Our first Pesach in Israel

April 10th, 2013

This post originally appeared in the Princeton-Mercer Bucks New Jersey Jewish News

At home abroad: our family’s first Pesach in Israel


This is the first time in at least nine years that I didn’t make any apple kugel for the Passover seder. I didn’t make it because Max Goldfarb from East Windsor wasn’t at my seder table, so there was no special request.

This was only one of many changes for the holiday, since we moved from the Twin Rivers Jewish community in East Windsor to Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion in Israel last July.

I had expected drama — after all, this was our first Pesach as free people in our own Jewish land. THIS year, in Jerusalem.

What I got was a whole lot of normal. There were no tears at the seder and no virtual symphonic music running in my head. Just the same fun, goofy singing of “Chad Gadya” as in years past.

Since I last wrote about our aliya from New Jersey, the kids have become more and more settled, and I have begun working part time. I am now the spokesperson for the One Family Fund, a national organization helping terror victims and their families with legal, financial, and emotional assistance. The work is very intense yet incredibly meaningful. While it is an adjustment for us all, it is one more step toward full acclimation.

Our Passover seders in New Jersey were beautiful, uplifting, and a lot of fun. But they were also a lot of work: lots of guests, long drives to Lakewood for Passover supplies, two days of holiday to cook and clean for — in Israel, only one seder is observed — and generally swimming upstream in a culture celebrating Easter all around us.

Here, in the two weeks leading up to Passover, I was also busy — but with my job: As a One Family Fund representative, I was preparing to attend President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem. Being in Israel meant there were other factors mitigating the hectic approach to the holiday. A yeshiva student-for-hire scrubbed my oven and refrigerator for me. Every Pesach ingredient imaginable was available 15 minutes from my house. The community has a vat for kashering metal items, which meant sending my husband off with pots and silverware to Minha services and the dunking of the utensils — and that was it.

Rachel Moore with her press pass — as a One Family Fund representative — to attend President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem.

During the intermediate days of the holiday, day trips (“tiyulim” here) could be arranged spontaneously, just 20 minutes from our home in every direction. And no need to pack food; the restaurants at attractions and throughout Jerusalem are kosher-for-Passover.

At our one seder, we had 10 people. Israel didn’t change clocks until after the first days of Passover, so we were able to begin the seder by 6:30. We could start before what I used to feel was bedtime and finish before the middle of the night.

Passover break for the kids was a full three weeks. While that may have been its own challenge, in general the holiday season was marked by a welcome lack of hard work. It honestly felt like a vacation.

Our family was finally initiated into a true Israeli rite, when we went on our first family hike in Nahal Sorek, near Beit Shemesh. It was a beautiful (downhill) trek, with Israel’s famous spring flowers bursting forth throughout the expansive valley.

We also visited the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem, which is quickly becoming a favorite destination for our kids. I know they enjoy seeing the animals there, but I must say I get more pleasure from seeing the kaleidoscope of Jews all gathered together; the variety never ceases to amaze me.

Ironically, it was during Passover that I became most nostalgic for our previous life. While preparing for the holiday in New Jersey was always a production, it was a production we put on together, and we enjoyed every minute once the day came.

In Twin Rivers, the preparation brought a sense of drama. Despite Obama’s first presidential visit to Israel, the holiday — this “first Pesach in Israel” — was decidedly lacking in drama. The normalcy of being a Jew in a Jewish culture, where Passover is just part of the national rhythm, felt great.

Most of my children said they missed the second seder, but in general did very little comparing. They did read the Haggada in Hebrew — and even questioned the translation! But life here is so different in so many ways that it is getting harder and harder to compare. We are slowly getting better at just living in the here and now.

Having said that, they all did want to know what happened to the apple kugel, and we all dearly missed Max Goldfarb and all of our other wonderful NJ Passover guests.

Passover Granola

March 19th, 2013

I am posting this again, because it is still my favorite and I have been receiving requests. More Pesach posting to come!

This is my favorite Pesach recipe. I got it from “Stove Tops Personal Chef Service” several years ago when speaking about Pesach at a local Hadassah meeting.

I have talked about the Pesach granola so much that everyone is tired of hearing about it. But it is easy to make, yummy to eat and with yogurt is a million times better than pesach cereal for breakfast.

You can substitute or omit most of the ingredients. I recommend mixing it right in the pan you bake it in. My hope is I am giving you enough time to buy the ingredients.

If you make it, PLEASE post a comment.

4 c. matzo farfal, or broken up pieces of matzo
1 c. slivered almonds
1 c. dried raisins/cranberries
1 1/2 c. sweetened, shredded coconut
2 tsps cinnamon
2/3 c. veg. oil
1 c. honey
2 tsps Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Toss the matzo, almonds, fruit, coconut and cinnamon together in a large bowl ( I do it in an aluminum pan I am baking in). Pour the oil and honey over the mixture. Stir until the mixture is thoroughly coated. Add the Kosher salt and toss.

Spray pan with non-stick spray ( usually don’t do this step.) Pour mixture onto the sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the granola and cool on the sheet pan. Stir occasionally as it cools. Store the granola in an airtight container.

Variations: you can add chocolate chips when cool, add more dried fruit, change or add more nuts.


Seven Stones

Haveil Havalim #352

March 25th, 2012

Welcome to Haveil Havalim, the Jewish blog carnival!  Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a weekly collection of Jewish and Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week.  Next week’s edition will be hosted by Tripn’ Mommy at  Trip’n Up, to be included, please send your blog entry and link to  tripnmommy @ gmail . com.

I apologize for the delay in this getting up, due to technical difficulties. Of course it had to happen this week, but I am so pleased to be up and running again.

Opinions expressed in the posts linked below are those of the respective bloggers and not necessarily endorsed by me.

If you would like to join the Haveil Havalim facebook group, click here.

I wish all of you a redemptive and meaningful Passover holiday. L’Shana Habaa B’yerushalayim Habnuya! 


I didn’t get a single submission about Yitta Halberstam’s controversial article on the shidduch crisis in The Jewish Press. So I just went ahead and am including some myself. Feel free to add on!

Pacific Jewish Center Rabbi writes How to Solve the Shidduch Crisis WITHOUT Advocating for a Bunch of Nose Jobs, and In The Pink weighs in with My Shidduch Experience and  More Beauty Reflections.

Esser Agaroth explains why he thinks we should not vote for Shmuley Boteach. I am very relieved that I don’t have to make a decision either way.

He also tell us  about The Machon Shilo Pre-Passover Conference that is taking place today, March 25th. I hope we will learn more after the fact, with a follow up post.

Batya muses in Shiloh How Would CSI, Bones, Cold Case or Harry Bosch Have Handled the John Demjanjuk-Ivan the Terrible Case? at Shiloh Musings.

Joel Katz over at Religion and State in Israel brings us his digest this week in Section 1 and Section 2, touching a lot of important material, including A.B. Yehoshua’s controversial statement.

Speaking of controversy, Michael at An Aspiring Mekubal writes about the passing of Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg on the same day as the children in Toulous in Measure for Measure. You may not agree with what he has to say, but it is definitely food for thought.

In the light of the hate-filled tragedy in Toulous, it is nice to read Susan Esther Barnes’ A Message of Hope from Israel at TCJewfolk.

… and unfortunately in more hate-filled news, there is a March on Jerusalem expected this week on March 30th(!) “an anti-Israel publicity stunt that aims to have a million people marching on Israel’s borders from all the surrounding countries.” Please get the facts from CiFWatch, and see what you can do to help!

Dr. Eyal Levin wrote about Israel’s defensive approach in Israel Hayom, and here is Batya’s response “Is The Best Defense, Self- Defense or Offense? Is Life Like Football? in Shiloh Musings.

At Tripn’ Up we hear about how special the Neve Daniel Community is in Lean on Me…. I can’t wait to find out for myself.

And inspired ima reminds us all how our inner child relives it all through our children’s experiences in Childhood Anxiety.

RonyPony gives a comprehensive commentary on Jewish Homeschooling in response to a Yated Neeman article on the topic, that unfortunately isn’t available on line. If you think homeschooling isn’t about you, but you are interested in Jewish education in the US and its lack of affordability and future, I recommend you read on.

Me-ander asks if Passover – Spring Cleaning is a Dirty Word? … I should be doing both right now, but this is of course more fun. : )


Spring is coming, Pesach is coming, redemption is coming… time for some positivity, people! I love Pesach and refuse to bring the grumpy stressed ones bring me down, but I am happy to see a a little anticipation, too.

I love Jacob Richman’s Collection of 177 (!) Passover Videos, at Good News from Israel.  I have enjoyed and shared some of them already, and not just the one my daughter is in! (More on that later.)

Visit the beautiful Spring Edition JPix Jewish Photo Bloggers’ Blog Carnival over at  Ilana Davita.

And other wonderful photos of and commentary on the Jerusalem Marathon from the Real Streets of Jerusalem.

I saved my favorite for last: Networked Blogs writes about Mama Doni’s Passover tour and video, sponsored by Streit’s Matzo. I hope you watch the video (which is highlighted in Jacob Richman’s collection too); my daughter is in it! She and Mama Doni have become fast friends. Look for the young lady with a long brunette ponytail and spygear — in a skirt. Mama Doni – I hope Michal gets a chance to perform together with you in Israel one day!

I apologize profusely if something has been omitted; please let me know and I will modify.

Happy cleaning everyone! 





Send yourself an email.

April 6th, 2010

We are in the middle of changing the house back after Pesach. I am actually not procrastinating by blogging, but rather making good use of a break forced upon me to nurse the baby to sleep.

I still want to write an email about our sedarim. Lack of Hol Hamoed combined with all of the strep throat in our house has made it tough for me to write.

Every year, around this time, I have developed the habit of sending myself an email. If I write myself notes for next year, I will lose them.

I can send it to myself, or save it as a draft. I have a  list of the recipes that worked, the number of boxes of matzah we needed (4 more than last year,) and what spices and other things I am packing away for next year, vs. what I have to buy.

This is more or less what mine looks like this year:

Only spice needed to buy is paprika. Saved the rest. Have dill. Two sippy cups left, and no bottles.

Don’t buy coffee filters; they are w/ the coffee m aker.

Do buy saran wrap.

steam bags are in with pareve stuff.

Handle on “nice” negelwasser broke off.

New tablecloth liner for the dining room – keeping it for all year round.

New dish towels, and new fridge liners; shelf liner as well.

One roll of white duct tape.

No pesach plata anymore.

Mashed potato kugel worked well, and choc. chip cookie recipe from imamother.com – try to cut and paste into here.

I have plastic fancy plates and cutlery for both seders for 2011.

Need a matzah cover (mom? )

Need fleishig tupperware, at least a couple.

Use timers in the house, that worked.

20 boxes of matzah, at least 4 batches of granola, and 3 cream cheeses were enough. Salami, and kobanos.


esadich mousse cake was good, kids liked the sorbet cups.

Stuffed mushrooms with CAKE MEAL

20 pounds of potatoes and 9 dozen eggs.

mashed potatoes, often. Liked the most.

Chicken legs doable, instead of 8 piece cut up.

Fire poppers: bake schnitzel with matzo meal breading. cut into pieces. Mix half a bottle of ketchup w/duck sauce and chili pepper flakes and brown sugar. Bring to boil, then pour over chicken and bake. (Mindy’s recipe).


Have you sent yourself an email yet?

Hope it was a great holiday for you. (It was for us.)

I love Pesach

March 16th, 2010

Pesach is my favorite holiday, with perhaps the exception of Shabbat. It is also the time of year I miss Israel most, but that is for another post.

Funnily, I think Purim is consistently my least favorite. But I love Pesach. As with most things, I don’t think it is for any one specific reason. I love that spring is coming. I love sending the kids outside. I love to cook. I love the children’s enthusiasm for the seder. I probably wouldn’t like the preparations as much if I had to use china and then clean it, or if I had to bake a lot of Pesach desserts. I don’t bake during Pesach. No one likes the way most of it tastes, and I have never gotten my family hooked on the good stuff, so they don’t really know what they are missing.

….I also love Pesach cleaning.

Every year I am reminded, along with everyone else, that “Pesach cleaning doesn’t mean you have to do Spring cleaning”. But I love spring cleaning. I am sure this is because I hire myself help to do it with.

I love the fact that for the spring cleaning part I only have to get through as much as I get through. I love the lack of clutter, the putting things in a place. Giving things away we no longer use. A fresher smelling, feeling house.

My office usually gets crammed with chametz/non pesach stuff I can’t fit anywhere else and locked up for the week of Pesach. Sold. As a result, it is the least cleaned room in the house. This year I did that first, and I just love the feeling. I actually want to go in my office again. I am perfectly aware that we aren’t eating in there, and that the beads on the floor aren’t crumbs. Still, the cobwebs and dust are gone, the lost checkbook found, and I can move on to cleaning actual chametz with a better feeling.

Check back next week as Pesach gets closer; most likely more of the last minute stress will be getting to me and my back won’t feel quite as good.

In the meantime, the sun is shining after two days of floods and storms and doom and gloom and all the stray lego lost in 10 rooms is slowly making its way home.

I love Pesach.