Wayland Kosher Kitchen

I took on the task of creating clear signage for the new kosher kitchen opening in Wayland House dorm for student use.

In order to follow kosher dietary laws, meat and dairy must be kept strictly separate. In addition to not mixing meat and milk ingredients, utensils that are used for meat may not be used to prepare dairy foods, and vice versa, necessitating separate sets of dishes. Though in practice there’s ways to use a single stove/oven for both meat and milk, for the sake of reducing mistakes in a shared space, the Wayland Kosher Kitchen has separate sinks, stoves, ovens, fridges, and countertop space for both meat and dairy.

The Wayland Kosher Kitchen, before each side of the kitchen had been designated for either meat or dairy.

In designing signage, several user experience factors came into play. In kosher kitchens, words from multiple languages are often used to describe the type of food or utensil. For example, one might say that a fork is milchig, using the Yiddish word for dairy. Since the English, Hebrew and Yiddish words for meat/dairy are all frequently used, I wanted to include all three on main signage, to make things more clear for anyone who might not know one of the words.

I also wanted to make sure that the content of the signs was not the only thing distinguishing the meat and dairy side, while still giving the space a cohesive aesthetic. To accomplish this, I decided to adopt the standard color scheme for Kosher kitchens, where blue is associated with dairy and red is associated with meat. Additionally, I chose a sans-serif font for the Dairy signage, and a serif font for the meat signage, adding yet another visual cue reinforcing the difference between each side.

In the interest of durability, I chose to create the signs out of acrylic, first laser-engraving the words into a larger white piece, and laser-cutting out the letters from sheets of blue and red acrylic. I then used solvent to attach the colored letters to the white base sheet.

The letters cut out/engraved, ready to assemble.
This can of solvent was impossible to open, eventually I hammered a screwdriver through it to puncture a hole in the metal top, what a nightmare!
Attaching the letters
Finishing touches!
Ready and open for business!

How to connect to eduroam/Brown WiFi on Raspbian

This took me so long to figure out, and I don’t see any reason for anyone else to waste as much time as I did on this!

Things you will need:

  • Raspberry Pi
  • SD card with Raspbian installed
  • Display
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Power supply for Pi
  • Cords to connect everything

Step 1: Flash Raspbian onto an SD card, make sure to pick a version that includes a graphical user interface (not Raspbian Lite)

Step 2: Put the SD card into the Pi, connect monitor/keyboard/mouse/power supply and wait for Pi to turn on

Step 3: Open a terminal window and enter the following to install wpa_gui (a graphical interface for configuring WiFi that supports WPA2Enterprise)

sudo apt-get install wpagui

Step 4: Now, give wpa-gui the appropriate permissions with these commands

sudo chmod 600 /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

sudo adduser pi netdev

Step 5: (Optional) Now, create a desktop shortcut to wpa_gui with this command. (I like doing this because it makes launching a lot easier, but you don’t strictly have to)

cp /usr/share/applications/wpa_gui.desktop ~/Desktop

Step 6: Launch wpa_gui, select “wlan0” for the Address, and go to the “Manage Networks” tab, then, click “Add” and enter network configuration details as follows:

insert your school’s information as is appropriate

While trying to connect on Brown’s campus, you can get the information to fill out this panel by navigating to wifi.brown.edu while connected to the Brown_Guest network, selecting “This Device” and then “Other Operating Systems” then “None of these”. After you click the name of the network you want to join, the necessary information will be displayed.

For the “CA Certificate” line, just copy and paste the certificate from the “Root CA Certificate” link.

And there you have it! You’re now connected to your WPA2Enterprise network of choice on Raspbian.

What’s the deal with the background image?

I took a Jewelry and Metalsmithing course at RISD this winter (2019), entitled “Repair: Making Connections”. We learned basic cold metal forming techniques, primarily working with found objects, exploring concepts of disposability, repair, and re-use. It was a delight!

My background image is of my final project for this course. I was using the KonMari method to clean my room at the time, and I came across my etrog from last Sukkos. The etrog had materially deprecated, rendering it unsuitable for its original ritual purpose. I sought to restore functionality to this beautiful object, exploring (and challenging) disposability in Jewish object culture.

An etrog (or citron, in English) is an fruit used during the Jewish festival of Sukkos, which lasts a week in the fall. This fruit is used throughout the week for ritual purposes, along with palm fronds, myrtle and willow leaves. Together they are referred to as the arba minim, or four species.

Because of their ritual use, etrogim (plural of etrog) are subject to high cosmetic standards. Specifically, in order to be valid for ritual use according to halakha (Jewish religious law), etrogim need to be moist, virtually free of blemishes, and have an intact pitom (stigma). If the pitom is broken off, or the skin is blemished, the fruit may be invalid for ritual use.

Finding my etrog while cleaning was the first time I had seen it since October. Last Sukkos was my first time owning my own set of arba minim, and they aren’t cheap. In the United States, getting a kosher set for less than $50 would be a steal. What had once been a ripe, flawless yellow fruit was now shriveled and rust brown. Cosmetically, this once perfect specimen had totally degraded. However, miraculously the pitom had still not broken off!

Another important feature of the etrog is its absolutely lovely smell, which only became stronger as mine dried out. It’s similar to other citrus fruits like lemon or orange, but it has this lovely sweetness that’s almost floral. I couldn’t bear to just put it back in its box, and I instantly had visions of how utterly gorgeous that rust orange would look with silver.

A common use for old etrogim is for their fragrance, often serving as the besamim (spices) needed for the havdalah ritual, done each week to end Shabbos. During the havdalah ritual, a multiwick candle is lit and typically hand-held throughout the blessings. When it comes time to smell the spices, they are often kept in a dedicated spice holder which typically look something like this. You need to open them to smell the spices, and as I’m sure you can imagine it can be difficult to do that while holding a candle with a very large flame! It’s easy to drop something, and candle wax will drip over everything.

I saw an opportunity. My prompt for my final was to create a necklace or brooch with found objects, utilizing the metalworking techniques that we learned. I chose to wrap my etrog in silver (which conveniently, is commonly used for Judaica) turning it into a pendant. This takes out the awkward and dangerous step of trying to open a jar while holding a candle! And of course, I wrapped the etrog such that the pitom would be protected, highlighting the fortitude of this fruit that it survived this long!

I began with 4 pieces of 20 gauge sterling silver and my etrog. I used a blowtorch to solder these pieces of silver together into one 2 foot long strip. I decided to mimic a fresh citrus peel texture on the silver, which I did by hammering and poking the metal with a center-punch. I used an anvil to hammer the long strip into a spiral shape, then used my hands to work the etrog into place. I created the bail (hole for the cord to pass through) out of a piece of scrap silver, and soldered everything together.

This project represents the intersection of my two greatest intellectual and personal passions. Using my intimate knowledge of Jewish law, practice and tradition along with my object fabrication skills, I restored function to a object rendered halakhically invalid, re-purposing it to enhance a different ritual experience. And I think it’s rather beautiful, too!