Veggie Recipe

One of my favorite recipes to make is a type of cooked vegetables that I’ve seen called by several names; atakilt alicha, ye’atakilt wot.  Here is how you make it.

1/2 cup Olive Oil

4 Carrots

1 onion, thin sliced

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground tumeric

1/2 head cabbage, shredded

5 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes


Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook carrots and onion in hot oil about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, cumin, tumeric and cabbage, cook another 15 -20 minutes, ( I cover it with a lid to keep it the moisture in). Add the potatoes, cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are soft, 20-30 minutes.

Serve with Injera and enjoy!



Amharic classes in Ohio

Fellow board member Amy Harcar and I spent hours and hours this summer working through Amharic Level 1.  At the end of 10 weeks, I am fairly familiar with the alphabet (all 230+ fidel), have expanded my vocabulary,  can greet and express affection, and most important of all, have a clearer understanding of the pronunciation of Amharic words written in English.

The next Level 1 Amaharic class begins on October 1 (through December 3) 12-3 pm, at 1060 Mt. Vernon Ave.  Check the flyer for all the details!

If you live in the greater Columbus area, please try to squish this amazing class into your schedule!


Amharic flyer 7 20

Enkutatash 2004~~Melkam Addis Amet!

Ethiopia’s New Year’s Day (or Enkutatash) is celebrated in September towards the end of the big rains. Unlike the 1 January date, which is comparatively arbitrary, New Year’s Day in Ethiopia marks a new season and a new beginning.

The grass is green, the sun has come out, and there is fresh food to be harvested. Apart from the cyclical explanation for the timing of Ethiopian New Year, there is also a legend which maintains that Enkutatash is celebrated to commemorate the return of Queen Sheba from Jerusalem.
Presently in Addis Ababa, New Year’s Eve is spent feasting and partying. On New Year’s Day, the house is decorated with pretty little yellow Meskal daisies. Children make gifts of colorful paintings or spring flowers to give to their family and friends. Girls, dressed in their new Ethiopian dresses and armed with a kabero (small drum), go from house to house singing a special Enkutatash song, in return for some money. The main religious celebration takes place in the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the town of Gaynt, in the Gondar region. Three days of prayers, psalms, hymns and sermons, and huge colourful processions mark the advent of the New Year. Closer to Addis Ababa, the Raguel Church, on top of the Entoto Mountain north of the city, has the largest and most spectacular religious celebration.

In the United States, Enkutatash is typically celebrated on or around September 11th.  Public celebrations of Enkutatash often occur on the weekend before or immediately after the ‘official’ holiday.  This year, in consideration of the bigger 9/11 commemorations as well as the Ohio State Football schedule, the Columbus Ohio celebration will be held on September 18th, from 10-6.

Each year,  as the workload for the Enkutatash celebration increases, I think, “This will be the last year I help to plan.  Next year, I’ll attend as a guest.” This notion is quickly shunted aside, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think it would be nice to spend summer doing a little less.

BUT, then I go to the Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services office for an Enkutatash meeting with my Ethiopian daughter by my side.  In an instant she is surrounded by a half dozen Ethiopian adults she has known for the last 3+ years.  By the end of an hour, she’s spent time chatting with another half dozen Ethiopian adults, all eager to bestow kisses and greetings.  This link to the Ethiopian community means more to me than any summer afternoon spent at the zoo,  or picnic in the park.

My daughter will grow up with Ethiopian friends to play with, she’ll know families that look remarkably like ours, but she also have adoring Ethiopian adults in her life, and Ethiopian friends who grow up in families who look little like ours.

And so, despite the large part of my grey matter that yells, “too much” when I add another commitment to my schedule, I will continue, whole-heartedly to plunge in to the Ethiopian community whenever I am asked.  These relationships, like the Queen of Sheba’s jewels, are priceless indeed.


Melkam Addis Amet!


Ode to the Donkey

I have mentioned numerous times how I miss the donkeys in Ethiopia. I have joked with my husband that we really should get one. Then I read an article from the Equine Chronicle about the importance of donkeys in Ethiopia.

Why are they so important?

The article states, “…at least 40% of households surveyed said donkeys helped reduce women’s work while all communities said equine animals were economically important for rural and urban communities for all wealth groups”.

Read more of the article here:


Amharic lessons in Columbus Ohio

One of the nicest things about living in Columbus Ohio, is the large population of Ethiopians and other East Africans who live in the area. ETSS, the social services agency that serves this community, has worked hard to make Ethiopian adoptive families feel welcome at events and within the community at large.

For years, ETSS has considered offering an Amharic class for non-native speakers, and finally, one has coalesced.

Guess who’s going to know how to say more than ‘thank you’ and ‘beautiful’ when she travels to Ethiopia next fall?

I hope, if you’re in central Ohio, you’ll consider joining us!


Just a quick little post to wish everyone Melkam Fasika. For those of you looking for more information about the holiday, there’s a handy wikipedia page to peruse. A more exciting daily post will follow tomorrow!

Paige (who is packing, packing, packing after 10 lovely days in DC)

parallel goals

As I was bopping around the interwebby thing today, putting off adding to the Dead of Winter Bash’s auction database, I bounced from blog to blog, and landed on this little gem.  Rachel, of  If it Takes a Whole Life shared this terrific piece about raising Jewish kids.  Noting the similarities between keeping religion and keeping culture, Rachel drew some terrific parallels–enjoy:

A number of months ago, while Gabriel was in Sunday school, the rabbi at our synagogue asked all the parents to stay for a short talk on raising Jewish kids. Since it meant I was going to miss some quality coffee and pajama time at home with Kevin and Clementine, I hadn’t exactly been looking forward to going.

Once the rabbi got talking, however, I found myself digging in my bag for a pen, wanting to write down every word he said. He presented a top 10 list for raising Jewish kids–note, Jewish kids, not necessarily spiritual kids. He didn’t promise that the tips would help us raise kids who feel connected to God but he thinks that, if you follow these 10 recommendations, you stand a decent chance of giving them some of the tools they’ll need to potentially tap into their own spirituality as they grow up and mature.

Part of the reason I wrote so furiously over the course of the next hour was because I immediately saw how a list of ways to impart a sense of Jewish identity in my children was not very far removed from a comparable list of ways parents might reinforce their internationally-adopted kids’ cultural identities as well.

10. Have Jewish “stuff” around the house. Don’t just pull it out once a year to celebrate a holiday but keep it out where it blends into the fabric of the household.

Just like menorahs, mezuzahs, haggadahs, Jewish art, and children’s books with Jewish themes all reinforce children’s religious identities, the same types of purchases and thoughtful placements around the house can reinforce their cultural ones.

9. Think of religious school as an education that doesn’t end at bar mitzvah but rather goes through high school.

In the adoptive playgroups we have taken advantage of (and even helped establish) for our own kids, I can sense that it will get harder and harder to get scores of kids together, especially as they grow older. As their homecomings fade into the distant past and children make their own school friends, relying less on their parents to arrange their social interactions, I can see how it’ll fall to us as parents to keep prioritizing these activities and, ultimately, friendships.

8. Come as a family to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Take off work and keep your kids out of school.

For those of you who aren’t Jewish, this may seem like a silly one. Like, really, we need to be told to go to temple twice a year? Ummm, yeah. We Reform Jews don’t always make it to synagogue as often as we should… that whole Friday night thing is a bit of a hindrance. Plus, regular Friday night services start at 7:30, which would just be hilarious to attempt with Clementine. What our rabbi’s really getting at here… celebrate the holidays. Make them a big deal, even if you do nothing else throughout the year. I’m guilty lately of barely acknowledging our own American holidays, let alone those in Guatemala and Ethiopia. I’d like to get better at this.

7. Observe birth, adolescence, marriage and death in a Jewish context. Assume you’ll do it that way.

Kevin and I had a Jewish wedding despite the fact that Kevin’s not Jewish. We held a Bris for Gabriel soon after we adopted him. I’m a little consumed with the whole Greece thing right now but, mark my words, a naming ceremony is in Clementine’s not-so-distant future. In other words, we’re raising a Jewish family and we do assume that we’ll mark life’s largest moments in a Jewish context. A bigger question for me is, “What would it even look like for us to observe those same moments in an Ethiopian context? A Guatemalan context?” That tells me I need more education.

6. Belong to a synagogue until you die.

This one, to me, is all about putting your money where your mouth is. Showing up, at least in the metaphorical sense:-) Visibly supporting the Jewish community. If not you, who? To do the same thing for Guatemala and Ethiopia, it means finding meaningful ways to give back to projects in the children’s countries, and it also means reaching out to find ways to help and connect with the communities of Guatemalan and Ethiopian immigrants in our own backyard. (If you’re looking for a great Ethiopian project to support, look no further than right here. Inspiring stuff.)

5. Observe Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Chanukah, and Passover at home. During Passover, have a Seder. Eat matzoh all week.

A translation for adoptive parents: do the work. Making a Passover dinner is really hard. It’s like Thanksgiving or any other meal that winds up tasting better, the more hours you put into it. It’s easier not to do it. This past year, Dad had just died and we pretended the holiday didn’t exist. One year, when Kevin and I were newly married, we went to our old synagogue’s Seder because I was intimidated by boiling water, let alone cooking lamb. The dinner was sort of lame, and it’d have been better if I’d put my big girl pants on and invited a few friends over to enjoy a meal I’d cooked. I’ve yet to cook an Ethiopian meal. It’s time to get out the berbere.

4. Send your kids to Jewish summer camp.

Just like there are tons of Jewish summer camps out there, there are a growing number of cultural camps designed to help kids, and even entire families, learn about and celebrate their birth cultures. Kids either love camp or they hate camp, and there’s a good chance that my kids will grow up moaning about the year (or better still, years) Mom and Dad sent them to culture camp… but maybe, just maybe, they’ll forgive us because they’ll figure our hearts were in the right place.

3. Plan to give your kids a high school Israel experience.

I went to Israel for the first time when I was 26. I went through the Taglit/Birthright program, which provides free trips to Jews in the diaspora, ages 18-27, who have never been to Israel. The program is really well conceived and executed and it’s wonderful that it’s there but I think that, if I’d known more about Israel at a younger age, I might have made slightly different choices during those pivotal college years. Who knows?

A lot of people say that the ideal time to take a child back to see their birth country is at around age 12, when they’re (hopefully) not yet so jaded that they completely hate hanging out with you:-) Yet, at the same time, perhaps they’re old enough to really remember the experience and feel the full impact of the trip. We took Gabriel back to Guatemala when he was four, with the full knowledge that he wouldn’t remember anything. Truthfully, Kevin and I had really missed it and just wanted to go. We know we may not be able to make a habit of popping down to Guatemala (or over to Ethiopia) every four years but we figure that, at the very least, we’ll do a family trip to each country sometime during their teen years. Our end goal is for both our kids to grow up feeling like their birth countries are accessible to them.

2. Have your kids participate in a Jewish teenage youth group.

This one relates directly back to #9. As our kids age out of playgroups, we need to find ways to build in socialization time with other kids who share their heritage.

1. Regularly observe Shabbat at home.

All right… I’ve got nothing. Kidding, kind of. Okay, it’s a stretch but here goes:

Shabbat (which we don’t observe… shame on us!) is about ushering in the sabbath, the day of rest. It’s about spending time with family. It’s about prayer. And quiet. And contemplation. Observing Shabbat every Friday night is about making time in your life so the spiritual stuff can happen. So maybe I lied when I said this list was about raising Jewish kids and not necessarily spiritual ones. Doing all the stuff on the list is good but finding a little quiet in each week to really listen… to the silence, to your kids, to what they’re saying, to what they’re not saying… that might be where it’s all at in the end.

* Full credit for the Top 10 list goes to our rabbi, who’s gonna have to remain nameless for the sake of our Interwebs privacy:-)

Thank you so much, Rachel, for sharing your post with us!  I hope that all of you comment about ways you keep a connection to your child’s culture too.  Little tips, big ones–please share!


Amharic Kids, and the latest update

A big self-congratulatory celebration for EOR!   Amharic Kids held a contest via facebook, asking friends of Amharic Kids to share information about their favorite Ethiopian non-profit organizations. I am pleased to say that Ethiopian Orphan Relief was selected as one of two to receive a very generous $150.00 gift.

Amharic Kids is a terrific online shop selling a variety of items from and pertaining to Ethiopia and Ethiopian culture. My family owns the Amharic color and number beanbags (among other products from AK) and I can attest, they are played with daily.  Lots of other great products too, I love to shop there!

Thanks you so much Staci for providing beautiful products, and for the generous prize.  We are SO pleased you are part of this community.

Here’s the latest thermometer for our annual campaign.  As you can see, we’re 95% of the way to meeting our goal.

With two days left, will you make a donation for clean water, or medical supplies?  Will you add your 10.00 to feed an orphan for 12 days?  No contribution is too small.  Please donate today.

Thanks to all of YOU who have made this campaign a success!


First Trip, Second Time

It’s not much longer until my family and I will be traveling to Ethiopia. This will be our second trip there. Our first trip was for our first adoption. I remember waiting for the moment we would hold our daughter. I remember waiting in a small room and then seeing the nurse come to the door holding her. The room was so quiet, we were in awe of her and as she looked us over we took in every precious bit of her. It was a moment that will remain in our hearts and minds forever. We spent our week in Ethiopia getting to know her, making friends and developing a real appreciation for Ethiopia’s culture. When the time came to fly home we were so excited to introduce her to our other family members, but it was also very hard to leave. Our daughter would be leaving the land she was born in and we new there was so much more to take in than just one week could offer. After we returned home anytime I would smell smoke from a neighbor’s fire it would take me back to the Ethiopia. When we would go out to an Ethiopian restaurant we would savor the food a bit more and when we heard Amharic spoken it would touch our hearts.

Now, in a few short weeks we’ll be returning to Ethiopia, this time we’ll stay a bit longer and this time it will be for our second adoption. In just a few short weeks we’ll be meeting our son for the first time. The process has changed since our first adoption and our feelings about this trip are a little different too. This time we are looking forward to seeing again the coming and going of school children in their uniforms, the sound of Ethiopian music drifting through a window in the evening, the smell of the fires burning. We look forward to feeling the coolness of the morning and the warmth of the day. There are friends we look forward to embracing and spending time with and places we hope to see more of or see for the first time. We’ll be taking our children again, and it will be chance for our youngest daughter to visit the land of her birth again. This time we’ll have to leave without our son, but with the peace of knowing we’ll get to return for him soon. We’re grateful that while he waits for us to return he will be cared for by his loving nannies and we are thankful that his orphanage exists with the support of generous donors and caring individuals to care for him and other children who have become orphans.