As you may know the first night of Passover is spent at the "Seder". The "Seder" (literally means "order") is a long festive meal geared to the children and adults like me who pretend they are children - to get them to ask questions about Passover and the celebration of the Jewish people going from slavery into freedom and leaving the shackles of Egypt.
This year I have around 15 people coming to my Seder. Essentially the meal begins only after the first part of reading the HaGaddah is done. Some people rush through this and it takes them around an hour with singing songs etc. Some people like moi! - well we spend a great deal of time talking and discussing the Seder, Passover and all those things. We get to the meal around 11:30 PM. The Seder ends for us around 2-3 AM.
Some traditional foods such as "Charoset" will be home made. This is a mixture of nuts, apples, cinnamon etc. It is eaten to remind us of the "mortar" used by the Jews when they had to make bricks.
Marror - Bitter Herbs is either ground Horse Radish root (for the courageous) and or Romain Lettuce.
Of course we eat Matzo and must drink 4 cups of wine each. I happen to love hand Matzo. And there are many different types - some that cannot be eaten on Passover! (But we will do a separate piece on Matzo.)
So here is the planned (subject to changes) menu.
- Home Made Gefilte Fish - (yours truly is going to make it)
- Chopped Liver - (Store bought - this I am not messing with on Passover)
- Home Made Chicken Soup with Matzo balls (currently there is a wee bit argument over whether the Matzo Balls should be made from scratch or whether to use a pre-mix. Depends on time actually!)
- Pieces of Chicken - Home made not by me though
- Mashed Potatoes
- Desert - Fruit bowls - Strawberries and Kiwis cut up in a Fruit Salad & maybe even a few bananas (all in season now)
- Tea & Coffee
So if anyone has any great recipes or wants to suggest a change in the menu NOW is the time to do it!
AND if anyone of you out there does not have a Seder to go to, and you are in Jerusalem -
Come in and enjoy. Come in and eat. Come and join us. We would love to have you! For we are Free. And we are celebrating our freedom.
**In Israel there is only one Seder, whereas outside of Israel, Jews have two nights in a row with a Seder on each night. (Pays to live in Israel :) ---> The first Seder we do not eat any "roast meat". The "Passover Sacrifice" which is explained in Leviticus was Roast Meat. Thus we do not eat any Roast Meat on that first night to remind us that the Temple was destroyed and thus there are no longer any sacrifices brought and to make sure no one makes a mistake by thinking we are eating any meat that was "sacrificed" in our time. (Welcome to the world of Jewish law - "Halachah")
***Edited - There is an important caveat to the above. It is those of Ashkenazic descent that do not eat roast meat. Those of Sepharadi and Temani (Yeminite) descent do eat Roast Meat. Indeed traditionally they eat a lamb - and it is considered especially blessed to eat the head of the lamb. I am going to try to supply some pictures... which may gross you guys out... but hey!