Saturday, December 31, 2022

Philly Mass To Be Offered For Pope Benedict XVI

Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez, Archbishop of Philadelphia, will be the principal celebrant of Mass for the intention of the happy repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul and the Shrine of Saint Katherine Drexel, the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Most Reverend Daniel E. Thomas, Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo and a former Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, will concelebrate and preach the homily.

Sunday, January 1, 2023
 11:00 a.m.
 Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul
 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway
 Philadelphia, PA 19103

All people of goodwill are invited to participate in person or via live streaming video in prayerful solidarity with Catholics throughout the world as they mourn the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Beginning at 11:00 a.m., the Mass will be streamed live on the Archdiocesan Vimeo website, as well as on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Archbishop Pérez’s Facebook pages at and

Remembering A 'Good And Faithful Servant'

A very special message from Catholic Vote:

By now I suspect you have heard the news.


Our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed into eternal life at 9:34 AM this morning in Rome. 


As pope, cardinal, and theologian, Benedict XVI embodied the role of “servant of the servants of God.”


Americans had a special reason to love Benedict XVI, affectionately called “our German shepherd.” He challenged us to reflect deeply on the meaning of human freedom… and to resist the “dictatorship of relativism.” 


His words were prophetic: 


“We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” 

~Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Opening Homily of the 2005 Papal Conclave


Born as totalitarian regimes – including Nazism and communism – swept through Europe, he offered us a shining example of a true Christian response to tyranny and moral confusion: with faith, hope, and commitment to the dignity of the human person grounded in authentic freedom.


Pope Benedict XVI helped us to understand what it means to be American and to be Catholic.


We pray for the repose of his soul and that his witness might inspire us to be equally courageous soldiers of Jesus Christ in the service of Holy Mother Church. 


Well done, good and faithful servant.


May his soul and those of the faithful departed rest in peace.


Brian Birch, President,


New Years Eve And Day: Dumb And Dumber!

We've always pretty much hated New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

But for a long time we couldn't figure out why.
Now, we finally get it: They're downright innocuous.
Here then, in no particular order are the Ten Big Reason why the New Year's "holiday" is dumb, dumb, dumb:
1) There is absolutely no significant historical meaning to the day.
2) How many bowl games can you watch, anyway?
3) The day celebrates not the beginning of anything but rather the end -- the end of the joyous holiday season.
4) The Tournament of Roses Parade and other New Year's spectacles are all pretty much the same year-after-year.
5) You know it's true: Nobody keeps New Year's resolutions.
6) Celebrating the passing of time is like celebrating the inexorable march to your own death.
7) After Christmas, no other holiday on the immediate horizon can compete.
8) By January 1 you're completely stuffed and don't even wanna look at food. You're facing the grueling regimen of a diet.
9) All you have to look forward to are the two bleakest months of the year: January and February (and March ain't much better).
10) It'll take you weeks to get used to writing 2012 and you may still be thinking 2011 even in April.
The bottom line: New Year's Day is just another day on the calendar.

The Last Great Defender Of The Faith

 Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, 1927 - 2022 - Requiem en pace. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

PC File: WTF Is THIS All About?

23 People To Watch in 2023

And now, the positive flip side of our "disappear" list - the eminently selective People to Watch in 2023. Here they are in no particular order:

Ron DeSantis - If this guy isn't at the top of your list, you haven't been paying attention.

Gavin Newsom - Star quality and unbridled ambition. Watch out, America!

Jalen Hurts - If he's ready, there's no stopping him.

Nikki Haley - What she decides, who she supports could be critical.

Harrison Ford - Far from finished. In fact, he's all set for a Yellowstone prequel and other projects.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders - Wouldn't be the first time a Governor of Arkansas captivated the nation and soared right to the top.

Volodymyr Zelensky - In a world awash in victims, here's a true warrior! 

Anna Paulina Luna - If you haven't yet heard of this new Florida congresswoman, you will!

Elon Musk - Don't ever, ever count this guy out.

JD Vance - What do ya do after ya write a blockbuster bestseller? Stay tuned. And thanks, Ohio!

Benjamin Netanyahu - The world's most enduring leader is back -- and as fearless as ever!

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors - She's staked the whole future of the company on e-cars. The die has been cast.

Pope Francis - With Pope Emeritis Benedict failing, is the time approaching for Francis to step down?

Alan Domb - Can a smart, sensible, mainstream candidate ever become Mayor of Philadelphia again? Are you listening, Philly? Are you?

Josh Shapiro - You don't really think sleepy 'ole Harrisburg will satiate him, do you? Take cover. His appetite for power is boundless.

Jordan Donica (pictured) - Set to take center stage in the big, new production of Camelot, this leading man is the future of Broadway.

Amy Coney Barrett - Her vote could be critical in more than a few cases soon facing the high court. And she's just getting started.

Cillian Murphy - Taking the namesake role in the widely-anticipated new flick, Oppenheimer. Kaboom!

Marsha Blackburn - One of the feistiest, most media-savvy senators in Washington. And the GOP will need every one of her many talents.

David Oh - Can a Republican win in Philly? OH, yes! You bet he can. He's already proved that.

Tom Kean Jr. - In an era writing death notices for dynasties, here's one that lives on. Hooray!

Krysten Sinema - Now she says she's an independent. But how will she vote? That's the key.

Lea Michelle and Julie Benko - Lea's the star but Julie's the backup (and lead every Thursday) in Funny Girl on Broadway. They're both great and set to charm audiences well into the new year.

And one more, just for fun: Matt Rooney - Not just a person to watch but now a person to listen to on Philly's Big Talker, radio giant, WPHT. Our Save Jersey bud is making quite a name for himself -- and the sky's the limit! GoGoGo!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Remembering Beloved Soccer Legend Pelé . . .

Pelé, the Brazilian king of soccer who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the last century, died Thursday. He was 82.

The standard-bearer of “the beautiful game” had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021. He had been hospitalized for the last month with multiple ailments.

His agent Joe Fraga confirmed his death.

Read more: Soccer Legend Pelé Dies at 82 |

23 People Who Should Disappear in '23

And now, in no particular order, here is our own personal 23 SKIDOO!

Mike Lindell - The pillow's still fluffy but you've gone flat.

Meghan and Harry - Want privacy? Scram!

Kanye West - Take a break, get therapy!

Mitch McConnell - Be less like a turtle and more like the Roadrunner. Meep, meep!

Beyoncé - Ever heard of overexposure?

Mitt Romney - The simple truth is, you're boring.

Kamala Harris - It ain't funny. Stop laughing!

Roger Goodell - So slick, it should be easy for you to simply slip out of sight.

Mark Zuckerberg - Your new virtual reality: go home and fold your money.

Phil Murphy - If you leave now, you'll have plenty of time to get your teeth fixed.

Michael Strahan - No, we haven't forgotten the way you treated Kelly, you cad!

Liz Cheney - Shut up already!

Whoopi Goldberg - You're living proof that there's no fool like an old fool.

Taylor Swift - You single handedly made "greed" a four-letter word.

Vladimir Putin - You didn't really think you'd be Person of the Year, did you?

Sam Bankman-Fried - We hardly got to know 'ya but we're already sick of 'ya!

Kenney and Krasner - You two are weirdly co-dependent. Be gone!

Beto O'Rourke and Stacey Abrams - The people have spoken, and spoken, and spoken . . .

Colbert, Fallon and Kimmel - You've all given us a great reason to turn in early.

Tom Brady - There's no more to prove. You can leave now. It's OK.

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen - See Beyoncé.

Bob Jordan (pictured) CEO of Southwest Airlines - After you've delivered the last piece of misplaced luggage to its rightful owner, don't let the door hit you in the ass.

Biden and Trump - We never thought you'd wind up together but obsolescence works in strange ways.

And just one more, for fun: Pinocchio - You were much, much better in 1940, little guy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

We Couldn't Have Said It Better . . .


EU Must End Hostility To Israel!

Forty members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, have responded to a leaked European Union strategy document which detailed how the organization seeks to further its hostile activities toward Israel. In a letter to European Union officials, the Israeli lawmakers highlighted “the one-sidedness and animosity of the EU towards the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” drawing attention to fact that the EU and member states provide “ongoing and continuous contribution, both direct and indirect, to campaigns designed to tarnish Israel’s name, from blood libels regarding alleged violence on the part of settlers, through unfounded accusations that Israel deliberately harms children, to specious comparisons of the policies of the government of the State of Israel to those of the Apartheid regime in South Africa of yesteryear.” 
 The letter also cites the fact that the EU “completely ignores our people’s historical affinity to our homeland, completely ignores the political agreements and the status of the State of Israel in Area C and seeks to establish the 1949 borders as Israel’s final-status permanent borders – in complete disregard of the Jewish communities in the area.” Area C is a section of Judea and Samaria mistakenly but commonly referred to as “the West Bank,” that is under Israeli jurisdiction. The 1949 armistice lines are frequently, but also incorrectly, called “the 1967 borders,” describing Israel’s boundaries prior to the 1967 defensive war in which Israel prevailed over multiple Arab armies sworn to her destruction. Israeli statesman Abba Eban once described the 1949 map as “for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz.” 
 Zionist Organization of America National President Morton A. Klein stated, “The continent of Europe, which is soaked in the blood of millions of Jews, has no business intruding in the affairs of, let alone undermining, the Jewish state of Israel. Since the sacking of Jerusalem and the expulsion of many of the Jews of Judea by the Roman empire, Jews have been subject to the whims of Europeans for thousands of years. Since the establishment of the modern state of Israel, which democratically elects its leaders who set national policy, that can and must no longer be the case. The EU and member states have no right nor reason to interfere with Israeli sovereignty. As the child of Holocaust survivors and having lost most of my family to the antisemitism of Europe, I can hardly find any activity more outrageous.”

Monday, December 26, 2022

This Guy Ain't Afraid Of NOBODY!


Here's Why They Call It 'Boxing Day'

Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain and most of the Commonwealth nations.

The day after Christmas is customarily observed as a legal holiday.
No, the Brits do not all run out to boxing matches.But they do enjoy soccer games today and they do lots of shopping today as well. The Queen and her entourage (such as they are) engage in fox hunting.
Where did the day get its name?
No one quite knows.
Many think it comes from the idea of boxing up Christmas stuff and/or sorting through your Christmas boxes (your gifts). But history says this is also the day when servants would get their Christmas gifts (cash and/or boxed treats) from their masters -- a sort of littler, humbler Christmas. 
Here's how it worked: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.
It was also a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. In England Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. 
It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price reductions. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest amount of returns. In the UK it's estimated that up to 12 million shoppers appear at the sales, a rise of almost 20%  each year. 
So, in the spirit of the day -- box, shop, spend, eat, dink and enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2022

An Amazing Christmas 'Labor Of Love'!

VIDEO: King Charles' Christmas Message

A Bit Of Nostalgic Christmas Frivolity

President Reagan's Enduring Christmas Message


This enduring and inspiring Christmas message from President Ronald Reagan was delivered in 1981. It was the end of a difficult year for President Reagan as he nearly lost his life to a would-be assassin earlier that year.
But President Reagan recovered from those gunshot wounds and vowed that "whatever days I have left are owed to and given back to Him."
President Reagan was never afraid to reference God or Christmas or Jesus. He remembered and took great pride in our nation's Judeo-Christian heritage. He also viewed all human life as a sacred gift from God.
Like many of Reagan's utterances, this message endures. It's timeless quality stems from the deep-seated values that Reagan cherished -- the values that should form the basis of our nation and our democracy.
Let's not forget them.

Top 25 Reasons To LOVE Christmas!

Christmas has has never really had an easy time of it.
And, in the modern era, too many people have tried to secularize the holiday as well. They've wanted to take the "Christmas" out of December 25.
But Christmas has a stubborn way of re-emerging -- not just because we need it but because it really is deeply meaningful. And right now, it seems to be on the ascendency again. Still, we must all do our part to continue to refocus on Christmas and nurture this glorious celebration.
With that in mind, here are the 25 Top Reasons To Love Christmas:

1) The Nativity. Mary, Joseph and the Christ child. The true meaning of the day and the rightful center of our focus.

2) Fresh Christmas greens. Fragrant, vivid and constant, evergreens help us look forward to the seasons ahead.

3) Christmas trees. A link to the natural world that we enhance during the Christmas season.

4) Angels we have heard on high. To quote Chekov: "We shall find peace. We shall hear angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds."

5) Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and all the other books and stories about Christmas.

6) Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life" and all the other classic Christmas movies that have become treasured traditions. 

7) Christmas lights. From the ones in your window or on your lawn to the department store spectacles, they all shine brightly and send a shimmering message of hope.

8) Snow. Or ant least the thought of snow. It's the one time of the year that many of us can tolerate the white stiff. And ooohhh, those snowflakes! 

9) Silent Night and all the other Christmas carols as well as more modern, popular Christmas songs. 

10) Christmas around the world. Joyeux Noel. Feliz Navidad. Buon Natale. Mele Kalikimaka. God Jul. 

11) Christmas with our troops. Let's not forget them as they protect us while everyone else celebrates. And all the first responders as well!

12) Christmas Eve. A night for reflection and high anticipation. 

13) The march of the wooden soldiers and all those other wonderful Christmas toys. 

14) Jingle Bells. The sound of these festive bells is the sound of Christmas calling.

15) Christmas morning. The fulfillment of wonder and the delight of children

16) Christmas scents: Gingerbread, evergreens, panettone, roast turkey, sugar 'n spice. 

17) Mistletoe. Still a great excuse for kissing, IF you need one. 

18) The Italian Seven Fishes Feast. If you haven't enjoyed it, you haven't known Christmas Eve. 

19) Christmas cookies. The sweetest annual indulgence. 

20) Family. As much as we sometimes complain, we're grateful for all of them, right? 

21) Country Christmas. If you haven't been to Nashville or Branson at Christmas, well . . . . 

22) Silver Bells. We really like the ones that the Salvation Army rings. Have you given this year? 

23) Christmas excess -- especially over-the-top decorations. C'mon, it only happens once a year. 

24) Christmas candy. You can always start your diet on January 2. 

25) Christmas in your heart. Treasure it! 

Christmas Through The Years: A Patina Of Memories!


As the years go by, Christmas memories take on a sort of black and white patina -- or so it seems.

Anyway, it's once again Christmas, a joyous time of the year.

And I see dead people.

They are all around me and they are here to celebrate Christmas with me.
I turn on the TV and Jimmy Stewart is racing down Main Street in Bedford Falls hoping to escape the confines of a small town but knowing that he never will.
And Alastair Sim, the quintessential Scrooge, is grimacing in the classic black-and-white version of everyone's favorite Christmas tale.
And in living color I still see Judy Garland and Bing Crosby and Perry Como and Dinah Shore and Andy Williams singing Christmas songs. Judy's still full of pathos as she tenderly sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
Jack Benny is here too and so is Lucy in a tender episode that ends with five Santas where there should be only one. One of the Santas just may be . . . could it really be?
And when I turn on the radio. I hear Christmas carols by Luciano Pavarotti and Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra and Mahalia Jackson and Mario Lanza.
On You Tube I watch President Reagan deliver a Christmas message from the White House. The President is warm and reassuring and he speaks confidently of faith in God and our Judeo-Christian heritage.

My mind tumbles back to the gritty, industrial city that I grew up in -- a riverfront city that didn't realize back then that its glory days were already behind it. It's a bleak, damp, gray December day but I'm warm and secure in the confines of my father's old Plymouth as we rush from place to place through narrow city streets marked by row houses and the occasional corner store.
We don't speak very much but I'm so happy to be with him. He's making lots of stops, picking up small treats and gifts from a variety of friends and businesspeople for whom he may have done odd jobs during the year. Whatever he manages to gather will help to make our Christmas a bit happier.
Even in the run up to Christmas, he's a tough negotiator. He barters with merchants and grocers. as he tries to select just the right provisions for our Christmas feast.
He maneuvers through and around streets, neighborhoods and landmarks with the swiftness of a true native.
His energy fills the room wherever he goes. He's not a big guy but he makes a huge impact. And I know that as long as I'm by his side, no harm can come to me.

On Christmas eve aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors come and go as the all-night feast of the fishes drifts into the wee hours of Christmas day. The front door remains unlocked and all are welcome.
On Christmas morning the uncles begin their ritual home visitations, gathering more participants as they move from house to house. Demonstrative, boisterous and well-lubricated, they pass out silver dollars to the children. These will be accepted as treasured tokens and saved in a safe place.
Through it all I see my mother, full of wry wit, optimism and just the right perspective on the whole panoply. She's got a sharp eye and she's a great mimic as she jokes about people, places and personalities.
If you press her, she may even remember some of the people from her own earlier Christmases but she'd rather dwell in the present. She's very much about her own family, right here, right now.
Of course, now I understand why she took that approach.

As you get older, this is what happens.
Christmas isn't totally joyous. It isn't always candy canes and sugar plums.

Now, I'm the only one left from my immediate family of origin. My parents, my sister and my brother-in-law are all gone.
So many Christmas memories; so many Christmases past.
But Christmas in your heart means Christmas not just with your present-day family but also with those who have passed on, as loved ones never leave you since love is eternal.
So, while Christmas glows mightily in the eyes of your children and grandchildren, Christmas is also bittersweet.

Not to worry, though.
The memories are good. And the sights, sounds and glad tidings live within me.
Plus, at this time of year all of these people seem to come alive once again -- alive in a very special way. They are with me. They are part of me. And I treasure them even more as these memories are shared with present and newly arriving family members.
And I suppose that's one of the lessons of Christmas: Let all the people and the events and the memories of the Christmases past deepen and enrich your understanding of this wonderful holiday. Savor it all.
Bring them along with you. Let them walk by your side. Be strengthened by their presence and pass on what you know, who you are, how you feel, what you have learned.
And be proud, strong and tender -- especially for the children who watch you more closely now than at any other time of the year.
In that way, you'll keep the true spirit of Christmas.

This Christmas story has appeared (with slight modifications) every year since 2010 on the Dan Cirucci Blog as our gift to you.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

They Remain In Our Hearts, Forever!


Christmas In Italy: Wondrous, Indeed!


On Christmas Eve in Italy, Christmas trees are decorated, but the focal point of decoration is the Nativity scene. Italian nativity scenes are noted for their exquisite detail and elaborateness. Indeed, Italians take great pride in the creation of the manger, which was thought up in 1223 by St. Francis of Assisi, who wanted to involve the peasants in celebrating the life of Jesus. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City possesses a presepio from Naples that contains figurines carved from wood and dressed in garments of satin, along with 30 gold-trimmed angels of the Magi, all framed by majestic columns.

Interestingly enough, bagpipes are the most common Italian Christmas sound. The zampognari, the shepherds who play the bagpipes, come down from their mountain homes at Christmas time and perform in the market squares. The playing of bagpipes is popular in the regions of Calabria and Abruzzo, and in the piazzas of Rome.

The melodies played are adapted from old hill tunes. Modern zampognari wear the traditional outfits of sheepskin vests, leather breeches, and a woolen cloak. 
The tradition of bagpipes goes back to ancient Roman times. Legend says that the shepherds entertained the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem.
On Christmas, the zampognari perform their own private pilgrimage, stopping before every shrine to the Madonna and every Nativity scene.

Children in Italy believe in a female version of Santa Claus called La Befana, an old woman who flies on a broom and brings presents. 
According to Italian legend, Three Wise Men asked La Befana for directions to Bethlehem. La Befana was asked to join them but declined three times. It took an unusually bright light and a band of angels to convince La Befana that she must join the Wise Men, but she was too late. 
She never found the Christ child and has been searching ever since.

On January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, La Befana goes out on her broom to drop off stockings filled with treats to all the sleeping children of Italy.
Just as children in America leave milk and cookies for jolly Santa Claus, La Befana collects messages and refreshments throughout the night.

Christmas in Italy is truly wondrous and is celebrated with great fanfare and typical Italian demonstrativeness and great spirit. 

Buon Natale e tutti!

'When A Child Is Born . . .'

A ray of hope flickers in the skyA tiny star lights up way up highAll across the land, dawns a brand new mornThis comes to pass when a child is born
A silent wish sails the seven seasThe winds of change whisper in the treesAnd the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and tornThis comes to pass when a child is born
A rosy hue settles all aroundYou've got the feel you're on solid groundFor a spell or two, no one seems forlornThis comes to pass when a child is born
And all of this happens because the world is waiting,Waiting for one childBlack, white, yellow, no one knowsBut a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter,Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone's neighborAnd misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten, forever
It's all a dream, an illusion nowIt must come true, sometime soon somehowAll across the land, dawns a brand new mornThis comes to pass when a child is born
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Alberto Salerno / Bembo A Baldan / Ciro Dammicco / Francesco Specchia / Maurizio Seymandi
When a Child Is Born lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Friday, December 23, 2022

His Reaction? Complete And Utter Disdain!

Durr Calls Murphy Gun Restrictions 'Abomination'

New Jersey State Senator Ed Durr blasted Governor Phil Murphy’s signing of unconstitutional and nonsensical restrictions (A-4769/S-3214) on the concealed carrying of firearms in New Jersey:

Senator Ed Durr speaking against the ‘unconstitutional’ new restrictions on concealed carry permit holders that Governor Murphy signed into law during a floor debate on December 19, 2022. (YouTube/NJ Senate Republicans)

“The restrictions that Democrats and Governor Murphy enacted on concealed carry in New Jersey ignore the Second Amendment, defy the United States Supreme Court, and will do nothing to stop violent crimes committed with illegal guns.

“Thankfully, this unconstitutional law is already being challenged in federal court. Given the clear language of the Bruen ruling, it’s only a matter of time before this abomination of a law gets struck down.

“I’ll continue to fight for people’s rights and against Democrats who don’t believe that law-abiding New Jerseyans should be able to protect themselves.”

ZOA Welcomes New Netanyahu Government

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
The Zionist Organization of America congratulates Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, his Likud party and his coalition partners on Netanyahu’s announcement yesterday that he will be able to form a coalition government. In these times, when Israeli citizens are being subjected to seven terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinian Arab terrorists every day, it is vital that Israel have a strong government such as the incoming coalition, which is dedicated to protecting Israel’s rights and safety.
There is nothing “extreme” about proposing to give needed tools to Israel’s brave young IDF soldiers to enable them to protect their fellow Israeli citizens from rampant Palestinian Arab terror. The constant attacks on innocent Jews need to be stopped.
There is similarly nothing “extreme” about proposing to deport convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists. 
The real extremists are the leaders of the Palestinian Authority – who incite and pay Arabs to murder innocent Jews. Yet, those (such as URJ’s Rick Jacobs and the New York Times) who falsely scream about an “extremist” Israeli government say nothing about Mahmoud Abbas’ heinous incitement and “pay to slay” payments.
There is nothing “extreme” about proposing to give Jews and other non-Muslims equal rights to pray on the Jewish people’s holiest site – the Temple Mount. In fact, it is religious discrimination to allow only Muslims to freely pray on the Temple Mount. King Solomon built the Temple as a place where all people can pray! (SeeZOA: Facts About the Temple Mount (Har HaBayit) Summary.”)
There is nothing “extreme” about proposing to permit Jews to build homes in the lawful and historical Jewish lands of Judea-Samaria. These are areas guaranteed to the Jewish people under international law. (See ZOA: Israel Has The Legal Right To The Land Of Israel, Including Jerusalem, Judea-Samaria & The Golan, Under Binding International Law.”) Nor is it “extreme” to enforce the law against the massive illegal Arab building on state lands in Area C and the Negev.
There is moreover nothing “extreme” about the Jewish state protecting Torah study in a “Basic Law: Torah study,” or repealing the “one grandfather” rule that allows people who are clearly non-Jews to immigrate to the Jewish state under Israel’s Law of Return.
Ironically, the same left-wing media, groups and leaders who patter about “democracy” and “respecting elections” are refusing to respect the results of Israel’s democratic election.
ZOA praises Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu’s response to the New York Times nasty op-ed condemning the incoming Israeli government. Netanyahu stated: “After burying the Holocaust for years on its back pages and demonizing Israel for decades on its front pages, the New York Times now shamefully calls for undermining Israel’s elected incoming government. While the NYT continues to delegitimize the one true democracy in the Middle East and America’s best ally in the region, I will continue to ignore its ill-founded advice and instead focus on building a stronger and more prosperous country, strengthening ties with America, expanding peace with our neighbors, and securing the future of the one and only Jewish state,” he added.
ZOA is particularly appalled – and the Maccabees would have been appalled too – at Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) leader Rick Jacobs’ twisted threat that he and URJ will “fight” Israel’s incoming government “with the determination of the Maccabees.” The Maccabees fought to restore the holiness of the Temple on the Temple Mount; to prevent Jews from adopting or being forced to adopt Hellenistic practices; and to end foreign rule over Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria so that Jews could live freely in the Jewish homeland. By contrast, Rick Jacobs joined Palestinian Arab demonstrations against the Jewish State; seeks to give away Jewish land to the Palestinian Authority terror regime; and unfortunately stands for much of what the Maccabees fought against.

The Seven Fishes? Here's What It's All About


People always ask me about the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes served on Christmas Eve. In fact, the idea of the seven fishes has now become sort of legendary.

And so strong is this tradition, that I can honestly say that in my lifetime (and we're talking many decades) I've never spent a Christmas Eve without a variety of fish dishes spread before me. This is a hallowed custom that is passed from one generation to another. Where and how did it start? I've heard all kinds of stories trying to explain it but I'm not sure anyone really knows definitively. But I do think it's rooted in the Italian-American immigrant experience. It's something that Italian-Americans kept and expanded upon over the years And, as they prospered, it came to be more elaborate.To begin with you must have at least seven fish selections on the table.

Why seven?

Well, seven is a very important number. It stands for the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and the seven days of creation. In Biblical numerology, seven is a number of perfection.

And fish is the featured dish because Italians have customarily abstained from eating meat on Christmas Eve. In fact, I do believe that for a long time the Catholic church prohibited the eating of meat the day before Christmas, This is the Christmas vigil. For my part, I still observe the "no meat on Christmas Eve" rule. I now do it in memory of my father who strictly followed this rule.

There is no set menu for this feast.
But here are some of the fishes that are traditionally used: calamari (squid); scungilli [skuhn-JEE-lee] (conch); baccala [bah-kah-LAH] (dry, salt cod); shrimp; clams (usually served with pasta); mussels, snapper, trout, tuna or salmon. I remember my father cleaning and preparing the various fishes (especially the baccala, calamari, smelts and scungilli for hours.
We have adapted this menu over the years and updated it somewhat.

So, our annual feast usually includes calamari, baccala, shrimp, crab, tuna, smelts and salmon. The cod and shrimp are served in both cold and fried (or sautéed) varieties. Shrimp is served as a shrimp cocktail and as shrimp scampi. Crab is served as both breaded and fried crab balls and fresh, cold crab claws. The baccala is served fried and in a salad. The calamari is served baked and stuffed. The tuna is served with spaghetti in a red sauce. The smelts are fried and the salmon is broiled. In addition to all of this, it is customary to serve fried cauliflower and Italian bitter greens, commonly known as e verdes. 

Our feast is usually preceded by cocktails (that's where the cold shrimp and crab come in) with much chatter and anticipation.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes takes up the entire evening -- usually beginning with the preliminaries at around 5 or 6 PM and often continuing into the wee hours of the morning. The bountiful array of food remains on the table for everyone to enjoy. Any guests who happen to arrive are also welcome to partake.

When he was alive, my father always prepared the bulk of the meal. He was an outstanding cook and accomplished "foodie" before there was such a term. His recipes were all in his head and the dishes were passed down from his mother and her family. My mother, however, always insisted on preparing the crab balls. That was her special forté. My father loved a household full of relatives, friends and neighbors enjoying his culinary creations all night long. The busier and the louder it got, the more he liked it.

After my father passed on, my sister and brother-in-law took over the tradition and kept much of it intact while adding a few updates including shrimp scampi, cold crab claws, salmon and shrimp cocktail. Now that they are gone, the meal has largely become the domain of my niece and nephew along with their family and friends. Thank goodness, they are insistent on continuing this grand tradition -- something that goes all the way back to my grandparents and probably even beyond that. We're talking about 100 years here, folks!

Desserts are not a mainstay of the feast. In fact, they are more of an afterthought. But, as more American elements have been introduced over the years, they have taken on their own prominence.
So, desserts now include an assortment of rich cakes, pies and cookies as well as cannoli and espresso.
Our feast is somewhat more casual than it was in years past but fine china, linens and glassware are still used on the table and when I say "casual" I mean business casual. So, this is definitely not a night for jeans or sweat suits or any kind of lounge or athletic gear. It's a night to look your best and add some glittery baubles to the jingle bells.

And since it's Italian, it's an evening of high drama. All emotions (and generations) are at play. So, it's grand opera one minute, a Broadway musical the next and then lots of rap, in no particular order. At any given moment several family members are competing for attention. The whole thing can become raucous but there are also quiet and reflective moments as these dishes and this event evoke powerful memories that bring emotions to the surface. While it helps to have your wits about you as conversation ebbs and flows, there are also moments of pathos.

To survive the evening, you need to pace yourself.
It's fine (and expected) to eat more than you usually would -- even much more. But you must take your time. That's the Italian Way -- to savor every moment and engaging all your senses. 
It's best to taste a bit of everything, moving through the huge menu in a careful, measured manner. My favorites are the crab cakes, shrimp and tuna pasta. So, I have to be careful not to eat so much of those dishes lest I not have room for anything else. If you do not partake of a bit of everything you're liable to offend your host.

Like I said, for Italian families this ritual feast is sacrosanct and intense feeling abounds. Why? Because the meaning of the evening is all wrapped up with loved ones (including those who have passed on) and our most cherished values. Consequently, one must drink in moderation. In fact, if you feel an urge to lift your glass frequently make sure you're lifting a glass of water.
With all the fish on the table, you will need it.

BTW: For Italians, Christmas Day is not as much of a Big Deal as Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day lasagna and chicken cutlets are more than enough. That's what we call decompressing. 

Enjoy these photos from one of our recent feasts:

Cold shrimp.

Crab balls.

The spaghetti with tuna in red sauce.

The bitter Italian greens.


Smelts, crab and fried cauliflower.

Cod and fried cauliflower.

Chocolates, miniature cupcakes, cookies, key lime pie and the tree.