beet maror

Our Passover Seder

With the release date for my new book Gluten-Free Cupcakes, bearing down on me less than one week from today, I feel as though Passover really snuck up on me this year.  I did not post any Passover Menus, though do have ones from years past for those that might be looking for a good kugel recipe or some gluten free Gefilte Fish.

Our Seder was small and beautiful, just the 4 of us –myself, my hubby and the two boys.  They are now 11 and 12 and it was beautiful to watch them participate in the Seder so enthusiastically.  The highlights for me were talking about our gratefulness for the liberation of the Jews from Pharaoh in Egypt and then bringing that discussion into our present day lives, discussing the types of slavery that currently exist and what our hopes are for the liberation of other peoples.

My husband went first.  His wish is for freedom of speech for people in China.  He travels to China quite a bit and has grown fond of the country (though not so much the food). The boys did not have many questions about oppression in China, though I had a couple and we had a brief and lively discussion on this subject.

I was next. Last November I read Nicholas Kristoff’s moving book Half the Sky.  He discusses the subjugation of women around the globe and I was particularly moved by his discussion of female enslavement.  We all talked about what this means for women and often their families.  I then made a commitment to donate to an organization that helps free women from the sex trade.

My older son then talked about the oppression and maltreatment of the people who grow our food in the agricultural system in this country –people who are underpaid and exposed to pesticides.  I was moved by his wish for the health and freedom of such people.

My younger son was very concerned about the people in Ivory Coast who grow cacao for chocolate and are abused and underpaid.  He was especially sensitive to the plight of children exploited in the chocolate industry.  I liked his topic of discussion as he is a big fan of milk chocolate, and I enjoyed hearing about his continued commitment to only eating fair trade chocolate.

The discussion we had above, and our reflections on the enslavement and freedom of peoples other than the Jews, is an old tradition that stems from my family of origin, and one I am so grateful to have inherited.  This is a very political holiday for my family.

We have so much to be thankful for here in our country, in Colorado and especially in Boulder.  Spring and Passover are the perfect time for me to count my blessings and the many gifts of freedom in my life and to be grateful for the courage of my parents and ancestors and appreciative of all that they have gifted to me.

I hope you all had a wonderful Seder.  What freedoms are you thankful for?  What freedoms do you hope others will have in the coming years?  Leave a comment and let us all hear!


  1. Calla says

    Made this for Easter lunch as a dessert and it was eaten in about 5 minutes, thank you for the wonder recipe.

  2. jo says

    We celebrated Passover with a small but tasty meal. If we were in the eastern US where my hubby’s family lives we would have all been together for a much more elaborate celebration. The last one we attended with my husband’s parents was several years ago at their home on Long Is. NY. Hubby’s father would start the prayers and we would join in. But alas, father in law is getting on and he turned the prayer’s over to my hubby and his brother. They would start off saying the prayers in the usual way, then start to pick up the pace and end up singing the prayers to a bee bop beat. My mother in law would be giggling away and it would get us all laughing. My hubby’s grandfather used to say the prayers and somehow end up in a bee bop beat so both my husband and his brother would mimic him. It was all quit funny and made a very long prayer go by much faster. That is my fondest memory of Passover with my in-laws.

  3. Jen B says

    Oh my, now I am even happier I found your website, and especially this thread. Both our seders were small and low-key this year, both sides of the family had illnesses. Our kids are 5, 5, and 3, old enough now to understand a lot of what is read from the Hagaddah. We talked a lot today about being free to go where we want, see who we want, celebrate our holidays…all the things that most people past and present have not had the freedom to do. I want them to start with gratitude for how wonderfully blessed their lives are, and grow from there. Blessings to all, here and around the world, during this powerful week…

  4. zingara says

    thank you, elena, for the inspiring post. the children whom we teach & nurture will be the leaders of our world of tomorrow. christian or jew, it makes little difference b/c we are all brothers & sisters in the lord. happy & joyful pesach & easter to all. blessings.

  5. Della says

    Beautiful post! I too wish for freedom for anyone sold into slavery! The Demi and Ashton Foundation is dedicated to eliminating child sex slavery and human trafficking. maybe you could make your donation there? Thank you for all your hard work and wonderful recipes and books, I enjoy all of it. It has enabled me enjoy sweet treats again after finding out I had diabetes.

  6. Amanda says

    I pray that Israel remains free. Unfortunately, if we lose our regional allies in the Middle east…(due to our current administration) there will be no next year in Jerusalem for the Jews. Israel is being set up, it’s very disturbing. All politics aside, I absolutely LOVE ALL of your recipes! Amazing :)

  7. Joan Seliger Sidney says

    What a wonderful sharing, everyone! We are so lucky for our many freedoms of choice, despite the efforts of those in our own country who are working to take them away. One of my prayers is that no one go hungry anywhere.

  8. Michele says

    We’ve been observing Passover for the past four years, as we’ve been exploring the Hebraic roots of Christianity. We listed our house on the market Monday so we had our favorite Indian restaurant prepare a special take-home feast. Lamb, saag (spinach), veggie korma and poppadum (thin crackers from garbanzo and lentil flour) were on the menu. I’d wanted to try making your maztoh (if I recall you have one) but this year wasn’t the time! The poppadum were a nice sub.

    Our son is 4 1/2 and he’s been very into the traditions of the Seder, remembering from last year about finding the matzoh! I love your bringing the discussion to the present day and I am looking forward to the upcoming celebrations. Maybe next year in Jerusalem!

  9. Tracy says

    What a beautiful story of your family life. Brings tears to my eyes. Though I’m not Jewish, I am inspired to create a Seder for my family to focus on the idea of enslavement. I would pray for the liberation of people enslaved by mental illness, for liberation from their internal enslavement and for liberation from stigma and our crippled mental health treatment system which increasingly sends them to jail or to the streets.

    • Melissa says

      Thank you Traci for mentioning that about people suffering from mental illness, one of my closest friends suffers from mental illness and the stigma is awful.

  10. says

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder to count our blessings and remain thankful for the abundance in our lives and for those whose hard work allows us to live the way we live.

  11. says

    We hosted our first seder at home on the first night. We had one guest. There were 4 of us all together. Since we have no dining table, we ate with big cushions on the floor at our living room table. (just finished a kitchen remodel 3 months ago)
    I prepared once again your carrot kugel recipe which I changed by using 1/2 molasses 1/2 agave. Our desert was a gluten free double nut chocolate torte. Dinner was cornish hens and we made broccoli farfal and chicken soup (not matzo balls).
    Dinner was delicious and our service was short and sweet. Our topics ranged from local people to astrology and we had tons of leftovers. Our guest was not jewish and wanted to learn more. It was fun to explain all of the ritual/food/wine/history. It was a treat to host for the very first time in my entire life. We’ve always gone to family or friends.
    Makes me realize how important raising Sam in a Jewish home is to me. I’m so grateful for your site and continue to tell many.

  12. says

    How sweet! I love that tradition. We had a large seder with a group of non-Jewish friends, as we usually do for most of the holidays. I’m always excited to introduce people to this holiday–and my friends so enjoyed it, especially the food! Happy Passover!

  13. says

    It’s nice to hear about your older boys and their interaction with the Seder. We have been telling my 10 months old the stories during bedtime but are trying to find the right balance of age-appropriate stories as he grows. Fun to look forward to sharing with him as he gets older & more engaged. Thanks for sharing!

  14. says

    What a beautiful post, I love the topics of discussion you had. What beautiful children you have to be concerned with others at such a young age. I am a Christian and I love hearing how God delivered his people from Egypt. Thank you for sharing all of this.

  15. Nancy says

    I love how you did your Sedar — this year we were only 5 (both myself, my husband, both daughters and my 8 year old grandson) and this year he was really into it -asking questions and reading – with lots of laughter – despite all the work it is one of my favorite holidays

  16. Michele Ritan says

    Thank you for this inspiring post–it reveals the wonderful truth of Passover that has endured through the centuries. How proud of your boys you must be!

    Is that gluten free matzo in the photo? If so, I’d love to know how to make it!

  17. Lori says

    In such a small Jewish community in Boulder, it’s nice to read about other people’s Seder stories. We spent first night at Temple in Denver and then 2nd night spent here with Mom’s brisket, charoset, gluten free rice, and gluten free matzos courtesy of King Soopers on Arapahoe & 30th! Taste just like potato chips!! Thanks for sharing your story Elana.

  18. says

    Thank you for sharing your Passover tradition! My family had a very small and quick Seder last night due to 2 babies and 1 small child at the table. While we hit the “highlights” I definitely miss the old-school Seder my grandfather used to lead with the entire family around several tables.

    At the end of the Seder, our hagaddahs say “Next year in Jerusalem!” I love knowing that we really COULD spend next year’s Passover in Jerusalem. So, I’m thankful for the freedom to travel and would definitely like to do more of it in the coming years.

    Happy Pesach!

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