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gluten free matzah at my local grocery store and other miracles of the season
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gluten free matzah at my local grocery store

Have you ever started crying in the supermarket? And not because you are exhausted and cannot find the pickled asparagus, but because you find an item so unexpected, so perfect for your family, so symbolic of your personal journey and the journey of your people that you are overwhelmed with gratitude? I know. It takes a lot for one food to stand for all that, but the box of gluten free matzah did it for me.

Matzah is the bread of affliction, the unleavened bread our ancestors ate when they left Egypt so quickly they didn't have time for the bread to rise. It's not particularly tasty, but it does have a distinctive look and an important ritual function. How could you eat matzah and bitter herbs with no matzah? How could you find the afikomen with no maztah to hide?

When I lived in Minneapolis fifteen years ago, I went shopping for Passover at very nice grocery store and couldn't find the maztah. I asked a manager, and he said, "Oh that Jewish bread, I think we have some in the cracker aisle." (You should have heard what happened when I asked the butcher for a shank bone.) Jews are only 2% of the population. I'm sure there are still plenty of parts of the country where you can't find the ritual foods to help mark one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar. That's certainly not true in Seattle, however. My sister brought home the maztah six pack. But gluten-free matzah, that's a different story.

You can certainly mail order gluten free matzah--if you plan two months ahead of time and don't mind spending thirty dollars. I never got my act that much together. Instead, my fabulous, non-Jewish partner, has been making the gluten free maztah every year. (He also makes the gluten free carrot soufflé, gluten free maztah balls, and chicken for 23, so he didn't mind have something taken off his plate.) The first few years it looked so/so and was pretty much inedible. Definitely ritual purposes only. The last few years he found a better recipe, and it was pretty good. It looked pretty good too, but, of course, it didn't look exactly like regular matzah.

Being able to provide my children with gluten free food that makes them feel just like everyone else at this holiday that is central to their identity and mine, a miracle.

David's parsley is still alive

You have to understand just how non-green my thumb is to understand what a miracle this is. David planted his parsley seeds at Sunday School. I managed to put the pot in just the wrong place in the car, so by the time we arrived home half the dirt had spilled over the trunk. As I shoved the dirt back in, I didn't even know if there were any seeds left to try to sprout.

But, I put the little pot over the sink, and that reminded me to water occasionally. We only have two other plants in the whole house, and they are only alive because Rose is in charge of watering them. Really, no green thumb.

David's parsley not only sprouted, but it has grown to a respectable size. Tonight, I'll have him cut it and wash it and put it on the seder plate.

room at the table

I love the fact that our seder is a collective family affair. My sister, mom, and I put it on together at my mom's house. We have certain guests that always come. Great continuity, but it means I haven't been able to invite many of my friends. I've been hoping to invite Deirdre and family for ten years now, and there seriously has been no room. This year one guest went to her synagogue's seder, another was out-of-town, and Deirdre gets to come. It's going to be fun!


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