The loud voices in our world will tell us that we are all different. Those differences are bad (for lack of a better word) and must be remedied. The truth is that we have much more in common than we think we do.
Though I am quick to admit I obviously know more about Passover than the other holidays, I know enough to know that each religion asks its practitioners to sacrifice something in the name of faith. From my perspective, it reminds me that there are more similarities than we think we do.
Whatever you are celebrating this weekend (if you are celebrating), have a joyous and happy holiday.
We all know the story of Moses. While every other baby boy was being murdered by Pharoah’s soldiers, he was put in a basket that was sent up the Nile. That basket was found by the Egyptian Princess who raised Moses as her own. When he grew up, he watched the Hebrew slaves toil and suffer. Upon seeing an old man being beaten by an overseer, Moses stepped in and inadvertently killed the overseer. This sent him on a journey of getting justice for his people.
He could have done nothing. He could have ignored the beating and kept on with being an Egyptian Prince. But he could not ignore what was happening around him.
Thousands of years later, Moses’s actions and his journey continue to inspire us. Fighting for what is right is never easy. But it is always worth it. Martin Luther King Jr. once said the following about justice:
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”
To all those who celebrate, have a Happy Passover.
With two locations in Manhattan (Times Square and Midtown East), this restaurant does not disappoint. Though it is fast food, it does not leave you with the cheap, empty calories feeling. The menu is much more than burgers and fries, allowing almost anyone to find something to eat.
Located in the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, Roll n Roaster has been around for fifty years. Famous for its roast beef sandwiches, the menu is fast food in the best sense of the word. There is an old-school feeling to the building that makes you feel like you have gone back in time. It’s a bit of a hike from the city, but the trip is definitely worth it.
Lady M is a semi-national chain with three different locations in Manhattan. The variety of crepe cakes is enough to make one’s mouth water and force a difficult decision to be made. Regardless of whether you purchase a slice as a special treat or a whole cake for a special occasion, it is worth every bite.
Ice cream is one of those types of foods that can be as simple or as complicated as we want it to be. Ample Hills Creamery is one of the most respected ice cream stores in the city. It has 10 scoop shops in three different boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens) and sells their products to take home in a handful of retail stores. The variation in flavors is ridiculous in the best way possible.
Friedman’s Restaurant with its six locations across Manhattan is a diner, but the food and the experience are a notch above the average diner. There is a level of creativity to the dishes that make this restaurant stand out. What I personally love about Friedman’s Restaurant is that they offer gluten-free options. I’m not on a gluten-free diet, but a good friend of mine is. She was more than pleased with her meal. It’s a perfect place to go for brunch, a pre-theater meal, or just a good cup of coffee.
There is no better break from a busy day (at least in my mind) than a cup of tea and a delicious scone. Alice’s Tea Cup has two restaurants and one to-go location in upper Manhattan. With an Alice in Wonderland theme, the atmosphere is cozy and the food is yummy. Though they can be a bit busy at times, the experience is worth waiting for. Whether you go in for a full meal or just tea and a piece of cake, you will walk out satisfied
The New York City restaurant scene used to be dotted with kosher/kosher-style delis. While many have gone the way of the dodo, a few remain. Among these is 2nd Ave Deli. There are two locations: Midtown East and Upper East Side. Whichever one you choose, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. The sandwiches alone are a meal unto themselves. They also cater for large events and for Passover. Anyone who has prepared for a Passover Seder knows how much it helps to have some of the food made by a professional.
This restaurant and its six locations (most of which are either in or close to NYC) is one of my family’s favorite places to eat. I have yet to walk out as an unhappy customer. Both the sandwiches and the potato pancakes are huge. Depending on when you go, there is a line out of the door and very few tables available. Trust me when I say that it is not uncommon to walk out with leftovers or takeout.
There is something about traditional food of every kind that makes you feel happy. When it’s made right, it feels like it is straight coming out of a mother or grandmother’s kitchen. I came here for dinner with friends a few months ago and was a happy camper. My favorite part of the meal was the pierogies. They offer several kinds and each is delicious. Given what is happening in the world, I felt like I was in a small way, contributing to helping the people who make this food be seen and heard for more than the headlines.
Located in the Ukrainian heart of the East Village, Veselka’s two restaurants are a favorite of locals. For me, it is a reminder that this country and the city have been built and maintained by immigrants. It is those unique flavors and meals that have kept the seats filled for years. I cannot think of a time that I have gone to Veselka that I have not walked out feeling satisfied.
Readers, what do you think? Do you have a favorite among them?
Character types are the backbone of storytelling. Whether or not a writer(s) chooses to go beyond these stereotypes tells us everything that we need to know about the creators of the narrative.
The Jewish holiday of Passover starts on Friday night. One of the components of the story of the exodus from Egypt is the Four Sons. Each son (whom I refer to as a child instead, because of well, feminism.) is a stereotype. The eldest knows everything that there is to learn about and is still eager to know more. The second-born would rather be someplace else, doing anything else. The third child knows the basics and needs a simple answer. The youngest does not even know how to ask the question.
My problem is with the image of the second eldest child. In traditional terms, this person is dealt with harshly. They are basically told that had they been in Egypt, they would have been left in bondage. Looking at the text with a modern lens, rebellion or questioning the status quo is not a bad thing. It forces us, as a culture to look our demons in the eye and make a decision: do we deal with our problems or stick our heads in the sand?
In a religious context, the second child speaks to those of us who are discontent with the all-or-nothing aspect of faith. According to a Gallup poll from last year, less than half of all Americans attend regular religious services. This is compared to 80 years ago when almost three-quarters were in a house of worship at least once a week. I think this comes down to flexibility and understanding that many younger people are turned away from the old-school way of looking at religion. If the wish is for the pews to be full, a little creativity may be needed to bring back those who have drifted away.
Diversity, as we all know, is a huge thing these days. But diversity for diversity’s sake is meaningless and empty. The only way it works is if we truly understand why a certain culture or faith has certain practices.
Over the weekend, Jews around the world recounted the story of the Exodus via the holiday of Passover. Carly Friesen, a Christian Lifestyle coach, decided to have a “Christian Seder“. The meal was completed by “Passover Challah” and a prayer to the Christian Savior.
If there was ever a definition of cultural appropriation, this is it. Anyone who has any basic knowledge of Passover knows that bread, pasta, and other foods in that category are verboten during the eight days. She could have made a genuine gesture by at least trying to adhere to the traditional food rules of the holiday. The amount of resources she could have pulled information from is nearly endless.
Instead, she took some of the most precious and respected aspects of Judaism and this week and twisted them to fit her needs. It is not exactly a secret that some members of the Christian faith have not exactly been shy about taking everything, including our lives, from Jews at certain points in history. It’s 2021. It’s time to think about how we treat minority cultures and people, especially when it comes to their most sacred objects and traditions.
It is not uncommon to open a history book and see a complete profile of a man. A woman, however is at best given a paragraph or a footnote and at worst, ignored completely.
The Jewish holiday of Passover starts this weekend. Though Moses is the protagonist of the story, his story would be nothing without the women around him. Given the many dangers around them, the easier thing would have been to say and do nothing. But instead, they stepped up, helping Moses to succeed and paving the way for Jewish women to do the same in their own eras.
Shifra and Puah: Shifra and Puah are the midwives who were responsible for bringing Hebrew children into the world. Brought before Pharaoh, they are told to kill every male newborn. They claim that they are unable to do this because by the time they get to the mother, the baby has already arrived.
Yocheved: Moses’s mother was facing a parent’s worst nightmare. Infant boys, when discovered by Pharaoh’s soldiers, were taken to the Nile and drowned. The only way she can save her son is to put him in a basket, send it floating down the Nile and pray that he would survive.
Bithia or Batya (sometimes referred to as the Egyptian Princess): Finding baby Moses in his basket as she washes up in the river, it is obvious that this child is of the Hebrew faith. Instead of reporting this discovery and sending him to his death, she adopts Moses and raises him as her own.
Miriam: Miriam is Yocheved’s only daughter. Not only does she watch over her baby brother, but she approaches the Princess, asking if she needs a wet nurse. That wet nurse is her mother. Years later, when Hebrews are wandering through the desert, it is Miriam who leads the former slaves via song to get to the promised land.
Tziporah: Tziporah is Moses’s wife. Though she is Midianite Princess and not of the Hebrew faith, she embraces his heritage as her own. Traveling with him back to Egypt, she encourages Moses to face his destiny and become the man who will lead his people to freedom.
I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say the coronavirus is a major downer, to say the least. It has changed everything about the way we live.
Anything we can do to cheer up and help goes a long way.
On Saturday, Saturday Night Seder aired on YouTube.
Featuring a number of Jewish (and non-Jewish) celebrities, the story of Passover was told in a way that I have never seen.
It was funny, it was charming and educational without hitting the audience over the head.
If there was one part that was the shit, it was Idina Menzel singing Ma Nishtana (starts at 23:53). I’ve sung that song many time over the years, but this is the first time I’ve gotten a chill down my back.
It was also an opportunity to make a worthy donation to the front line workers via the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
If the Israelites were able to survive slavery and forty years in the desert, we can survive coronavirus. We just need a little light in our lives and Saturday Night Seder provided that.
It is without a doubt that the corona-virus has changed everything about the way we live our lives.
That includes religious practice.
Wednesday and Thursday were the first and second nights of Passover, respectively. For many Jews, a normal Passover Seder consists of a large group of family and friends coming together to eat, drink and tell the story of Passover. But, with the influence of corona-virus, the traditional Seder had to be amended.
My family, many others, used Zoom to digitally get together with our loved ones.
I think the best perspective on this new way of conducting Seders can be best summed up by a statement my father made Wednesday night. He said that his father, my late grandfather (who died 30 years ago), would not at all have approved.
My grandfather (Z”l) was in a certain sense, a man of tradition. He believed in and lived by the Judaism that he loved. That love of Judaism and our traditions were passed to his children and later, his grandchildren. It is one of the reasons that I am still a Jew in every sense of the word and proud of my faith.
While my grandfather would not have approved of Wednesday and Thursday nights, I know that it was the right thing. Not being in the same room with our family and friends was weird. But if I had a choice of holding a Zoom Seder or having none at all, I would choose a Zoom Seder.
There is something about a holiday special that is done right. If it is well balanced with tradition and family without being too schmaltzy, it can last years, if not generations.
Back in 1995, A Rugrats Passover aired. It tells the Passover story as only the Rugrats can. In a nutshell, the children are told the story by Grandpa Boris. As the tale begins, Tommy imagines himself as Moses and Angelica as Pharaoh.
When it initially aired, I was not the target audience. But looking back, I can see why this episode is as beloved as it is. It is charming, funny and talks directly to the children watching as only a program of this nature can.
If this was an ordinary April, the next two nights would be about food, family and tradition. But not in the age of coronavirus. While the next two nights will be about food, family, and tradition, it will not be same.
If there is one thing I have learned during the plague that is Covid-19, it is to appreciate the simple things. I appreciate the fact that I am still healthy. I appreciate the food on my plate and the clothing on my back. I appreciate the roof over my head and that I am still employed. I appreciate that the technology exists that allows me to stay in touch with those I love and do my job.
One of the songs that is sung during the Seder is is called Dayenu. In a nutshell, it lists what G-d did for the Israelite slaves. If G-d had only bestowed one gift, it would have been enough (Dayenu). But my heavenly parent bestowed 15 gifts, sending the Israelites on a path to freedom.
For all of my blessings during this difficult time, I say Dayenu. If there is one thing this time has taught me, it is to count my blessings, for which I have many.
From my family to yours, I wish those who celebrate a Happy Passover and may we all get through this plague known as coronavirus in one piece.
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