JOLIET – Passover in the Matzah Aisle.
The name alone implies the event is for people of Jewish faith. But that’s not completely true.
Almost every year for seven years, Joliet Jewish Congregation has offered the event for two weekends at local grocery stores, usually a Jewel Osco.
“Jewel has been very welcoming to us,” Rabbi Charles Rubovits said.
The purpose is to provide information and resources to anyone wishing to host a Seder and celebrate the feast of Passover.
A Seder, according to one of the congregation’s pamphlets, is a ritual meal where participants retell the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Passover is the actual holiday celebrating the exodus.
But it’s not just people of the Jewish faith that celebrate both.
In fact, most of the people stopping by the congregation’s table March 26 at the Jewel Osco on Caton Farm Road were Christians, Rubovits said. People of the Jewish faith often prefer to shop for Seder ingredients at large stores in Chicago, where there’s more variety, he added.
But why would Christians want to host a Seder? Because they’re interested in their Old Testament roots, Rubovits said. Celebrating Passover with a Seder meal is one way to connect with those roots.
“Jesus’ last supper was a Seder Passover,” Rubovits said.
Central to the Seder is matzo, an unleavened flat bread. The Israelites left Egypt in a hurry, so they couldn’t wait for bread to rise. Therefore, yeast and foods prepared with yeast are prohibited during a Seder, Rubovits said.
However, the length of a Seder varies. It all depends how long it takes to retell the exodus story, since the prescribed questions are intended to elicit conversation.
“If you come to my house, it’s two hours before dinner and 45 minutes after dinner,” Rubovits said. “For others, it’s four hours before dinner and then on and on until everyone either falls over or goes to bed.”
Matzo meal pancakes
Servings: 6 pancakes
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups matzo meal
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
Beat the eggs well in a mixing bowl. Then add the water and beat again. Add the matzo meal and salt and beat once more.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in an 8-inch fry pan over low heat. Add 1 cup matzo batter to the pan, spreading it in a thin layer.
As the top solidifies – after 1 to 2 minutes – flip the pancake with a spatula, and turn off the heat.
Serve after 1 minute with maple syrup or butter. Repeat with remaining batter and butter or margarine.
Note: This recipe represents the mortar Israelites used when they were slaves in Egypt.
6 large Delicious apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (one may use a food processor)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup Caramel or Mogen David concord grape wine
Mix apples and pecans. Add cinnamon and mix again.
Pour wine into apple mixture and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight.
Chocolate-covered matzo caramel squares
Yield: 26 pieces
3 cups crushed matzo
2 cups non-dairy whipped topping
1 cup each: light brown sugar, granulated sugar, honey
1 stick (1/2 cup) parve margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 bags (12 ounces each) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, grated coconut, frosting (optional)
Sprinkle matzo on the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan lined with greased wax paper; set aside.
Combine 1 cup of the whipped topping, sugars, honey, margarine and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Heat to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low.
Slowly pour remaining cup of the whipped topping into the sugar mixture, stirring constantly.
Cook, without stirring, until mixture is medium brown and reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 13 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Carefully pour caramel sauce over matzo, refrigerate until caramel holds its shape, about 12 hours. Cut into squares.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Dip matzo squares with tongs into chocolate.
Transfer to a baking pan covered with wax paper.
Sprinkle tops with nuts, chocolate chips or coconut, or frost, if desired. Transfer to parchment or wax paper to cool, about 20 minutes. Chill 12 hours or overnight. Cut into squares.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Passover in the Matzah Aisle
WHEN: 1 to 4 p.m. March 2
WHERE: Jewel Osco, Route 59 and Caton Farm Road, Joliet
INFORMATION: Call Joliet Jewish Congregation at 815-741-4600.