Letters Week of Dec. 22, 2005

Learn the Right Way to Cook Persian Rice!
You recently published a recipe for Persian rice that was so wrong, I simply had to respond (Cooks & Cuisine: “Fall Into Flavor,” Nov. 10). Given my own personal history of living in Iran and cooking its food, I don’t want your readers to think that what was printed was correct.

First, the name for the crust under the rice is not tadeek, but ta-deeg, which means “at the bottom of the pot.”

Second, and more important, no Jewish family cooks rice with butter. They don’t cook anything in butter. Vegetable oil — either corn or grapeseed — is used for all frying.

Third, all rice crusts and some of the kernels are colored with saffron; it’s never left white. The poor man’s substitute is turmeric, and most Jewish families use that for the crust, but never on top of the rice. They also use turmeric to color just about everything they cook, from soups to omelets.

Fourth, before cooking any basmati rice, you must wash it in lukewarm water, literally scrubbing it between your hands, to remove the starch. This is done four or five times. And since this rice comes from India, I recommend picking through it first.

In Iran, the rice would be soaked in salt water, but the rice we get here is too soft, and would dissolve before cooking. Put it in the boiling water immediately after washing it.

Finally, as the Persians say, Nooshe Jahn (“To your health”)!
Sarabeth Abir
Huntingdon Valley

Be Confident in Yourself, and the Holidays’ll Be OK
I’m proud to be Jewish and proud to live in a country where I am free to openly practice my faith.

I don’t feel threatened by Christmas, just as I do not feel threatened by a birthday celebrant when I attend a party. I’m happy to join in the festivities, even though it’s not “my day.”

In the Torah portion, Rabbi David Gutterman writes “To Respect Others, Learn to Love Yourself” (Religion & Ethics: Vayetze, Dec. 8).

Have confidence in who you are as a Jew, and you’ll stop seeing this time of year as a competition.
Dawn Schork

Chipping Away at Rights Only Imperils Women
While the Dec. 1 cover story, “Activists Look to Law in Abortion Debate,” was fair and accurate, I offer another thought.

Built into our Jewish heritage, theology, morality, ethics and rabbinic thought is the mandate to care and advocate for the less fortunate and those marginalized in our society. If the Supreme Court chips away at the Roe v. Wade decision with restrictions, and regulation after regulation — as most certainly will happen if Samuel Alito replaces Sandra Day O’Connor — the protections now given to women will disappear.

The less affluent, less literate, less able-minded and informed, and those scared adolescents living in abusive and or dysfunctional families will bear the burden, and will be the ones with less access to care.

Those with resources could be inconvenienced, but as all women do in this crisis, they will find an alternative (hopefully, a safe one) to terminate a pregnancy if so compelled. The others will have to resort to quacks, back alleys and sharp objects.

The Roe v. Wade decision, which has gone far to protect women from harm, does not have to be totally overturned for some women to face peril once again.
Linda Hahn
President and CEO
Planned Parenthood Association of Bucks County

A Star Gets Its Place in Health-Service World
Politics has no place in the international humanitarian movement, and the recent decision by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to establish a third humanitarian relief emblem in the shape of a crystal is most welcome and long overdue (Israel & Mideast: “A Diamond Is a Jew’s Best Friend?” Dec. 15).

It is a creative solution to rectifying the historical injustice of excluding Israel’s relief society, Magen David Adom, from full membership in the apolitical international humanitarian movement.

For more than 56 years, Israel’s humanitarian emblem — the Red Shield of David — has been the only rejected symbol. Israel’s national relief society understandably refused to operate under the banner of the cross or crescent, choosing instead the ancient symbol of the Jews. Israel’s renowned relief agency can now place its symbol inside the crystal.
Ilana Krop Wilensik
Executive director
American Jewish Committee/ Philadelphia

Admit Your Mistakes — and Get Out of Iraq!

Alas, there’s no easy answer or any obviously correct solution to the problem that is the American occupation of Iraq.

Robert Guzzardi does not supply a satisfactory answer (Letters: “Iraq Pullout Benefits the Fanatics,” Dec. 8) as part of the argument that we have a responsibility to prevent civil war — a state of affairs that’s arisen only as a result of the invasion.

Without rehashing the necessity of an invasion in the first place, the question centers on what to do now.

American soldiers and civilians are targets because of their presence in the country. Iraqis see them as occupiers, not liberators. The only way to overcome that perception is for the U.S. government to form a program of departure and a plan for carrying it out.

The Iraqis must be forced to decide for themselves what they want of their country. If they are incapable of coming to a peaceful resolution of their differences, the United States is just as unable to impose a solution. A definite departure timeline passes the responsibility of managing the country to the Iraqis themselves.

The Bush administration has become a poor model of the very rights it espouses. America no longer has the credibility to impose even a moral authority on those people whose conduct it wishes to improve.

A strong and wise leader recognizes his mistakes, and then proceeds to correct them. It’s time for President Bush to recognize his — and not maintain a stay-the-course attitude when it only means more killing of more Americans.
Ron Kaiserman
The writer is a board member of the Jewish Publishing Group.



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