Freedom isn’t free: A Passover

sedar plate

sedar plate

It was a gathering of old friends and their families last week. A mix of Christians and Jews celebrating Passover with a seder ceremony. Rich in tradition and symbolism it was an honor to take part in the journey reminding us that freedom isn’t free. It’s a teaching moment. Do not forget and be thankful for those who struggled to escape slavery and do not become complacent as there are those who still suffer and fight the good fight. As Ronald Reagan reminded us, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction”.

children of Afghanistan: photo by William Keys

children of Afghanistan: photo by William Keys

Bitter greens, horseradish and salty water remind us of the harshness of slavery. In ancient times, the hard-boiled egg, a symbol of mourning. So many tears with the loss of dignity and life. Fresh greens like parsley remind us of the warm spring night of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Spring brings hope, renewal and optimism.

dipping Spring greens in salty water to remind us of the tears...may we never become complacent forgetting the pain of others

dipping Spring greens in salty water to remind us of the tears…may we never become complacent forgetting the pain of others

The Jews left Egypt in haste. Time is of the essence. There is no time to let the bread rise. Eating matzoh is a lesson in humility. It is flat, brittle and tasteless. However, it is the perfect platform for a bittersweet sandwich of horseradish and charoset.

matzoh with charsoset, horseradish and a hardboiled egg. Notice the 10 drops of wine on the edge of the plate?  It's a reminder to not feel joy for the suffering of our enemies.

Matzoh with charsoset and beet horseradish. Notice the 10 drops of wine on the edge of the plate? It’s a reminder to not feel joy for the suffering of our enemies.

My favorite seder food came at the end of the ceremony. A Mediterranean mix of dried fruits, nuts and spices bound together with a bit of sweet red wine known as charoset. Charoset looks a bit like cement and is made to resemble the mortar used by Jewish slaves to build Pharaoh palaces. Spread on matzoh with some horseradish it was a delicious, but bittersweet reminder of days gone by. A closer look at the recipe ingredients, minus the wine, there is a mighty good power bar in there waiting to happen.

Sephardic Charoset

Adapted from the Jewish Holiday Cookbook

1 cup pitted dates

1-cup raisins (golden or dark)

1 apple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks

½ cup walnuts

½ cup blanched almonds

1 medium orange, peeled, quartered

2 tablespoons sweet red wine

Combine all the ingredients except the wine in a food processor; pulse to coarsely chop. Add wine and continue to pulse forming a soft chunky mixture.

sunrise over Afghanistan: photo by William Keys

sunrise over Afghanistan: photo by William Keys

Grief can sometimes enslave my heart and paralyze my mind. It is a long journey. Thank you Stang family for renewing my spirit. Watching our children smile and laugh together was rejuvenating.

8 thoughts on “Freedom isn’t free: A Passover

  1. “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard (Aidan was a who’s who of James Beard chefs)
    Across all cultures, food commemorates the greatest joys as well as the indescribable pain in our lives. It brings comfort in the darkest hour and helps celebrate our happiest moments.
    There is only sadness at our table right now , but even as we mourn, each meal serves as a reminder of our family’s eternal love for each other. Each bite is a memory, newly made or revisited.
    Beautiful post.

    • Oh, Krista—you have to write more beautiful and heart-felt words like these–I do hope you have a journal or a blog of your own…..Yes, maybe?

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