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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 26, 2005 / 17 Nissan, 5765

You haven't experienced true Jewish ritual until you've held your own Passover Seder

By Jessica Yadegaran


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She's single, Sephardic and living in San Francisco. She does it her way. But will she do it again?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Mom, why is our charoset smooth and not chunky like the Friedmans'?"


I had picked up Mom from the airport the first weekend in April fueled by Jewish guilt. Why? For the same reason I'm pushing 30 and have yet to roast my own turkey: Mom has always done all the holiday cooking.


Maybe it was a sincere desire to establish my own tradition. Or perhaps I had simply run out of options. Whatever the reason, while Mom had visions of cable cars, I saw this weekend as Passover 101. I was locked in. Invitations to my first Seder were in the mail.


Up until this year, I'd breeze home the afternoon of the first night (Passover lasts eight crazy days), maybe help chop a salad and then reappear for a Seder table so dazzling it could put the color back in Moses' beard.


When I couldn't go home, I went to Hillel, or to my sister's-in-law, or a professor's house, or a co-worker's. I straddled the kiddie table for as long as I could, indulging myself in the graciousness of others.


This year, I said, di, enough. Call me meshugah, but too many young professionals rely on "adults" to pull them through the holidays. What are we? Chopped — don't answer that.


You can eat all the lox in Manhattan and light the Sabbath candles every Friday, but, as I was about to find, you haven't experienced true Jewish ritual until you've held your own Passover Seder.


I was determined to be true to my Sephardic roots but didn't want too much pressure, so I invited three goys (conveniently, their first Seder, too).


Sephardics (African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Jews) eat rice and meat dishes tinged with figs, dates, pistachios and saffron.


Dishes my guests might have been expecting — beef brisket, potato kugel and matzo ball soup — are particular to Ashkenazis (Jews from Eastern Europe, France and Germany).


Other traditions are common to both.


"So, do we have to drink Manischewitz on Passover?" I asked when our cable car got stuck on the steepest part of Powell. ("Jam water" a guest would later describe it.)


"You know," my mother said, ignoring my question. "If you moved home, I could show you how to make dishes all the time."


Later, back in the kitchen, she was at it again.


"Why don't I just make the food for you and you can freeze it until your Seder?"


But I resisted. Instead, on her last night, my mom led me through a trial run of shirin polo, saffron-stained rice with almonds, raisins and carrots.


Feeling more confident, I let her go back — leaving her notebook of handwritten recipes.


I was on my own.


The day of, I spent $65 at four grocery stores. I was home and cooking by 4 p.m. I had told my friends to arrive at 8.

REFLECTION
My menu paid homage to various Sephardic traditions. The rice was Iranian, like me. My main dish, Honey and Lemon Cornish Game Hens, is commonly served at Moroccan Seders. I stuffed them with biryani from Trader Joe's, a shout-out to Indian Jews.


I had researched kosher wines and discovered that it's now a booming business, with dozens of varietals to choose from. I had brought home a Baron Herzog Zinfandel with a bottle of Manischewitz as a backup.


Good thing I did. Shortly after my guests arrived, my fancy wine opener broke, splattering zin all over the kitchen and on a few of my friends.


I heard a voice: Heed the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not stray from Manischewitz.


It was then that I looked around my kitchen in disbelief. Chunks of charoset clung to the oven. Wine and turmeric stained the counter. Matzo crumbs were everywhere.


Why did I do this, again?


The answer came when I took my seat at the "head" of my tiny round dining table. I led the Seder like my father, and prepared it like my mother. My friends dutifully read their parts from the Haggadah, the Passover book. I found myself nodding as my understanding of the various steps grew.


A new ritual happened unexpectedly: Each time we said a prayer over the wine, we clinked glasses. Passover, after all, is a celebration filled with joy and laughter. It felt right.


The old rituals did, too. We dipped our pinkies into wine and dotted our plates 10 times. The act is an expression of our gratitude to G-d for freeing the slaves from bondage, but it also expresses our dismay over the misfortunes — or 10 plagues — He visited upon the Egyptians.

THE LASHING
As is customary among Iranian Jews, my friends and I hit each other with green onions. The tradition reminds us of the lashings the Jewish slaves endured. Older Persian Jews will tell you that the custom expels negative energy.


My friends loved it so much they were double-fisting scallions.


We finished our first Seder with Chocolate-Covered Toffee Matzo, a new-world Ashkenazi staple, before they shuffled out, after 10 p.m., gushing thanks.

THE VOICE
The phone rang right when I expected it to. My mother's voice came through as it usually does this time of night: tired and scratchy, but inquisitive.


"Did you soak the saffron long enough? Did you set the table like I told you to?"


Her stream of questions continued, and I sunk to the kitchen floor from fatigue, landing on a chunk of hardened charoset. All hadn't gone smoothly on my first Seder. My blender had flung, rather than ground, the nuts and fruit for my charoset. I ended up using my Cuisinart Mini-Prep and making a mess.


But I didn't tell Mom.


I knew my next Seder would be less stressful. As the Jewish tradition tells us, may we meet again then, and celebrate in Jessica's home.


But I just might serve my charoset chunky next year.


Editor's note: Rice, which is forbidden to be eaten by non-Sephardic Jews on Passover, must be certified kosher for the holiday.


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© 2005, Contra Costa Times Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services