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Posts Tagged ‘Pesach’

Pesach Prep… Again?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Rachael posted:

Wow, it’s Pesach prep again. I feel like I was just blogging about Pesach prep.  I don’t mark the year by when the school year begins for my kids, or by my birthday or any of the usual markers, but somehow when it’s Pesach prep I can’t believe that a whole year has gone by.


I also know Pesach is getting close because everyone I speak to has asked me if I’m ready for Pesach yet.  Every time I get asked that question I get a pang of panic flash through my stomach.  Then my head kicks into the conversation and reminds me that there is still a full week to complete the job.  I think the question ‘are you ready for Pesach yet?’ should be in the same category as ‘hot enough for you?’ or ’so when is that baby due?’  All of these questions have no correct answer to them.


For instance, ‘am I ready for Pesach?’ is always answered with ‘no’.  I can guarantee that I’m never ready for Pesach, there will always be one more thing I could have done, one more wipe of a cabinet, one more shopping trip, one more dish to prepare, one more SOMETHING. So, no, I’m never ready.  I think I can also confidently answer the question about the heat with a resounding ‘yes’.  Yes it is hot enough for me.  I am not a heat loving person.  Because I’m fair I have to stay out of the sun and you can’t solve the heat.  When it’s cold you can always put on another layer but when it’s hot, well, there’s only so much you can take off.  While we’re on the subject…the baby is due when it’s ready.


Phew, I feel so much better.  Sorry for the rant but I have to release some nervous Pesach prep anxiety.  So when I go home today I will try my best to see my house as my lovely home rather than seeing it as one, big, giant cookie box.  I’m sure the holiday will be beautiful and I’m also sure that once Pesach is done, within the blink of an eye, it’ll be Pesach prep again.


Chag Samaiyach

Just Try Getting Enough Groceries…

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Rachael Posted:

I hope everyone had a great Pesach - mine was a little challenging.  The actual holiday part was wonderful, the Seders were family filled with songs and wine and even a few insights linking past to present.  The part that was so challenging was that this year the Pesach yomtevs backed onto the Easter long weekend.  Just so we understand the issue…I live in a city where everything closes for Good Friday (most importantly for Pesach reasons - the supermarkets are closed).  Saturday is not a legal holiday but it’s Shabbat, I don’t shop.  Sunday is the one day when I can hope to find a supermarket open (remember that’s Easter Sunday so not everything is open for business).  Sunday night was the start of the 2nd yomtev - no shopping (again) but please notice - if I didn’t find an open supermarket on Sunday then there’s also no eating going on.  My daughter ran to a large supermarket chain on Sunday at 5 pm (the sign said it would be open until 6) just as the manager was locking the door.  She stood on the outside along with many other people and pointed out that the store was closing early.  The answer was that she should come back tomorrow (yomtev - good luck explaining that one through a locked glass door).

In the end she noticed some friends in the check out line of the supermarket and she quickly called them and read them a condensed (but essential) shopping list over the phone.  They ran around the store getting some fresh food for us and we managed.  Everything worked out alright but I have to say it caused anxious moments, lots of texting back and forth and last minute scrambling.

Between Pesach holiday occurring during the week, Easter occurring over the weekend, statutory holidays and figuring out the intervening days of Pesach, I came back to work with my head spinning and constantly thinking today was Tuesday (btw, it’s Thursday which means - yes - Shabbat is right around the corner).  Sometimes Jewish holidays can make your head spin.

Nothing beats a bowl of Matza Ball Soup!

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Uliana Posted:

Since this is my first Passover at the new house with just my husband and I, what do we cook? No more help from the sisters or moms, we are on our own here…

As the fear slowly set in, we decide to take on the challenge and make our first matza ball soup on our own.

What can I say? I never imagined that a semi-clear liquid with yummy matza balls out of a box could taste sooo good.

From that moment on we both agreed that this would be our breakfast, lunch and dinner dish over Passover… Not only for its simplicity when making it, but for the warm childhood memories it brings with each spoonful you take.

Nothing beats a bowl of Matza Ball Soup!!!

What Does an Egg Have to Do With Passover?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

“What is on the Seder Plate” takes you around the plate and explains the meaning and purpose for each object. Whether this is your first Passover or thirtieth Passover, you’re still bound to have a ‘aha’ moment after watching this video.

How is this night MEANINGFULLY different?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

RACHAEL posted:

I’ve had some interesting moments over the last few days that connect to Pesach in a very roundabout way.  Some of my former university students have contacted me with questions about Judaism and their lives as they’re entering different stages.  One student is planning her wedding and she wanted to learn the laws of family purity and Mikvah and sexuality.  It was great to see her again and a pleasure to study with her once more.  I am also preparing some lectures for university campuses that have to do with Passover and the book of Exodus and the men and women of the text and history.

In both instances I am struck with these young people and their thirst for meaning - not knowledge - MEANING.  In some instances these young adults have been very technically educated in their Judaism.  They know Jewish law in great detail and what to do should unlikely circumstances require a quick ‘Jewish’ decision.  They have shared with me that they are afraid to ask the ‘meaning’ question.  Not how we do things but why we do them.  As parents, we taught them to be critical thinkers and to push for useful knowledge.  Yet when it comes to their Judaism, they have become minutiae experts ready to walk away because their souls crave more.

Ironically, those young people who do not have the technical Jewish knowledge are in the same bind.  They are asking questions about Judaism and given academic answers that address history and methodology teaching them skills of inquiry but the spiritual aspect has no place in the academic world.  When they ask the same questions in the community, they are often geared toward behaviour modification rather than meaningfulness.  Like the 1st group, they’re ready to walk away.  They may take a different door out but both groups are heading for an exit.

At this year’s Seders, I challenge families to be courageous and ask tough questions.  Push to the next level of meaning.  ”Why do we eat bitter herbs? To remind us of our suffering in Egypt.”  Now go one more step and ask: ‘Why do we need to remember suffering?  Why does it matter what happened so long ago?  Why were we suffering to begin with?  Why Egypt, of all countries? Why do we care?’

The goal is not to answer the questions but to openly admit they must be asked.  It’s shocking to hear people’s views on the questions of meaning - it’s usually a moment of sincere honesty.

Our children are craving food for their soul - meaningful exchange with us.  What better time to start than Pesach?

Selling your Chametz - Rachael’s Video Reflection VLOG - March 23

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

As Passover approaches, Rachael looks at the question of why some Jewish people sell their Chametz (bread products) and also offers an alternative idea of what you can do with all that Chametz.

Mussar Dilemma for March

Friday, March 12th, 2010

You are attending your family Seders at a relative’s house. You look forward to it and have some insights you’d like to share about Jewish values and challenges. There are other people at the table who are not as engaged in the ‘Jewishness’ of the evening and would like to race through the Hagadah to get to the food. Every time you raise a topic for discussion, they groan or roll their eyes.

You could:
(a) Ask them why they’re being so rude to you.
(b) Tell them you appreciate that they’re hungry but you’d love a few minutes of discussion knowing this could spark an argument.
(c) Promise yourself that next year you will decline the invitation to join this Seder again.
(d) Do nothing and say nothing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Send an e-mail to info@rachaelscentre.org.

What to do with all that Chametz? - Olameinu: Our World, Our Environment

Friday, March 12th, 2010

What to do with all that Chametz

The history of selling our chametz before Pesach is layered with Jewish creativity, Jewish history, Halachic innovation and the financial challenges of completely emptying our pantries to refill them with Pesach goods, only to then have to refill them again the following week.

There is no question that when this ‘cleansing’ of the cupboards and double-filling becomes a financial hardship, one should consider selling the chametz and reclaiming it afterwards. But fortunately, many of us are not facing financial hardship with our food – we sell it because it is convenient.

In that case, Jewish environmentalism would speak loudly inviting us to use the mitzvah of ‘burning the chametz’ as an opportunity to fulfill other mitzvot.

Unopened food packages should be taken to city food banks and donated. In that way, the food is not wasted and the mitzvah of supporting and sustaining those less fortunate is engaged. It is sad that in our day we cannot donate opened food goods because of health and safety concerns (sad but completely understandable). In that case, we must always remember that our responsibility toward those less fortunate includes all creatures and not just other people.

Opened food packages can be cooked and then left outside for animals. It is springtime and many of the returning and awakening animals are hungry. Cookies, breads, baked goods can be taken to ponds and fed to birds directly. Invite family and friends to join you and now the Jewish value of community building is part of the day. On the other hand, perhaps you prefer a moment of solitude while you do this before the family gathers for Pesach celebrations.

Getting rid of our chametz is not just a stripping away of something but speaks directly to the Jewish environmental commitments to nurture and nourish our fellow creatures. Through the craziness of Pesach prep, it’s lovely to take a few moments of peace and solitude outside with the smells and colours of spring and the sharing of our food.

Each mitzvah should bring opportunity for another mitzvah!