Passover: Tips and Tricks
Thank you for these wonderful submission. Without further adieu....
Now, the 2023 Pesah Tip and Tricks
Rabbi Dr. Rachel Adler -
Shir HaShirim Charoset
This “free-form” recipe contains only ingredients mentioned in Shir Ha-Shirim. There’s no sugar because sugar was a later import to Eretz Yisrael and to the Western world –way later than Shir Ha-Shirim! Why reference Shir ha-Shirim on Pesach? Because Shir ha-Shirim is the megillah/scroll read on Shabbat Pesach: the love song between God and the people Israel. We read it to celebrate what Jeremiah calls their bridal days in the wilderness: a newly liberated people and its Liberator-God.
Choose from the following ingredients in proportions to taste. You might want to make a very small test batch to figure out what you want more or less of.
Wine/grape juice "new wine" Shir ha-Shirim1:1. Rambam mentions wine in his recipe.
Grapes (numerous vine references) notably Shir ha-Shirim 7:9, 8:11-12. I don’t know of any traditions that use raw grapes. Invariably they are in the form of wine or grape juice.
Apricots (perhaps more accurate translation as used in very ancient Hebrew) and/or apples (traditional translation but may reflect a later ancient Hebrew). Shir ha-Shirim 2:5. I use both. Multivocality in traditions is a good thing.
Figs Shir ha-Shirim 2:13. Rambam mentions them in his charoset recipe.
Spices Shir ha-Shirim 3:6, 8:14. I use powdered cloves (a very small amount) and a more liberal amount of grated whole nutmeg,
Pomegranate Shir ha-Shirim 4:3, 6:7. I mix pomegranate juice and wine or grape juice.
Honey Shir ha-Shirim 4:11 (the passage also mentions milk, but milk is not used in charoset in any known tradition, (probably because most Seder meals were fleishig until vegetarians became more numerous).
Cinnamon, saffron Shir ha-Shirim 4:14. Rambam refers to cinnamon in his recipe.
Walnuts and almonds Shir ha-Shirim 6:11. I use a generous proportion of both to offset the fruits.
Dates Shir ha-Shirim 7:8-9. Check for pits. Rambam mentions them in his recipe.
I invested in a Pesach food processor for which I am thankful each year. I process ingredients separately and dump into a big bowl. That way I don’t get mush. I can control the texture and moisten with juice or wine and pomegranate juice to taste.
From Naomi Stein -
My grandfather used to say the four questions in Yiddish. Now my dad does it. There is a lot of laughter and switching between multiple different bad transliterations and Hebrew script. It's probably my sister and my favorite thing. It keeps us all connected.
Rabbi Larry Freedman -
I learned two things from Rabbi Schiff. First, have the seder, before the meal, in the living room with comfortable chairs. Children can sit on the floor. Much more comfortable. And second, at Karpas, after the parsley, bring out guacamole, hummus and other dips as appetizers. No one complains about dinner! Game changers.
From Jane Liebschutz -
Give each person three slips of paper Comment, Question, Story. They can "redeem" the paper by making a comment, asking a question or telling a story during the seder for a piece of candy. (I have a big bowl of candy ready for throwing to guests) Kids love this, as do adults.
Ronna Harris Askin -
Our sedars often involve many children and there have been times that there are copius tears because one child or another did NOT find the Afikomen. My daughter brilliantly passes out Afikomen bags to each child at the very beginning of the sedar. Each child is asked to make sure that they recognize their own bag. Later the bags are hidden. When it is time to search, the children know they can't touch anyone else's bag nor can they reveal where another's bag might be. Each child must find their own bag. They each receive a prize for finding THEIR bag!! No more tears!
Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman -
Seder: The seder is a time not just to recite the haggadah, but to remember all the times you've had a seder together with others. Start the seder by asking all the participants to go around and share a favorite seder memory from years past. We did this one year at my seder table, and my grandmother remembered that when she was a girl in Poland, because of the wood-burning stove in the house, there was soot on the walls. So the week before Passover her father would repaint the inside of the house. My mom heard this story and replied "You never told me that before!" Seder can be a time to reveal memories never before shared.
Cleaning: The halacha states that you must clean any area for hametz that a) you normally bring hametz into and b) you can see. While it's great to use Passover to clean all the areas that collect schmutz through the year, you don't have to drive yourself crazy moving heavy things like the stove or the refrigerator to clean behind them. Also, if you don't eat in rooms like the basement or attic or bedroom, you aren't obligated to clean them for Passover. You simply need to kasher and clean rooms that you eat in throughout the year.
Rabbi Seth Adelson
It is the custom of Persian and Afghan Jews to whip each other with scallions while singing Dayyenu. This is not only a reminder of slavery, but it can also be a fun opportunity to do something supremely silly during the seder. Feel free to chase each other around the room while attempting to whip each other.
(Also, for you etymology buffs, the English word "scallion" comes from the Israeli city of Ashkelon, sometimes rendered in English as Ascalon. The green onion is the onion of Ashkelon!)