Archive for March, 2013

Finding Modern Meaning in the Passover Story

We tell the Passover story every year about us being slaves in Egypt and the hardships we endured. How can we really relate it to our modern lives? When I was in Israel, I visited “Women of the Waters”—the most beautiful mikvah I have ever seen, in Tzfat. On their website, www.tsfatmikveh.com, they shared Passover wisdom this way:

“The Kabbalah wisdom teaches us that anything holding us back, that enslaves us and blocks our unique divine light from shining, is called Egypt – (in Hebrew Egypt is called Mitzrayim, the narrow straits). Yes, whatever it is that distorts our clarity of vision and purpose, preventing us from feeling our true essence aligned, things like anger, sadness, jealousy, dependency on peer approval, impulsivity, resentment, laziness, desire to control, dishonesty, materialism etc. are all our modern day “enslavement”, these are all binding and imprisoning us from accessing our true selves and our personal miracles.”

How do we enslave ourselves by narrow minded thinking, prejudice, etc.? With Passover beginning in less than a week, now is a great time to think about your vision of your most free, creative, well “aligned” self.

Is there someone who helps bring out your best self? Why not send a Passover gift basket to that special friend? Feeling distanced from family, emotionally or physically? Vow to reconnect this spring, or even “attend” the family seder from a distance using Skype. Feeling enslaved by technology? Make Passover an excuse for a technology holiday – use the land line only until Passover ends. Looking for a closer connection to your community? Invite someone new to your seder, or offer a seat at the table to someone who just moved to town. If you live in LA, let me know – I know someone who moved there just last week and would really love and appreciate an invitation to seder!

In reaching out to others, we sometimes find more of ourselves. Think about how to navigate your way out of the narrow places, widen your horizons, and expand your expression of your true self during this time of wonder.

 

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Seder Plate 101

The Elements of the Seder Plate

seder platePreparing the seder plate can get to be a little rote – we’ve done it so many times before. We don’t think too hard about it, we just follow the printed directions on our seder plates! But in case you need a little reminder of why we’re really doing “all this,” as it says in the Hagadah, here’s a brief lesson in the elements of the seder plate.

1. Three matzot.

They’re actually meant to symbolize the three castes of Jews: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. Then there’s also the three measures of fine flour Abraham told Sarah to use for the matzo. Finally, Abraham and Sarah were visited by three angels. So three is a big Passover number!

2. The lamb shank.

It represents the sacrifice that was made the night before the Jews left Egypt. After that, a sacrifice was made every year in the Holy Temple on the afternoon before Passover. Can you imagine that sacrifices were made in the temple? Hard to conceive of today!

Passover seder plate3. The egg.

It symbolizes the holiday offerings people brought to the Holy Temple. It’s also a symbol of life and renewal, of course.

4. The bitter herbs (maror).

Our forefathers were plenty bitter during their enslavement in Egypt, and this is our reminder of their suffering.

5. The Charoset.

This delicious treat is meant to symbolize the mortar and bricks the Jews made during slavery in Egypt. Apples, nuts and wine make a tasty reddish “mortar” – good thing there was no concrete back then or who knows what charoset would have to be made of!

6. The root vegetable.

We place a non-bitter root vegetable on the seder plate to remind ourselves of the arduous work the Jews did as slaves.

eclectic Passover seder plate7. The lettuce.

It’s actually also a reminder of the bitterness of slavery. When Pharaoh first deceived the Jews into working for him, he was not so harsh. But eventually the Jews became entrapped in cruel slavery. The symbolism is that the lettuce leaves are sweet, but if you left Romaine lettuce to grow, its stem would eventually turn bitter and hard. So remember, use Romaine, not iceberg!

If you’re invited to be a guest at the seder this year and you need a Kosher for Passover gift, a seder plate is a wonderful Passover hostess gift that will always be appreciated. Many families put more than one seder plate on the table, especially when there’s a large group. So bring along one of our beautiful seder plates, or add to your own collection!

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Win a Passover Gift with our Kosher for Passover Dessert Contest!

kosher for Passover cake

With so many unique and meaningful traditional foods that must be prepared for the seder (like charoset and gefilte fish), kosher for Passover desserts are one part of the seder menu where we can get a little more creative. We want to know what you’ve tried in your own kitchen that’s been a hit Passover dessert!

Enter our Passover Dessert Contest!

Challah Connection is giving three wonderful kosher for Passover gifts to the lucky winners submitting our favorite, most creative Passover dessert recipes.

Have you made your own gourmet version of chocolate covered matzo perhaps? Maybe you’ve kicked that recipe for Passover sponge cake up a notch or two, or created your own version of the traditional Passover raspberry roll cake? Please share your success!

Win a Passover Gift as a Prize, or Send It to your Seder Hostess!

RULES: By Monday, March 18th, post your kosher for Passover dessert recipe in the comments section of our blog or email it to Jane@challahconnection.com along with any other interesting facts related to your recipe. If emailing, include subject line: “Passover Dessert 2013.” Recipes will be judged based on creativity, originality and ease of use. Winners will be announced on March 20th. If you are a winner, we will email to notify you and at that time get your name and shipping address so we can send your prize.

First Prize:

Our delicious Savory Nosh Basket for Passover, a value of $119.99.

 

 

 


passover macaroons gift basket

Second Prize:

A sweet Passover Candy and Macaroon Platter, a value of $39.99.

 

 

 

 

Passover cookies gift basket

Third Prize

Schick’s Assorted Kosher for Passover Cookies, a value of $14.99.

 

Prizes will be shipped to you or a recipient that you choose (US shipping only).

We can’t wait to choose and share some wonderful, creative kosher for Passover dessert recipes with you.

 

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Shiva Gift Giving Frequently Asked Questions from Challah Connection


Sending a sympathy or shiva gift is certainly one of life’s most difficult tasks. What makes it difficult is our own unease with death combined with a feeling of helplessness—“how can I truly help?” This is particularly so when the death is a tragedy. But as we all know death and even tragedy is part of life.

Here at Challah Connection, we have been helping gift givers send shiva and sympathy gifts for over 10 years. This experience combined with our own mourning for loved ones we have personally lost, makes us particularly well versed in this sorrowful area.

Following are some of the most commonly asked questions by both Jews and non Jews alike, who are attempting to console those in mourning with a special gift.

What Is Shiva?
Shiva is the 7 day Jewish mourning period. During shiva, friends and family visit those who are mourning as an act of support and friendship. Visitors, along with the mourners sit, nosh (eat) and through conversation, celebrate the life that has ended.

When Is Shiva?
A shiva schedule is typically announced at the funeral or obituary. Although shiva is 7 days, many mourners shorten the period. Shiva is never on Shabbat, which begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. The first Shiva typically begins after the funeral, which is often followed by the burial. Funerals often start between 11am – 2pm and are around an hour. The burial is on average, another 2-3 hours depending on the distance of the cemetery from the funeral (often in Synagogue or Funeral Home). First shiva can begin anywhere from 4:30pm to 7pm and doesn’t usually last past 9 or so.

I am going to the shiva, to make a shiva call, what should I expect?
Shiva is a sad occasion but you should not feel nervous or uncomfortable. Just being there is enough; you need not worry about saying the “right” thing. If not sure what to say or how to act, it’s best to say little. However, you can never go wrong by being supportive and helpful: “Anyone need a drink?” “Can I help clean up?” “How are you feeling?”

What should I bring to shiva?
Bring food that can easily be served and shared. Avoid food that requires work on the part of the mourners. Kosher cookies, cakes, candies, nuts are all welcome at shiva as long as they are crowd pleasers and easy to serve.

I am far away and can’t go to shiva, what should I do?
Send a card or food-a shiva gift basket. Never send flowers! Shiva gifts should be foods that are well liked by many (don’t forget young kids, if they are part of the mourning family) and easy to serve. Our 3 most popular shiva gifts are Sympathy Comfort Gift Basket, Sympathy Essentials and Caring Conversation Shiva Basket.

When should the gift arrive?
Ideally, the earliest your gift should arrive is the first day of shiva, which is usually the day of the funeral and burial. Shiva gifts are welcome anytime during the shiva period and even beyond (see next question).

What if I have missed the official shiva period, should I still send a gift?
Although the official shiva period is over, the family will still be receiving visitors and food will be needed to feed them. Sending a gift at this time is completely acceptable and shows your care.

What is your best selling shiva gift basket?
In order of popularity, our top 3 most popular shiva gifts are Sympathy Comfort Gift Basket, Sympathy Essentials and Caring Conversation Shiva Basket. Also very popular is our Sympathy Dried Fruit and Nut Tray, Thoughtful Condolence Basket, Baklava Assortment and more which you can see here.

How Do I Choose A Gift?
All of our shiva gifts are time tested and we know that shiva families truly appreciate them. Your choice should be based on your allowable budget (don’t forget shipping), any personal preferences you may have and/or any dietary restrictions of the shiva family that you are aware of. We are always happy to help you make your selection.

Does My Shiva Gift Need to be Kosher?
Sending a kosher gift is a recommended. Even if the mourners are not kosher observant, it is quite possible that some of the attendees are. Shiva is not a time for inconvenience or difficult moments. At Challah Connection, all of our shiva gifts are certified kosher. Most of our foods are certified with high level certifications including OU, OK, STAR K.

Do You Carry Glatt Kosher Shiva Gifts?
Most of our foods are certified with high level certifications including OU, OK, STAR K, which are suitable for those who require the highest level (Glatt) kashrut. If you require such a basket, please let us know and we will be sure that only foods of the highest certification are included.

What Should the Gift Message Say?
For most of us, this is perhaps the hardest part of sending a sympathy or shiva gift. Often, we try to convey too much into the message. Keeping your message simple is key. Following are some of our most frequently used gift messages. Feel free to use as is or with your own personal touch. Don’t forget to sign your name!

-With heartfelt sympathy
-Our thoughts are prayers are with you during this difficult time
-We are so sorry for your loss and send our warmest condolences to you and your family
-May [name of deceased] be a blessing to all who knew him/her
-May G-d comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem

Where should the shiva gift be sent?
Shiva very rarely takes place at a funeral home (actually we have never heard of this happening). Shiva usually takes place at the home of a family member. This is where the shiva gift should be sent.

How should I address the gift—to my friend? To the entire family?
While you may have a specific friend or colleague in mourning, it is a nice gesture to address the gift to the entire family. For example, instead of Ms. Suzie Miller, The Miller Family.

If you are sending a gift to someone who is staying with friends or family, you can address it as follows: The Miller Family, c/o The XYZ Family.

Any questions? Need help placing your order? Please call us at 866-242-5524 or email: service@challahconnection.com.

©2013, Challah Connection, Westport, CT. All rights reserved.

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