Two Passover Thoughts From Howard Blas

Thinking About What We Eat At Passover

Yes, Pesach is the time to celebrate freedom and
redemption.  But it is also a time of
eating, eating and more eating.   We will
surely be spending a lot of time around our holiday table, sharing meals with
family and friends.  We have sure evolved
from the days when Pesach meant simply matza, potatoes and gefilte fish.  We can now enjoy such “delicacies” as quiche,
pizza and tea rooms in fancy kosher hotels. 

We should be proud of how far we’ve come but we shouldn’t be
so content with or focused on the gourmet Kosher for Passover food that we
forget the true connections between what we put in our mouths and the meaning
of the Passover.  We all know that matza
reminds us of our hasty departure from Egypt,  maror reminds us of the bitterness of
slavery, and charoset the mortar used in brick making, etc.  But the connections shouldn’t end there.

I was thinking of the importance of thinking what we put in
our mouths after reading a recent JCarrot posting by Rabbi Eiav Bock, director
of the new Ramah Outdoor Adventure Camp in the Rockies.

Here is an excerpt:  Our goal at Ramah Outdoor Adventure is to completely change the way that we
approach food at a summer camp. We have budgeted much more money for food than
typical camps. Although I have yet to hire our head chef, the question I have
asked each applicant is to tell me how they can help make the food they are
serving fit within the broader mission of the camp. Anyone who does not see a
direct link between the program in the kitchen and the program on the
ropes-course cannot be considered for the job. Admittedly, this has made hiring
our head chef all the more challenging, because I am not only seeking someone
who understands Kosher food, but also someone who understands the intersection
between sustainable foods and wholesome cooking.

So what are some of the commitments we have made for 2010? Here are four:

  1. Throughout the week, we will
    be engaging in programming about food during our meals. We will be
    adapting elements of the Hazon Min Ha’Aretz Curriculum for use at camp.
  2. We will make an effort to buy
    no white carbohydrates. This means, whenever possible, we will purchase
    whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and whole-wheat bread. We realize that there
    will be exceptions and of course we are limited to what we are able to
    purchase with a Kosher symbol. Luckily Colorado is blessed with wonderful
    kosher organic whole-wheat bread and organic whole-wheat pasta that is
    certified by the OU.
  3. We will serve mainly whole
    grain cereal and oatmeal for breakfast—only on occasion serving typical
    “camp breakfast foods” like waffles and pancakes.
  4. Campers will take an active
    role in preparing food at camp. This will enable everyone from the
    youngest camper to the oldest staff member to take ownership of the food
    that we will be eating. When the food is great, we will know who to thank.
    When the food is bad, we will know who is responsible.

Rabbi Bock at his new Ramah camp, we Jewish educators, camp staff members, parents
and seder hosts have the opportunity to make the important connection between
the true meaning of the Passover holiday and the foods we prepare and consume.



My English speaking students always laugh when they learn
that being told “DIE!” is not a harsh curse; rather, it is the Hebrew word for
‘enough.”  Dayenu, which we will all sing
during the Magid section of our upcoming sedarim, literally means “Enough for
Us.”  It is a  song which asks the important question of
whether each miracle of the Pesach story, on its own, would have truly been enough  

 Dayenu teaches the importance of being content with what we
have.  Most of us are fortunate to have
“enough” in our lives.  Recent
earthquakes in Haiti and Chile
remind us that shelter, food, water and our loved ones are the things which are
truly important.  Our laptops, our
Blackberries, and our wallets are dear to us and hard to replace.  Family photos and our children’s precious art
work and tests posted on our refrigerators are sentimental.  But they are just objects.

 This Pesach, may we remember that we were once slaves, but
now we are free.  Free to appreciate and
treasure all that is truly important in our lives.

Categories: Tikvah