As a child, it was my job to make the charoset for Passover—that sweet mixture of apples, walnuts, cinnamon, honey, and lots of Manischewitz wine. This was a responsibility I took very seriously. The real secret was in the chopping—my family learned this one year when my mom put the apples through her food processer and they came out mush! I perfected my chopping skills early on, and to this day, making charoset makes me feel connected to my family, to friends, and to tradition.
Food brings us together, and this is never more true than at Passover. Gathering around the seder table and telling our communal story of coming out of Egypt with symbolic foods is a Jewish value, as is ensuring that other people do not lack food or companionship. At JFFS, we take pride in opening doors to Jewish life and caring for people in need with a variety of food-inspired programs and services.
Through Meal Partners, we match a volunteer with a Holocaust survivor to enjoy meals and conversation on a regular basis. We bring Jewish young adults together to enjoy a nosh while discussing interpretations of Jewish text with a neighborhood rabbi or other teacher. We host Shabbat dinners to bring the warmth of Jewish tradition to adults with special needs. We help families with children come together for snacks and celebration of Jewish holidays. And we provide services that help in times of food-insecurity, like Lifelines Emergency Financial Assistance and our food pantry.
And more. On a regular basis, our giving societies—Women’s Philanthropy, Solomon Society, and our Laguna Woods Region—come together for a luncheon or dinner focused on fundraising for the JFFS Annual Campaign and the programs and services it makes possible.
Food is integral to Jewish life, and one of the best ways to appreciate our food traditions is to share them. I invite you to visit our Taste of Passover Facebook group and share a favorite Passover recipe and its “back story” with the community, as well as finding some delicious and unusual recipes to bring to your seder table.
In my family, I’m proud that my son has taken over the charoset-making tradition, and so far he has stayed true to my childhood recipe. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he added his own twist at some point, and if he does, I look forward to sharing that recipe with you!
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach / A Joyous and Meaningful Passover,
P.S. I hope to see you next Tuesday evening at the JFFS-sponsored Pacific Symphony performance of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, made possibly by the Albert Weissman and Rhoda Yvette Weissman Estate.