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What a special two day celebration of Rosh Hashanah it was! (The Jewish new year goes according to the lunar calendar). We had hundreds of guests from all over the world. 

Rosh Hashanah: Is it all just apples and honey

Usually, dinner hosts sit at the table with their guests. My husband and I were more like emcees, explaining all the symbolism and special traditions throughout the evening. 

In Hebrew, “rosh” means “head.” Just like the head holds everything that controls the entire body, Rosh Hashanah holds an amazing potential for everything that we do for the whole year.  With that in mind, I asked our holiday dinner guests, “Since we are at a new beginning, what is something that you would like to work on, to better yourself? What “hachlata tova” (good resolution) would you like to make?

How do you inspire others

I invited those who wanted to share aloud to do so. It’s known that if you want to challenge yourself with something new, share that endeavor with someone. Telling someone about it makes it real and holds you more accountable to get it done.

But more than that, I wanted whoever wished, to share to do it out loud, because I knew that even more than we each would be inspired by whatever we would take upon ourselves, it would encourage and inspire others as well.

Why is it important to challenge yourself

Some knew right away what they wanted to share. Others had to give it some thought. And there were those who did not initially want to share at all. But as more people spoke up, it did indeed inspire those more hesitant to speak up as well. We all want to do better and improve ourselves. That’s how we grow intellectually and emotionally.

Some of the many resolutions that were made at the Rosh Hashanah table were:

  • Take my physical therapy for my hip more seriously. 
  • Complain less.
  • Take better care of myself.
  • Learn how to speak another language.

We discussed how everyone can do anything for 5 minutes a day. So that would be our starting place. Start small and make it happen.

Did you make a resolution on Rosh Hashanah? It’s not too late. Tell me in the comments below what you choose. I’m rooting for you!

👉👉👉 Got leftover apples? Here’s the Apple Cinnamon Crumb cake they will love!

What do you think of when you hear the word Passover (Pesach)?

Matzah, cleaning, guests, cooking, more matzah?

Over the years, (decades actually), I’ve hosted thousands of people for Passover seders at GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant and our Chabad House in Venice, Italy. Yet, the thing I think about the most is myself.

Sort of.

In the days leading up to Passover, I think about myself, but probably not in the way it sounds.  It’s more about being like matzah (aka matzo).  

The Rebbetzin Unplugged, Shachar Banin, checks in a boat delivery of hundreds of pounds of handmade Shmurah Matzah for the Passover Seders in Venice, Italy
Making Passover More Meaningful: Checking in a boat delivery of hundreds of pounds of
handmade Shmurah Matzah for the Passover Seders in Venice, Italy

Matzah – Traditional Passover Food or Something More?

Matzah is flat and unleavened. It hasn’t had a chance to rise like the dough of typical bread.  Bread, which rises and inflates, represents ego. Matzah represents selflessness, otherwise known in Hebrew as “bittul.”

The literal meaning of bittul is self-nullification. Yet, bittul doesn’t mean that we have to think of ourselves as nothing. (Here’s where the matzah comes in and teaches us a lesson about ourselves). Matzah reminds us that as we go about bettering our lives and the world around us, we can do it in a way that transcends self-concern. We can be more humble.

During the holiday prep, the seders and all the matzah crunching, I can’t help but be reminded how important it is to work on myself. And, I know that if I give it my all during the eight days of Passover, then those efforts will set a strong foundation for the rest of the year. 

If you’d like to spend a Jewish holiday with us, here’s a great place to start:
https://www.jewishvenice.org/shabbat-jewish-holidays/#jewishholidays

Passover Downloads

p.s. Have you seen my two free Passover downloads yet? You’ll find them in this Passover post here:
https://rebbetzinunplugged.com/preparing-for-passover-2-free-downloads/ 

I’d love to hear about your Passover inspiration! You can share anything and everything from your favorite matzah brei recipe, Passover table settings or something special you’ve learned in the comments below.

Purim 2022 is coming right up (beginning Wednesday evening, March 16 and ending Thursday evening, March 17) and you can recreate some of the fun right at home with these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas. Do you remember the sights and sounds of a carnival when you were a kid? Read on to see how you can create that for those you care about.

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

What is Purim and how is it celebrated? 

Purim is usually a community wide event celebrated with food, fun, games and entertainment. Whether in local synagogues or at other venues, you can hear joyous music, see creative costumes and hear the traditional greeting, “Chag Purim Sa’me’ach!”

Listen to the pronunciation of the Purim greeting here.

Why is Purim So Important?

Purim commemorates a 14-year dark saga for the Jews of Ancient Persia.  Queen Esther saved her people from the evil royal official, Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people.  

What Happens on Purim?

To remember the series of hidden miracles of Purim, we have four mitzvahs (commandments).  You can read more about the four mitzvahs of Purim here.

Host Your Own Purim Celebration!

You can make your own Purim Carnival.  Whether you actually have a backyard or not isn’t important.  These carnival ideas can even be done inside a small apartment like mine. (Keep a mop handy! JK 😃). 

The typical Purim festivities may not be happening as they usually would be.  But, the essential parts of the holiday (the mitzvahs) are happening and we all can create a wonderful Purim for ourselves.  

Young and Young at Heart Will Love These Purim Carnival Ideas

You can make the carnival games as simple or as detailed as you wish.  You don’t need to break the bank.  With a little bit of planning and some inexpensive supplies, you’ll be good to go!  

1. Sack Race

All you need is a starting point, a finish line and some large garbage bags.  This is probably one of my favorites.  It’s quite hysterical watching people of all ages jump, jump, jump their way to the finish line.

2. Bean Bag Toss

Place 3 colored bowls (they can be different sizes) in a line, each worth different points, with the bowl worth the most points furthest from the player.  Each player gets 3 tries to toss a ball into a bowl to accumulate points.  Player receives one ticket per point received or one ticket for each successful toss.

3. Three in A Row

Draw a tic tac toe pattern on a large poster board.  Using 5 bean bags, the player needs to get three in a row in any direction.

 

4. Pin the Hat on Haman

This is a take on the traditional Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but Purim style! Draw Haman on a large poster board and cut out some triangles for his hat.  Write each player’s name on a hat and add a piece of masking tape to the back so it will adhere to the posterboard.  Blindfold the player, give him a few gentle spins and watch the dizzy fun begin as he aims to put the hat on Haman’s head!  

5. Egg and Spoon Race

Just like the Sack Race, all you need is a starting point, a finish line, eggs and spoons.  Holding the egg in the spoon, each player races the other to the finish line.  It’s funniest if the eggs are raw.  If it’s too messy, use hard boiled eggs.

6. Ring Toss

Place 12 full water bottles standing in three rows of four.  The player tosses the rings trying to land them on the bottle spout. Or, you can use this cone and rings set.

7. Ladder Toss

Open a ladder.  Decorate with some streamers.  Mark each step with an amount of points.  The higher the step, the greater the amount of points. The player uses tennis balls to accumulate points by tossing them through the corresponding steps.

8. Flying Ducks

On a large poster board, cut out 5 circles that a rubber duckie will fit through.  Assign each hole a different point value: 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100.  Each player gets three throws.

9. Skee Ball

Cut 4 large poster boards of different colors into strips and staple them together to form circles.  Each colored circle should nest within the others, just like a skee ball game.  Each ring has progressively increasing point values.  Instead of rolling, the player tosses ping pong balls into the rings to accumulate points.

10. Ping Pong Toss

Place large disposable cups, each with a different hidden value written on the bottom, in random order.  The player tries to toss ping pong balls into the cups.  When he is finished with the balls, the points are added up. Mix up the order of the cups (and their point values) between players.

(Here’s An Extra Carnival Game)! Knock ‘Em Down

Using more of the large disposable cups, stack them face-down in the shape of a triangle (in a 1-2-3-4 pattern). Using tennis balls or something of similar weight, the player tries to knock all the cups over.


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Added Fun For Your Purim Carnival

Set up a photo booth! Use an easily made backdrop or one that is ready-made like this photo frame complete with a variety of party photo props.

A little decorating goes a long way.  Some colorful balloons and crepe paper streamers really can set the tone.  It’s super easy with this balloon pump set, complete with an electric air balloon blower pump.  And, I love these carnival style tickets that can be used for raffles and for the carnival games winnings.  Then, everyone can trade in their tickets for prizes.  Perhaps most important, don’t forget some delicious Hamantaschen on your prize table.  They are easy and fun to make.  Click here for my GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant Hamantaschen recipe!

Have Fun and Make Memories

Purim will come and go, and hopefully these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas will help you add some happiness to your holiday. We can take a lesson from Queen Esther.  Even under dire circumstances, she kept her Jewish traditions.  This gave her the strength to get through the challenges, even during some of her loneliest times.  As it is written in the Megillah, “For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy and honor.” So may it be for each of us!

If you need help arranging a Megillah reading or have any other Purim questions, please let me know at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com. What’s your favorite of these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas? Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below! 🎉 

Sometimes the cold season can leave us feeling less than our best, but there are ways to beat the winter blues. Just because the sun is shining less, doesn’t mean that you have to.

What causes the winter blues?

One thing to be aware of is that less sunlight can affect our serotonin levels. Serotonin is an important hormone that affects our mood and and how we feel.  It can impact our internal clock, memory and learning.

1. Get Moving!

Put on something special, add some wearable weights and go outside for a brisk walk and some fresh air to get your serotonin level moving in the right direction.  If the weather is keeping you in, try an exercise bike or a dance video.

2. Add Some Sparkle On The Outside

A great piece of jewelry or special fashion accessory can elevate your mood and give you that extra motivation to go out and shine your special light!

3. Eat Foods That Increase Serotonin Levels

Season come and seasons go. So do our emotions, but we can empower ourselves with knowledge to help ourselves and one another to beat the winter blues.

What other ideas can you share below to beat the winter blues and make it the best season ever?

Welcome to the Holiday Gift Guide 2022!

We are all about “making every day the best day” here at RebbetzinUnplugged, so I put together this amazing list of 10 must-have games to play with family and friends.

Everyone loves board games (and even those without the board). They are fun to play, won’t break your wallet and last for years. There’s even a game in the list that my family and I adapted to playing on a video call together for when traveling and visiting is limited.

Here’s everything you need to know in one place. And there is something for everyone: for Mom, the guys, grandma and of course, for kids of all ages. Whether you have to shop for someone who is practical or picky, this Holiday Gift Guide 2022 will ensure everyone on your holiday list is happy.

So, let me help you take care of a good part of your holiday gift buying and go get playing!

🤍 Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

⬅️ Share the Holiday Gift Guide 2022 with family and friends!

Mattel Games Apples to Apples Junior – The Game of Crazy Comparisons

This is a great game that will leave everyone laughing! It’s the perfect balance of using one’s imagination and competition.

Rummikub by Pressman – Classic Edition – The Original Rummy Tile Game

Who hasn’t played this classic! Bring joy to the new generation with this favorite game. Played and loved for over 70 years in 50 countries, how can you go wrong!

3-in-1 Wooden Portable Folding Chess, Checkers & Backgammon Game Combo Set. Classic Travel Board Strategy Game Set

Here’s something for everyone, with three classic games in one! This great portable set will keep the fun going for hours.

What Do You Meme? Family Edition – The Hilarious Family Game for Meme Lovers

This bestseller is now made for families! A hysterical game that lets you compete with family and friends to create the funniest memes.

Hedbanz Picture Guessing Board Game, for Families and Kids Ages 8 and up

Kids and kids-at-heart will love this game that really makes you stop and think. Help kids develop their deductive reasoning skills as well as their laughing muscles! Hedbanz now has an app so you can add wacky face filters while you play the physical game.

⬅️ Share the Holiday Gift Guide 2022 with family and friends! And for everything else Home & Entertainment, you can shop for the best deals on gifts. Click here!

Bananagrams: Multi Award-Winning Word Game

A friend gave us this gift over 10 years ago and it is still one of our family favorites! It’s a word game, a race and it may even drive you bananas!

Beat That! – The Bonkers Battle of Wacky Challenges. Game and Household Objects Expansion Bundle [Family Party Game for Kids & Adults]

Challenge others and be challenged. With over 160 different challenges, the fun never ends! Get ready for hours of laughter!

Hasbro Gaming Yahtzee Board Game

My kids love this game as much as I did growing up. And it’s still one of my favorites! A combination of luck and risk, this game will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

Pressman Triominos – Deluxe Edition Triangular Tiles with Brass Spinners

My sister introduced my family to this game and we have loved it ever since! Think dominoes but better. Triominos is easy, fast-paced and sure to become one of your family’s favorites!

Farkle

Farkle is a fun game of “Should I” or “Shouldn’t I”!

Roll the dice and take some risks, but whatever you do, don’t Farkle!

This game is easy to learn and will keep everyone wondering who will win until the last moment. If travel and visiting is limited, Farkle can even be played during a video call! Our family gathered from all over the world on a video chat and played Farkle together daily.

There’s nothing like gathering around with family and friends over hot cocoa, some delicious chocolate chip cookies and a great game. My Holiday Gift Guide 2022 will help fill your house (or video chat) with laughter and create memories that will last a lifetime!

And for everything else Home & Entertainment, you can shop for gifts here!

⬅️ Remember to share the Holiday Gift Guide 2022 with family and friends across your social media. They’ll thank you for it! Which of these is your favorite?

When the cold weather begins, one of my favorite things to enjoy is roasted chestnuts! It Italy, they’re called castagne and you can find them everywhere.  The delicious aroma fills the chilly air! You’ll see the steam rising from the special roasting ovens by street vendors in almost every piazza (plaza/square). 

Over the years, many of you have asked which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

My favorite castagne are prepared by a street vendor in the Italian city of Bologna, near my mother-in-law’s apartment.  It’s a nice stroll through the capital city of the Emilia Romagna region and it is something special that my husband and I look forward to doing each winter.

Do Roasted Chestnuts Taste Good?

Roasted chestnuts taste so good, and are even better when paired with a glass of wine. Even more, chestnuts can be used in salads, pasta and both savory and sweet side dishes. They also add a distinct nutty flavor to stuffing and go well with many fruits and vegetables like cabbage or apples.

How Do You Roast Chestnuts at Home?

If you’ve ever wondered if you can roast chestnuts at home, wonder no longer! It’s quite simple and takes around the same time it would take to bake a cake. Chestnuts are a wonderful, natural snack. They are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. But you don’t have to stop at roasting them. Chestnuts can also be ground into flour to bake cookies, cakes and even to thicken soups. They are just the perfect staple to have stored in the pantry during the winter.

How to Roast Chestnuts Like an Italian Street Vendor

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Do You Have To Soak Chestnuts Before Roasting?

Soaking the chestnuts helps to create steam. Although some people do this additional step, I never have. You can try it both ways and see which texture you prefer.

Three Ways to Roast Chestnuts

  • Pan – An arrosticastagne is a special pan with holes in the bottom, that is used on a gas stove (or on another source of open flame). The pan allows the chestnuts to cook more evenly. It also allows the open flame to touch the chestnuts, adding to the flavor. You can also use a regular pan or a cast iron pan.
  • Oven – Cook chestnuts on a lined baking sheet. (This is how I usually make them)!
  • Air Fryer – Shake the air fryer basket a couple of times during cooking.

Roasted Chestnuts (Castagne)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • raw chestnuts

Instructions 

Preparing the Chestnuts

  • Rinse and dry the chestnuts well.
  • With a sharp knife (like a paring knife), carefully score the chestnuts in the center, making a line going across the round side, just piercing the inner skin and not the chestnut itself.
  • Scoring is an important step, because chestnuts expand as they roast.
  • Optional: Soak the scored chestnuts in a bowl of hot water for one minute to help with steaming. Drain and dry them well.

Cooking the Chestnuts

  • Preheat the oven or airfryer 356F / 180C, unless you are using a pan on the stovetop.
  • Oven – cook chestnuts on a lined baking sheet. Shake baking sheet halfway through cooking. Depending on your oven, you may need to flip the chestnuts so they cook evenly. (Approximately 30 minutes).
  • Air Fryer – shake basket to flip chestnuts a couple of times during cooking. (Approximately 30 minutes).
  • Pan – Roast over a medium-low flame, tossing often. (Approximately 10-15 minutes).
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: castagne, chestnuts, holiday foods, Italian desserts, italian food, kosher, Winter

Roasted Chestnuts – A Cherished Italian Treat

Enhance any meal or make a holiday even more memorable. A fruit platter, a bowl of hot roasted chestnuts and a bottle of wine (reds are my fave) are a special treat and the perfect way to end a holiday meal. Give them a try!

Have you ever had roasted castagne? What other foods are you looking forward to making this winter? Can’t wait to read what you wrote in the comments below!


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