© 2014 Hamilton Jewish Social Services 

Claims Conference

According to Statistics Canada, 20% of Hamiltonians live below the Poverty line.  Government plans provide only subsistence.  Canada Pension income amounts to a maximum of $900 a month while a disability pension pays only $1,200 a month.   Rental apartments in Hamilton run about $800 a month if you are lucky enough to find a decent one.  


After paying for rent, phone, bus tickets and other utilities little remains to buy food. Unfortunately the needy not only go hungry but because of their finances restrict their diet they suffer poor health.  


Recent studies have shown that vitamin B12 helps maintain proper brain functioning. Low levels of vitamin B12 is related to depression, anemia and in extreme cases paranoia.  Vitamin B12 is particularly important for older adults.  As we age our brains naturally shrink which is why a blow to the head from a fall can have serious consequences.  B12 is an essential vitamin to help maintain a healthy brain.


They best way to get vitamin B12 n our diet is by consuming meat.  Unfortunately individuals on a low income have to make food choices based on stretching the dollar rather than on what may be the healthiest decisions.


Several years ago Jewish Social Services started the “Chicken Club".  Donations made on a monthly basis ensure our clients can have chicken for Shabbat.  It became apparent that the need for meat products was greater than we had initially visualized.  Our food bank now has two freezers and we now provide frozen ground beef to our clients.


We assist our clients in the use of these products suggesting how to use them to stretch into many meals.  


Donating to the Hamilton Kosher Food Bank is a double mitzvah.  You are helping our clients by providing them with nutritious foods and good health. 


Please thank about joining the Chicken Club with a minimum of $25 per month makes you a partner in this worthy cause.


If you want to help you can also become a food bank shopper.  When shopping for your family if you see a bargain at the supermarket, purchase it and bring it to JSS and we will either reimburse you or give you a charity receipt.


To join the Chicken Club click here.





The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. And, by following the rituals of Passover, we have the ability to relive and experience the true freedom that our ancestors gained.




The Story in a Nutshell

After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.


At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the Children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day, and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d’s chosen people.



Passover Observances


Passover is divided into two parts

The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are full-fledged holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night, and kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and days.


The middle four days are called chol hamoed, semi-festive “intermediate days”. 



To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, we don’t eat any chametz from midday of the day before Passover until the conclusion of the holiday. Chametz means leavened grain — any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal and pasta.



Instead of chametz, we eat matzah — flat unleavened bread. It is a mitzvah to partake of matzah on the two Seder nights.



The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. 


The focal points of the Seder are:

  • Eating matzah.

  • Eating bitter herbs — to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites.

  • Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice — a royal drink to celebrate our newfound freedom.

  • The recitation of the Haggadah, a liturgy that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfillment of the biblical obligation to recount to our children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover.

Wine tasting doesn't have to be overwhelming but rather a fun event.

Since our annual fundraising event is fast approaching, we thought that it would be a perfect idea to write about wine and take the fear out of wine tasting.


When it comes to learning to taste wine, there is no difference than learning to appreciate art or music. The more you fine-tune your sensory abilities, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the explosion of flavours that great wines provide. Think through your senses … sight, smell and taste.


How to taste wine in a nut shell:

First thing you notice when you are being served a glass of wine is the colour. Then you swirl the wine in the glass, sniff and you are ready to sip… take a small sip and swish it around your mouth to fully appreciate the texture and taste. It`s as simple as this. Now, let's dive further and break it into smaller steps:



The colour and the opacity or depth of the wine can give you indications on the age, alcohol, sugar content and the grape variety. As wine ages, it tends to change colour towards deeper hues of brows and yellows. You`ll also look for clarity. Most wines are fairly clear. Old wines sometimes have sediment in the bottle and need to be filtered. Viscosity or "legs" are the stripes of wine that slowly roll down the sides of the glass after swirling the wine. The legs are a measure of the viscosity of the liquid and show the sugar and alcohol concentration.  The more viscous, the more pronounced legs. Fortified dessert wines such as Port or Madeiras  will always have more pronounced legs.



Become aware of what you are drinking and pick at least two flavours. Try and identify them. According to pros, there are 3 types of wine aromas or bouquets:

Primary which come from grapes and include fruit, flower and herbal notes.

Secondary aromas coming from fermentation process.

Tertiary bouquets which come from aging, oxidation and oak –barrel aging such as vanilla, spice and nutty notes.



There are 2 elements that make up the taste: flavour and structure.

Most wine tasters are looking for specific descriptors such as raspberry, lemon, chocolate, spice etc. Just think about what it reminds you of. Close your eyes and allow your brain to bring back memories, there is no right or wrong.

Structure of the wine refers to level of sweetness, acidity and tannins.

Is the wine sweet or dry? Ask yourself about the flavours you are decoding” Is the wine light and crisp or full-bodied and rich? Is it smooth and velvety or heavy? Is it fruity or earthy?”

Acidity helps hold the flavours together and it should be in balance with other components of the wine.

Tannins are polyphenol chemicals that are occurring naturally in the skin, seeds and stems of grapes. Since red grape varieties are generally higher in tannin than white varieties, tannin levels are far higher in red wines than in white wines.

A good wine should be balanced with all its component parts being in harmony as a whole.



A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to buying, storing and serving wine.

Although all wine is stored at the same temperature, reds and whites are enjoyed at different temperatures. White wines should be chilled before drinking and red wines should be have time to rise in temperature. Dessert wines, sparkling wines and rosés are best enjoyed at a cooler temperature than whites.

Wine Serving Temperatures:

White Wines: 45-50 °F or 7-10 °C

Red Wines: 50-65 °F or 10-18 °C

Rosé Wines: 45-55 °F or 7-13 °C

Sparkling Wines: 42-52 °F or 6-11 °C

Fortified Wines: 55-68 °F or 13-20 °C


Have fun, sample new wines and embrace your inner sommelier!

Latkes are the East European Jewish expression of Chanukah, which is an eight-day festival in December, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple of ancient Israel.


The celebration of Chanukah is supposed to include fried foods as oil played a significant role in the Chanukah story. One small jug of oil miraculously provided fuel for the Temple Menorah for eight days.

The ancients were using olive oil, so abundant in the Mediterranean basin. In Easter and Central Europe, latkes were traditionally fried in poultry fat, but nowadays, we fry latkes in vegetable oil. Prior to the introduction of the potato to the Old World, latkes were made out of cheese.

Each family has perfected their favourite latke recipe over the generations but the main ingredients remain nearly all the same: grated potatoes, egg, flour, matzo meal and oil for frying.


These classic potato pancakes are super crispy on the outside but soft and moist on the inside. I hope you’ll enjoy these traditional and savoury Chanukah treats!

Makes about 24

1 pound russet (baking) potatoes

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 medium onion

¼ to 1/3 cup matzo meal

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cream of tartar (optional)

Vegetable oil for frying

Sour cream or apple sauce for serving

Confectioners' sugar



Peel the potatoes and grate them on the favourite side of the grater.  You could also shred them in a food processor with a shredding blade. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. You could add a pinch of cream of tartar to prevent potatoes from browning. Grate the onion and squeeze out excess water then transfer the onion to the bowl with potatoes and stir in the matzo meal, eggs, salt and pepper. The secret to great latkes is to remove as much liquid from the potatoes and onions as possible.  


To cook the pancakes, fill a large skillet with ½ inch oil over medium heat until very hot. Spoon out the batter, using a scant ¼ cup for each pancake and flattening each latke slightly with a spatula. Fry, turning the latkes once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.



Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with sour cream and/or apple sauce or sprinkle with Confectioners' sugar.


Enjoy in moderation!



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March 26, 2015

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