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Sunday, April 19, 2009

A few things I love about Passover

By the time Passover is over, I find that I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder (not to mention an impassable rock in my gut), and am thoroughly sick of the holiday.  So before I completely turn the page on the Festival of Freedom, I felt I should sit down and remind myself about some of the things I truly love about it:

1.  The Seder - Not just the ritual meal held on Passover evening with family and friends, but also the actual meaning of the word 'seder'; order.  I love that for a few brief weeks after we do a full pre-Passover cleaning, and the clutter hasn't yet begun to pile up again, the house actually has some semblance of order.

[Lest some people who happen to be my wife think this is a dig at her housekeeping skills, let me state for the record that I am one of the primary contributors to the chez treppenwitz clutter problem.]

2.  Matzoh - For about ten minutes, that is.  At the seder... yum.  The first morning with a shmear of butter and jam... heaven!  But after that I want to toss the stuff into the trash.  Truly the 'bread of affliction'.

3.  Passover food - Aside from Matzoh, there are some things that Zahava only trots out during this holiday.  Among the most beloved are her Meringues (with chocolate chips, no less!) and her incredible Mandel Bread (better than any biscotti you ever tasted!!!).

4.  Mainstream Holiday media references - This may be a distinctly immigrant thing, but I still love that pre-Pesach advertisements in Israel feature songs from the Seder, pitches for stuff we all want/need for the holiday, and countless shared cultural references.  Everyone - secular and religious alike - wishes you a Chag Sameach before and during the holiday, and even the DJs on the rock stations naturally toss in 'Moedim L'Simcha' (roughly 'Happy Holiday') to their mid-holiday week on-air patter.  By comparison, having to endure the cringe-worthy "We would like to wish all our Jewish friends a Happy Passover" when we lived in the U.S. made me feel like a complete and total outsider.  You just knew from the awkward way the announcer pronounced 'Passover' that he has no Jewish friends, and wouldn't know a macaroon if someone threw one at him!

5.  Time off - I love that for a solid week (almost 2 weeks this year!) I could wake up late, snuggle with the kids, get to know my wife again, take family trips, stay up late watching movies... and of course, not have to work.  I have to admit I'm already thumbing through the calendar to see when my next day off is.  Yom Atzma'ut' (Israel Independence Day) here I come.

Posted by David Bogner on April 19, 2009 | Permalink

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Pesach is one of my favorite holidays, until the fourth day that is. By that point I am tired of affliction and beginning to search for freedom. But like you, I do have a long list of things that I love about it.

Posted by: Jack | Apr 19, 2009 10:26:56 AM

When I lived in the US I complained about the food restrictions of Passover too. But honestly, this year was our first as olim in Israel and it was our best, most relaxing Pesach ever! Having no prior ancestral tradition with respect to kitniyot, we decided to go with the "law of the land" this year (http://aliyahhandbook.com/blog/index.php/parasha/kitniyot) and that made our menu much more enjoyable and relaxing. And left no "impassable rock in my gut", like you mentioned. As for the "bread of affliction", we enjoyed a variety of shmura, whole wheat, and spelt with cream cheese and jams, fish spreads with onions and tomatoes, charoset smeared on nice and thick, etc. (we didn't even bother with the "matzah pizza" this year because we were satisfied with what we had) and enjoyed it for the entire week. You need to add some variety and spice to your menu next year :-)

Posted by: Tehillah | Apr 19, 2009 12:51:47 PM

Personally I love Matzo. Am I the only person in the world who does? And as for Pesach food generally, my daughter makes the best Matzobrei and Boubles. I just wish I didn't have to wait a year for more :(

As a Brit, one of the first things that endeared me to NYC was the advertisements heard over the radio in the taxi into Manhattan from JFK on my first visit 'Order ----'s Kiddush wine for your Seder', 'Enjoy ----'s Matzot this Passover'. Here in the UK 'Passover' is something done with a book or magazine ('Could you please pass over that book/magazine') as far as the general populace is concerned.

You Yanks don't know you're born! :)

Posted by: chairwoman | Apr 19, 2009 3:43:16 PM

Yo, Chairwoman, what's a bouble? Ok, so I am one of the lucky ones. I get to enjoy Pesach in a hotel, where one never goes hungry. ("Let all who are hungry come to the tearoom?") And because the kitchen is a "non-gebrokst" enterprise, I am constantly amazed by what Marty the chef can concoct without even matza meal. Motzei Shabbat we had a late buffet that included pizza, blintzes, knishes, and yes, believe it or not...grilled cheese sandwiches on potato starch bread that looked and pretty much tasted like the real thing. On chinese buffet dinner night we had the eggrolls of our affliction. Definitely a long way from my childhood where even dairy products were rare and my parents shared one coffee cup because there weren't enough dairy products available to justify buying a whole set of dishes.(Ok, they were weird. Certainly they could have sprung for another mug)But I'd give it up not to have to experience the most dreaded phrase in the English language - Second Seder! I can't understand why the prospect of a 3 day chag doesn't have a line forming outside the nearest Nefesh B'Nefesh office!

Posted by: Marsha in Englewood | Apr 19, 2009 7:36:06 PM

Pesach is my favorite holiday of all. Mostly because it celebrates one of the things I hold most dear, freedom. In our family, everyone likes matzah, we even eat it at other times during the year. The kids love matzah, with butter, with butter and honey, with cream cheese, chocolate spread, and lots of other things, or just plain as a cracker. They love breaking it into their chicken or vegetable soup. We even love "matzohs caffe", or broken matzah in a cup of coffee.

I also like the seder very much and so do the kids. We usually do our sedarim (the only thing I don't like is the repeat seder, but that's the punishment for living in Chul) with the entire extended family, my parents, my two sisters and their families, my brother, a guest or two (panim chadashim ...), and all my parents 12 grandchildren together. It's great!

I make one of the best matzah brei's ever. I use real heavy cream and real butter which are ingredients that make everything taste good. For some reason, my family likes eating matzah brei with cottage cheese (another punishment for living is Chul is the lack of the delightful 9% cottage cheese from Tnuva available in Israel). In fact, I, and my family, love Pesach food altogether.

I don't even care about the 2 1/2 kilos (~5 pounds) that I gained over this Pesach. I will lose it over the next few weeks.

Posted by: Mark | Apr 20, 2009 12:32:37 AM

I love the holiday for its significance and all the insightful and sensible things that great scholars have written about it. I am not so keen on the cleaning beforehand. As for the fod, since I eat matzah ashira - particularly for breakfast- I don't feel I crave for bread too fast. Yet I always crave for pizza at the end of the holiday.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Apr 20, 2009 1:06:03 AM

please ask Zehava for recipe for mandelbread - thanks. have a very good recipe for Pesach Musli in exchange.

Posted by: yaffa | Apr 20, 2009 1:11:14 AM

Matzoh - For about ten minutes, that is. At the seder... yum. The first morning with a shmear of butter and jam... heaven! But after that I want to toss the stuff into the trash. Truly the 'bread of affliction'.

Matze brei! Matze brei!! Matze brei!!!

And, what the heck, matze, brie, and a glass of wine.

On the other hand, kosher le peysach vodka is truly the booze of affliction.
I like Scotch.

Posted by: At The Back of the Hill | Apr 20, 2009 4:17:39 AM

Oh, and flying rubber frogs (second seder at the Meltzers) are fun too.

"This one frog is four, no it is five, no, actually fifty, two hundred, two hundred and fifty rubber frogs......"

Children and Russians - hence the flying frogs and the booze of affliction.

Posted by: At The Back of the Hill | Apr 20, 2009 4:22:11 AM

Pesach may get wearisome, but it's gotta beat the heck out of Tish B'Av. (And as a goy back in the States, let me be be the first to say: "We would like to wish all our Jewish friends a Happy Passover")

Posted by: Bob | Apr 20, 2009 6:10:19 AM

If you would eat VEGETABLE salad rather than butter with your matzah, the rock would not exhist.....

Posted by: rickismom | Apr 20, 2009 9:40:38 AM

My ultimate Pesach taste - take a piece of matzah (tastes best on the machine-matzah, but shmura will do in a pinch), rub all over it with a clove of raw garlic, and butter it. (Learned that one from my grandfather.) Makes the rock in the belly almost worth it.

Oh, and my "affliction-booze" of choice - Sheva-Sheva-Sheva orange-infused brandy on the rocks. It ain't single-malt scotch, but it ain't bad. Good enough for all year 'round.

Posted by: psachya | Apr 20, 2009 5:58:00 PM

I'm still daydreaming about the liver, onions, and potatoes you mentioned. But that was actually pre-Passover, technically, wasn't it? So probably off-topic, but it still sounds delish.

Posted by: Tanya | Apr 20, 2009 6:42:28 PM

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