer.
“Once you delve into klezmer music, it’s not a stand-alone thing; you want to learn Yiddish. When you study Yiddish, you’re studying the culture,” said Reisman, who took an elementary Yiddish class at KlezKamp in July 2012.
This spring and summer the band will be touring
more than 10 U.S. cities from Boston to Chattanooga, entertaining audiences with their unique blend of folk, pop and traditional klezmer melodies. In the meantime, check out their Facebook page
and YouTube channel
Klezmer, with its often fast-paced rhythms and joyous sounds, emerged from the shtetls of Eastern Europe as early as the 1500s; the rise of Yiddish theater in the late 1800s helped to spread its appeal. But when waves of Jewish immigrants came to the United States in the early 1900s, klezmer was eclipsed by their desire to assimilate In the 1930s, however, elements of klezmer crept into popular swing songs, such as “Bei mir bist du schon,” by the Andrews Sisters, and “And the angels sing,” featuring trumpeter Ziggy Elman with the Benny Goodman orchestra. Then, in the 1970s, more traditional klezmer saw a revival in conjunction with the rising interest in mainstream folk music.
And, today, with a new generation enjoying the klezmer sound, the beat goes on.
From “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” by Paula Shoyer. Copyright © 2010, Brandeis University Press.
Makes 80 candies
21 ounces parve semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups parve whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup whole, shelled, raw, unsalted pistachio nuts
Place a piece of plastic wrap, about 13 inches long, on the counter and smooth out the creases. Tear off another piece of plastic the same size and place on top of the first to form a T-shape. Try hard to make sure each piece of plastic is smooth. Place the “T” of plastic inside a loaf pan and press the plastic into all the sides and corners. Wrap the hanging plastic around the outside of your pan.
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt either on the stovetop or in the microwave. Whisk in the vanilla. In a small saucepan, or in a bowl in the microwave, heat the cream and sugar until it boils. Stir the cream. Don’t worry if it is lumpy.
Add the cream to the melted chocolate in four parts, whisking vigorously after each addition until the mixture is completely smooth. Stir in the pistachio nuts. Let cool for five minutes. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula. Cover the top with a new piece of plastic and place in the freezer for two hours or overnight.
To serve, unwrap the loaf and use a sharp knife to cut it into one-inch slices and then cut each slice into one-inch squares. Store loaf in the freezer for up to three months and slice as needed.
From “The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes” by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray. Copyright © 2012 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.
Makes 4 cups
Todd: Even though quinoa is a South American grain, we love to use it as you would Mediterranean grains, like farro or couscous. It’s a grain that you don’t see enough of on menus and tables in my opinion. It has a wonderful, nutty taste and it is gluten free, which is something for which we are getting more and more requests at our restaurants. The red wine vinaigrette (store any extra in the fridge; it will last for weeks and is good to have on hand for quick salads) complements the sweetness of the figs, a favorite fruit of mine from my Italian cooking background.
12 dried figs
2 cups quinoa
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise including part of the green (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon salt
Sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
Soak the figs. Place the figs in a medium heatproof bowl. Add boiling water to cover; set aside until plump.
Cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in water and drain. Combine the quinoa and stock in a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling over high heat; lower the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed—about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.
Mix the salad. Drain the figs in a colander; transfer to a cutting board and cut into quarters. Pour ½ cup of the Red Wine Vinaigrette over the quinoa and toss to mix. Add the figs, pine nuts, scallions, mint, lemon zest, salt, and pepper; toss to mix. Taste the salad and add more salt or pepper if you wish.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Place 3/4 cup reduced red wine, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 large egg yolk, 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, and 1 1/2 teaspoons honey in a blender. Pulse to combine and then slowly drizzle in 1 cup canola oil and 1 cup olive oil, pulsing every so often to combine; run the blender for 30 seconds to fully emulsify. Transfer to a storage jar; season with salt and pepper to taste. (This vinaigrette will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.)
Makes one 9 or 10-inch cake, 12 to 16 servings
From “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” by Paula Shoyer. Copyright © 2010, Brandeis University Press.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) parve margarine
16 ounces parve semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon parve unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup parve whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Take a 9- to 10-inch spring form pan, trace the bottom onto a piece of parchment, and cut out. Cover the top of the pan bottom with aluminum foil, and then wrap the excess foil under the bottom. Attach the pan sides to the bottom, lock in place, and then unwrap the foil and wrap it up and around the sides of the pan. Rub one tablespoon of the margarine around the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the parchment circle in the bottom of the pan and grease with some of the margarine. Grease the sides of the pan as well.
Place the chocolate and remaining margarine in a heatproof bowl over simmering water (or use a double boiler) and stir often until melted. Remove from heat and add the egg yolks and cocoa and beat with an electric mixer for one minute until thick.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand-held or stand electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Turn the speed down to low, add the sugar a little at a time and, once all the sugar is added, turn the speed up to high for 1 minute. Fold the stiff egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Pour 2/3 of this batter into the prepared pan (reserve the other 1/3 for the mousse). Place the pan in a large roasting pan with sides higher than two inches. Place the roasting pan and cake on the middle rack of the oven. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan, around the cake pan, to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the cake pan from the water bath (leaving the roasting pan with water in the oven to cool enough to remove it safely) and let the cake cool in the pan.
While the cake is baking, prepare the mousse. In a bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff and fold into the reserved batter. Mix well. Place in the refrigerator until the cake cools.
When the cake has cooled, spoon the mousse on top of the cake layer and try to smooth the top as much as possible with a silicone spatula. Place in the refrigerator eight hours or overnight.
To remove the sides of the cake pan, heat a sharp knife and run it all around the cake. Open the spring and remove the sides of the pan. Use a spatula to separate the parchment circle from the foil and slide the parchment and cake onto a serving plate. Store the cake in the refrigerator and then place in the freezer one hour before serving to help you cut perfect slices. Store covered in plastic in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze up to three months.
Aly Raisman, third from left, with other medal winners at the 2012 Secret U.S. Classic Senior Competition
By Taylor Schwink
During the 2012 summer Olympics in London, many Jews watched in awe as Alexandra “Aly” Raisman, 18, captain of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, earned a gold medal on her floor routine. Her victory was made even sweeter as she performed to the Jewish folk song “Hava Nagila.”
She was an overnight sensation, vaulting to instant fame along with the rest of her teammates, earning an overall team gold medal.
For Jews in America, and across the globe, her work struck a chord as it fell on the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre, when Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches during the 1972 summer Olympics.
Yet, beneath all of the excitement of her gold-medal winning routine, her choice of song, and the coinciding of the anniversary of a great tragedy, it was just a nice Jewish girl out on the mats, having fun.
A Unique Approach
Raisman, a Needham, Mass., native, began gymnastics as a young girl, but it was at age 10 when she arrived at Brestyan’s American Gymnastics Club in Burlington, Mass., that things turned up a notch. She started training under veteran gymnastics coaches Mihai Brestyan and his wife, Silvia. The native Romanians have been involved with gymnastics for 40 years. It was Silvia (who is Jewish) who suggested the music to accompany Raisman’s floor routine.
Raisman came to Brestyan looking to expand her abilities and further her gymnastics career. Brestyan described young Raisman as “springy” and eager to do as much as possible. After coaching her for some time, Brestyan began to get an inkling that Raisman might be his next star pupil, only after another Olympic hopeful, Alicia Sacramone.
Sacramone also hails from the Boston area and found her way to Brestyan’s gym. Under his tutelage Sacramone became one of the most decorated U.S. gymnasts of all time.
Brestyan’s Olympic resume included not only coaching Sacramone, but also serving as the coach of the Israeli gymnastics team in the 1990s. Combined with his wife’s experience as an international judge, Raisman had the advantage of an experienced bench to get through the Olympic trials and onto London.
“It was one of my goals to make sure they believed in her,” Brestyan said referring to the organizers of Team U.S.A. “It’s not the best to be in every event. You need to be the most consistent. You need to be everywhere.”
Brestyan stressed Raisman’s versatility was key to making the team. His strategy was to have Raisman ready to perform at the highest level in her best events but also showing she was capable to compete amongst the world’s elite in whatever spot the team might need her.
The idea of displaying Raisman’s versatility was necessary because of the extensive talent pool in the U.S. gymnastics community. No one was guaranteed a spot on the team.
Leading the Team to Gold
Despite her performances leading up to and during Olympic qualifiers, Raisman wasn’t a big name to the general public. Even people at her hometown synagogue, Temple Beth Avodah in Newtown, Mass., hadn’t heard there was a star in their midst.
“Not everyone had heard about her talent,” said Rabbi Keith Stern. Of course, that changed very quickly in days leading up to London 2012. “As soon as the word went out everyone was very excited.”
Going into the competition, Raisman and Brestyan tempered their expectations, but they felt that the floor routine was where she could make the greatest impact.
“The biggest dream was to win the floor,” said Brestyan. “She was just doing the most clean routine.”
Before Raisman would showcase her talents on the floor, she helped Team USA win the gold medal in the all-around competition, coaching her teammates along the way.
“Aly is the oldest child (she has three younger siblings), and she most definitely carries with her the first-born imperative, making sure her brother and sisters are taken care of,” said Stern. “And she’s the same way with her teammates.”
When the time came for her strongest event, her clean floor routine paid off. Raisman became the first woman in U.S. history to earn the gold medal in the floor exercise.
“Comfortable in her own skin as a Jew”
Though not entirely intentional, Raisman played “Hava Nagila” in the face of an International Olympic Committee that denied a moment of silence during the opening ceremony to honor the fallen athletes, coaches and referees of the 1972 Munich Olympics.
“It never occurred to her it would be vaguely problematic,” said Stern. “Is it safe? Is it smart?”
These are questions that never crossed Raisman’s mind, according to Stern.
According to Brestyan, “Hava Nagila” was not Raisman’s first choice. He says that Silvia and Raisman did a lot of searching before eventually landing on the popular Jewish folk tune.
“We tried to find one that fit for her character, her personality,” said Brestyan. “You want to pull in the [crowd] on the routine. The clapping helps keep the rhythm.”
Boiling down Kurt Simon’s 99 years into a 27-minute documentary was no simple task. But in this film, WNIT, the local South Bend, Ind., PBS affiliate, captures the essence of what makes Kurt such an incredible individual and an invaluable personage to his community.
A German immigrant who came to the United States at age 16 with all of $10 in his pocket, Kurt was nevertheless able to become a successful businessman and a well-respected philanthropist.
“Do your giving while you’re living,” Kurt has been known to say. “And he really lives by that motto,” says Debra Grant, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley who is interviewed in the film. “He’s a real mensch, just a great, great man and a good role model for so many people.”
Click on the image above to watch the film “Kurt Simon: A Life of Service.”