Here’s a recipe sent to me by a lovely member of our community. She says her family loved it. It is a recipe she found on Epicurious and modified slightly to reduce the sugar. Here’s her version.

Apple Matzah Kugel

4 large apples, Granny Smith or any tart apple, cored and cut into medium dice
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
6 plain matzohs
8 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried apricots, medium, chopped
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into small pieces, for casserole topping

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Toss the apples with half the brown sugar and orange juice, set aside in a medium bowl.

3. Break the matzoh into 2- to 3-inch pieces and soak in 1 cup of warm water until soft but not mushy. Set aside.

4. While the matzoh soaks, beat the eggs with a wire whisk in a large bowl until blended. Add the salt, remaining sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, raisins, and apricots.

5. Squeeze the liquid from the softened matzoh and add the matzoh to the egg mixture with the apples. Stir the kugel well and pour into a lightly greased 2 1/2-quart casserole dish or a 10×14-inch pan. Dot the top of the kugel with the 4 tablespoons of butter.

6. Bake the kugel for 1 hour. Cover the top with foil if the top begins to become too brown early in the baking. Remove the kugel from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Cook’s Tip:
The kugel can be made 2 days ahead, cooled, and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature and reheat in a 350°F oven.

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SFJCC_Passover (2)

First Night Seders

35th Annual First Night Community Seder
Join our community on the first night of Passover and participate in the telling of the story of the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom. Sing old and new favorites, ask questions and find the afikomen (piece of matzah). A traditional kosher Seder meal is served. Seder led by the JCC’s Rabbi Batshir Torchio.
Catering provided by Continental / Too Caterers

To see the menu, get tickets, and learn more, click here

Date: Monday April 14
Time: Doors Open at 6:00 pm, Program Begins at 6:30 pm
Place: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco

Passover Seder for Families with Young Children
Celebrate the first night of Passover at the JCC East Bay with this interactive and music-filled Passover Seder! Especially for 2-7 year olds, though younger and older children are also welcome. No Jewish knowledge or experience is necessary. The Seder will include a light, kid-friendly meal, served picnic style, and will be led by Rabbi Bridget Wynne.

Date: April 14
Time: 5:00 pm
Place: East Bay JCC, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley
Cost: $15.00 per child (age 2-13), $25.00 per teen (14+) or adult
Vegetarian option available. Volunteer opportunities and discounts available on first-come basis. Contact Emma at No one turned away for lack of funds.
This event will sell out, so you’re encouraged to buy tickets as soon as possible.

Community Passover Seder
Celebrate the first night of Passover with this interactive, lively, and music-filled Passover Seder. All are welcome, and no Jewish knowledge or experience is necessary. The Seder will include a full meal with chicken, matzoh ball soup, and wine, and will be led by Rabbi Bridget Wynne.

Date: April 14
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: East Bay JCC, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley
Cost: $60.00 per adult or teen (14+); $40.00 per JCCEB member, senior, or college student; $20.00 per volunteer or child.
Vegetarian option available.
Volunteer opportunities and discounts available on first-come basis. Contact Emma at No one turned away for lack of funds.
This event will sell out, so you’re encouraged to buy tickets as soon as possible.
Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center East Bay.

Dan Feder leads Seder

    Second Night Seders

Kol Hadash Humanitarian Congregation Community Seder
A woman emailed me to say that Kol Hadash’s Seder is April 19 and the deadline to register is 4/15. But the website said the deadline is Monday, April 7. So go to their website immediately to sign up,

Date: April 19 at 6:00
Time: Doors open at 5:30pm & the Seder is at 6pm
Where: Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin, Albany
Costs listed on website.

Community Passover Seder
“Let all who are hungry come and eat” is one of the central motifs of Passover, when we celebrate not only the freedom of the Jewish people from the tyranny of slavery, but also freedom for all people from the tyranny of hunger. On the second night of Pesach join us for a lively retelling of the Haggadah as the Israelites make the journey from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. The Seder will be led by Rabbis Larry Raphael and Julie Saxe-Taller.

Date: Tuesday, April 15
Time: 5:00 pm
Place: Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Cost, details and registration here.

Second Night Community Seder
Join Rabbi Reuben Zellman along with Beth El friends, old and new, for a festive Pesach celebration and delicious catered kosher-for-Pesach meal. We are never too old or too young to learn and retell the story of liberation. Through song, ritual and discussion, we will retell the Pesach story, making connections to our own lives and our world.

Date: Tuesday, April 15
Time: 6:00 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Cost: Members: Adults $54; Young Adult (30 and under) $36; Children $18
Non-members: Adults $72; Young Adult (30 and under) $36; Children $25; College students w/ID $18
Through the generosity of anonymous Beth El members, no one will be turned away for lack of funds. RSVP by Monday, April 7 online here.

Second-Night Pesach Seder
Join the East Bay Minyan and Urban Adamah for a community Seder!
Join us for a wonderful evening of delicious food, lively conversation, spirited singing, and uplifting explanations as we experience our liberation! Dinner will be fully kosher l’Pesach with gluten-free, vegan, and meat options. “We were slaves, now we’re free!” Come celebrate!

Date: Tuesday, April 15
Time: 7pm-10:30pm
Place: Urban Adamah, 1050 Parker St., Berkeley
RSVP: Required! (By April 12.) $25 to $50 per person, sliding scale.
Sign up here.

Second Night Passover Seder
All are invited to our community seder! A full meal will be served. Both a meat and a vegetarian version are available. Advanced reservations are required by April 11. To sign up call the Temple office at 510-522-9355.

Date: April 15
Time: 6:30pm
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd., Alameda

Two Seders at the same time and day at Etz Chayim –
Talk Amongst Yourselves Seder
In addition to the basic songs and symbolic foods and rituals of the seder, Rabbi Cartun will use Haggadah artwork from various artists, genres, eras, and parts of the Seder to “illustrate” the Exodus story. Basically, this will be a Rohrschach Seder, talking about what we see in the art, and how it “speaks” to us about the Passover story. We’ll celebrate, sing and discuss for almost two hours before we eat dinner, but there will be plenty of karpas (crudites) to tide us over.

On One Foot Seder
Long before they were here, there, and everywhere, frogs were living in Egypt, and they are very proud of the role they played in freeing the slaves. For generations, they have continued to tell the story. At this interactive, family-friendly Seder, we will hop through the Haggadah along with the frogs. We have our Four Questions, and the frogs have theirs! Jump right in to celebrate the Seder from a whole new perspective. Abra will lead us in singing and fun for about one hour before dinner.

Both seders will offer a catered, gourmet dinner with a chicken or vegetarian option. If you’d like wine, please bring a bottle to share (must be kosher for Passover).
Kosher catered by Wendy Kleckner of Too Caterers with everything that you would hope to find in a seder dinner. By reservation only. Non-members welcome. Reservations close Tuesday, April 8.

Date: April 15
Time: Doors open at 5:30; Seder begins at 6pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma Street, Palo Alto
Register here.

Second Night Passover Seder: Fun for The Whole Family
Join us for a warm, celebratory, and multigenerational seder in the Lillian Byer Social Hall. We’ll share our stories of slavery and freedom, join together in singing songs old and new, and enjoy a delicious Passover feast.

Date: Tuesday, April 15
Time: 6pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr, Burlingame
Cost: Adults $49; children $28
For more information and to RSVP click here. You can also RSVP to Georgina at or (650) 697-2266.

Second Night Community Seder
Congregation Beth Jacob invites you to a night of story, study, and song, led by Rabbi Nathaniel Ezray
A night with Passover games and activities for kids
A night with a delicious catered kosher dinner
A night with no dishes afterward!
A night to reflect on our freedom
A night for intergenerational Jewish community

Date: Tuesday, April 15
Time: 5:45 pm
Place: Congregation Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City
Cost: $50/adults; $30/children ages 4 to 12; $10/children 3 years & under occupying a seat.
The reservation deadline is Friday, April 11. Go here to register and pay.

Annual Passover Congregational Seder
The community is invited to a family-friendly, participatory Seder on the Second Night of Passover with Temple Beth Hillel. Join Rabbi Dean Kertesz in retelling the Passover story, sing holiday melodies, and share a festive meal with all ritual Seder foods. (Vegetarian option available.)

Date: Tuesday, April 15
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Temple Beth Hillel, 801 Park Central (Hilltop exit off I-80), Richmond
Cost: Reserve early to assure seating: $8-$30. Please read the details on their website.
Questions: 510-223-2560/

Kehilla Annual Community Passover Seder
Led by Rabbis Burt Jacobson & David J. Cooper; with Special Guest, Reverend George Cummings of Oakland Community Organizations, and Imani Community Church
Our Theme: The Mitzvah to Take Action
The Hebrew prophets, A to Z (Amos to Zachariah) were called to protest the injustices in ancient Israel. And even though they were resistant, they felt compelled by divine command to speak out in order to turn their society around.
The Torah says to “not stand idly on the blood of your brother,” i.e. that in the face of suffering and oppression—of others and our own—we are forbidden to simply witness; we must act. But no one of us alone has the ability to be effective. Yet united with others who are also acting under the same prophetic responsibility, we have the power to effect change.
Many activists in Kehilla are involved in the struggle against the Pharaohs of our time. How are you or can you make a difference, too?
Moses, Jeremiah, Miriam and Micah are all invited to join us we celebrate the process of liberation and retell the Exodus story as a paradigm for our own situation today. Join them for Passover.
This year we are featuring a delicious organic catered primarily vegetarian dinner.

Date: April 19
Time: 4:45 pm – 8:30 pm
Place: Kehilla, 1300 Grand Ave, Oakland
Cost: $40/adult member; $55/adult non-member
details and registration here.

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Got a fabulous Pesach recipe? Please email it to me at; I’m posting them!

Francisco and daughter
Here’s one from a San Francisco Dad, Francisco, seen here with his daughter.

Francisco Caravayo’s Charoset
“My family loves this charoset. I don’t use dates or wine because I don’t like either.”*

1 apple, minced
5 prunes (dates)*, minced
¼ cup golden raisins
10 dried apricots, minced
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp kosher grape juice (wine)*
¼ cup toasted almonds, chopped
¼ cup toasted pistachios, chopped
¼ tsp each, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
1 dash of kosher salt

Either chop by hand or make it easy on yourself by using a food processor.

*I’ve noted where one would use the dates or wine if you so desire.

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Set table

Getting ready for the Seder

What are ways to make your guests feel that they are a part of the evening even if they are not Jewishly knowledgeable?
Invite guests to bring something. This will give them a feeling of ownership and contribution. Anyone can buy matzah or kosher wine. They can make a fruit salad or follow a recipe you give them. They can steam, roast or broil vegetables or potatoes.
Invite them to come a bit early and pitch in by putting the Haggadahs at each plate.
Invite them to bring a thought about how they define “freedom;” it can be serious or whimsical.

How can you engage your children in the Seder prep?
Have you ever heard that anticipation of an event is half the fun? It sure is for kids. There are lots of ways big and small to include children in the preparation for your Seder.
Depending on their ages, they can:
Pick flowers to go on the table
Fill the bowls with salt water
Set the table
Make place cards and decorate them with stickers
Shape the haroset in to a pyramid on the serving plate/bowl
Use fabric paints to decorate pillow cases for Seder pillows that guests (or the kids) will lean on

    More fun at the Seder:

Buy Hagadah coloring books from your local Judaica shop, one per child, and let them color during the Seder. They can add comments to the story telling right from their book.
Decorate the table with plastic frogs and bugs
Let the kids act out the story of Moses and the burning bush or Moses meets Pharaoh.

Engaging those without a Jewish education
Type up and put a short paragraph from the haggadah on pieces of paper. Make enough so that you have one on each plate. Then invite your guests to participate by reading what is on their plate. You can number then so you just call out a number and the reading jumps around the table.
Play games like “I’m leaving Egypt”* or “Fun Facts”**
Sing songs like Go Down Moses

*I’m Leaving Egypt Game
The first person says, “I’m leaving Egypt and I’m taking.. they name something that begins with the letter A.” The next person repeats what was said adding an additional item that starts with the letter B. This continues around the table with each repeat becoming more and more challenging to remember.

**Fun Facts
This is a game my son invented based on the saying in the Haggadah than anyone who adds to the telling is blessed. During the Seder you pause every few passages to see if anyone has anything they wish to add from their own knowledge. For each added “fact” they receive a prize. (I use small chocolates.) The recipient lines up his or her chocolates in front of their plate to see who can get the most. One of the biggest fans of this game is a Catholic friend of mine who now comes with facts carefully memorized. He’s a competitive guy!

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Navigating the Interfaith Elements of the Holiday

Pesach at Lauries

Grab a frozen yogurt at Menchie’s and join other Jewish spouses as we discuss the challenges of observing Passover while being sensitive to your non-Jewish spouse’s needs & wishes.

Will this be a week-long observance or just one night? Will there be bread in your home? Will your spouse be expected to participate in a Seder? Should you modify the Seder to soften the focus on the ‘Chosen people’? What Haggadah should you use and how long should the Seder be? Is your spouse comfortable with you setting the tone for the holiday? Does he or she follow willingly or is it a tug of war? Do you include your spouse’s extended family?

We’ll discuss plans and strategies to harmoniously celebrate the holiday for your family and bring more unity and enjoyment for everyone.

Date: Sunday, March 23
Time: 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Place: Menchie’s, 1862 Euclid Ave., Berkeley
Cost: $10, Cost includes yogurt/sorbet

Sign up here.

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Multigenerational seder guests

It can be a challenge to have everyone from your neighbor’s toddler to your great uncle coming to your Seder. Will people be bored? Will they get hungry? Will the kids wander from the table eliciting grumbling from other guests? Come discuss ways to engage different ages from infant to school age to teen to adults. We’ll cover:
Interactive games
How to bring in the non-Jewish family & friends
Food during the seder
Haggadahs for different groups
15 Steps to a complete seder
How to cut your seder time down to manageable

Date: Thursday March 27
Time: 7:00 to 8:30pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
Free to Sholom members, $10/public
Register here.

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Szyk Haggadah

Szyk Haggadah

The Szyk Haggadah: Art Exhibit
The haggadah, the ritual text for the Passover seder, evokes the story of the exodus of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. While myriad haggadot have been created from the tenth century to the present, the exhibition highlights the unique and powerful story of The Szyk Haggadah (1940). Arthur Szyk (1894–1951), a Polish Jew keenly aware of current events, fused his two passions—art and history—into a visual commentary on the dangerous parallel between the Passover narrative and the alarming developments unfolding in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The exhibition includes all forty-eight original illustrations of Szyk’s masterpiece that has become a mainstay in Jewish homes. Historical illuminated haggadot from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as contemporary versions, will also be featured.

Szyk also illustrated a book for children of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. His work may remind you of stories from childhood.

Date: February 13–June 29
See their website for times
Place: The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 36 Mission St. San Francisco

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In Israel the three Festivals are 7 days long. The Festivals, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot, were the times when the ancient Israelites traveled to the Temple in Jerusalem to make sacrifices, as commanded in the Torah (five books of Moses).

In Israel today the Festivals are still observed for 7 days. When the ancient Temple was destroyed and the Jews were driven from Israel Jews were dispersed throughout the Diaspora. Jews living outside of Israel were not sure when a Festival or holiday began. Ancient communications included someone building a bonfire on a hill in Israel and a distant community seeing the fire and lighting another fire to pass on the word. It was faster to communicate the date this way than to send messengers, although messages and messegers were also used. Still it meant that Jews in the Diaspora were worried that they may not be celebrating on the correct date. To hedge their bets they added a day. Thus outside of Israel it became the custom that festivals were observed for 8 days.

In modernity we know exactly what day it is. Based on this, the Reform movement eliminated the 8th day and celebrates the Festivals on the same days as does Israel. However, the Conservative and Orthodox movements retained the tradition of eight days for each Festival. For all Jews Passover began this year on Monday, March 25 at sundown. But for the Reform movement it ended yesterday evening, Monday, April 1. For Conservative and Orthodox Jews, Passover 2013 (or 5773 on the Jewish calendar) ends Tuesday night, April 2.

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Here’s an easy, fast, dessert that is parve, kosher for Passover and so beautiful you’ll make for summer picnics.

Fruit Tart

1 package Passover Macaroons or Almond Mandel Toast
1 egg white
¾ cup apricot jam (or Smucker’s Simply Fruit)
Fresh fruit – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, mango

Make one of these easy crusts.

Macaroon Crust
You can use either plain or chocolate Manischewitz Coconut Macaroons. Put the macaroons in a blender and whirl them into crumbs. Make 1 ½ to 2 cups. Separate the egg and beat the white to stiff peaks. Fold the egg white into the macaroon crumbs. Spray a 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray and pat the crumbs into the pan. Bake the crust for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees, until lightly browned.

Almond Mandel Toast Crust
From the box of Streit’s Mandel Almond Toast take about 15 cookies. Put them in the blender & whirl them into crumbs. It will make about 1 ¼ cups of crumbs. Separate the egg and beat the white to stiff peaks. Fold the egg white into the crumbs. Spray a 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray and pat the crumbs into the pan. Bake the crust for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees, until lightly browned.

Let the crust cool.

Put the jam in a small saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of water or Grand Marnier. Heat slowly, stirring. When it is melted and smooth spread a thin layer over the crust. Reserve 3 tablespoons for the top.

Wash, cut and arrange the fruit on top of the jam. Paint the remaining jam over the fruit.
Chill for at least 30 minutes. You can make this a day ahead.

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Whether you had a seder at home or at a synagogue or JCC, I hope you had delicious food, good company and a meaningful experience.

Sometimes a beautiful seder plate is a nice addition to the table.

Grape juice, purple or white, is a delicious way to avoid too much alcohol and a potential headache.

Be sure YOUR favorite wild animals are at your seder.

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