Passover Recipes & Travel

Orange trees are everywhere in Morocco, including train stations.

I spent a couple of years as a bit of a wandering Jew, and a consistent theme in my travels was the need to find some sense of rootedness through local Jewish communities, from Rabat to Rishikesh. Reflecting upon my travels resonates especially as we near Passover. I was not in “exile,” but “on the road” without a home. And, consistently, in all of these wonderful, beautiful and often challenging places, I felt a need to find Jewish communities, sharing precious moments with these strangers, whether a handful of people in Sicily, a single woman in India or dozens in Naples. Yehuda Amichai wrote, “It was not an adventure; it was my life.”

Here are some of my Passover recipes and commentaries over the past couple of years that I hope help you to prepare and celebrate the holiday.

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Rishikesh, Kitchari, and Passover

I spent a good chunk of last year in India. While there are still tiny remaining Indian Jewish communities (read my Fort Cochin post), there is now a transient Jewish population of tens of thousands of mostly post-army Israelis who generally travel through the country generally along a route known as the “Hummus Trail”. The trail is easy to figure out because in each location there are Chabads and other Jewish outreach organizations. For Passover, I joined the Hummus Trail community and went to Rishikesh. Continue reading

Septimania and Turron

Turron

Before going to Catalonia, Septimania and turron were two words I’d never heard before. Septimania– a Jewish kingdom? Yes, it’s true. I first learned about it while visiting some family who live in a tiny village on the French side of Catalonia (population 100. And, no they actually aren’t the only Jewish people in the area). The village is nestled at the base Mt. Canigou, a revered peak to Catalans. Continue reading

Passover Treat

As people are busy preparing for Pesach, clearing their internal and external chametz, I wanted to share an easy and delicious holiday snack/dessert (or enjoy anytime of year). It’s another version of stuffed dates and the simple list of ingredients include some of my favorite foods. Click below the jump for the recipe. For my other Pesach recipes and commentaries, please click here. Pesach Sameach! Continue reading

Pesach Round-Up

Underwood Family Farms, Culver City, CA Farmers Market

Underwood Family Farms, Culver City, CA Farmers Market

As you’re busy cleaning your house, shopping and cooking for Pesach, I thought you might want to read and reflect upon some of my posts for the holiday. Chag sameach!

Passover: Liberate Yourself From Industrial Food: A list of suggestions to make each part of your seder more sustainable.

Passover: Ending Slavery in Our Food Systems: The horrible enslavement of people in the production of food worldwide.

Nisan: Bless and Sustain: The ultimate Pesach food!-Quinoa and roasted fruit and vegetable recipe

Also, if you haven’t had a chance yet, check out the resources page on my website to find a wide range of wonderful groups working in both the secular and faith spaces to address hunger, agriculture, animal welfare and many other important issues.

Nisan: Bless and Sustain

Nisan: Roasted fruits and quinoa

Nisan: Roasted fruits and quinoa

Nisan is the first month of the Jewish calendar, a celebration of the beginning of Spring (Chodesh Ha-aviv) and Pesach. Unlike Rosh Hashana, which is a new year for the creation of the world, Nisan established the nation of Israelites. G-d instructed Moses, “This month shall be for you the head of months, the first of the months of the year.” (Exodus 12-2).

One is instructed to say a blessing during Nisan for blossoming fruit trees.  With the celebration of Spring in Nisan, one can  visit a park or other natural setting to let one’s senses enjoy the colors, scents, sounds and beauty of this time of year. On my little balcony, I’m immersed in an array of flowers, pots overflowing with herbs and a cacophony of birds chirping (of course there is also the regular sounds of drivers honking their car horns). My neighborhood is alight with bougainvellia in vivid oranges and pinks, cascading over tree tops, walls and bushes.

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Passover: Ending Slavery in our Food Systems

Child cocoa worker. Photo courtesy of Fair Trade Judaica

Child cocoa worker. Photo courtesy of Fair Trade Judaica

When we read at Passover, “This year we are slaves; next year, may we be free” we can do our part to ensure that our Pesach celebrations—and all year long–are free of the stains of modern day slavery. Despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibition against slavery, approximately 35.8 million men, women and children worldwide are enslaved, more people than at any point in the history of humanity. About 10 percent of enslaved people work in food industries, harvesting cacao, sugar, and tomatoes, raising cattle or catching fish. The frequent battle for cheaper prices in the global food marketplace might seem great for consumers, but “the reality is that competitive pricing is often the result of exploitative labor practices” where food is grown in disregard for human dignity and international laws. Continue reading

Passover: Liberate Yourself from Industrial Food

Peninsula Jewish Community Center. Foster City, CA

Peninsula Jewish Community Center’s Gan Tzedek (Justice Garden). Foster City, CA

Our nation is enslaved to an industrial food system that is making us sick and fat. It abuses workers (with many cases of modern day slavery), is inhumane to animals, pollutes our drinking water with manure and pesticides, and contributes to climate change. Eating is a religious act. These foods do not reflect Jewish values of humane treatment of animals, workers rights, protecting the environment and human health.

This Passover, we can liberate ourselves from this system by supporting farmers that grow food more sustainably. Below is a list of suggestions for your seder and throughout the year. There’s so much more that can be done, so please share your ideas in the comments section, at the bottom of the post.  Continue reading

Fair-Trade Kosher Chocolate Give-Away

Kosher, Fair Trade chocolate

Kosher, Fair Trade chocolate

Who can say no to Fair Trade, kosher for Passover chocolate? Fair Trade Judaica is generously giving-away chocolate to one lucky reader! Enter to win by March 20, 2015 by writing in the comments section, at the bottom, about why Fair Trade kosher for Passover chocolate is important to you.  Continue reading

Vaera: Slavery Now

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Vaera: Maror Salad

In Vaera, we read that Pharoah digs in his heels, hardens his heart and refuses to liberate the Israelite slaves, thus launching plagues against the Egyptians. “Even from such hardened sinners as Pharaoh and the Egyptians, God did not withhold the opportunity of mending their ways. Before a plague visited them Moses was charged to warn them of its coming, to-morrow, if they remained obdurate.” (Exodus Rabba)

So, why does Pharoah continue to enslave the Israelites?

Commentary in Etz Hayyim notes that the Israelites “must be freed in such a way that they, the Egyptians, and all the nations of the world will understand that it was God’s doing, not Pharaoh’s goodwill” (p. 351). The Israelites understanding of God’s role in their liberation is important “to establish the principle that it is unacceptable for one human being to reduce another human being to slavery, that freedom is the will of God and not the choice of a despot” (p. 351). This story’s universal message is important today.

Maror Salad ingredients

Maror Salad ingredients

Despite religious teachings and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, slavery  exists in our world. Right now, 30 million people worldwide, from domestic workers to sex workers to food supply laborers are enslaved, the largest number of people in history.  Twenty percent of these people are children. This is not just a problem “elsewhere” but here in the United States. Los Angeles, where I live, “is a top point of entry into this country for victims of slavery and trafficking.” I see it in my life as an Uprising Yoga teacher at a juvenile detention center in Los Angeles. Some of the incarcerated youth there are sex-trafficked.

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