April 1, 2021

Matzoh, Tradition and Commemoration


There are many foods that I eat in season––asparagus in the spring, tomatoes in summer, brussels sprouts in the fall––but only Passover matzoh is so rich in associations. The Jewish holiday of Passover commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, where Jews were enslaved for 400 years. Because they didn't have time to make raised bread in leaving Egypt, their bread was unleavened, so unleavened matzoh became a ritual food during the 8 days of Passover. For me it's also a tie to family, to our holiday traditions. I love the large family seders, sadly missed the past two years because of Covid. 

I look forward to my breakfasts of matzoh cereal, invented by my father (or are there any other people out there who make this?)  I remember him sitting at the breakfast table, chopping at his cereal. Just crumble two matzohs into a bowl, sprinkle generously with sugar, and pour on plenty of milk. My brother informs me that he has two bowls of this every morning, with lots of sugar. Not very nutritious, but good nonetheless. This is food as remembrance.

Another commemorative food eaten for the Passover seder is Haroseth, symbolic of the mortar that the Israelis enslaved in Egypt used in buildings for the Pharaoh. In my Sephardic community, we make it with dates rather than apples. For me it's a treat spread on matzoh, and is quite simple to make; it can also be thought of as date butter: 
Soak one pound of dates (I use medjool dates) in 1 1/2 cups of water for 1 hour. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 45 minutes until soft and breaking down. Drain the dates; when cool you can slip off their skins, then process them until smooth in a food processor.

My final Passover matzoh treat is matzoh brie––a kind of fritter––another very simple recipe. 
Run cool water over two matzohs until they soften, then crumble them into a bowl. Beat with two eggs and a little salt. Shallow fry them with vegetable oil, butter, or a combination of the two; I use oil. Top with something nice: I like the tart-sweet flavor of rhubarb jam on mine. You can also add a little grated onion for a savory fritter. 

Having food traditions that tie us to history and to family add richness to life. 


  1. I will always remember the Seder at Sito's house on 65th Street in Brooklyn. We were blessed by our beloved returning Veteran of WWII, Uncle Raymond.

    He had just returned from serving the U.S. Army in Europe, and now that the war was over he came back to the USA, and we were thrilled to see him at this Seder.

    I will never forget seeing him, mainly because for the past few years my mom kept us all aware of Uncle Raymond fighting in the war. Now that he was in front of us it was a sight I will always remember.

    We all loved him, and honored him for his service to the country. We were blessed by having him in our presence. It made this Seder the one I will never forget.

    Thanks for the BLOG on the Passover Holiday. It was very touching.


  2. Isaac,
    Thank you for that wonderful remembrance of my Dad.