Pesach Post 1 – Pesach Lists

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This year, I want to try and post about Pesach once or twice a week with ideas, suggestions and guidelines for those of us who do not live in places with lots of kosher products and are busy with work – in other words people for whom Pesach looks like a nightmare and who wish they could disappear from the surface of the earth for the full eight days of the chagim. I’ll also post a few simple and quick recipes.

My first suggestion is to plan in advance. I know what you are already saying ‘I’ll be lucky if I can think about it a week in advance so a month….’ By planning I mean: purchase food that is kosher for Pesach little by little, stock it in your pantry so you’ll be happy and proud to find it when the times come!

Products that keep and will prove to be useful:
– Frozen vegetables
– Frozen fish
– Canned fruit
– Tuna
– (Real) coffee
– Tea, but not herbal tea

If you eat kitniyot, add:
– Rice
– Lentils
– Beans

Feel free to make suggestions; I am a fledgeling at this.

Look at one of the lists below and keep an eye for the products you like when shopping.

Here are some links to Pesach lists, articles and guidelines:

Orthodox Union Pesach Page. They also have iPhone and Android apps

London Beth Din Kashrut Division (not updated yet)

Consistoire de Paris

Remember that the Masorti movement allows eating kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach. Here is an English summary of the Hebrew responsum.

May your Pesach preparations feel more like a walk than a run!

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Chanukah: Light the Candles!

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Chanukah always falls on or near the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice (the shortest day in the year, and thus of course the longest night). Before we know it the days will slowly and then rapidly get longer. If Chanukah appears in a dark place on our calendar, it also appears in a dark place in our history: the Hellenization of Judea that led to the Maccabean revolt.

At the end if the period of the Second Temple after the conquest of Alexander the Great, under the Hellenistic Kingdom of Ptolemaic Egypt (323 – 200 BCE) and then the Hellenistic Kingdom of Seleucid Syria (198 – 160 BCE), Israel was threatened by annihilation from within.

The relationships between Israel and the Greeks were ambiguous: a mixture of fascination and aversion. On the one hand, the Greeks were people who valued education and intellectual pursuits – something the Jews also valued and encouraged. They spoke and wrote a language the Jews admired – the Talmud says that a Kosher Torah scroll can only be written and read in a synagogue in two languages: Hebrew and Greek.

On the other hand, Antiochus, the Greek king, sought to win the Jews over to Greek universalism. Hellenization was a sad but rather painless process. The temple was not pulled down but turned into a gymnasia. Similarly the oil consecrated for Temple service was defiled, not destroyed. The Jews suffered from internal exile as the commitment to Torah and mitzvot was actively discouraged. To paraphrase Dr William Kolbrener, the Greeks had ‘turned sacred into secular’.

To a totally rational mind, the oil that was left undefiled could only last one day. When the Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated, the oil should not have lasted for the whole eight-day period of festivities ordered by Judah Maccabee. Lighting the oil in the Temple was an act of faith in the Divine, a hope that there was a force beyond rationalisation and the laws of science but also the belief that there is more to survival than mere victory in battle.

Every evening when we light the Chanukah candles, let us remember that the Jewish response is: ‘Let there be light’. Perhaps this is the true message of Beit Hillel, who instructed us to light an additional candle each night of Chanukah. It is our mission to help spread the light of Tradition and remember that Chanukah is not just the celebration of a battle but first and foremost of hope.

Action vs Kvetching: Update

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Some of you may remember my Action vs Kvetching post where I complained that French civil servants would now get fewer days off for the Jewish holidays.

At the time I sent a few emails round. Apparently, someone else had noticed this and had brought it to the attention of the Minister in charge of Civil Service. Thus I got an email today from the French Chief Rabbinate with an attachment from the Ministry of Civil Service which rectified the previous regulation. We will definitely get two days for Shavout and Rosh Hashanah.

Action vs Kvetching

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Dear readers, you nearly got a kvetching post where I lamented the fact that the French administration changed the rules concerning – changed as in “cut down” – the days non-Christian civil servants like myself can take off work for their own religious holidays. But then I was interrupted by a phone call and have not had time to resume the post.

Therefore I decided not to go into the boring details here but to send emails to the Chief Rabbinate and a few Jewish organisations instead. I realize that, between the Chagim and Shabbat, this is not a perfect time yet I was so irrate I felt I wanted to do something about it.

I don’t plan to post a full weekly review tomorrow as this blog, along with most of the other blogs I read, has been quiet this week however I still can’t resist sharing a few links.

Making our Days Count: Thoughts on Counting the Omer by rabbi Marc D. Angel

Time to uncover the matzahs, a question raised by Mrs.S.

Bitter to Sweet Radish Salad, Leora shares more recipes than she announces