The search for gefilte fish and horseradish…tears to my eyes

Preparing for Passover in Hawaii has gotten easier in the past few years, but it is still not completely convenient.

Most of the neighborhood Safeways have matzah and matzah meal. They bring it out for every Jewish holiday, thinking that we eat it all year round.

Now that I am a “Military Wife,” I have access to the commissary which dutifully puts out a table of items a few weeks before Passover, but it wasn’t as robust this year as the last few.

Whole Foods in Kahala (about 25 miles from my house and a good hour drive if there is traffic) had a good selection of macaroons and gluten free Passover items.

Only the Kapahulu Safeway had gefilte fish. My husband loves gefilte fish. I made the drive.

When I was at the commissary yesterday I asked for fresh horseradish and was told they only have the Chinese kind. I figured that would do for a bitter herb. I had no idea that Chinese horseradish was so big. I had to take a photo. Even my husband laughed.

While surfing the web, my younger daughter noticed that Party City has ready made plague bags, a new tradition at our seder ever since my oldest sister started sending them to my kids. We went to the Waikele Party City to check them out. When I asked the clerk where their Passover items are, she looked at me and said, “What’s Passover?” So much for buying plague bags there. We will make our own.

Despite the obstacles, we are ready. We will celebrate with the community tonight at the Aloha Jewish Chapel seder at the Hale Koa Hotel, organized by our good friends Val Hashimoto and Dan Bender.

And thank goodness for Good Friday. In Hawaii it is a State holiday.  Since the kids won’t have school and my husband doesn’t have to work, we will have our own seder at home with a few friends. All of the items I have hunted and gathered from across the island will come together on our table as we celebrate our  freedom and remember our journey together.

A Zeisen Pesach to all.

L’shanah Tovah and bon appetite (or b’tei avon)

It’s the holiday season which brings up the discussion of food. No, not that holiday season….the Jewish High Holy Days. For each one we eat traditional foods symbolizing our deeper understanding of that particular observance, bringing us together in celebration of the joy that it brings. That’s just how we roll.

Rosh Hashanah means apples and honey and honey cake and honey buns (okay, I added that one.)

On Yom Kippur we fast, which is the distinct absence of food. The day is a solitary journey of internal reflection. But when we do  break the fast, we once again come together.

For Sukkot we eat outside under the stars and on Simchas Torah there is candy.

No wonder I love being Jewish.

Today I would like to share with you the challah that Rachel Nudelman gave to me on Erev Rosh Hashanah. While she didn’t bake it exclusively for me as a special gift, it sure feels that way and I am loving every bite as if she did.

She brought it to serve at the oneg after services at the Aloha Jewish Chapel on Pearl Harbor. But it was announced between the Aleinu and the Kaddish that there is a child with nut allergies and no nuts of any kind could be served.

Rachel had brought platters of honey cake, frosted and plain, made with walnuts and a gorgeous Rosh Hashanah challah coiled in the traditional holiday fashion to symbolize the cycle of the year.

Instead of adding raisins as a symbol for the sweetness of the new year (thank goodness, because I do not like raisins in challah,)  she folded apples and nuts into the coil. She said that they had their own at home and offered this beautiful, sweet challah  to me. Not one to have to be asked twice, I readily accepted and heartily thanked her.

I carried it carefully to the car, nestled it close to me, protecting it like I would my own baby the entire way home.

I cannot stop eating that challah.

I had a piece as soon as we returned from services. We had it for breakfast this morning, sliced straight onto our plates. Tomorrow it will make excellent french toast.

I can’t help but mention that Rachel made the most amazing matzah ball soup for our model seder at Temple Emanu-El School of Jewish Studies last spring. She is definitely among a new generation of balabustas and I am pleased to be in her acquaintance–for more reasons than just food.

Thank you, Rachel. Shanah Tovah U’metukah.

Wishing your family a healthy and sweet new year.

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