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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 the rest of this entry →

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 the rest of this entry →

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 the rest of this entry →

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 the rest of this entry →

What’s Your Exodus: Breaking Free from Phones, Old Pains & Things Out of Our Control

By at 3:38 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. 

From Jodi Neuman:

Jodi Neuman "What's Your Exodus?"

I want an exodus from the inability to admit that there are things in this life that I just can’t control! I want to be able to be the gal that takes everything with a grain of salt, avoiding the ever-present vice of anxiety.

I suppose you could say that it’s understandable in my case, as having a daughter who received a kidney transplant at 2 years old doesn’t bode easy for mothers with anxiety disorders. But even now, five years later, every sneeze, every cough, does a whirlwind of nerve dancing in my head–enough to make me the one who suffers in the end, not to mention everyone around me who becomes exhausted with their overuse of, “Relax, she’s fine. She’s a typical girl who gets sick now and then, etc.”

So that’s where I want relief. Relief from the dangling sword, one that I have created, that should, with the blessings we’ve received, be no less menacing than a dangling nail clipper. Read the rest of this entry →

The Glamorous Housewife’s Guide to Hosting Your First Passover Seder

By at 10:05 am

The Glamorous Housewife's Guide to Hosting Your First Seder

If you have been following along with my Shabbat tutorials, you will realize that it only takes a little bit of planning to create a wonderful meal for family and friends. The same holds true if you are planning to host this year’s seder. It might seem like an overwhelming task the first time you try, but if you break each section up into smaller components and start a few days ahead of time, you should be able to hold a beautiful seder with very little anxiety.

Here is the checklist of what is included in a seder celebration:

- Guest list: Who is coming?

- Menu: What are you serving for dinner?

- Haggadah for each person at the meal.

- Seder plate, plus what goes on it.

- Salt water for the table.

- Wine and a goblet or glass for blessings.

- Elijah’s cup. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 8 2014

What’s Your Exodus: Breaking Free from Overworking & Maternity Pants

By at 4:22 pm

As Passover approaches, we asked our readers and writers: What do you need an exodus from? Today we hear from four more Kveller writers as part of our “What’s Your Exodus?” series. 

From Courtney Naliboff:

Courtney Naliboff "What's Your Exodus?"

I want to break free from my maternity pants! The feeling seems to be mutual. Even with a full panel, they are trying to break free from me. Rocked the plumber’s crack doing yard work today. Why won’t it warm up so I can spend the last few weeks of my pregnancy drifting around in muu muus???

From Alina Adams:

Like I wrote in my piece about God smiting me with shingles, I have got to exit out of my compulsion to overwork and learn how to relax. I figure I should get the hang of it… in 40 years or so. :) Read the rest of this entry →

Everyone Made a Passover “Frozen” Parody This Year–Check Out Our Top Five

By at 2:25 pm

aish-let-it-go

If your kids can’t get enough of “Frozen,” they will love this year’s overload of Passover parody videos. Not all Passover “Frozen” parodies are created equal, though, so we’ve selected our five favorites. Each one sillier and more absurd than the next, these spoofs of “Let it Go” will have your family singing “Let Us Go,” all Passover long.

Enjoy!

1. The Grown Up version. From Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough, MA. There is a nice contrast between frowning geriatric Pharaoh who occasionally raises his staff, and the grinning temple congregants–who look like they might be your parents–performing as back-up dancers.

2. The Teen Version. This charming ukulele version from The Weber School in Atlanta, GA is like the kids’ answer to the previous parody. Created by students and teachers of the school, it addresses what young people hate most about the seder (zzzzz….) and helps bring the haggadah to life. It even comes with an attached lesson plan. Read the rest of this entry →

Five Paleo Diet Food Blogs That are Perfect for Passover Cooking

By at 11:04 am

nom-nom-paleo-kveller

In many ways, I’m the last person who should be writing an article about cooking for Passover. My family went on a Passover cruise the year I turned 12, and after experiencing what it was like to opt out of cleaning and cooking, my parents never looked back. So I’ve never really cooked for Passover. Don’t hate me for that, though, because I cook Passover food every day.

My husband and I adhere to a Paleo diet, which means that we don’t eat any grains, legumes, soy, dairy or refined sugar. We aren’t doing it to be trendy, or even to lose weight (though it’s a welcome side effect). Eating this way reduces inflammation in the body and is a very effective way to fight off chronic illness. The secret to sticking with it lies in the kitchen. Paleo recipes are so delicious; I never miss the things I used to love.

By default, any Paleo recipe that doesn’t include seeds (if you avoid kitniyot), pork or shellfish is Kosher for Passover. Accordingly, Paleo opens up a whole new universe of Passover recipes. Let me get you started with five of my favorite Paleo recipe blogs. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 7 2014

Top 10 Kitschiest Passover Seder Gifts of All Time

By at 7:00 pm

kitschy-gifts

It’s never too early to start prepping for Passover. There is an endless list of food and Judaica items you will need in order to create the perfect seder. These things are not on it.

If you are smart, you will bail on the sh*tstorm that is Passover planning by attending a friend or relative’s seder. And when you arrive–spouse and kiddies in tow–you should bring a gift. Sort of a “thank you for hosting”/ “sorry for the inevitable toddler-induced grape juice stains on your white table cloth” kind of gift.

We can help. These Passover products range from funny, to gross, to just plain ridiculous. They are absolutely unnecessary, but fun nonetheless, and may bring a little levity to an otherwise solemn holiday.  Read the rest of this entry →

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