Educationally Speaking – April 2018

Pesah Memories…Make New Ones, but Keep the Old Ones

Debi M. Rowe, MAJE, RJE, Director of Education and Programs

Pesah is the quintessentially Jewish memory-making machine. The Seder rituals guide us to remember the history of our people; we are instructed to take

the “you are there” approach to putting ourselves into the story; and the preparation and observances are annual memory-making and story-telling opportunities for every Jewish family.

Every family has a “the first time I made the….. (fill in the blank)” story. Here’s mine:

I learned the REAL secret of making light fluffy matzah balls from my mother about 30 years ago. She told me all the important things… Except one.

The first time I made k’neidlakh, I did what mom said to do. I separated the eggs, beat up those egg whites ‘till there were stiff peaks, beat the egg yolks, mixed the batter, and oh-so-deliberately rolled and shaped that batter into the most perfect just-smaller- than-a-golf-ball-sized matzah balls. I put them into a pot of boiling water.

One and a half hours later, (!) the matzah ball I tested was still pretty much rock-hard in the middle. I called mom across the country in a panic. This was almost triple the time she said it would take!

Mom reviewed all the steps with me. We determined that I hadn’t missed a thing. All of a sudden Mom said, “I know what you did!”

She explained, “Once you made the batter, and started to shape the matzah balls you worked to make perfect little balls, didn’t you?” I acknowledged that I had given the shaping a LOT of attention… (Isn’t it great that moms really know their kids?) She said, “You sort of killed the egg whites! But, don’t worry, they’ll fluff up… it just may take a while…”

She was right. It took about 3 hours to get fully fluffy k’neidlakh. But, I learned my lesson. Now, it takes 45 minutes for the matzah

balls to cook properly… and every year I repeat Mom’s mantra… “just pat… don’t kill ‘em.” Works for me!

There are also the “little things” that make the Seder work: there was the year my middle brother stole the afikoman. Then there was the year that Jessica Zeidman and Aliyah Shulkin stole the afikoman at my house. I remember the first year I went to Seder first and second night. I remember when Alan, Joel, Jane, Carol and I brainstormed a new line of flavored matzah balls. Carol was the one who taught all us Southern Californians how to make “Matzah Almond Rocca.”

Stories are profoundly powerful tools to convey memories and traditions from one year to the next and one generation to the next. It matters not the details. It matters only that you tell it along with the rest of the Pesah story from the Hagaddah.

Make new memories this year. Recall stories from last year or from your childhood or from your first Seder and share them with someone who hasn’t yet heard the story. Better yet, share the stories with those who do remember, and let their voices join yours in making the memory anew.