Take the Time to Pray for Freedom

I wish you could see my kitchen table right now. It is covered with cookbooks, magazines, newspaper clippings, and handwritten recipes and notes. I’m perhaps a little behind in my Passover preparations, as I have almost no idea of what I’m serving for side dishes. (Note: I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, and if my menu is not settled by the time you are reading this, I’m in big trouble!)

 

The brisket and the chicken are well in hand; I’m making a pomegranate brisket from a recipe I saw online on Tablet and chicken breasts with preserved lemons, apricots, and pistachio gremolata from At Home, by Steve Poses (Steve Poses, LLC 2009), which is a cookbook aimed at making entertaining at home easier. Steve Poses understands food prepared in advance. As I’ve ranted about before, just about this time last year, it’s not easy to find recipes that will withstand the waiting time of the seder and still be delicious and some color other than brown. 

 

So, the sauce for the brisket is somewhat rosy, and the chicken has a lovely green and gold topping. Now I’m in search of side dishes that will be fresh and spring-like and, yes, colorful. Farfel and kugels need some help in the flavor and color department. A nice salad with a light lemon dressing might do the trick. Roasted cherry tomatoes are a possibility. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

 

I’m also thinking about the side dishes to the seder. Yes, there is the central story that has served our people for centuries, reminding us on one hand that we were once slaves in Egypt and on the other that we were taken out of bondage with a strong hand and an outstretched arm to fulfill the destiny of being a chosen people. But, just as the main dishes of the seder need the supporting side dishes to form a whole, it seems that today’s headlines must somehow inform the central story of freedom. The youngest person at our seder table is now almost 14 and we are able to talk about the relevancy of the exodus from Egypt to the uprisings across North Africa, to the elusive search for peace when families are killed in their beds and school buses are under attack from rockets. There are some really clever and hilarious Passover videos circulating on YouTube and Facebook, but I’m looking for some meaningful readings to add to our table.

 

A word about the school bus attack outside the gate to Kibbutz Nachal Oz last week. The Sha’ar HaNegev region is one of my favorite places in Israel, home to Kibbutz Erez and the Sha’ar HaNegev High School, two places with deep ties to MetroWest. When that school bus was targeted, when the Kassams land in southern Israel, it is to me as if they are falling in New Jersey, God forbid. Although the Passover seder is a joyous time for families to gather and to remind ourselves of how good it is to be free, let’s take time this year to pray for freedom from tyranny for those oppressed by dictators, freedom from fear for our family in Israel, and freedom, simply freedom, for one young man named Gilad Shalit. 

 

Wishing you and your families a zissen Pesach, a sweet (and delicious!) Passover,

Leslie

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