give me a new name

Written by Olivia Magee

Illustrated by Liam Cox

give me a new name
a cataclysm of trust falls
scheduled for thursday
a new gait learned and a new space
discovered
the specs were not quite what i imagined
but when i held your hand
i felt your warmth and your blood flowing
i took pills to keep me sane
to keep my body working
but my eyes love to wander
to a life of subduction
becoming less than a star
becoming more than a rock
but never losing track of the simple
deadbeat dog i am
a heart beats faster
but my doctor says it’s wrong
and the way i think you’ll say my name
provokes me to follow you
down the coast of california
this fine state of disappointment and production
of population and vacation
a backwards road of ugly homes and cows shitting their brothers
brings me back to the days when i was just putting stickers
on the window of my moms volvo the smell of dried up vomit
i’m drawing blood of mine for a new age
ritual celebration of love between two
people
i’m drawing on my eyebrows to frame the windows to my soul
like a piece of art you can’t help but look at
and admire the symmetry and endeavor
olives fall from minerva’s limbs
swollen with stolen water
and girls like me swarm like seagulls around a chance to feed on
you
how my name is shaped by your mouth
in a blister creation of tongue moving soul sucking heart moving
action
the state is burning down
and i am escaping to new arms
where my heart might embrace the sea and the backdrop of your childhood
where your heart took a beating.

To-Do List, Manifesto

Written by Jenna Westling

Illustrated by Cameron Edwards

1) Give sex robots a chip that activates their autonomy. Join them in the fight for fourth wave feminism. Appoint one as president.

2) Let little kids, aged 5-10, stage a coup and take over the United Nations.

3) Bulldoze all borders and give every refugee the directions to a local mansion of your choice.

4) Empty Australia and send every Big Pharma lobbyist there. Introduce a plague. Mark up the vaccines for the plague until they can’t afford it.

5) Change the rating of guns from E for Everyone to M for Mature.

6) Disperse the wealth of the Koch Brothers to anyone under the poverty line.

7) Waterboard the Koch Brothers for funsies.

8) Kill all billionaires and cook their meat medium rare. Serve it to the citizens of Flint, Michigan.

9) Universally legalize all drug use except vaping.

10) Give reparations to all dinosaur descendants for our use of fossil fuels.

11) Remove all missionaries from second and third world countries.

12) Emancipate all zoo animals (like in Madagascar).

13) Burn all documents proving the existence of gender.

14) Abolish all religions except Scientology and Mormonism. Let them fight over Jerusalem.

15) Make Neil Degrasse Tyson promote a conspiracy theory about the existence of life on Mars.

16) Elect a flat-earther to office.

17) Make the official language of every developed country Pig Latin.

18) Reveal the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart.

19) Rinse.

20) Repeat.

Unmedicated

Written and illustrated by Jackson Patrick-Sternin

Bipolar Disorder is more than mood swings. To debunk common misconceptions and Bipolar Disorder, in the next few pages Jackson and Georgie illustrate what it is like living with Bipolar I or II, respectively. They delve into the religious aspect of hypomanic/manic episodes, and how higher powers manifest themselves in these elevated states. Accompanying their stories, they have each illustrated what these episodes look and feel like to them.

This is my experience prior to getting on medication for Bipolar I Disorder.

For me, enduring a manic shift is a similar experience to the swell of effects after ingesting a psychedelic drug. The first noticeable effect is a subtle lift in mood and energy. Even after experiencing dozens of cycles, I rarely recognize this as the beginning of what it is. After spending a few weeks below water, this lift is welcomed. The experience of this stage, for me, is one of great relief. Your flight has been stuck on the tarmac for what seems an eternity, but the engine is rumbling back to life, and everything might be okay. You might well arrive at your destination, when for a long time the trip itself seemed an impossible endeavor. Your flight is heading towards the runway.

The second stage comes soon after, when the shift becomes great enough that I’m forced to recognize that I’ve escaped that depressive trap only to start towards the next. Though I realize this, I do my best not to assign it any value. All I want is to savor that sweet sense that everything is okay – more than okay. I feel I have the opportunity to thrive in this new headspace. I’ve been lifted from a dismal state. I’m edging on divine. At this stage, I convince myself that I deserve to experience this and the highs it will progress to. My selective memory at this time excludes the severe consequences that inevitably come with full blown mania. Even the word “mania” doesn’t necessarily cross my mind. I’ve been operating, likely for weeks, absolutely blinded by anxiety and depression. I’ve paid my emotional dues. I’m owed this. Your flight is speeding down the runway.

My thought processes start to truly warp, speed up, and become more and more urgent and disjointed. I write, I make art, I take up one or two or six new hobbies. My mind feels as elastic as when I was a child. I absorb information in droves and experience a fluid flow of creativity that had so recently seemed impossible, and I know it will again soon. I must make the most of it while I have it. I’m owed this. Your flight has lifted off.

Somewhere there is a shift to a third stage, but I cannot say where. This is the stage at which the experience becomes incredibly difficult to describe, much like the peak of a psychedelic trip. I’m blinded now by an overwhelming sense of purpose and divinity. Reality loses definition. There is a very thin barrier between the fantasies I have about myself, the world around me, and that which I believe to be true. I’m the hand that will mold the world and restructure it in my image. I feel I am achievement embodied, absolute. I can do anything and I will do everything. Your flight has reached peak altitude, the sun has dropped below the horizon, and the controls are rapidly breaking down.

In my unmedicated life, there is a fourth stage. At some point in the third, the wrong substance would be ingested, and then would come oblivion. There’s nothing to describe here; I don’t remember any of it, I just know it happens and later find out what occurred. The engines have failed, controls dead, you’re plummeting to the earth encased in a black void. I’d lose days, weeks, or however long before the coin flipped and depression once again took hold. Sometimes I’d sober up immediately in these depressive periods, often not. More likely, I’d switch from stimulants to good ol’ fashioned booze until self loathing became overwhelming enough to push me to abstain until the next shift.

I don’t know what stopped me from seeking medical help for so many years. Maybe the stigmas surrounding mental health and substance abuse, maybe my own pride, maybe my head was just never straight enough to take concrete action. I do know that my life since being on medication has been immeasurably better. The lack of control an individual with bipolar disorder has over their disposition, emotional state, and to an extent, actions, makes for a confusing, desperate, exhausting existence. You can only experience what your brain is currently wired to experience. I feel comfortable writing this, because I wish I’d read something in the same vein in the years I went unmedicated. I had no idea anything was wrong with my mind; I thought others experienced the world in more or less the same way. Maybe I took more drugs than other kids. Maybe I had more ambition than other kids. Maybe my life was just harder. Regardless, I believed most people shared these seemingly hardwired ups and downs. They don’t, and I didn’t have to, and I don’t anymore. For that I’m incredibly grateful; it was far from guaranteed that I’d make it far enough to experience the relative serenity that I have in my life today.

Hyper-religiousness in Bipolar II

Written and illustrated by Georgie Blewett

Bipolar Disorder is more than mood swings. To debunk common misconceptions and Bipolar Disorder, in the next few pages Jackson and Georgie illustrate what it is like living with Bipolar I or II, respectively. They delve into the religious aspect of hypomanic/manic episodes, and how higher powers manifest themselves in these elevated states. Accompanying their stories, they have each illustrated what these episodes look and feel like to them.

I have Bipolar II, meaning I have mood episodes. I teeter back and forth between “hypomanic” and depressed. For me, depressive episodes mean staying in bed all day, skipping class, eating too much, or not eating at all. Hypomanic episodes, however, are a blessing and a curse.

The DSM-IV  (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders) classifies a hypomanic episode as a “distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting at least one week” with three or more of the following:

(a) Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity

(b) Decreased need for sleep (e.g. feels rested after only three hours of sleep)

(c) More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking

(d) Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing

(e) Distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)

(f) Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation

(g) Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g. engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments).

That is just a lot of mumbo-jumbo just to say I don’t need sleep, I talk too much, I’m fascinated by mundane things, and my self-esteem is through the roof. In my hypomanic episodes, there is often a huge increase in goal-directed activities; I love taking on leadership roles. I’m fueled by a vision and an energy. But it isn’t a comfortable, good-night’s-rest energy. It’s a do-it, do-it, do-it, do-it, do-it, do-it energy. I’ve heard people say they wish they had hypomanic episodes, but imagine not needing sleep and getting almost too much stuff done! I acknowledge the silver-linings, but I feel so isolated. I am never on anyone’s level. I’ve been sober for five years, because being on that level on top of a hypomanic episode is too intense – dangerous even.

In these episodes, my thoughts won’t stop racing. They bounce off of each other in my head and get so loud I can actually hear them. Sometimes they sounds like instruments. I’ve come up with some pretty catchy songs. But sometimes they just sound like people screaming.

My Direct Connection to the Universe

Two years ago, I ran out of mood stabilizers before I had a chance to get more. My panic was manifested by a fear that running out of medication would result in my demise. I find that when my anxiety peaks, it reaches a threshold that forces me to do something, to get my life together. This anxiety manifests as a small motivation, and when it gains momentum, snowballs into my hypomanic episodes. Finding myself without a way to medicate myself, I prayed to G-d.

At that point in my life, I had abandoned religion and the idea of “G-d”, because I could not fathom that G-d would allow such pain in my life. Yet, after years of rebelling against the Church and organized religion, there I was, praying to G-d. Praying that I would find strength to go to class, find the will not to take my life after all the medication finally metabolized.

It was powerful, this prayer. The words popped into my head; a voice told me that I don’t need to abandon a higher power even if I have qualms with the hypocrisy of the church, or the patriarchal way of calling a higher power by “Him” and our “Lord”.  I felt G-d in that moment. She was in my room. I asked Her what I needed to do to survive. She told me I needed a temple, a shrine. Things around the room caught my eye. Everyday objects like books or pencils told me that they were the ways I could drag myself out of the depression. G-d herself told me to lay them in a way that means something. It all made sense to me. I cleaned dirty clothes from the floor, made my bed, and took a shower, washing away weeks of depression. I didn’t need medication for another year.

Currently, I’m back on mood stabilizers, but a minimal dose. My therapist and I have decided I’ve been stable for nearly half a year, which would mean I can start the termination process of my sessions. I know how to avoid episodes outside my window of tolerance, either too high or too low. However, they’re not completely inevitable.

In my elevated episodes, I pray. I pray all the time. I pray in the car, at the beach, while I’m dancing. I dance just to pray. And prayer overwhelms me in these moments. I think of everyone in my life. Best friends, family, Leviathan team members, the sailing team, my housemates, all my exes, all my oppressors. I cry and cry, but I pray over everyone I know and what I hope for them. I’m filled with the overwhelming belief that they will all be taken care of because of my prayer. When life goes in their favor, I know that I manifested their well-being. In these episodes I feel this deep connection to the universe.

The human experience feels a bit like a game to me. It looks like a chutes and ladders. Decisions are dice rolls. Ladders are upward mobility. The universe tells me how to navigate the system. I know how to roll the dice to get to the number I want. The way I hold myself, how I carry intention, how I portray compassion, how I take risks are all calculated by the universe. In these episodes, everything is a sign; coincidences do not exist. When I follow the universe’s advice, it’s impossible to land on a chute. However, in this elevated level, I can’t credit any success to myself. I am not human – I am energy. I become aware of the atoms moving around me and I am soon diminished into other atoms. I become the Universe’s instrument, not sent here as a second coming of Jesus, but close. My purpose is to bring peace into the world, through the universe in my human body.

In these episodes, I become frustrated that the universe does not have a direct connection with everyone. I cannot fathom why people don’t see the right answers or understand that we are all embraced by eternal love and light.

My Life as a Dichotomy

But my life is a dichotomy. As soon as I settle back into my base level, my faith disappears. I become critical again. Anxiety overwhelms me in my come-downs because I don’t know what I mean for the Earth. Obviously I am not the second coming of Jesus. Obviously my thoughts and actions cannot control the well-being of others. The Bible on my desk and the rosary above my bed become ironic artifacts that I use to spite G-d because I hold a grudge against Him (sorry Mom and Dad). It’s impossible to wrap my head around why I hold such a radical contrast in these states, but I think my brain is just wired that way. All I can do is ride the wave.

March of the Living

Written and photographed by Ethan Shohet

For many people, high school is a time to find their passions, interests, and develop character, before further evolving these interests and engaging with others during college. Comparable to any other student, I developed an interest for sports, gaming, and going out with friends, amongst other activities. One aspect, however, was missing from my life which I had never realized until high school came to an end and I moved away to college, where I had a chance to reflect on my upbringing. I had very little connection to my Jewish heritage,  and although my parents instilled a level of values within me, I did not have a true understanding of what it meant to be Jewish, and the weight that carried to people who experienced tragedies such as the Holocaust. At that time, I did not know I would be traveling to another country to learn the entirety of my religion and the history behind it.

As senior year of high school came to an end, my father decided to sign me up for a program called March of the Living. This program is run by an organization that marches across a large part of Poland, consisting of a 3-kilometer walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau with thousands of individuals representing Jewish culture once a year, every year, as a remembrance of those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. It is a reminder to the world that although our people were damaged and distraught, the living still walk and continue the traditions and beliefs of our religion, despite Germany’s attempt to eradicate the Jewish people.

Hesitant to take the two week long trip given that I did not know a single person within the delegation, I took a leap of faith and packed my bags for the thirteen hour flight to Poland. The first part of the trip was spent in Poland visiting Nazi concentration camps, museums, and roaming Warsaw to learn about its history. The most emotional part of the trip was taking tours inside gas chambers and other rooms used to exterminate Jewish people. These areas had a silent but eerie feeling knowing that people like yourself had perished in the very place you stood. The second part of the trip was going to Israel to see how the culture has changed and to experience the people within the Jewish state.

Our first stop was arguably the most well-known area related to the Holocaust, Auschwitz. It is located in Oświęcim, Poland. Collectively, Auschwitz alone accounted for 1,000,000 Jewish deaths during the Holocaust, showing the major thought put into the systematic design of the camp to effectively kill a human being. First, we were taken to the front gates, where a train would bring in hundreds of Jewish prisoners. Immediately, Nazi personnel would begin separating families by women, men, and children. Many times, children and women were misled into thinking they would be getting food or showers, but were immediately killed off in large cremation chambers resembling fireplaces. This was because they were of no use to the Nazis if they did not provide physical strength needed for slave labor. After this “weeding” process, the remaining prisoners were taken to their living quarters. Our organization as a whole took hours touring these facilities, which resembled large wooden barns. Sleeping areas were large wooden boards; bathrooms were large cement  structures within the barns with holes in the grounds, most of which were rarely ever cleaned. These living environments themselves caused massive diseases, flus, and sicknesses to quickly spread amongst the Jewish prisoners, slowly killing them or weakening their body’s health, regardless of Nazi intervention.

Many people have a common misunderstanding of how Jewish people were truly exterminated in these camps. Although gas chambers were a common method, there were several other inhumane methods the Nazis used to murder innocent people. In the minds of the Nazis, they wanted to optimize the process and make killing as time efficient as possible while reducing the need for cleanup and other residual factors. They treated Jewish people as products manufactured within a factory. After touring the living facilities, our group was taken to several areas where the killings actually occurred.

We started with the gas chambers, where the immediate impression was of distinct blue stains all over the floors and walls. This was due to the use of a chemical called Zyklon-B, commonly used in killing rodents. Nazis would drop pieces of this chemical down the air-shafts of the chambers, which would then cause a chemical reaction in the rooms, resulting in a complete lack of oxygen. Inevitably, every person in the room would slowly and painfully suffocate, when they had believed it was time for a shower. This method was used so often that many of the walls were almost completely stained a dull-blue color.

From here we were taken into cremation chambers, which to me was the most inhumane use of industrial equipment I had ever seen. Upon entering the building I noticed a permanent burnt smell, likely the ashes of those who lost their lives being brushed up off the floor. Straight ahead were rows of coffin-like beds that slid in and out of brick ovens. Bodies were placed into these beds, pushed into the large fire chambers, and the ashes were collected and piled up outside, another psychological effect on prisoners who were still alive. The entire killing process only took a few minutes per person, and could be done non-stop throughout the day with very little clean up. Nazis created a manufactured and efficient process to exterminate a body, hence why the death count in Auschwitz is far above other camps. People who attempted escapes or did not conform to the Nazis agenda were either shot on sight or used in torturous science experiments run by commanders in the camp. Auschwitz is known as the largest death camp in the history of Holocaust and continues to have a saddening environment even today. However, another camp in particular resonated with me: the Treblinka extermination camp.

Treblinka is located north-east of Warsaw. It was an extermination camp that was responsible for approximately 700,000-900,000 Jewish deaths during the Holocaust, as it was located in a German occupied area in Poland. The most startling fact about this camp was how intact all areas of the camp are. Living facilities, chambers, and other extermination areas, as well as Nazi living quarters, all look like they could still be in use. It was not destroyed when Germany’s rule came to an end. It is often theorized that the camp itself is so unblemished that it could be up and running within 72 hours. Touring this camp gave a much truer and realistic image of what these people were experiencing because nothing was destroyed, compared to Auschwitz.

As a reflection of what we had experienced in Poland, we were enroute for a week-long stay in Israel, specifically moving between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. After the emotional impact of the prior week in Poland, we were given a chance to unwind and truly enjoy the Jewish state as whole. Visiting landmarks such as the Western Wall, I felt truly connected with the people I was traveling with, but more so with the people currently living their everyday life in Israel. The utter amount of acceptance within the state is astounding. In areas there are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, even atheist people living amongst one another, in peace. Traveling in street markets such as the well-known Carmel market, and tasting the true cuisine and culture of the Jewish people was refreshing given the authenticity of the culture flourishing. This was by far the most enjoyable moment as it was a significant environmental shift from what we had been surrounded by in Poland. Moving between street markets, restaurants, and live musicians in the streets, it was truly an experience that will not be forgotten. Many people on the trip, who I now consider life-long friends, decided to permanently move the Israel and join the army to further support their people and uphold their desire to stand strong against those attempting to eradicate our beliefs and traditions.

As the trip came to an end, and we made our way to the airport for a long plane ride back home, I began to reflect on what I experienced. From the suffering and literal extermination residue I had seen, to the happy and extravagant people in the state of Israel, I left with a simple thought: understanding your past helps you empathize for the experiences of the future.

Photos, top to bottom:

Aushwitz, Poland

Radegast Train Station near Lodz, Poland

Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

‘Faggot Jew’: Erasure of Whiteness Across Borders

Written and illustrated by Jackson Patrick-Sternin

I identify as a bisexual cisgender white man. I am slim with a slight build, above average height, and at least passably good looking. I am masculine enough to easily pass for straight when necessary. I am loud; I take up more than my fair share of space in a room. I am quick to argue and find pleasure in tearing into ideas and statements I don’t agree with. In the liberal hubs I call home – New York City and San Francisco – I am the living embodiment of an oppressor; I am inherently dangerous. Save the jargon, I’ve known this for some time. I attended a 98% white high school with an average family income of $400,000 per year. I was not among this rich class; for a period, my family depended on food stamps and welfare. Yet, I was granted a top tier education, safety, and legal treatment that comes with being among the Ultra Rich. Unsurprisingly, relative to the greater metropolitan area, my school was a microcosm of neoliberal bigotry. I became aware that I had the privilege of being excluded from the derogatory words of my peers and soon considered myself lucky to be born in this time and place and body. My budding queerness was all but invisible to my peers and my ethnic Judaism never seemed to bother anyone.

In the summer after my freshman year of high school, I was invited to stay with my aunt, uncle, and young cousin in southern Italy for two months. I said yes. It wasn’t until a week before I got on the plane that I was informed I’d be staying in a monastery with forty members of Communion and Liberation, a large Catholic pseudo-cult founded on an ideology of blanket faith. Perhaps the most conniving form of religious doctrine, Communion and Liberation villainized any and all other lifestyles as a direct route to Eternal Torture. Only one way of thinking and one set of stances were accepted as being heaven-worthy in the eyes of their G-d. I still went, as I knew it would be my only opportunity to visit a different country for some time.

After three days of travel from New York to Milan to southern Puglia, I was herded into an Italian mass. I reminded my family that I do not speak Italian and was not in fact Christian, rather an agnostic who subscribed more to a moderate Jewish doctrine than anything else. I was told I was lost and needed to find my way. I was on the fast track to a flame filled afterlife …but there was good news: I could still escape hell. There’s always good news. The words left a bad taste in my mouth, but I shrugged it off easily enough. As a queer Jew living with forty strict bastardized-Catholicism subscribers possessing no apparent freedom of thought, I was well aware that I likely had no one in my corner.

Somehow, this didn’t stop me from being attracted to some of the Italian men I was living with, and certainly didn’t stop me from being attracted to some of the locals. Funny how that works, yeah? Generally, with friends, I wouldn’t have to hide that in any real way. They had known me for so long that this evolution of my person was not detected. Sometimes I caught myself eyeing a boy while with my friends, but they never took notice.

One day, I asked a man named Andréaus – one of three people in the group that spoke English – something along the lines of, “What do you think of gay people? Do you side with the Catholic Church, or?” Andréaus responded that the Catholic Church is not hard enough on Fags. He said that we should be putting them to death and if he ever came across a Faggot, he thought he would kill them on sight. My blood was boiling. This man did not see me as human, or wouldn’t, if he knew who I was. I eyed a rock nearby and momentarily fantasized about standing over him, rock in hand. I’d say, “I kiss boys” before driving it down. Instead, with a tight lipped smile, I asked him where he learned the word “Faggot.” He told me he learns American curse words from South Park. I chuckled and said, “Right on. I hear you, Andréaus.”

With the understanding that one person’s ideology likely permeates the cult at large, I had to confront my family members with the same question. I caught my aunt alone at the beach. I imagined that on her own, she would tell me how she really felt, and I wasn’t wrong. In response to the same question, she told me that sodomy was a hell-worthy sin which “must be stopped,” a polite way of saying the same thing Andréaus so bluntly offered. She also told me that she has gay friends, but they are abstinent, and perfectly happy with it! They lead fulfilling lives, never indulging in the torture-worthy act of making love. Not one to leave anything unsaid, she added her thoughts on how disgusting it is that gays can adopt – some form of mass child abuse. Forget the myriad of predator priests shown to be granted protection in the Vatican, there are thousands of dads out there who kiss men! I didn’t have the same visceral, way-too-internally violent reaction, but I struggled with a response. Receiving these words from a person I loved and trusted threw me off guard. There were so many things I wanted to say, but I didn’t. Instead I smiled and nodded and said “gotchya, was just curious” and I felt exceptionally alone. When I noticed a guy on the beach, I made sure not to do so much as an extra glance.

I didn’t think much of the belief that Jews are going to burn in Hell for an eternity, as it seemed just about everyone that wasn’t in Communion and Liberation was heading there as well. I mean shit, if all the fags  are down there, that’s where I want to be! Hell was starting to sound like a grand ole time.

Welcome to Eternal Torture! Kikes and Fags and Sodomites Galore! Nonrefundable. Enjoy your stay.

The boys in the cult had a nickname for me, I forget the word now, it may have been ebreo. Doesn’t really matter. During dinner one night I decided to google the word, and discovered that my nickname was simply, “The Jew,” or rather, something closer to “Kike.” Between this and the whole “death to fags” thing, I was getting a taste of a certain type of fear I’d never experienced, which was soon amplified tenfold.

After dinner that same night, I left the monastery to walk down to the local bar. This had become a key component of my nightly routine; a glass of whisky or three was the only way my fifteen-year-old-mind could feel at ease. The bartenders also had a nickname for me: Tennessee. They loved me at the bar; a peppy fifteen-year-old American boy with a penchant for Jack Daniels and dancing. Good times were had. That night, however, I only made it a few steps out  of the monastery.

Across the street under tungsten street light glow, I saw my five-year-old cousin standing with a group of cult boys about my age. His hand was raised, stick straight, angled just above his  head. One of the boys spoke: Ripetio dopo di me, Heil Hitler. My little cousin, who still wobbled when he ran and cried if his favorite toy was taken away, obliged. In his squeaky little five-year-old voice, with his hand raised stick straight, the words Heil Hitler escaped his lips. Except, he couldn’t make is L or rolled-R sounds yet, so it came out like Heiwl Hitwe. It was the sickest, most twisted form of cute I ever hope to see. At that, my whiteness was erased. The body I inhabit was abruptly and thoroughly criminalized. I was staying with a large crowd that believed I’d be better off dead, and I thought may very well make it so if they somehow caught on to who I was. I spent the rest of my time in Italy in a state of constant anxiety. The worry that one of the boys would get brave or drunk and deal me a hate-filled, potentially lethal beating was at the forefront of my mind. I don’t remember much after that night. From the Nazi salute forward, every morning I stole four beers from the stash in the kitchen. After my morning coffee I would drink my way to lunch, where I would have the one beer I was actually allowed to drink. After lunch I stole four more beers to get me through to dinner. One beer with dinner. Three beers to get me down to the bar, then I drank until I blacked out and woke up to another fear-filled day. I drowned the rest of that summer in beer and whisky.

Thankfully, that beating never came, and I flew back to New York at the end of August. Upon arrival, the relief that washed over me was palpable. I was now exceptionally thankful to pass for white in the place I lived, for straight, for the time and place and body in which I was born. I was also wracked with (very) problematic White Guilt. I felt empathy for the masses I play a part in oppressing in a new way; I don’t know the struggle of my marginalized fellows by any means, but I got a taste, and it scared me good.

Through this experience, I learned firsthand that race and ethnicity are social constructs and nothing more. In the United States, “white” is synonymous with oppressor, and “white” is an enormous blanket term for any ethnicity or person that lacks substantial melanin in their complexion. This is not so across the Atlantic, where I found myself that summer. Oddly enough, this experience instilled hope. There’s no difference between the mind of a child born into Communion and Liberation and one born into the 21st century urban culture of New York City. If my queer, Jewish body can be spared discrimination in the time and place I live, the same can be true for each and every marginalized individual. I gained a new faith that a social construct, however engrained, can eventually be broken.

(RE)learning Hebrew

Written and illustrated by Amanda Leiserowitz

When I was eighteen, I came across an album in Hebrew. The title, גרמנים באוגנדה, translates to Germans in Uganda, by Ram Orion, רם אוריון. A few years ago, I could not have read that title or the author’s name, because despite knowing many of the letters, the title and author both lack vowels.

At the time of finding this album, I listened to it on repeat, even though it’s not really the kind of music I’m into – some of the songs are slow and sad. Others are funky, including synths and sound effects I can barely begin to describe without playing the song. As such, I don’t really listen to Germans in Uganda much any more, but it comes on in my song library sometimes when I’m shuffling through my music. At the time – and still now – the biggest thing that struck me about the music was that the words felt very familiar; the shape of them in my ears, really, though the meaning was absolutely lost on me. I had grown up listening to bits and pieces of Hebrew.

As a child, I learned conversational Hebrew in preschool and first grade; after that, I continued to learn prayers and Torah stories and how to read the Torah and sing the trope for my Bat Mitzvah. I visited Israel with my temple’s youth group, where many people spoke Hebrew around us, but to us – a group of American teenagers – mostly spoke English. It’s no wonder that a few years after that trip – and only a handful of years after my Bat Mitzvah – the words in the Ram Orion songs felt very familiar. I decided that regaining the conversational Hebrew skills I’d had as a child was important to me, something I should do before my career as a student was over.

This year, I embarked on that journey, beginning to relearn Hebrew. I started at Hebrew 1 in fall quarter, and while the letters and sounds came quickly back to me, that wasn’t the case with meaning. The scattershot vocabulary words I remembered – words like אמא ,אבא ,סבא ,סבתא – were not particularly helpful anymore, but I was very excited to begin revisiting the knowledge that I had once been close to obtaining.

As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one. Many of my peers had similar backgrounds, having learned various levels of Hebrew as kids and were now giving it another go as young adults. Yet others were just interested in the language (or a GPA bump). We all stumbled through the words the same, sounding out the letters and vowels together. It was encouraging to be surrounded by my peers, even if  we sounded like little kids, with basic sentences strung together with short vocabulary lists. By the end of fall quarter, I felt rather confident that I had learned a thing or two.

I was quickly proven wrong when I entered Hebrew 2 this winter – our professor started by asking us, mostly in Hebrew, how we were doing, what we had done over break, and where we had gone. Sitting in Hebrew 2 on the first day, every scant bit of knowledge I’d picked up about the past tense, and the meaning of basic verbs, seemed to have escaped my memory.

While I continue to learn Hebrew, I just as often continue to feel out of my depth. Yet, I feel optimistic that I can pick up even more of the language going forward. And while I may never be fluent, I’ve been able to pick out a few phrases from Ram Orion’s album, and that’s pretty exciting to me – even if all it is are small phrases like “yesterday was good” – אתמול היה טוב.

Alebalu Pollow – Rice with Cherries

Written and photographed by Tamar Weir and Irit Weir

Ingredients:
2-3 cups of rice. Two cups will be enough for 6 people
Salt
Fresh cherries – do not ask me how much – let’s say two cups, keeping in mind that cherries shrink when you cook them

½ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 stick of butter
2-3 potatoes to peel and cut around in diameter of 1 cm
Turmeric
Saffron (put in 5 tablespoons of hot water or more for few minutes)

To prepare the cherries:


Remove pit from cherries and chop to quarters – cook with half cup of sugar. Then add a teaspoon of rose water. Cook for up to half an hour. Next, strain and keep the juice. Add a teaspoon of butter and cinnamon to the cherry mix.

To decorate with:


Thin almonds and pistachio sauté in butter for a few minutes.
Wash your basmati rice and strain – cook and boil in water and salt that covers the rice. Cook
the rice halfway. Strain.
In a Teflon pot, arrange the potato slices and cover the bottom of the pot. Make sure there is enough olive oil so that the potatoes do not stick. Sauté for 7 minutes. Do not turn or burn.


Potatoes:

Sprinkle half a teaspoon of turmeric on top of the potatoes and then 3 full table
spoons of the semi-cooked rice. Then push it in the space in between the potatoes and sauté for another few minutes. Add another layer of rice on top and arrange the cherry mix in another layer. Then add the remaining rice. When it is warm, add the saffron mix with water on the top and cover with a towel. Let cook for another twenty minutes to a half hour. You might need to add more water to the saffron for a brighter color. The rice should be cooked on steam at this point. When ready add half a stick of butter to the rice and the cherry juice, and sprinkle almonds and pistachios on top.

Persian Kidoodeh Kabob Recipe

Written by Ethan Shohet

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

After every week I attended Temple, I made friends with an older man who created this recipe. For over four years, on Thursdays he would drive over an hour just to cook kabob for a group of young teens. After knowing him for so long, I decided to help him one night prepare all the food, and he taught me exactly how to make the recipe, skew the meat, and cook it.

Eventually, he moved cities with his brother which made his commute even longer, and it became difficult for him to attend every Thursday. Slowly he began coming less and less, and the Rabbi who owned the temple has asked me if I’d be able to make it for the group of roughly fifty teens because no one else knew how to correctly prepare and skewer the meat without it falling all over the grill.

I ended up taking on the task of preparing the meal, and it felt good to be part of the group every week to enjoy the food and to talk with the Rabbi and other members. I still keep in contact with the man (Farhad) and make his recipe whenever I return from college to see my family.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 tbsp each of garlic, salt, and pepper
  • 1 tspn turmeric
  • 8 flat kabob skewers

Directions (Completion approx. 1 hour):

  1. Using a food processor, grind up onion into fine pieces and begin mixing it with the ground beef.
  2. Add spices to the meat. Continue mixing together until you can stick in a finger and the consistency allows for meat to stick to your hand. If mixing takes too long, you can use the food processor to grind up the meat further (short bursts in the grinder).
  3. Let meat sit in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  4. Fill a cup with water and grab meat skewers.
  5. Dip the palm of your hand in water and begin shaping the meat onto the skewer. Clump meat around the skewer and slowly shape it into an even layer on both sides of the skewer (or it will fall off while on the grill).
  6. Cook meat on the grill while turning skewers every 60-90 seconds to evenly cook throughout.
  7. Bonus Ingredient: Add 1 tspn of Sriracha for a spicy kabob.

Persian Dolme Recipe

Written and photographed by Tamar Weir

Persian Dolme – Stuffed grape leaves. Safta Batia Dolme recipe.

I asked my mother for this recipe because this flavorful dish was always a staple in my childhood and brought me closer to the cooking process and culture of my family.

This recipe comes from my Persian grandmother who had such a great passion for cooking and providing love and nutrients to her loved ones from food.

The following is a quote from my mom:
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to interview my mom a few years before she experienced her stroke. This is one of my favorite dishes that my mom prepared with love. Of course, there are so many others.

I can tell you that my mom’s dolme is the best in the world and I am not just saying it… when you taste the complexity, the texture, you will see what I mean.


Her dolme has a sweet, sour and salty flavor and it takes forever to make, but my mom prepared it with love. Every parsley leaf was picked from its stem, leaf by leaf, with no rush, but total concentration with the process. I often complain about what my mom did not do for us, but when I try to roll those grape leaves, I have a total appreciation for my mom and all the time and energy she invested into feeding us five kids, plus our father who appreciated her food, and would only go out on a special occasion.”


Ingredients:
3 cups of rice
Grape leaves (buy them ready in a jar or pick fresh leaves from the garden. If not
young leaves will not taste good)
Mint leaves and parsley (chop small, enough to give taste and color)
½ cup of canola oil
Salt and pepper to your taste
1/2 tablespoon of tumeric
½ tablespoon of paprika
A little hot spicy pepper

A box of raisins

Apricot jam (you can substitute with another fruit jam or any sweet liquid jam)
1 white onion

½ cup of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of pomegranate sauce

Steps:

You boil the rice with extra water to cover the rice and cook ¼ of the way so it needs to be
half hard, al dente. Strain. Add the mint, oil, and spices.


Chop small cubes of ¾ white onion and fry a little bit. Then add it to the rice.
Add jam and the whole box of raisins, lemon juice and pomegranate sauce.
Mix it all up.

In a big pot, arrange 2 layers of onion in a ring shape, either fried or not.

After stuffing the grape leaves, arrange in a circular way.


In between the layers add dried apricot, dried prune, red beets, or any dried fruit.
When the pot is full, take the rest of the leaves and cover the top layer.


The liquid to pour over the stuffed leaves:


In a bowl, mix olive oil, water, lemon juice, pomegranate juice and jam, and pour over the
whole thing.
On a medium flame cook for a while (about half an hour) and then rest in the
oven at 350 for a few hours. Make sure you still have liquid, otherwise it will be too
tired if you over cook.

How to stuff the leaves:
Place the leaf on a plate with the shiny side down and the veins facing you. Remove
the stem and than add a tablespoonful of the mixture in the lower part – the wider portion of the leaf and then fold the area that is the closest to you, then fold the right and left side inward and start rolling away from you as your dolme starts to become rolled.

Important note:Try not to get too discouraged, rolling in a tight manner is quite hard and takes a lot of practice. So if you are a beginner, your dolmes might not look too pretty, but practice will create tighter and easier to eat treats. And in any case, if they are made with love, the flavor is guaranteed.