Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Indian Food

The library's own Usha Dontharaju shared an amazing brinjal curry and cumin rice dish with us today, further proving her status as one of our favorite presenters! The recipe which Usha worked from can be found on the Edible Garden site, here. Eggplants are known as brinjals in India, and this recipe uses baby brinjals, which can be found at Indian food stores. With humor and helpful tips, Usha talked us through the steps of the recipe and even suggested substitutions or changes for picky eaters. 

The brinjal curry was served along with a simple cumin rice dish made right in front of us. For 2 cups of rice, you heat about 2 teaspoons of oil, then add about a teaspoon of cumin seeds and pour that over the rice, you can even mix in sweet peas if you want. Usha used basmati rice for an especially aromatic and flavorful dish. What a delicious meal and good company to brighten a cloudy day, and I'm sure we'll have Usha back again as soon as possible!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Reflections on Ethiopian Jewry

Suzanne Jacobson, Senior VP of Development at the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, joined us today to share the more recent history of the Ethiopian Jewish community. The Ethiopian Jewish culture dates back 2500-3000 years, but Suzanne focused on the community's struggles that began in the 1970s, when Ethiopia ended diplomatic ties with Israel. Under the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam, those Ethiopian Jews who were wanting to leave Ethiopia and make their home in Israel were caught and tortured by the government. It was around this time that it was decided that "The Law of Return" applied to Ethiopian Jews and the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence agency, was charged with negotiating with leaders in the region and secretly bringing those from the Ethiopian Jewish community into Israel.

Over several different operations in the next 20 years, Ethiopian Jews were guided into Sudan, where they were then flown to Israel. In 1984, Operation Moses brought close to 6,000 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. This began one of the most difficult transitions of a group that has ever come to Israel. They went from living in mud huts to an incredibly high-tech and innovative nation, where they were introduced for the first time to things like refrigerators and indoor plumbing. In Ethiopia the men were rural farmers, and upon their move to Israel found it difficult to find their place and support their family in a very different society. While the Ethiopian Jews have faced huge challenges, programs in place to support them and their own efforts have helped them along the way. Suzanne shared the story of a friend of hers, Pnina Tamano-Shata, who became the first female Ethiopian Jew to go to law school, and who was recently elected to the Israeli Parliament.

Thank you to Suzanne for giving us insight into a group of people who have faced tremendous challenges and are working to preserve and honor their culture and heritage.

The Ethiopian National Project
The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Not Fred's First Time at the Rodeo

Lone Star College - CyFair Branch Library was honored today with a talk and book signing by eight-time world title winner Fred Whitfield and his lovely bride, Cassie. Just go to YouTube to see Fred in action. Fred's talk brought out fans of all ages and we were fascinated with all the stories told with humor and candor. We can't wait to read his tell-all book, Gold Buckles Don't Lie. Fred gave us a glimpse into the sometimes glamorous, but mostly grueling world of a rodeo star. We also felt the love and loss Fred had for his favorite horse, Moon. Best of luck at the rodeo this weekend, Fred.

Fred's book, Gold Buckles Don't Lie, can be purchased for $25 at
Fred with rodeo fans Karen Sharp and Abby Ludens