Happy almost Passover!
Passover is the day we commemorate the Hebrews’ escape from enslavement in Egypt. I wouldn’t call myself a super Jew, so it’s good to have a little reminder of what we’re celebrating before we make it to the Seder. Every year, on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, Jews commemorate the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt by celebrating Passover. The story is that after 410 years of slavery in Egypt, Moses told Pharaoh that he must “Let My People Go.” Each time Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites, God brought another plague upon the Egyptians. After 10 plagues, the Pharoah let the Jews go. They left Egypt so fast that they didn’t have time for their bread to rise (which is why they ate matzo) and Passover commemorates the Jews being released from slavery. Granted, the exodus from Egypt is a whole different bag, but it’s a good reminder to think about how forms of slavery are still happening today like human trafficking, forced labor, etc. and to find ways to help if we can. People are in a form of slavery everyday when they are not living their truths or when they are doing things they don’t really want to, and not believing there is a way out.
So many animals are enslaved too, the ones being raised for food, ones being sold and traded as if they are products and not Godly creatures, horses who are pulling carriages in New York City, animals in all the zoos….all these situations come to mind, along with all the ways we can end their suffering and make their own exodus happen.
I’m not going to a Seder this year and actually can’t remember the last time I went. Most of the Seders I have been to have been at my friend Guy Oseary’s house. They were so great! When I was little, we used to go to the Synagogue as a family. I remember the charoset, the matzo, the 4 questions, the gefilte fish. I used to love gefilte fish! How weird is that?
Here are some great ways to make your Passover more planet-friendly:
Go for organic wine. If you’re going the traditional kosher route, the grapes in kosher wines are picked like every other wine, but once they reach the winery, the process is under strict rabbinal supervision. From crushing through bottling, the wine is handled and processed by Sabbath-observing Jews. Barrels and tanks are deemed kosher for use. The rabbi or Kashrut trained supervisor oversees the whole process and no work can be done on the Sabbath. I think this is a silly process, though….sorry! Jewish police?! There are many “kosher” meats out there and they are all so barbaric. I will do a blog on this soon, but just knowing how terrible the kosher meat deal is makes me feel it is silly and not spiritual, as it is intended to be. I think a great kosher wine definition would be one that is eco and vegan, that way it is spiritual in that it is kind to our fellow creatures and kind to the planet.
I love all of the great veggie temples that have been bursting through. They get it, that our desire to be good, spiritual Jews must include being respectful of the Earth, each other and ALL creatures. It’s really beautiful. Do a little search to see what veg temples are in your area. Ikar is one in the LA area.
Get these Veg-friendly Passover books from Micah Publications. They have a Haggadah for the Vegetarian Family and a Vegetarian Pesach Cookbook that has recipes with no animal products.
Go organic. Grab organic matzo, organic horseradish, organic parsley, etc. and make your own charoset with organic ingredients. There are lots of charoset recipes out there. It’s so yummy!
Always try for reusable plates, cups, and utensils, but if you’re going to use disposable ones, go for recycled or biodegradable ones. You can usually grab these from specialty stores like Whole Foods, and if you don’t live near a Whole Foods Market, ask your local grocery store to start carrying these types of products! You can also order biodegradable supplies from greenpartysupply.com. I like these EATware plates. They are reasonably priced here and you can buy in bulk if you need to.
Check out Debra Jill Mazer! I want to play with her, she seems awesome! See her blog post here and check out the recipe for raw vegan gefilte “wish” (haven’t tried it, but it’s worth a shot!). Also, read her book Open-Eyed Heart-Wide Haggadah that has a progressive ritual guide for Passover, which includes a recipe for Vegan Matzah Ball Soup!
Please share your veg-friendly recipes and stories with me! Happy Passover everyone!