Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Random Passover Tips and Tricks

Ack! Passover is almost here. A whole bunch of last-minute Pesach tips, tricks, and interesting things...perhaps for Seder conversation....

1. Are you worried about feeding your goldfish this year? In case you are, here is some information on how to make sure that even your fish's diet is appropriately chametz-free.

2. Passover can be, um, binding. One good way to ensure that you stay, um, regular, is to eat dried fruit, or even better -- fruit compote. A yummy recipe: 4 lbs mixed dried fruits, 1 1/2 cups orange juice, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, one piece of cinnamon stick or cinnamon powder to taste, peel of one lemon, left in one or more large pieces. Remove the sulfates in the dried fruit first: pour boiling water over the fruit and let stand for at least 1 hour. Drain thoroughly. Put the fruit in a large pot, with all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 30-45 minutes until tender. Cool in the saucepan, remove the lemon peel, and store it in the fridge, covered tightly. It will keep for a long long time. Unless you eat it all.

3. Don't screw up and buy the wrong kind of matzah. FrumeSarah, I'm embarrassed to say that this is what I fell for. Here's how the story goes. This year, Manishewitz isn't making Tam Tams. For those of you who don't know, Tam Tams are wonderful, yummy, not-low-cal crackers made Kosher for Passover each year. They are my family's favorite Pesach food. What I didn't realize was that they were also not making any cracker-shaped matzah stuff this year. I had no idea. I'm a little slow. I thought to myself, maybe I'm just late to the party and it's all been bought at my local stores (did anyone get any???). So I went online to Amazon. I got really excited to find this. I bought it. Late at night, I suddenly realized that this was NOT the Kosher for Passover stuff. Why do they make chametz-dik matzah? Please explain this to me, Manishewitz! I knew this -- I always check my matzah in the store. But online...I got so excited by the matzah cracker shape that I bought ...get this... 12 boxes. Yep, that's how it's sold on Amazon. By the case. My husband got a good laugh that I had just spent hours cleaning my pantry of all the chametz and I went and bought 12 boxes of the stuff. Lovely. Food pantry?

4. If you aren't done yet with the cleaning thing, check out A Mother in Israel's great checklist. I always forget the cars.

5. Check out this beautiful handout from Storahtelling. Try their Leap for Freedom game. It's great!

6. Looking for a new Haggadah? Want some games or stories or ideas for the Seder? They're all over, people.

7. Passover isn't always the most "Green" of holidays - we throw out stuff, we clean frantically, we might use a lot of disposables or papergoods. So here is Hazon's take on sustainable Passover resources.

8. Why put an orange or other innovation on your seder plate? There are a couple of explanations for this - although it's typically thought of as a feminist statement - I like to think of it as inclusive and adding something new to the seder to keep it lively, interesting, and modern. Here are two different opinions and ideas about this, both of which are thought-provoking and interesting. What do you do to make your seder new each year?

9. A video for you:

Plus this very cool ASL version of the Four Questions.

10. Even though the Passover seder talks about our redemption from Egypt, the need for freedom in our world is still ongoing. Here is a wonderful Seder addition from American Jewish World Service, imploring us to remember those in Darfur who are not free from fear and terror.

11. My favorite Passover joke: As Moses was leading the Children of Israel through the parted walls of the Red Sea, some complained of thirst after walking so far, so fast. Unfortunately, they weren't able to drink from the walls of salt water on each side of them. Then a fish from the wall of water stuck his head out and spoke to Moses. He told him his family had heard the complaint, and that they could, thru their own gills, remove the salt from the water, and then force it out of their mouths like a fresh water fountain for the Israelites to drink from! But, said the fish, before his family began to help, they had one demand. They wanted to be a part of history, and wanted to always be a part of the Seder meal to commemorate the Exodus. Moses readily agreed to this, and gave them their name which remains to this very day. He said to them ... "Go, Filter Fish." (you have to say it out loud to get it. trust me. you'll laugh.)

12. My second favorite Passover joke: (these are great for the Seder, I promise!) The queen was going to knight a prominent Jew in England. He was welcomed to the palace along with all the other knights-to-be. They were instructed to go before the Queen, kneel down, and recite a phrase in Latin. All the other candidates nodded. The Jewish almost-knight said it over and over to himself, trying to remember it. When it was his turn to stand before the Queen, the phrase simply flew out of his head and he said the first non-English phrase that came to mind: "Mah nishtanah halaila hazeh mikol ha-laylot?" And the Queen turned to her advisors nearby and said, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?" (it gets 'em every year!)

13. Make sure you look up on Seder night. Hopefully the sky will be clear and you can see the beautiful full moon. The beautiful fullness represents, I believe, the beautiful fullness of Jewish life, especially on this night, the night that so many Jews and friends around the world are sharing in the Feast of Freedom. What an amazing moment for us all to know that we are all telling the same story, we are all re-living the dramatic moment in which we celebrated the understanding of the true meaning of freedom.

May this holiday bring joy and peace. Chag sameach!

See more Thursday Thirteen here.


Dane Bramage said...

Happy Passover. I may have to try the fruit compote just because it sounds delicious.
My Thursday Thirteen #76 is up. 13 Things about me that start with J.

Juliana RW said...

great post and lots of tips ;)

Will you visit mine Thanks

Robin said...

I definitely don't "get" hametzkik matza either. Why eat cardboard by choice?

Chag sameach to you and yours :-).

Hootin Anni said...

I hope you have a peaceful holiday.

[And I just saw the full's beautiful from my point of view]

My 13 movie stills is shared for T-13 this week. Come by if you can.

Ilanna said...

I don't understand the chametz matzah - what is the point?? :) I remember when I was in college - my non jewish RA asked me to help her with a Passover 'program' so that others in the dorm could learn about it. I told her what she should get - and she comes in - and managed to find non kosher for passover matzah (with YEAST in it for some reason) DURING passover... I was VERY impressed. :)

Anonymous said...

I've actually found a "feminism on the Seder plate" tradition I like better than the orange. While doing some research for my religious studies project, I discovered that a thousand years ago, many Jews had the tradition of putting a piece of fish on the seder plate in honor of the parting of the Red Sea, and which--together with the egg and the shank bone--carried many layers of meaning:

Moses Aaron Miriam
God Men Women
Air Earth Water
Ziz-Sadai Behemoth Leviathan

I'm a sucker for symbolism and cool traditions (it's why I love Pesach so much!), so this year I'm replacing my tapuz with a dag.

Anonymous said...

OMG -- did you not get the memo??? I thought EVERYONE knew that Tam-Tams are verbotten this year.

A tragedy, really!!

I really love you, ya know :)

Anonymous said...

And BTW, I really love your Thursday 13 this week :)