When I was a young woman I was invited to my first Passover. So many things about this holiday struck me – the family spirit of the celebration, the rituals, the camaraderie and, of course, the delicious foods. One thing that has stayed with me since that first experience was that everyone there (adults and children) seemed to want to belong to this “community,” – a community of heritage more than religion – but they didn’t all know the prayers or songs, though they longed to.
As the years passed, and I started my own family, I knew I wanted my children to have that sense of belonging. Having not grown up Jewish, I jumped into the traditions whole-heartedly. My children went to Sunday school every week, each had a Bar or Bat (for girls) Mitzvah (such a special coming of age milestone) and we began hosting our own Passover seder.
When I attempted my first Passover I made chicken, which was a mistake. The Passover meal begins with a ceremony in which you read from a book called the Haggadah, which tells the story of Passover. The seder plate holds at least six ritual items (see image below for details), each of which represent different parts of the story told during the seder. In my family, we also add a slice of orange as a symbol of woman empowerment.
So why is making chicken a mistake? Because it is about 40 minutes before you actually eat the meal and by then the chicken was so DRY! In comes brisket to save the day! The recipe I use starts cooking the day before and finishes the day of … and the more it cooks the better it is. You can’t beat that! (see recipe below)
Over the years I have mastered this holiday. I even put together my own family Haggadah that covers all the important facts. We have built “our little community” of three families that we always share this celebration with, and everyone looks forward to and loves this holiday. This past Friday, I had 18 people for a sit down dinner and it was awesome! Everyone certainly feels the sense of belonging, which is what I envisioned so many years ago…