Happy Passover First Seder Friday, April 6 Supplement to Jewish News March 26, 2012
New Haggadahs: Reform version, novelists’ take and Ethiopian flavor By David A.M. Wilensky
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (JTA)—Leading a seder for the first time this year? There’s an app for that. Entries in the annual stream of new Haggadahs this year include a Reform version that comes in hardcover, paperback and iPad app editions. Two others feature a gorgeously designed Haggadah that features an array of literary celebrity contributors and one with an Ethiopian flavor. The Reform Haggadah, Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family (CCAR Press), is terrific for its introductions and artwork, bland in its content and promising in its use of technology. Sharing excels as a guide to Passover for those who are new to the seder— sections help first-time leaders with planning—or need a major refresher. It covers the entire weeklong holiday, from searching for chametz before through the beginning of the counting of the Omer at the end. But the seder itself is bland. Responsive readings—a hallmark of Reform ritual that seemed to have disappeared with the arrival of Mishkan T’fillah, the current Reform siddur—unfortunately are back. Too often the surface themes of the exodus story outshine the subtler values of the seder. However, Sharing gets it right by taking prospective seder leaders straight from a section on leading the seder to one called “What Matters on Passover Is That Questions Are Asked.” The highlight here is the artwork of Mark Podwal. His impressionistic illuminations in Sharing are a great addition to the tradition of Haggadah art. Podwal interprets one of the four children as a headless suit of armor with a book at its feet and one as a Torah with a book for a head. The other two have book torsos and
heads—one open and facing us, the other closed and facing away. A few years ago, Sharing might have come with a CD, but instead it suggests downloading tracks online to learn seder tunes. (Of course, iPad app version users will have them at their fingertips.) Despite emphasizing singing during the seder, Sharing misses musical opportunities, such as its replacement of the psalms known as Hallel with “interpretive readings” of two psalms. (More of Hallel appears in an appendix—in English.) Meanwhile, Sharing goes for music that was probably best left out. Two cringe-worthy songs feature the tune of Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Coffee table art books have given birth to an entire sub-genre of artistic, if unwieldy Haggadahs, including the gorgeous New American Haggadah (Little, Brown and Company). Edited by novelists Jonathan Safran Foer and translated by Nathan Englander, this Haggadah aims not just to tell a story, but to be about storytelling. It is far too unwieldy to be deployed in full at your seder, but that hardly seems to be its ambition—and it’s too beautiful to pass up. New American was typeset brilliantly by Oded Ezer, whose ethereal illustrations are a striking break with the concrete representations with which Haggadahs are usually sprinkled. Though design occasionally trumps usefulness, each page is a delight. A meta-telling of the story runs throughout, a timeline of the history of Passover itself strung along the top margin of the pages. The imagery is based on Hebrew letter forms that match the period of the timeline on the page. In addition to Englander and Foer, the seder is periodically interrupted by brief essays by the likes of Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg and children’s author Lemony Snicket. The interruptions
of the three
diverse Haggadahs fills a special niche and has a unique take on the seder.
34 | Jewish News | March 26, 2012 | Passover
include installments in each of four streams of brief essays, each stream by a different author. The streams cover four themes: “Nation,” “Library,” “House of Study” and “Playground.” Why didn’t anyone think of handing the seder, the Jewish narrative ritual par excellence, over to novelists before? New American, indeed. The story of the ongoing immigration of Ethiopian Jewry to Israel seems to be a perfect thematic match with Passover. As interest grows in far-flung Jews with unexpected skin tones, an Ethiopian Haggadah was inevitable. What a shame, then, that The Koren Haggada: Journey to Freedom (Koren Publishers Jerusalem) is such a whitewashed letdown. It’s The Gould Family Edition, edited by Rabbi Menachem Waldman and translated by Binyamin Shalom. While Waldman has written a number of books on Ethiopian Jewry, it is implausible that no priests of the Ethiopian community could be found to at least co-edit Journey.
In his introduction, Waldman says that Journey to Freedom includes “the traditions of and heritage of Ethiopian Jewry alongside the story of the exodus from Ethiopia.” Sadly this is not at all what Journey does. Instead it tells of Ethiopian Jewry in a series of sidebars and photographs interspersed among a standard Modern Orthodox seder. The Ethiopian observance of Passover, which they call Pasika, is given some attention, but an introductory section spends a scant page or so on the community’s actual traditions for consuming the paschal sacrifice and telling the story of the Exodus. Instead, Journey buries their traditions under contemporary Orthodox ones, as the Israeli rabbinate has long sought to do. Each of the three diverse Haggadahs fills a special niche and has a unique take on the seder. Bring the New American Haggadah on your journey this year. And first-timers may appreciate Sharing the Journey as a guidebook. The Koren Ethiopian Haggada? It’s best left behind in Egypt.
The Seder’s Aftermath Crumbs of Matzah stuck to The table’s mat, Stubborn as freedom’s call from The wilderness of yore And today’s cry of descendants Of Egyptians left behind, The Haggadah resting till next year Though not necessarily in Jerusalem, Allowing the fingerprints of sweet Wine and bitter Marror to dry Together like the joint traces Of our ancestors and the mixed Multitude in the sun-baked desert, With the children’s trained voices pondering Ma Nishtana’s incessant search to Find renewed meaning in a night With the power to unite a fractured Generational chain and Dayenu’s shrill Reminder of our human weaknesses that Even forgotten Moses could not alter. Dr. Israel Zoberman is the founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Chaverim and president of the Hampton Roads Board of Rabbis and Cantors.
Recipes to please the crowd and de-stress the chef by Jamie Geller
NEW YORK (JTA)—Passover may be the mother of all kitchen yuntifs, but stay cool and don’t stress. Here are some of my favorite recipes from last Passover that you will love this Passover and all year. Last year, 99 percent of what I made for Passover weren’t actually Passover recipes. Of course they were kosher for Passover, but they didn’t require any major Passover ingredient tweaks. These recipes were developed with Passover in mind and have become staples in my year-round repertoire because they were super easy and got the most oohs and ahhs. OK, real gourmet chefs don’t keep a tally of how many people flipped over this or that dish—but I really need to know. The winners on my menu get to come back and try for eternal stardom. And the winners are: • Salmon Croquettes with Tropical Fruit Salsa: You can make this even easier by skipping the fresh salmon and using good quality canned salmon. • Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Saute: Shamelessly simple and super beautiful, it is pleasing to the eye and the palate. Audience applause told me that the zucchini actually tasted better when prepped this way. • Pomegranate Braised Brisket: So tender and so sweet, this piece of meat just melts in your mouth. Follow my lead, and this year every dish you serve will be truly delicious, not just “pretty good for Pesach stuff.” Chag kasher v’sameach—Have a happy and kosher holiday! (Jamie Geller is the author of the best-selling Quick & Kosher cookbook series and creator of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine. She is the host of the popular Quick & Kosher cooking show online at youtube.com/ and on-air on JLTV. Follow more of Geller’s Quick & Kosher cooking adventures on Twitter @JoyofKosher and on facebook.com/joyofkosher.)
Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Saute T im e s Preparation: 10 minutes Cooking: 15 minutes Ready: 25 minutes Servings: 8 In g r e die n t s 3 tablespoons olive oil 4 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler 4 cloves garlic, minced 4 roasted red bell peppers, thinly sliced 1 teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon kosher salt Dir e c t i o n s Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add zucchini ribbons and saute 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly softened. Add garlic and saute 3 minutes more. Add bell pepper and saute 5 more minutes or until warmed. Stir in paprika; salt and toss to coat.
Salmon Cakes with Tropical Fruit Salsa Croquettes are cute and elegant for a starter course. They’re also wonderfully light and refreshing. The tropical salsa is a combination of fresh pineapple, mango, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice—the perfect complement to the richness of the salmon. The balance of sweet and savory flavors instantly pleases the palate. This is a starter with zing! T im e s Preparation: 15 minutes Cooking: 45 minutes Ready: 60 minutes Servings: 10 cakes
In g r e d ie n t s For cakes 1 (2-pound) side of salmon, skin on ½ cup red onion, diced 2 tablespoons matzah meal 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 4 tablespoons olive oil For salsa 1 cup diced pineapple ½ cup diced mango ½ cup diced red onion 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro ½ jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped Juice of 1 lime ½ teaspoon kosher salt D ir e c t io n s Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a large baking sheet. Bake salmon skin side down for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Let cool completely. Once salmon is cooled, gently flake away from the skin and break into large chunks. Place in a large bowl and combine with eggs, red onion, matzah meal, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well. Scoop about ¹⁄3 cup at a time into your hands and form into a round patty about ¼ inch thick. Place on a sheet pan and repeat with remaining mixture until you have formed 10 cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine pineapple, mango, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and salt. Mix well and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry 5 cakes at a time for about 5 to 8 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate while frying remaining cakes. To serve, top each cake with a few tablespoons of salsa.
Passover | March 26, 2012 | Jewish News | 35
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T im e s Preparation: 5 minutes Cooking: 4 hours Ready: 4 hours, 5 minutes Servings: 8 In g r e d ie n t s 1 four-pound first cut beef brisket ½ teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided 3 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths 6 cloves garlic, smashed 2 cups pomegranate juice 2 cups chicken broth 3 tablespoons honey 3 bay leaves 1 small bunch fresh thyme D ir e c t io n s Preheat oven to 375. Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large roasting pan or dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear brisket about 4 minutes per side or until browned. Remove and set aside. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes over medium low heat until softened. Return brisket to pan and add pomegranate juice, broth, honey, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Transfer to preheated oven and roast for 2 hours. Flip brisket over and continue roasting for 1 to 1½ more hours or until tender. Let brisket rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain. Strain liquid and serve on the side as au jus.
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OU Kosher releases new App for Passover Just in time for Passover, OU Kosher—the world’s most recognized kosher symbol—has launched a new OU Kosher phone App to search the kosher status of all OU products for Passover and year-round. The free App is available for download for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, and Androids. To download this App, simply select “OU Kosher” from the iTunes App Store or use direct link to the App from the OU’s website at www.ou.org/apps. The direct application can be downloaded at http://itunes.apple.com/ke/app/ou-kosher/ id491138771?mt=8. In addition to the ability to search for more than 600,000 products, manufactured in nearly 8,000 plants, in more than 90 countries around the world—the App provides the most up-to-date kosher alerts; new product updates; and allows easy access to ask a question or to call the OU Kosher information hotline. The App can be used in conjunction with the OU website and Passover Guide. The OU Kosher Facebook and Twitter accounts also plan to help prepare for the eightday holiday by featuring Kosher for Passover products, recipes and articles to educate and engage fans and followers. Users may submit Passover related questions to be addressed via Facebook and Twitter. Join the OU Kosher social network and become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OUKosher and follow OU Kosher on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/OUKosher to stay connected.
Robin Cohen’s fruit conserve offers some Seder sweetness by Penny Schwartz
BOSTON (JTA)—Robin Cohen, a computer programmer turned national award-winning cook and food writer, recalls vivid childhood memories of her family’s Passover kitchen, when charoset was made in a large, oldfashioned wooden chopping bowl. A small portion of the tasty fruit-andnut mixture was placed on the seder table, a symbol of the bricks and mortar used by the Israelites when they were enslaved in ancient Egypt. The rest was reserved for the next day, when the flavorful combination of apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon, with a bit of honey and lemon, was enjoyed as a spread on matzah. The fragrant flavors of charoset past inspired Cohen to create Seder Sweetness, a new jarred fruit conserve that will be available in Boston-area shops. The recipe is not hard for home cooks to follow, she says. The idea for Seder Sweetness jelled last fall, when Cohen began selling her fruit conserves and preserves at local farmers’ markets. Cohen, who won Micheal
Robin Cohen’s Seder Sweetness In g r e die n t s 8 cups apples (measure after peeling, coring, and dicing) 1 cup water 4 cups sugar ½ cup nuts ¼ cup kosher sweet wine 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons lemon juice Zest of 1 lemon 1 cinnamon stick P r e p a r at io n : Toast walnuts in a 350 degree oven until lightly toasted and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Combine sugar, water, wine, lemon juice, and spices in a large pot and cook over medium high heat until slightly thick and syrupy (about 10 minutes). Stir in apples and cook over medium heat until apples soften slightly. Boil until liquid starts to set (will be softer than a traditional jam). Remove cinnamon stick, mix in nuts. Refrigerate or can. Yield: 8-10 8-ounce jars.
Ruhlman’s 2011 national holiday cooking challenge for her rugelah, had just launched Doves and Figs Kitchen, a homebased business devoted to making and selling fruit preserves using local fresh fruit. A Rosh Hashanah variety made from apples, figs, almond and honey became a popular seller; it reminded some customers of charoset. Since then, Cohen has tried several recipes for an authentic charoset flavor, tweaking apple varieties and the balance of other ingredients. Despite the New England winter, she’s still able to use local apples, along with local honey. Cohen makes a sugar syrup with sweet kosher wine, lemon and honey, then adds chopped apples and toasted walnuts. She is branching out with other Passover-inspired conserve recipes, including savory ones. Her winter carnival recipe made from cranberries, apples and pears is a perfect accompaniment for brisket or lamb, and was awarded a prize last October from the American Lamb board. She is now testing recipes for an apple-horseradish preserve embellished with mint as a touch of Passover greenery. Horseradish is trendy in the food world right now, Cohen says. Last Passover, Cohen got playful, offering a recipe on her blog for Wicked Son Eggs and Drunken Passover Grilled Cheese using kosher for Passover cheddar cheese, matzah and sweet kosher wine. But making jams, conserves and preserves is her passion, and a family tradition. As a child, Cohen spent summers on Montauk, Long Island, where she and her brother helped their dad pick beach plums and grapes to make jars and jars of jam. They used the old-fashioned method of boiling the fruit for a long time to enhance the natural sweetness while using only a small amount of sugar and no pectin. Jewish family gatherings were a time when the jams were served. House guests always left with jars of the summer jams as gifts, she recalled. Offering a jar of the charoset conserve as a gift to a seder host adds something homemade and local, she suggests.
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At Passover, let my people go south By Ben Harris
NEW YORK (JTA)—Passover celebrates the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, their wandering in the desert for 40 years, and their ultimate deliverance to the Promised Land. But a contemporary observer might be forgiven for imagining the holiday marks a different sort of migration: Large numbers of American Jews making their annual pilgrimage from cool northern climes to
southern tropics, and from major metropolitan centers to the country, in advance of one of the most celebrated Jewish observances of the year. For decades a dedicated—and apparently growing—cohort of Jewish families has seen Passover as an opportunity to escape not from slavery but from crummy weather, kitchen drudgery and endless house cleaning, finding their salvation in gourmet kosher vacations on white sandy beaches in Miami or Aruba. Dozens of programs around the world are
open 7 days a week
now offering fully catered, kosher-for-Passover vacations at top vacation destinations, saving families the hassle and headache of ridding their homes of leavened products and preparing a succession of lavish meals for friends and relatives. This year, Passover can be observed at one of several beachfront hotels in Miami, on a Caribbean cruise, along the canals in Venice, at an eco-resort in Costa Rica, at an exclusive getaway in Phuket, Thailand, or steps from Niagara Falls. There are programs in Ixtapa, Mexico, and Sardinia, Italy; Marbella, Spain; and the south of France. Those of a less adventurous spirit can hit the Jersey Shore, the tried-and-true kosher hotels of the Catskill Mountains and the more corporate-style hotels in Connecticut and upstate New York. And that’s not counting Israel, where virtually
and other logistics for Passover travelers but also guiding them through a bewildering array of options to a venue appropriate to their needs—particularly with respect to religious nuances. The programs are generally geared toward an Orthodox clientele, with traditional gender-segregated prayer and high standards of kashrut. But there’s a range of observance within those parameters and van Esschoten can divine the subtle clues that hint at the particular shade of Orthodoxy at each destination. “The most important thing is, I’m checking to see if they’re going to have separate swimming,” she says. “Some of the more modern programs do have separate swimming, but only at certain times of day. If it’s not a complete hotel takeover that might not be possible.”
every city offers multiple options for the Passover traveler. “This year has probably been the biggest year we’ve ever had,” says Laurie van Esschoten, owner of the Ontario Travel Bureau in California, a travel agency that books Passover vacations to dozens of destinations. “It looks to me like people are getting back to the idea of traveling. It’s really been phenomenal for us.” Passover vacations have existed as long as there have been kosher hotels. For decades, the Catskills in New York State and Miami Beach were the two prime destinations. But beginning in the early 1990s, operators began to expand their offerings—Puerto Rico, Arizona, Aruba and more became the sites of fully kosher Passover programs featuring noted speakers, entertainment, children’s programs and day trips, not to mention the ever popular 24-hour tea rooms. With the proliferation of offerings, van Esschoten has become something of a Passover consultant, helping arrange travel
Families who succeed in identifying the right program often return year after year. And once they become accustomed to outsourcing their Passover preparations, the habit becomes hard to break. Tour operators say their repeat business each year can be upward of 70 percent. “This population is pretty much addicted to going away for Passover,” says Stuart Vidockler, who runs Presidential Kosher Holidays. The typical Passover traveler is generally Orthodox, lives in a major Jewish center in the northern United States (though the programs boast they draw customers from around the world) and is relatively affluent. The price tag for the programs is not for the faint of heart, generally starting at about $2,500 per person based on double occupancy for 10 days. Presidential is operating three programs this year—in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Aventura, Fla.; and on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico —that aim for the higher end of an already
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high-end market, with five-star resorts featuring championship golf courses, multiple swimming pools and other luxury amenities. At the Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach—one of the largest, oldest and bestknown Passover destinations in the country —prices begin at more than $4,000 per person. A two-bedroom suite in the hotel’s Versailles Building will set one back about $10,000, not including a 25 percent surcharge for tips and taxes. For families traveling with children and grandparents, total travel costs can easily run into the tens of thousands. There are less expensive—and often colder—options as well. Among the most affordable is the Stamford Plaza hotel in Connecticut, which runs more than $2,000 per person (average April high temperature: 63). Ten days in Aruba starts at $3,299, but that doesn’t include airfare, which minimally adds another $500 per person for flights from the New York area. Perhaps not surprisingly, industry insiders say a challenging economic climate—and especially the collapse in the financial services sector in 2009—has had a dramatic effect on business, leading to the collapse of some companies. In 2009, Lasko Family Kosher Tours, operators of the popular Fontainbleau program, was sued for failing to pay more than $200,000 to one of its suppliers. A federal judge ruled against the company, requiring Lasko to make payments of $120,000. Sam Lasko declined to discuss his company’s finances with JTA. But this year, the company is operating under a new name, Lasko Kosher Getaways, and is operating only two programs, in Miami and Orlando, down from seven in 2009, when it ran programs in Nevada, Arizona and Westchester County, N.Y. “Passover 2009 was the worst year,” Vidockler says. “About half the operators went out of business. Customers disappeared. We probably had a 20 percent decrease.” For those who would otherwise be cleaning their homes and spending endless hours preparing meals, the appeal of Passover vacations isn’t hard to understand. But with restrictions on travel and electricity use mandated by Orthodox observance of the holidays, they can also become confining—and a bit boring. “There’s nowhere to go,” says Lisa Rubenstein, who grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and goes away for Passover with her family almost every year. “It’s what I imagine a cruise to be. You can’t leave. There’s always some food happening in the dining room. It’s always tea time, snack time, dinner’s being served, whatever. And you’re seeing old people from your synagogue in bathing suits—you know, people you don’t want to see in bathing suits.” Program organizers go to great lengths
to pepper their itineraries with diversions. Jewish scholars are flown in to deliver lectures. Bands, comedians, mentalists, magicians and more provide entertainment. Some programs feature well-known cantors leading services and seders. The Chasidic reggae star Matisyahu performed at several Passover destinations before his celebrity profile outgrew them. But veterans of Passover programs almost uniformly agree—it’s all about the food. “The eating situation in general, I think back on it as pretty gluttonous,” says Jack Steinberg, who has gone away for Passover with his family about a half-dozen times. “The food is a really major aspect of the whole event. There are people storming the cafeteria the moment that it opens.” Judy Leichtberg, who also has been on numerous programs at various destinations and describes their cost as “an insane, sick amount of money,” has had more mixed experiences. At a Florida hotel one year she enjoyed a private beach and an extremely solicitous staff. Another year, in New York, the crowd was pushy and impolite. It was also more religious than she would have liked. One gentleman upbraided Leichtberg for not dressing with sufficient modesty. “He wondered why I was wasn’t wearing stockings,” Leichtberg recalls. “I said, ‘Well why are you looking at my feet?’”
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Crafting a memorable Passover with unique ritual objects by Penny Schwartz
BOSTON (JTA)—To prepare for their first Passover seders, Zoe Scheffy, Lesley Frost and Joanna Brichetto drew on their creative instincts: Scheffy pulled out her knitting needles; Frost gathered scraps of felt, braided ribbon and tacky glue; and Brichetto rounded up household items, her kids’ plastic frogs and Beanie Babies. The three women, of different backgrounds, were making unique Jewish crafts that transformed their holiday celebrations from ho-hum to memorable. Their ideas and projects are now featured in books and on Jewish Internet sites encouraging others to find crafts that enhance their Jewish observance of Passover, which this year starts on the evening of April 6, and other holidays. Crafting is in, says Diana Drew, an editor of many craft books, including two by style maven Martha Stewart, whether as a reaction to an overly wired, fast-paced world or the harsh economy. Scheffy and Frost are among the 30 artists and craftspeople from the U.S. and Israel whose work is profiled in Drew’s most recent book, Jewish Threads (Jewish Lights), which she co-authored with her husband, Robert Grayson. Passover projects include Scheffy’s knit seder plate, a quilted Ten Plagues matzah cover designed by Shellie Black of Seattle, and an afikomen envelope made of fabric designed by Claire Sherman of Berkeley, Calif. More than a set of how-to instructions, the book reveals the spiritual journeys that inspired the artists to create their Jewish ritual objects or communal projects. Drew and Grayson found a tremendous range and diversity of craft projects across the country. Drew noted to JTA the ritual
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objects for the seder table and playful props that infuse the Passover celebration with more spiritual meaning and a personal imprint. Embellishing ritual objects is nothing new, Grayson says, citing examples of centuries-old hand embroidered tallit and Torah scrolls, as well as communal-made wedding chuppahs. Scheffy, a Boston-area mother of two with a doctorate in Scandanavian Sami folk art, says she was inspired to create her knit seder plate by her lifelong passion for fiber art. Rather than buy a conventional seder plate, Scheffy wanted to create one that combined tradition and innovation, a reflection of her own multicultural identity as an African-American and Jewish woman. The hexagonal design of the seder plate, with six triangles, features a Star of David in the center. The Hebrew words for bitter herbs, egg, shank bone and other ceremonial foods are knit into the plate in a separate color. Frost, a Britain native now living in New Jersey, says that craft projects such as the Passover puppets became a way to express herself Jewishly and to learn about Jewish holidays along with her children. After years of attending her husband’s family’s traditional—and lackluster—seders, Frost, a Jew by choice and an educator by training, vowed to create a more accessible and livelier seder for her family. At the time, she and her husband were raising their children in Houston. Inspired by the Exodus story retold in the Passover Hagaddah—and recalling how crafts were an important part of her own schooling in England—the mother of two created AfikoMan, a hand puppet made of felt and fabric. In subsequent years Frost added Moses, Aaron and Pharoah puppets that often sat on the Passover table and were used for
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play or a re-enactment of the Exodus story. Frost, who also made Purim puppets, created sets of the puppets for her children’s Hebrew school. Eventually she built a small crafts business: For many years she and her business partner sold their crafts at Jewish educator conferences and presented puppet shows for schools and synagogues. This year, more than two decades later, she is extending her tradition to another generation, making a new Afiko-Man puppet for her first grandchild. Raising her young family in Nashville, Tenn., Brichetto was turned off by seders where children were unengaged and in another room. A seder at the home of a rabbi provided an aha moment. He included the kids, she recalls. “I realized that seders don’t have to be adult centered and boring,” she says. When Brichetto’s family decided to make its own seder, she and her children gathered up small plastic toys, Beanie Babies and household objects to make a crude version of a Ten Plagues bag. It was an educational way to connect, be engaged and have fun with the holiday. Over the next few years the idea took off, with more elaborate objects to represent the plagues. The plague bags became such a hit that she and a friend went into mass production, starting a Judaica business with the plague bags and other craft projects. While Brichetto has heard occasional criticism of invoking humor with the plagues, she says the bags provide a good conversation starter about demonstrating compassion for those harmed by the plagues. In her role as a religious school teacher and in outreach with synagogue families, Brischetto discovered that hands-on crafts projects leveled the playing field for families from different backgrounds and religious experiences. There is value in making Jewish things with children, she said, from spending time together to educational moments to learn together about the holiday. In 2008, noticing a void in resources for Jewish families, Brichetto started a website for Jewish parents, and Bible Belt Balabusta, a blog for Jewish do-it-yourself crafts projects. Now there is an explosion of interest for Jewish family engagement and home-based activities; she’s even heard from Christian preachers who use her site as a model for their religious outreach. Words of wisdom from the craftswomen? Don’t be intimidated, each advised.
What Jewish memories do you most cherish?
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Live on and inspire future generations of Jews with a legacy gift. Planning this gift now will secure the education of our children, make certain our elderly will always be cared for, and assure that the Jewish traditions and culture we hold dear will flourish. Contact Philip S. space Rovner is (757-965-6109, at the This provided email@example.com) your Tidewater Jewish Foundation to find out how to Create a Jewish Legacy.
federation/foundation name or logo.
Jewish Threads (Jewish Lights, $19.99), by Diana Drew with Robert Grayson. A pattern for Zoe Scheffy’s Passover table runners is available on www.seasideknittingpatterns. com. Joanna Brichetto writes about Jewish parenting at www.jewisheveryday.com.
Passover | March 26, 2012 | Jewish News | 41
Celebrate...life is sweet.
by artist Tamara Baskin at Simply Selma’s
1860 Laskin Road, #119 • ViRginia Beach, Va 23454 757-428-2885 (Ph) • 757-428-5310 (FX)
As your family begins their Seder: ‘Let all who are hungry come and eat, let all who are needy come and share the Passover Seder with us…’ And as your family finishes their holiday meal with joyous shouts: ‘Next Year In Jerusalem!’
Teri and I wish your family Happy Passover and we continue our steadfast support of Israel now and always.
& Mrs. Scott Rigell
42 | Jewish News | March 26, 2012 | Passover
Seder can be splendid the second time around by Suzanne Kurtz
WASHINGTON (JTA)—Rabbi Stuart Rosenblatt, a suburban Washington spiritual leader, jokes that “The second night of Passover was invented because God knew there would be in-laws.” The first seder may last late into the night as the ancient story is told, the questions are asked and the blessings recited. But when it is over—if you live outside of Israel—many will have an encore the next night. In ancient times, before the days of a set calendar, a second seder was added to the celebration of Passover to ensure that Jews living outside of Jerusalem would get the notice in time that the holiday had begun. In the modern world there is hardly any doubt over what day of the week that Passover falls or when to begin celebrating holidays. But Mark Leuchter, professor of Jewish studies at Temple University, says today there are more symbolic reasons for maintaining the tradition of preparing a seder on the second night of Passover. “The second seder gives us an opportunity to affirm our identity as Jews in the diaspora,” Leuchter says. “It’s an affirmation of our ability to thrive outside Israel.” While that may be so, is it still necessary to conduct a repeat performance of the first night? Rosenblatt says that spending the second seder with different people either at home or by attending a community seder at a synagogue is one way to ensure that the evening is different from the previous one. He also suggests using a different Haggadah for the second seder to help bring out different aspects of the Passover story. “The Haggadah we use today is not the one Moses and the Children of Israel used. It has evolved over time and is a product of centuries of innovation,” says Rosenblatt, of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Md. Contributing commentary and fostering discussions is also encouraged, he says, adding that “whoever adds to the [Passover] story is to be praised.” Jamie Jakobowitz appreciates the opportunity of having two seders in order to spend quality time with both her family and her husband’s. The suburban Philadelphia social worker doesn’t mind reciting the entire hagaddah again on the second night.
“As an adult I love it,” she says. Jakobowitz does admit, however, that it can be “trying” to have her two small children sit through several hours of plagues and prayers two nights in a row. To help families combat seder fatigue, the Union of Reform Judaism will host a one-hour webinar this month with suggestions for infusing some creativity into the Passover seder by adding new melodies, customs, questions and an interactive plague kits. The purpose, says the URJ’s Rabbi Rex Perlmutter, is to help people “go beyond the Haggadah” during the seder. In addition, Cantor Alane Katzew, the worship and music specialist at the URJ, encourages activities for children at a seder such as performing skits and acting out scenes from the Haggadah, as well as incorporating a favorite love song that can serve as a compliment to the traditional Song of Songs. Families can also look to different cultural backdrops for ideas when making something as simple as the charoset, says Katzew. She recommends finding inspiration in the culture of Jews from places such as India, Italy or Morocco by using less traditional ingredients like bananas, cranberries, cloves and even different nuts in the dish. “There are lots and lots of ways to be creative,” Katzew says. “Begin with your own passion and whatever it is that might have relevance to you and will help bring [you] forth from a personal Egypt.” For Rabbi Michelle Greenberg, the second night of Passover has become a more intimate affair than the first evening. While she will attend the first seder with lots of friends and family, on the second night it is usually time saved for her father and stepmother. Together they recite all of the traditional Passover blessings before beginning a discussion on a theme like personal freedom or gratitude. “We talk about our lives, but in the context of a seder,” says the Jewish educator from northern California. And over the years, the discussions have helped bring the family closer, she says, yet at the same time fulfilling the religious obligation of retelling the Passover story. “We use the Haggadah and also our own lives,” Greenberg says. “Passover is all about the story, but writing one’s self into the story.”
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This Passover we will remove a drop of wine from our glass for each of the ten plagues—we cannot fully rejoice when anyone—our families, our neighbors, even our enemy—is afflicted.
It is through our actions and our giving that we make a difference and work together to refill everyone’s cup. Please consider a special gift to UJFT this Passover season. With your help, we feed the hungry, care for the sick, and enrich Jewish life all over the world.
United Jewish Federation of Tidewater | 965-6100 | JewishVA.org
Passover | March 26, 2012 | Jewish News | 43
5-lb Matzah Regular or Whole Wheat
Chocolate Coated Matzah
Sandwich Matzah Strips
Makes great tasting and presentable sandwiches. Regular 44 | Jewish News | March 26, 2012 | Passover
Passover Special Section