Feature Stories Jewish Holidays


Chef Paula Shoyer’s Passover menu enlivens your seder, maintains tradition

By JNS.org

Chef and best-selling author Paula Shoyer with dishes that will enliven your seder. All of the recipes are from Shoyer’s book, “The New Passover Menu” (Sterling Epicure, February 2015).

Seder plate salad

Servings: 6

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Advance prep: dressing and lamb may be made 2 days in advance

Equipment: cutting board, knives, measuring cups and spoons, small saucepan, tongs, small bowl, whisk, large serving bowl

seder saladThis is Paula Shoyer’s version of a French niçoise salad with lamb instead of tuna. It contains the ritual components of the seder plate and table. The dressing is made from kosher sweet wine and maror (the bitter herb, in this case, white horseradish), creating a creamy pink dressing. This salad also makes a nice lunch or light dinner during chol hamoed, the non-Yom Tov intermediate days of Passover.

Ingredients for the salad:

2 pieces of lamb shoulder (about 20 ounces/600g total)

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper

1 large head romaine lettuce, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1/3 cup walnut halves, roughly chopped into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces

2 apples (Red Delicious, Fuji, or Gala), cored and cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm) cubes

3 large eggs, hard-boiled and quartered


Ingredients for the dressing:

1/2 cup (120ml) mayonnaise

4 teaspoons jarred white horseradish

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons sweet kosher wine

Salt and black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to broil or an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.
  2. To make the lamb: Rub the lamb shoulder pieces with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Broil or grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare, or until desired doneness. Let cool for 5 minutes and, if serving immediately, slice into thin, 2-inch-long (5-cm) pieces. If making in advance, wait to slice the lamb until after reheating. The lamb may be roasted 2 days in advance; cover and store in the fridge.
  3. To make the salad dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, white horseradish, sugar, and wine until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. The dressing may be made 2 days in advance; cover and store in the fridge.
  4. To assemble the salad: Place the romaine pieces in a large bowl. Add the celery and parsley and toss to combine. Sprinkle the walnuts and apples on top and arrange the egg quarters around the perimeter of the bowl. Scatter the lamb pieces on top. To serve, scoop some of everything onto each plate and drizzle with the dressing.


tunaSeared tuna with olives and capers

Servings: 4–6

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 6–8 minutes

Advance prep: may be made 1 day in advance

Equipment: measuring cups and spoons, cutting board, knives, large frying pan, silicone spatula


4 tuna steaks (6 ounces/170g each)

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Black pepper

3 tablespoons (45ml) extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped red onion, cut into

1/4-inch (6-mm) pieces

4 cloves garlic, chopped into 1/4-inch (6-mm) pieces

3 tablespoons capers, drained, or green olives, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) pieces

1/3 cup (45g) green or black olives (or a combination), cut into long slivers

1/2 teaspoon sugar



  1. Sprinkle both sides of the tuna steaks with the basil, thyme, and pepper to taste. Heat a large frying pan over high heat (do not add any oil). When the pan is hot, add the tuna steaks and cook for 1 to 1.5 minutes on each side, just long enough to sear the outside. Leave the center raw, unless you prefer tuna cooked all the way through.
  2. Remove the tuna steaks to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium and add the oil. Add the red onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the capers, olives, sugar, and pepper to taste, and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Place the tuna steaks on a cutting board and slice into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick (8- to 12-mm) slices.Place the slices on a platter and sprinkle the caper and olive mixture on top, or serve it alongside in a small bowl.



PJ Library & Yehuda Matzos Partner for Passover

AGAWAM — This Passover, PJ Library® will engage families in a new way as they come together for Passover. From now through April 30, PJ Library will appear on boxes of Yehuda Matzos, sold in top supermarkets across the country, to entice enrollment in the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF)’s flagship program.

HGF yehuda

HGF Yehuda: Harold Grinspoon holding Yehuda Matzo boxes carrying the PJ Library logo. Photo by Jillian Farrell

Photo by Jillian Farrell

This is the first partnership of its kind in which Yehuda Matzo, a company in Israel, with their US distributor, Kayco/Kedem Food Products, is providing in-kind advertising to create awareness and further Jewish identity. In addition, this is the first time PJ Library is partnering with a company to co-brand a product on a national level.

Similar to the famous cereal box campaigns of years past, the Yehuda Matzo box will undergo a transformation of its own.

The traditional orange and white one-pound Yehuda Matzos boxes as well as the shrink wrap and inside boxes of the five-pound matzo bundle dons the PJ Library logo with a cartoon illustration by popular children’s book author and illustrator Todd Parr. The box will have a URL that directs families to the PJ Library enrollment/sign-up form and a toll-free number for people to call with questions.

To find a store near you that carries the PJ Library-branded Yehuda Matzos boxes and to participate in Facebook contest giveaways, visit: https://www.facebook.com/PJLibrary.



When family mishegas or tzorres threaten Pesach

By Allison B. Spitzer, M.A.

When your teen has tzorres, your machatanim drive you mad, the cost of holiday food has you faklempt, and your adult children give you anxiety (angina), is a “zissen Pesach” just a joke? You are not alone. Every family has issues—financial problems, health challenges, someone with anxiety, depression, addiction. The family today that doesn’t is rare. Here are some strategies to make the inevitable holiday stresses more relaxed, and the moments together more meaningful.

First, there are NO rules. The host decides the game plan. If that’s you, be inventive. Use place cards to keep warring family members at opposite ends of the table. If you’re not the host, call and discuss.

– Haggadah? Tell the story. Once we were slaves. Now we are free. This is a story of hope. There IS hope today to feel better, be better, do better. Go around the table and ask each person to say what their struggle is — and ask others to comment on how THEY might help “set them free.”

It’s not about just changing the dishes: change your mindset. Contact your guests and mishpochah with issues that trouble you in advance of the seder. Let them know your bottom line for the event, and your hopes (that is, a best case scenario) for the evening. Ask if they can be on board with it. If you can’t make the call, talk with someone who can. Focus on what is doable for the evening. For example, “I want to make sure that everyone feels valued. So, no picking on Cousin Emma, no teasing Billy, no arguments about politics with Henry.”

Distract. Families are living organisms.Relationships are never truly static. If you are stuck in a negative rut of troublesome interactions, consider in advance what topic, question or activity you might add to the evening to dodge traditional roadblocks. Bring pictures to share of something you’ve done recently. Buy everyone a 50-cent Wooly Willy game and run a contest for the best “Pharaoh.”

– Ask for help. If your heart is heavy, or your bank account busted, or your Bubbe not doing well, it’s time to make life simpler. We’reJewish, this is not so easy, eh? People feel valued and respected when we reach out to them and ask for their help. Ask Cousin Minnie to help keep your niece with ADHD occupied during the seder. Ask Aunt Selma to bring a kugel and a vegetable instead of a box of Barton’s. Skip the fish. Be silly with the plagues (mini marshmallows thrown up in the air make great hail!) Pay a high school kid to wash dishes and help during the meal. Say a mi sheberach right at the start for Bubbe. Ask your ditsy daughter to ratchet things down, just for a night. Thank everyone for their extra effort this year as they walk through the door.

If you are a guest who dreads the event, don’t go. Or, ask whoever is hosting if you can give some input to make things more palatable for you (and probably everyone else!) Or, explain that you can only stop by for “dessert and coffee” because, well…use whatever excuse you’d like (you have to work, you have a cold, the dog is alone).

No, you’re not Woody Allen, and it’s likely that your family doesn’t need therapy. However, using a few little therapeutic strategies might make family peace and – who knows? – even fun attainable! This year, not in Jerusalem, but around your table.

Allison B. Spitzer, M.A., of Trumbull is a life skills coach and interpersonal communications expert practicing in Fairfield, Conn. and beyond. Her clients’ issues include anxiety, depression, ADHD, stress, grief, relationships, parenting, and more. She can be reached through www.periwinklehealth.com.




Amherst – Passover Celebration at the Yiddish Book Center, 11 a.m.: Holiday Song Workshop, learn Yiddish with Asya Vaisman Schulman; 2 p.m.: Craft Workshop, make seder plate with Debbie Way; all day scavenger hunts, 1021 West St., (413) 256-4900.


Pittsfield – Jewish Federation of Berkshires Connecting with Community, “In Every Generation: Seeing Ourselves in the Haggadah,” with Rabbi Neil Hirsch of Hevreh of Southern Berkshire; with hot kosher lunch, 10:45 a.m.-noon, Congregation Knesset Israel, 16 Colt Road, RSVP for lunch by 9 a.m. morning of program, (413) 442-4360, ext. 15. $2/suggested lunch.


Holyoke – First Night Passover Seder in homes of Sons of Zion members, contact SOZ office by April 17: (413) 534-3369.

Longmeadow – First Night Seder at LYA, pre-seder buffet at 6:45 p.m. and interactive Passover activities, stories and songs, led by Rabbi Noach and Esther Kosofsky; followed by faster-paced seder and dinner (participants are welcome to attend for as long as they wish), 1148 Converse St., Reservations by April 18: (413) 567-8665 or info@LYA.org  $15/adults; $7.50/a child; $45/families

Pittsfield – Jewish Federation of Berkshires First Night Community Kosher Passover Seder, led by Rabbi David Weiner, Congregation Knesset Israel, 16 Colt Road, (413) 442-4360, ext. 10.

Worcester – Passover Seder with Central Mass. Chabad, interactive community seder and 4-course dinner, 8:15 p.m., 22 Newton Ave., RSVP: (508) 579-1852, (508) 752-0904 or CentralMassChabad.com $50/adults; $25/children; $3/college students


Holyoke – Second Night Passover Seder in homes of Sons of Zion members, contact SOZ office by April 17: (413) 534-3369.

Longmeadow – Second Night Seder at LYA, following a more traditional format;

8-11 p.m., led by Rabbi Chaim and Rochel Leah Kosofsky; Reservations by April 18: (413) 567-8665 or info@LYA.org $15/adults; $7.50/a child; $45/families

Pittsfield – Second Night Passover Seder, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Temple Anshe Amunim, 26 Broad St., Reservations: (413) 499-9980. $36/adults; $42/non-members; $10/ages 10-18; under 10/FREE

Worcester – Second Night Passover Seder with Central Mass. Chabad, interactive community seder and 4-course dinner 8:30 p.m., 22 Newton Ave., RSVP: (508) 579-1852, (508) 752-0904 or CentralMassChabad.com $50/adults; $25/children; $3/college students

Worcester – Temple Emanuel Sinai Second Night Seder; family-friendly seder with kosher-style traditional Passover meal with vegetarian/gluten-free options, 6 p.m., 661 Salisbury St., RSVP by April 18: send check/credit card payment to TES, for more info: (508) 755-1257. $25/adults; $15/children


Westfield – Passover Seder, 5-7:30 p.m., Congregation Ahavas Achim and Westfield State’s Jewish Student Organization, at “Owl’s Nest” Ely Campus Center, 577 Western Ave., RSVP before April 21: check to Cong. Ahavas Achim, c/o Fran Eisenberg, 110 Big Wood Drive, Westfield MA 01085 $21.50


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