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Apr 17 2014

The Perfect Way My Daughter Described Her Friend Who Uses a Wheelchair

By at 3:26 pm

wheelchair

This year, at our first night’s seder, my 11-year-old daughter declared her desire to find the afikomen. You see, she informed me, this would be her only chance.

Puzzled, I asked why. After all, we were heading to a friend’s home for the second night, and there would most certainly be an afikomen hunt there, as well.

(Back story: The friends we celebrate Passover with have one son, Josh, who has Cerebral Palsy. I have written about him and my children’s relationship with him before. Our families have been celebrating second seder together for the past few years.) Read the rest of this entry →

Thanks to Passover, My Daughter is Terrified of Dying

By at 10:02 am

cat-and-girl

It all started on Purim in my daughter’s nursery school in Jerusalem. Her teacher went into a considerable amount of detail regarding the hanging of Haman and his ten sons and the murder of Queen Vashti when she refused to appear naked (“in just her crown”) in front of the Royal Court. I assumed that Raphaela had no real understanding of the finality of death, at the age of 4.5.

It continued with Passover, with the teacher’s in depth explanations of the 10 Plagues, with a liberal use of the words “death,” “died,” and “killed.” In this black and white view of the Universe, my daughter was taught that the plagues affected only the Egyptians and their property, because they had enslaved and abused the Jewish people.  Pharaoh and the Egyptians deserved their fate, because they were wicked and the Jews were good.

Raphaela came home with two drawings, and described the scenes set out in both: Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 14 2014

What’s Your Exodus: Breaking Free from Endless Doubting & Diapers

By at 1:37 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. 

Adina Kay-Gross:

Adina Kay-Gross "WHat's Your Exodus?"

This Passover, I’d like to break free of diapers. My kids turn three in a week, and I think that’s a respectable time to make an exodus from the land of the poop sacks, and toward freedom and what will likely be months of accidents. Either way, let my children potty train! Next year in underwear! Amen.

Carla Naumburg:

Carla Naumburg "What's Your Exodus?"

Kindergarten. I can’t believe I used the word “kindergarten.” Ugh. Everyone else said “Gan Nitzan,” but I had to go and say “kindergarten.” They must think I’m an idiot. I’m never going to fit in here.

That’s what was going through my mind several minutes into introductions at the New Parent Orientation at the Jewish Day School my daughter will be attending next fall. There’s no question in my mind that no one else even noticed that I said kindergarten, or if they did, they didn’t think twice about it. (Or, if they did think twice about it, they’re probably just as crazy as I am, and we should hang out more.) Read the rest of this entry →

Exodus From Our Dream Home to Our Homeland

By at 12:52 pm

dream-home

My dream house just went on the market. It has chocolaty hardwood floors, quaint beaded board in the dining room, an oversized family room and even a custom kosher kitchen that looks like it just popped out of Pinterest. It’s located in a vibrant Jewish community in an idyllic seaside southern California town where it’s a short walk to sweeping ocean views. Perfection.

The thing is: My husband and I are the ones selling it. In July, we are undertaking our own personal exodus and realizing our dream of making aliyah (moving to Israel). And while we are lucky to have a lovely place waiting for us in Israel, I can tell you that it won’t have the pottery-barn-perfectness of my American one.

We have been blessed in this house. We have listened to and laughed with numerous friends and even strangers at our dining room Shabbat table. Our yard has been the backdrop for back-to-school brunches welcoming new families to our day school and it’s where we’ve fed hordes of kids butterfly cupcakes after they moon-bounced and piñata-ed at our daughters’ birthday parties. I can still hear the singing of the hundred-plus guests who helped welcome our youngest son home from the hospital for his shalom zachor. We have even had the privilege of hosting the wedding of dear friends, the chuppah gracing our grass as they began a new life together in our yard.  Read the rest of this entry →

“Frogs in the Bed” Passover Coloring Page

By at 12:07 pm

Need to keep little hands occupied while you cook and prepare for the seder? Print out this adorable Passover coloring page from Jewish children’s book author Ann Koffsky. This picture is excerpted from her book, Frogs in the Bed: My Passover Seder Activity Book. More free Passover pages are available on Ann’s blog.

Passover coloring page Ann Kofsky

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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 the rest of this entry →

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 the rest of this entry →

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 the rest of this entry →

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

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 the rest of this entry →

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