Julie Bernsen Brook

Are you ready? Now the Brood X cicadas are here.  These buzzing, wing-flapping insects emerge every seventeen years. When gathered as one they will be a mighty tribe making their presence felt. No one can get rid of them; they will reproduce and emerge again and again. 

This week on the Let There Be Light (LTBL) Podcast from The American Israelite Ted and I called Gayle Levine Schindler, our Fun Foody Kosher columnist, to get a cicada recipe. Gayle cheerfully explained that while cicadas in Cincinnati are not kosher, in other areas of the world certain types of locusts are eaten regularly and can be considered kosher. As a way to remind us of the crunchiness of cicadas, Gayle offered up a delicious fruit cobbler recipe that keeps the fruit super moist without sacrificing the strong crunch of its brown sugar and oatmeal topping. 

I saw my first Brood X cicada this past Sunday. The one single cicada brought me back to the reality that life is not seamless. 

Over the last month on the podcast, we heard a few stories that remind us that life is not always picture-perfect, yet, with the help of friends, community resources and Jewish agencies, we can get the support we need. This is especially true in the cases of retired Adath Israel Ritual Director Alan Weiner and Rockwern Academy Teaching Assistant Lauren Shmalo Berg. In Mr. Weiner’s case it was AgeWell Cincinnati that came to his rescue. 

Three weeks ago, we had the honor of interviewing Austine Heldman, the Lauren Berg Campaign Administrator. Austine explained ways our Cincinnati Jewish community can support Lauren, her husband (and former American Israelite sports columnist) Justin and their two children. 

Two weeks ago, on the LTBL podcast we were thrilled to interview Ron Richards, former Greyline and Jewish tour guide of Cincinnati. Ron is a wealth of information and within the hour of the podcast listeners learned new facts in addition to interesting places to visit. Ron, though born in Omaha, Nebraska and raised in Indiana, is a true Cincinnatian. His love for the city is evident in the way he gleefully spews facts and interesting trivia. Ron, along with his wife Sandy, are also generous with their free time, having given countless hours to their synagogue Northern Hills and other agencies. 

Recently, on the LTBL Podcast we let you listen to an accidental taping of former Cincinnatian and now Israeli citizen, Adam Bellos, and his mother Iris Bellos as they were running, with the sound of sirens in the background, into an Israeli bomb shelter on Thursday, May 13 at 1:48 in the morning. Unbeknownst to Adam his phone pocket-dialed me. When you listen to the podcast you will find it both frightening and emotional. Iris just landed in Israel on the Tuesday evening prior; this wasn’t the visit they had hoped for. 

We were very fortunate that Adam was later willing to call into the podcast. Despite the situation around him, Adam calmly illuminated us with his experiences as an Israeli citizen. Adam noted that it is estimated that Hamas, et al, holds an arsenal of thirty thousand rockets, four thousand of which have already been used on Israel. Thankfully the Iron Dome is able to thwart ninety percent of the rockets, though the few that have gotten through have proven deadly. Our talk with Adam left us with a better understanding of daily life in Israel, the physicality of a bomb shelter and knowing that even under duress there are Israelis who take the edge off.

Iris Bellos is slated to return to Cincinnati with Adam at the end of the month but together they are resolved to stay in Israel in solidarity among their people until the current conflict concludes. 

This week, for our Bar/Bat Mitzvah episode/issue, our guest host will be the beloved Mr. Alan Weiner to share his memories of nearly fifty years of teaching and tutoring as a school teacher, Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor/coach as well as the ritual director at Adath Israel Congregation among other synagogues. 

Like the cicadas, together we Jews have a mighty presence but our lives as a people are so much stronger because we support each other. Let it be known that the The Let There Be Light Podcast and The American Israelite Stands With Israel and send continuous refuah shlema to all those in need of healing. 


You can email Julie Brook about “Let There Be Light" at  julie@lettherebelightpodcast.com.

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