Jennifer Moses
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A few new plagues for Passover, circa 5784

Some kosher for Pesach products should be purchased exactly zero times a year (and can a cat really eat a whole goat?)

Though it’s possible that you can’t wait to hear my opinion regarding the Israeli war against Hamas, I’d bet money that you’d rather have your eyebrows shaved off. Thus I am going to skip the offering of my political and philosophical prognostications and instead share my own personal insights regarding some of the more subtle nuances of Passover.


Do not even attempt to make matzoh pizza. I say this in reaction to a recent article in the Washington Post called “This Passover, Make a Better Matzoh Pizza.” Or don’t. Matzoh pizza is an abomination to the LORD.

On that note, I can’t help but add that my husband, who is a first-rate and imaginative cook, unafraid to venture into the niceties of both the bain-marie and cooking with parchment, nonetheless is drawn to Passover mixes, so much so that it has taken the entire 36-years of our marriage for me to break him of the habit of investing in such delights as Manischewitz Blueberry Muffin Mix, Streit’s non-chametz pancake amalgamate, and kosher-for-Passover pretzel crumbs, a mixture of sawdust that, I guess, can double as an exfoliant. The point is: we’re supposed to miss our usual high-dough diet. You can’t manage to go without blueberry muffins and pancakes for eight measly days when our ancestors lived on manna alone for a full forty years?  For the deviously assembled pseudo-food-product is an abomination to the LORD, but fresh fruit is in his confidence.


As regarding the laws of shopping kosher for Passover, whether it be at Aisel One, Seasons, Seven Mile, MOTI’s, Super Shuk Yahanoff, Super Bareket, or your favorite neighborhood Jewish food mart: these spaces are among the few in Jewish life where the super-frum, the not-so-frum, and the I-could-care-less freely mingle, if with sideways glances and heightened fashion consciousness. Between my husband and me, we typically do something like three supermarket runs pre-first-Seder and then send one of our adult children out to invest in a down-to-the-wire supply of backup horseradish or chocolate. But back to Pesach-shopping.

At my own go-to kosher superstore, I dress the way I normally do, in basic hip-grandma suburban schlepp wear, my silver hair uncovered and flashing whitely in the glare of the fluorescent lights. From whence I typically get a sideways glance or two, or maybe not. Who cares how I dress? The religious women who also shop at my go-to kosher superstore sure don’t! But you know what we all care about? Obtaining a shank bone for the Seder plate. My question is: since when does a kosher food store not provide shank bones during the week leading up to Pesach? As it is written: not supplying shank bones during the week before Passover is an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are also not so good.


Regarding the boisterous singing of Chad Gadya (one little goat), some questions: first, whose tune really is the best? Second, how many melodies are there, anyway? Also, is this the year you will finally learn all the words of all the verses? As it is written somewhere in The Guide for the Perplexed: The person who wishes to attain human perfection should study logic first, next break-dancing, and lastly, all the words, both in Hebrew and Aramaic, of Chad Gadya. Which brings me to my next question: has anyone noticed how improbable the narrative here is? I mean, first you have this goat who is eaten by a cat. Really? A cat? Later, and as if out of nowhere, a stick comes along and all on its lonesome it beats the dog who bit the cat. Sorry, but this defies logic. Terrifying small children with stories about goat-eating cats is an abomination to the LORD: on the other hand, most popular music is worse.


Regarding the giving of afikomen presents. Different families do it differently. In some families the kids hide the afikomen and the host has to find it. If he or she fails to find it, he or she has to ransom it by bribing the kids with presents. In other families – oh never mind. Most people just give presents to anyone under a certain age. My parents once hosted a family with three kids, and when it came time for their presents, the entire family requested tickets for a Broadway show. I ask you, is this fair? Given that whoever is hosting the Seder has also gone to all the trouble and expense, the time and effort and hours in the kitchen, plus the clean up afterwards, plus the inevitable trouble when someone who doesn’t know you well discovers that you prefer your dogs to your children, shouldn’t it be the other way around? By which I mean: shouldn’t the kids give the adult hosts a present, such as doing the entire clean up, or offering to weed the garden?

Though the giving of afikomen presents is not an abomination of any kind, since you asked, I’d like a pony.

About the Author
Jennifer Anne Moses is the author of seven books of fiction and non fiction, including The Man Who Loved His Wife, short stories in the Yiddish tradition. Her journalistic and opinion pieces have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Newark Star Ledger, USA Today, Salon, The Jerusalem Report, Commentary, Moment, and many other publications. She is also a painter.
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