I’ve just read The Family Markowitz by Allegra Goodman. This is how the author presents her book:
While many people read this book as a novel, I wrote it a series of short stories exploring three generations of a Jewish-American family. As a collection, the stories create a family portrait from multiple perspectives.
The characters are Rose, the matriarch; her sons Henry and Ed; their wives and Ed’s four children. Ed’s daughter, Miriam, has become more religious than her Conservative, occasional synagogue-goers parents since she went to college. When she comes back home, her observance makes the family feel akward. In a memorable chapter, entitled The Four Questions, the narrator shows the discomfort her parents experience as they hold their traditional family seder while Miriam wishes to follow the rule, following the service from her own Haggadah..
Ed is looking at Miriam and feeling that she is trying to undermine his whole seder. What is she doing accusing him of shortening the service every year? He does it the same way every year. She is the one who has changed – becoming more and more critical. More literal-minded. Who is she to criticize the way he leads the service? What does she think she is doing? He can remember seders when she couldn’t stay awake until dinner. He remembers when she couldn’t even sit up. When he could hold her head in the palm of his hand.
As someone whose spiritual choices are different from my parents, I obviously identified with the characters. In fact I could relate both to Miriam, whose options are closer to mine, and to Ed who is more my age. I only hope that I am a bit more sensitive than Miriam. I also like how Goodman highlights Ed’s love for his annoying daughter in the last sentence of the paragraph.
Two years ago West Bank Mama wrote a similar story about her own family.
This is what I have planned to serve for the first seder:
Chicken Tagine (serves 6 people)
6 cubed breast fillets
300 gr pitted prunes
1 tsp cinammon
1 tsp ground cumin
100 gr sugar/honey
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Soak the prunes in a bowl of tea. Then put them in small saucepan with the sugar/honey and bring them to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has turned a rich toffee color. Keep aside.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and slowly brown the chopped onions. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.
Now evenly brown the chicken in the same frying pan. Add salt, pepper and the spices. Stir for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, take out the meat and add at least half a cup of water to deglaze the pan.
Put the onions in a large pot. Add the chicken, the meat juices and the prunes. Cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes in a preheated oven (180°C or 350° F).
This month’s Kosher Cooking Carnival is hosted by Mom in Israel. Lots of thought-provoking and informative posts as well as pre-Pesach tips and recipes.
Last year, on a different blog, I wrote two posts about Pesach. They mentioned the preparation involved as well as the books I was going to read or was in the process of reading at the time.
Now with Pesach only four weeks away, I am beginning to get ready again for this beautiful festival. As usual I have ordered a book and was quite thrilled when I received it this morning.
As far as cleaning and getting rid of Chametz is concerned, I eliminated the ice in the freezer last Wednesday and discarded all the crumbs I could find there.
I supose it’s a beginning…
Because of the currentt repression in Tibet by the Chinese government, the world seems to discover what has been going on there since the 1950s. As a result numerous journalists and politicians in Europe seem to wonder whether the Beijing Olympics shoud be boycotted. Obviously it is much too late to ask such a question. A lot of money is involved, athletes have been preparing the event for years so such a boycott is not feasible.
As far as I am concerned the question should be why was China assigned the Olympic Game in the first place? The political situation as regards Tibet or Taiwan is no secret. Everybody knows about China’s Internet censorship. More than 40 journalists are currently imprisoned in China. The list could go on and on.
With Pesach only a month away, this discussion about Tibet reminds me of the book The Jews in the Lotus. In October 1990, a group of eight Jewish leaders went to India for a week of discussions in order to teach the Tibetan spiritual leader what the Jewish tradition has learned about religious self-preservation.
I read the book that relates this dialogue a few years ago and really enjoyed what the Jewish leaders had to say about the role of the Passover seder in teaching the secrets of spiritual survival in exile. It is a powerful and insightful presentation by Blu Greenberg and one which I strongly recommend in this pre-Pesach period.