Reminding ourselves of the future Pesach 5774

A very Happy Pesach to US Navy Junior Officer Jeremy Ball, 27 on board the U.S.S. New Mexico.

The U.S.S. New Mexico. Picture credit The New York Times

The U.S.S. New Mexico.
Picture credit The New York Times

Sir, thank you for defending our freedom especially at this time as we celebrate the Jewish people’s freedom from slavery.

I learned of Jeremy Ball from Thomas Friedman’s article in the NYT “Parallel Parking in the Arctic“.

About Jeremy Ball he writes:

Remind me again what we’re doing in Washington these days to deserve such young people?


Another inspiring example from our next generation of leaders is Justin Hayet, an undergraduate at Binghamton University. Read his eloquent and passionate open letter to Foreign Minister Liberman.

And also the group of Cornell University students who showed such exceptional leadership in combating BDS on the University campus. Read about their effort at Legal Insurrection.

To all these terrific young people who are showing so much inspiring leadership and promise – may your Pesach be extra specially wonderful.





the Pesach on-ramp

New recipe!!!! “English” Charoset

  • ~10 dates
  • equivalent volume raisins
  • a few dried Bing cherries
  • 1 apple peeled and finely chopped
  • handful of almonds

Cook all ingredients except almonds with a little water until the apples are soft, Grind almonds in food processor, add cooked ingredients and pulse until mixture reaches desired texture.

I’m calling this “English” Charoset as this is inspired by a very famous English recipe that I happen to adore. I’m not to going to mention the name of this recipe publicly because it is not the type of recipe that one would normally use for Jewish cuisine inspiration. Those of you who know me well will will know what this is, and anybody who really needs to know the answer should message me and I will fill you in.

Even the pet rats are getting into the swing of things, enjoying their chometz-free environment and getting used to egg matzo.


Binky pesach copy


Wine and Charoset pairing

You’ve heard of a wine and cheese tasting, now Sisterhood of Temple Beth-El invites you to a wine and charoset tasting!

wine tasting

This super fun event will take place this coming Sunday March 30th 3-5PM. The sommelier of the event will be local wine expert David Sparrow of Sparrows Fine Wines of Ithaca, New York.

Selected Kosher for Pesach wines will be presented together with a variety of charoset recipes prepared by Sisterhood of Temple Beth-El members.

Tickets are $10 and can be obtained at or by calling the Temple office 273-5775.

vineyard Israel

Vineyard in the Ela valley, Israel. Picture credit Yehoshua Halevi for the Jerusalem Post

Power breakfast TBE Ithaca style

At 6.30 AM, one has a choice of prime parking spots.

Wegmans parking lot 6.30AMInside the bagel baker was hard at work.

bagel baker

Hot fresh bagels were plentiful.

fresh hot bagelAnd our bagel cravings were satisfied.


It is an invigorating way to start off the day. I hope this could be a regular event in years to come, it strikes me as a social gathering equivalent to the “Chinese restaurant on Dec 24th“.


End of Pesach מוצאי יום טוב

Shalom Friends,

I am sure by now you are all feeling the effects of chometz-deprivation (virtuous feelings combined with pasta fantasies in my case). This being Ithaca, it is impossible (as far as I am aware and please let me know if not), to get hold of a hot bagel at nighttime. The soonest one can get hold of these delights is tomorrow morning when they will roll out of the oven at Wegmans.

So, I invite you all to join us tomorrow for a hot bagel breakfast this Wednesday morning at Wegmans. The bakery department has told me they anticipate the bagels to be ready sometime around 6.30 AM. I have to confess that I have not previously tested this time previously so let’s hope it is as reliable as my alarm clock.

Hope to see you there, I am chalisching with anticipation. Let’s make it a flash mob. No RSVP necessary.



We’re deep into Chol haMoed Pesach and the fridge still harbors a mound of charoset.

Although probably nobody really needs a recipe for charoset it is always interesting to try different formulas. This year we prepared a Sefardic charoset that I learned from Abraham Hanono, with whom I attended a seder with a few years back when he was a molecular and cellular biology grad student here at Cornell. It is very simple with only a few ingredients, and quite delicious. Here is the procedure in his own words, click here for a printer-friendly version.

charoset recipe

One of the great things I realized about this charoset is that it lasts longer than the type made with grated apples. So my breakfast every day is matzah (Rakuesen’s of course), topped with charoset. The dates probably also have an added benefit of counteracting the cloying effect of a matzah-heavy diet on the digestive system.

There is so much charoset that I’m going to throw some into the freezer and maybe incorporate it into a muffin recipe or something after Pesach. This plan feels a little subversive but, as my husband pointed out, you could feel the same way about using left-over matzah as a stand in for a second challah.

Charoset is not very photogenic, but I have been told not to post to the website without a photo so here we go:



A Mixed Multitude

Now that A. is four, she is really into the holidays in a way she wasn’t at three. So she has been helping with preparations for Passover, hunting for chametz, memorizing the four questions, and looking forward to two seders, one at the home of friends, and the other at our house, with her best friend invited.

Because we didn’t have enough to do, she and I embarked on a project: finger puppets! We had already made a whole fleet of Thomas the Tank Engine and friends felt finger puppets, so it wasn’t hard to adapt the idea to Moses, Pharaoh, and the Israelites.

Start with sheets of felt from the craft store, fabric tack, googly eyes (or use bits of felt), and scissors. Depending on your child’s skill level, you can cut out the felt, or they can help. Same with the glue. You might also want to cover the table with newspaper.

Supplies for finger puppets

Felt, scissors, fabric tack

Next, create a cardboard template for yourself in the shape of the puppet. Fold the felt so both sides are cut at the same time, outline the puppet’s body, and cut. Glue the two pieces together.

Templete and felt

Templete and felt

Next, decide on the color of hair, beard, clothes, etc. I have no crafting skills at all, so I used rectangles for the clothes, with scoop or V-necks, random scraps for lips, and whatever worked for hair and beard. We also made everyone in random colors, a sort of homage to the idea of a mixed multitude. The people who left Egypt could be beige or brown or black or blue or purple. Whoever they were when they left, they would be different before their journey was over. Obviously, we weren’t going for realism, though A. decided that Moses should be off-white, so that he would be as distinct as Pharaoh. Similarly, he is the only one dressed in purple.

Moses is taking shape

Moses is taking shape


Looking more like a leader…

We decided to make Pharaoh -and only Pharaoh–green, so he would really stand out. He’s also the only one with eyebrows, which was also A.’s choice. I suggested she use something sparkly on Pharaoh’s clothes or crown, but A. decided against it. He is, she said, a bad guy, and she didn’t want to make him pretty at all. No decorations for you, Pharaoh!


Pharaoh is green, with envy, or from a plague, or something


Mean looking guy, that Pharaoh!

And so, after a couple of hours of work, discussing the Exodus story as we went, A. and I had created, together, a slightly raggedy, but completely respectable Mixed Multitude: a minyan of Israelites, and one mean Pharaoh. And A. came up with a really brilliant idea: she remembered some ribbon left over from Hanukkah, and snipped bits for the Israelites’ belts: it is now abundantly clear who is who in this grouping!

Mixed Multitude

Mixed Multitude

Chag Sameach!