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Apr 14 2014

As We Celebrate Passover, The Tragedy in Kansas City is a Painful Reminder of Our History

By at 11:17 am

JCC-kansas

Tonight, the Jewish people will collectively celebrate our freedom from bondage. As yesterday’s murders at two Jewish targets in Overland Park, Kansas by a white supremacist made quite clear, there are still those who hate us, who murder us, who want to see a world without Jews. We mourn the murdered, and bemoan a world where such horrors can happen in unexpected moments and places.

But tonight, we will open the doors to our homes to welcome in a taste of the “World to Come.” We will recline, we will rejoice. All who are hungry, let them come and eat in our Seder feast. Let them hear the story of how far we have come, over thousands of years.

We live. Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 11 2014

What’s Your Exodus: Breaking Free From Eating Things… Off the Floor

By at 3:26 pm

As Passover approaches, we asked our readers and writers: What do you need an exodus from? Here’s the next installment in our “What’s Your Exodus?” series. 

Lea Geller

Lea Geller "What's Your Exodus?"

Although I religiously make a list of resolutions–for both New Years–there’s one thing I have yet to overcome. I now yell less, run more, and once went six whole months without Diet Coke (not pretty). But try as I may, I have never been able to kick a certain disgusting habit, and this year, I aim to celebrate the Big Exodus by breaking free.

You see, my secret shame is that I eat things off the floor. I’m not talking about the five second, or even the five minute, rule here. For me, it could be five days, five weeks, or even five months. In fits of either boredom or hunger (or both), I have eaten hardened fruit leather from the playroom floor, stale cheese crackers from inside a rainboot, a fossilized gummy worm from under a seat in the car, a piece of candy corn covered in sand from the depths of a backpack, and in a moment I’d rather not recall, I ate what I thought was a brownie stuck to the back of a kitchen chair. Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 11 2014

My Mother Was a Master of Passover Cooking & I Still Don’t Know How She Did It

By at 1:59 pm

My mother was a master of Passover cooking and I still don't know how she did it.

Of all the Jewish holidays, Passover was the one my mother really owned. It gave her the perfect excuse to commit entirely to two of her most beloved occupations: cooking elaborate dishes and listening to Beethoven, preferably simultaneously and definitely the violin concerto. In my memory she cooked for two weeks in advance of the seders, for over 20 guests on each of the two nights.

While my grandmother set me and my sisters to work polishing the silver and the cleaning lady labored mightily, heaving the vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs, my mother reigned in the kitchen. She made everything from scratch–richly concentrated chicken broth that she simmered and skimmed until there wasn’t a speck of fat, fluffy kneidlach, gefilte fish from three types of white fish purchased at the most expensive fish shop in town and then ground by hand at home, roasted chickens, tzimmes, three different green vegetable dishes (including steamed asparagus with lemon sauce), brisket cooked in a mustard-garlic paste, individual meringues that she served with sweetened fruit for dessert, and sponge cakes. And I am pretty sure I missed a few things. Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 11 2014

Free Stuff Alert: “Dinosaur on Passover” E-Book

By at 11:17 am

Dinosaur on Passover e-book

Still looking for ways to get your kids amped up for Passover? When in doubt, add DINOSAURS!

“Dinosaur on Passover” is the perfect story to celebrate Passover with your kids. It’s the story of an eager, playful dinosaur who show’s up at a young boy’s house for the seder and causes a bit of havoc. Discover even more Passover e-books for kids here.

We’ve got one free download of “Dinosaur on Passover” to give away to a lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below and we’ll choose a winner on Monday, April 14th. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 11 2014

Your Toddler’s Just Not That Into You

By at 9:50 am

Your Toddler's Just Not That Into You

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Ahare Mot. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

This week’s portion is roughly halfway through the Torah. Here’s what I’ve noticed after writing about parenting for half a year: it’s hard to find the middle ground.

To acknowledge the miraculousness without sentimentalizing, without glossing over the day-to-day reality.

And to acknowledge the profound daily challenges without complaining, without dwelling in negativity.

Middle ground has been in short supply around here lately, and not just because I’m pregnant with #2 and on my own hormonal roller coaster. Like one of those tantalizingly unpredictable loves of my early 20s, Sylvie, about to turn 2, vacillates between extremes:

1. Unbearable cuteness. Example: “Thank you mama, for brush my teeth!”

2. Frustrating randomness.  Example: “Orange juice please! Orange juice please! Orange juice please!” Then, when I bring her some: “No, I want apple juice!”; weeps in utter despair.  Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 10 2014

When You Are Already Gluten-Free, Experiencing Passover Is Not About Food

By at 2:40 pm

gluten-free

My friend Anne recently posed an excellent question related to keeping the dietary laws of Passover. “For those of us who are gluten-free,” she asked, “is cutting hametz really a hardship?”

What Anne was getting at, I believe, is the underlying observation that it can be a challenge to get in the right frame of mind for Passover if giving up wheat and other grains is nothing new. Many of us unknowingly (or knowingly) rely on the physical aspect of our holidays to access the deeper spiritual realm where we can focus on what really matters. On Rosh Hashanah we dip apples in honey; we fast on Yom Kippur; we’re commanded to eat in a sukkah during Sukkot; we fry potatoes in oil during Hanukkah; we try new fruits on Tu Bishvat; we make a dairy meal for Shavuot; we feast throughout Shabbat. Rosh Hashanah, however, is not about apples and honey. Hanukkah is not about latkes. Shabbat is not just about pigging out.

Likewise, Passover is not about avoiding bread or experimenting with a trendy diet. Still, changing the way we eat for the week can make an impact on our ability to digest (no pun intended) the lessons of the holiday. Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 10 2014

What’s Your Exodus: Breaking Free from Nap Guilt, Phones & Toxic Relationships

By at 2:10 pm

As Passover approaches, we asked our readers and writers: What do you need an exodus from? Here’s the next installment in our “What’s Your Exodus?” series. 

Holly Lebowitz Rossi:

Holly Lebowitz Rossi "WHat's Your Exodus"

Every day after lunch (well, almost every day), my 3-year-old son Ben takes a nap… and so do I. If the phone rings or an email comes through during nap time, I ignore it. Later, reconnecting, I often hear myself say something like, “I’m embarrassed to confess that I closed my eyes today while Ben was sleeping.” It’s that self-deprecating armor against some imagined (internal?) judgment that I seek liberation from–not the naps. The naps make me a happier Mommy, and isn’t happiness something free people get to feel?

Tara Filowitz Arrey:

My personal exodus is to break free from toxic relationships–to stop tolerating people in my life who bring me down or who don’t make happy to be around them. Life’s too short to surround myself with people who would try to rain on my parade! Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 10 2014

You’re Not a Grown Up Until You Host Your First Passover Seder

By at 12:15 pm

You're Not a Grown Up until you host your first seder

It’s official. I am finally an adult. I will be hosting Passover seder, first and second night, in my own home with my tablecloths, fancy wedding registry dishes, and glasses. I’m also making the matzah ball soup for the first time ever this year. Last year, my husband and then 1.5-year-old daughter Charlotte and I were living at my parents’ condo for the year and had a bi-coastal Passover (1st seder in New York, 2nd seder in Seattle). Of course we helped with the cooking, singing, and clean-up at our respective parents’ houses, but I didn’t have to sweat all the details, like do we have enough folding chairs for 16 people and is anyone a vegan or gluten-free, lactose intolerant, or pescatarian?

I’ve had many memorable Passovers in the past; eating curry and mangos with a Baghdadi family in Bombay, a seder in Russia when my sister was spending the year in St. Petersburg, Passover in Uganda with the Abuyudaya, and once, bringing a box of matzah for a spring break to Cuba. My favorite Passovers of all time though, are the Passovers I have with my family. We do the whole Haggadah, sing lots of songs, and weave in new traditions while keeping the old. My brother-in-law recently introduced the practice of whacking your table neighbor with a green onion when singing Avadim hayinu (We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, now we are free.) We each have our favorite readings and like to point out the crumbs and brisket stains in the Haggadot from Passovers past. This time of year, my mouth waters when I think about the perfect bite of matzah with a big spoon of haroset, topped by a slice of gefilte fish, with a dollop of horse radish on top.

We’ve been talking about getting ready for Passover for the past month and Charlotte is super excited for all the visitors, especially her new cousin, baby Galit. We listen to Dayenu on repeat from her PJ Library CD in the car, and I hope this will be the first Passover she actively remembers. I’m looking forward to sharing and passing on all our Passover schtick to her over the years. Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday, despite the matzah crumbs, which descend like cherry blossom petals all over the place.

Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 10 2014

How To Survive the Seder When You’re Depressed

By at 10:08 am

dinner

As a woman, I try to be everything to everyone. As a wife and mother, that becomes magnified times 100. With Passover creeping up a bit too fast for me, I have to become superwoman. At least, that is what it feels like. While my husband, daughter, and I will only be home for a few days of Passover, I still need to clean. Additionally, our kitchen is being renovated during the week of Passover (good timing!), so there is that added stress. We will be with our family for the seders, but I have the pressure of watching my moods and being sparkly–like my daughter–while I am with them.

We are all dealing with a lot this week. The cleaning, cooking, and readying our bodies for (intestinal) destruction is in full swing right now, and the stress level is palpable. The truth is I am not that concerned with my cleaning (more so because of the pending kitchen destruction). I am concerned about interpersonal issues. I want to be “present” during the seders with my family.

This is easier said than done right now, due to being depressed. The road has lengthened and this stubborn depression walks on. I thought I would be feeling better by now, but I simply don’t. So, like many others, I am stressed about this holiday. I know I share this with many people but my stress is compounded by illness. Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Apr 9 2014

How to Lead a Passover Seder at Your Child’s Episcopalian School

By at 4:04 pm

seder-sample

My third grade daughter is finally getting excited about the idea of me leading a mini-seder for the 3rd and 4th graders at my kids’ Episcopalian school next week. As my daughter has struggled with whether she will agree to “assist” me, I have wrestled with determining the best way to significantly portray the powerful story of Passover to a group of 9 and 10-year-olds of various religious backgrounds in 30 minutes.

When I discussed this with the school chaplain, I was pleasantly reminded that all the children actually already know the Passover story as they recently finished learning the story of Exodus.

Music to my ears. Now I could focus on the excitement of this action-filled story, in which God shows his glory through the burning bush (wow!), the 10 plagues (gross!), the splitting of the sea (awesome!) and against all odds, the liberation of Jewish people (yay!). We will look at the amazing symbolism found on the seder plate (oh, how kids love symbols!), taste some Passover foods (matzah, haroset (nut-free of course) and bitter herbs), hear the four questions and some great musical numbers like “Let My People Go.” In addition to instilling the kids with the “flavor” of Passover, I would like to impress upon them that there are important lessons to be learned from the Passover story that apply to their lives today. Read more →

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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