Saturday, April 7, 2012

Passover the Seder

Last night.. friday was the 1st night of Passover, when Jewish families have a Seder usually over the first 2 nights of Passover.

In case you don't know what passover is this is how explains it:

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. And, by following the rituals of Passover, we have the ability to relive and experience the true freedom that our ancestors gained. (

I have a very small family with only one immediate family member alive still so I only have cousins left so the Holidays aren't a big deal for me generally. I am not religious at all and my family members aren't very religious either.

We had what I call a #SpeedSeder which means we skipped the religious traditions and just had dinner with most of the usual foods that are eaten at Passover. My cousin's wife cooked a beautiful meal this year.

We enjoyed Brisket which is cooked low and slow in the oven and accompanying it was roast potatoes, asparagus and zucchini. We started the meal with traditional chopped liver, gefilte fish, beets and matzoh ball soup. It's a pretty filling meal but it was all very tasty. We finished it off with some fruit and a chocolate cake for dessert.

For me I don't think you have to perform all the traditional lengthy prayers and rituals to acknowledge what has come before to allow you to be who you are now. I think just having a meal having the traditional foods keeps the memory alive. I never understood all the prayers and what they were for and all about anyway so I think a lot of it gets lost on the current generation anyway.

I think you should be free to keep or exclude any traditions that work or don't work for you.

The traditional Seder plate and foods include the following:

1) "Zeroa" - a roasted chicken bone with most of the meat removed. This will represent the Passover offering. It will not be eaten.
2) "Beitzah" - a hard-boiled egg, representing the festival offering.
3) "Maror" - grated horseradish (just the horseradish -- not the red stuff that has vinegar and beets added) and/or romaine lettuce, for use as the "bitter herbs".
4) "Charoset" - a paste made of apples, pears, nuts and wine. We'll be dipping the bitter herbs in this
5) "Karpas" - a bit of vegetable, such an onion or potato.
6) "Chazeret" -- more bitter herbs, for use in the matzah-maror sandwich.
We'll also need a wine cup or goblet for each participant, and plenty of wine (four cups each).

And a dish of salt water (in which to dip the Karpas).

I made the CHAROSET at home which was something my mother made once in a while which has wine in it but my mother never had the wine on hand so she used Brandy instead which I think makes it taste a whole lot more elevated and with a french feel. My mother was raised in Belgium, hence the Brandy/Cognac liberties.

In the Charoset I put a peeled apple, some walnuts, dates, the brandy and a tablespoon of honey. I also put in a few figs to give it some extra flavour. It's the easiest thing to make because all you do is food process the whole thing until it's a chunky paste. I suppose you would have fine chopped it making it the original way. It's really tasty when spread on a piece of matzoh. I will post the picture here............ once I pick up some matzoh's. I never realized how healthy it actually was but I think I will be eating some of it for breakfast this week.

Even if you don't celebrate Passover I encourage you to try some of the traditional Passover foods and get inspired to make them your own.

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