Vive la Difference!

karpasWhy was this year’s Passover different from last year’s?

This year we knew what we were doing as we Zoomed across three continents and several states. We knew where to put the IPad so that everyone could see and be seen. We knew to mute and unmute. We knew how we would sound singing together. And we knew that if we didn’t mute ourselves, everyone could hear our comments.

This year we had in person guests at our small seder, for we were less fearful, though still cautious.

This year we experimented with haroset and grew our own karpas and hazerat.  Continue reading

Kitchen Scrap Gardening for Passover

Aileen's karpas & maror

Aileen’s karpas & maror

It really works!

At the Passover Splash program on March 7, Aileen Grossberg showed the attendees how the root ends of a bunch of celery or head of romaine can be grown in water for use as karpas and maror at the Passover seder.   Once the vegetables have started to put out roots, they can be planted in potting soil and will continue to grow leaves.

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Putting Seder (Order) in Our Yoga Practice

Editor’s note: Elisa gave this drash (commentary) at the yoga practice for Passover Splash on Sunday March 7, 2021

ElisaauthorsphotoUsually I don’t begin a Jewish yoga practice discussing yoga, but instead, start with a drash or commentary on the parsha or theme of the morning.

Today, I’m discussing yoga.

Decades ago when I first began practicing, I started with Ashtanga Yoga, a very precise form of yoga that is composed of six series, each of which has a set order of prescribed poses. The first series (I never made it much beyond the first, and not sure I ever really “nailed it”–more on that phrase in a moment–even at that) has about 40 poses.      Continue reading

Starting with Starters

Recipe blog picture

Back in September at the start of the (Jewish) new year, I started a new project – compiling my recipes into a book for my daughter and daughter-in-law. The project posed several challenges – many of my “recipes” were just scribbled suggestions of ingredients while some were not written down at all. Still others were actual recipes that I had found over the years – except that I didn’t follow any of them as written and had not noted down my modifications.

So …. I have embarked on a year-long (or possibly longer) journey which involves making each recipe and writing down the ingredients and directions for all the items I cook. In addition, at the request of my daughter-in-law, I am taking pictures so that she knows what the finished recipe looks like. Continue reading

Crossing the “Virtual” Finish Line in Support of the Howard Ellis Glioblastoma Research Fund

ellisDear Friends and Family,

We are happy to report that the weather cooperated and we were able to complete our walk in support of the Howard Ellis Glioblastoma Research Fund.  Nearly twenty people and one dog participated and we canvassed the East Coast from Connecticut down to South Carolina.  Thus far in 2020, we have raised more than $10,000 for the Howard Ellis Glioblastoma Research Fund through Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and we hope to increase that between now and the end of the year.

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Prayer Vigil in Glenfield Park

vigilA major message that has been communicated in response to the murder of George Floyd is that we each must find a way to take action. The Social Action Committee, chaired by Audrey Levitin and Sarita Eisenberg, published in the June 4th ShomreiWeek a range of opportunities for us to contemplate.

Last Sunday (June 7) I opted to attend a Prayer Vigil, which took place at 2:00 p.m. at the Football Field in Glenfield Park, located on Maple Avenue in Montclair. This gathering was organized by Reverend Michael Spivey of the Citadel of Hope Worship Center in Bloomfield. It was described as an open invitation for all to participate in prayers for our families, community, and our nation. In that it was stated that demonstrators would be adhering to social distancing guidelines, I felt that this was a safe way in which to express solidarity and to advocate for change in our community.

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Protesting during COVID

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Generally, attending a protest is not a hard decision for me—find your walking shoes, grab a sign and go.  Yet COVID has made this a wrenching decision—how do you isolate yourself to stop the spread of one disease and step out to stop the ravages of racism and hate.

After 12 weeks of self-imposed quarantine, the protests compelled me to step out.  As I weighed the risks, I saw the risk of very few people showing up as greater than the risk of my getting infected.  And while I know that protests do not change the world overnight, silence kills.

Each one of us must judge our tolerance for risk, this time the risk of remaining silent was greater than the risk of becoming ill.

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Helping Myself by Helping Others

Toni's 2

It was the end of March. Except for some walks around the block, I hadn’t gone anywhere or even left the house for several weeks. And then I received an email from the County Freeholders — We Need Your Help! Support Toni’s Kitchen.

The email continued:  We urge you to support Toni’s Kitchen as they are being overwhelmed with the growing demands for their services. Toni’s Kitchen provides food and other critical services to those in the greater Montclair/Bloomfield Community. They are now providing groceries and fresh produce to students who receive free or reduced priced meals from the Montclair Public Schools as well as Senior Citizens and medically at risk residents.

I made a donation.

And then I signed up to help.  Continue reading

Pesach Silver Linings

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In all other years, we would go to a family seder at my sister’s home and have a second seder with some family and some friends at our home. This year would be different.

We were still planning a family seder with my sister and brothers and their families … but we would not be together in the same house. We would still use the family haggadah that Lou and I put together almost 20 years ago and promised to update every year … but this year we would finally get around to changing it – keeping in all the essential rituals, eliminating many of the extra readings while adding in a few new ones that seemed especially peritnent to the current situation, and adding in questions (labeled as “Food for Thought”) to reflect on how the pandemic affected our perspective of the Passover story we read each year.

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