For Passover this year, L’CHAIM is proud to introduce several interesting and creative people making a difference in the Jewish community and how they celebrate Passover. Although the focus is on diversity, we also explore and discover new and different ways to celebrate Passover.
Jana Mazurkiewicz is the founder and CEO of YAAANA, the Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America (www.yaaana.org). She is a theater director, playwright, and a Yiddish educator and activist. She is working on her PhD in Yiddish theater at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Originally from Poland, Mazurkiewicz provides a connection for Polish Jews in San Diego. She also creates theatrical opportunities in Yiddish theater within the Jewish Queer community, providing a safe place for them to perform.
For Passover this year, Mazurkiewicz has created a global seder where members of the Queer community can perform virtually and share their experiences. Each location will include an individual Seder, sharing their own traditions and cuisine, magically coming together.
Soon, she will be reaching out for volunteers to perform the seder which can be shared internationally via Zoom.
She shares her creativity, inclusion and joy of Jewish culture and holidays with her husband and young daughter. Ultimately, Mazurkiewicz is creating “Yiddish Land” which is a kind of Disneyland for Jews everywhere interested in Yiddish.
Ann Jaffe is a philanthropist, Registered Dietician, Nutritionist and volunteer within the San Diego Jewish community. Prior to COVID, Ann hosted 40 people for Passover Seder, some of whom had not attended a Seder and occasionally, individuals from our military. Her focus is to connect people of all backgrounds, through the holidays and Judaism.
This year, her family, including her husband and 3 adult children will celebrate differently, in a hybrid fashion – using Facetime and Zoom to connect with people – and with limited family members in her home.
Jaffe plans on providing “Passover in a box” as a food service to others in addition to finding new and creative ways to honor and support Jewish women.
“This year due to COVID restrictions, we need to be more creative in our use of our rituals and symbols for our Seder. Most importantly is to treat everyone well and to repair the world through Tikkun Olam,” Jaffe said.
She also wrote a cookbook for family and friends and has found ways to incorporate healthy habits into the seder (see below for one of her recipes). She uses lots of vegetables, including sweet potatoes and her husband’s favorite, “Passover Pizza.” This includes matza with tomato sauce and cheese. Another creative way to use matza!
Supporting women has always been important to Jaffe, as she shared each year she includes an orange on the Seder plate. Why an Orange? Because years ago, a Rabbi said a woman belongs on the bimah like an orange belongs on a Seder plate.”
Naomi Gabai-Fisher is Director of Education and has been with B’nai Tikvah since 2006. She works with students from the ages of 7 to 13 and with teens in middle and high school.
Gabai-Fisher shared that she finds it very rewarding to pass on our traditions as it is written in the Haggadah as well as in the Ve-ahavta: “You should teach them to your children.”
She enjoys the children asking questions, and celebrating with their family and friends as they become part of our community, developing an important connection to our people.
Regarding Passover, Gabai-Fisher facilitates learning about all aspects of the holiday, including a variety of our religious and family traditions. They focus on the 4 Questions in Hebrew and English.
“We will have a ‘Taste of the Exodus’ experiential activity a few days before the B’nai Tikvah first Seder,” she said.
Due to the COVID situation, the Religious School has been on Zoom this year.
Older and younger children interact during class time with an emphasis on exploring the use of Break-out Rooms during the congregational Seder. This feature on Zoom offers an opportunity for families to be together as well as a separate children’s activity.
The congregation has secured Worship Service Permits for monthly outdoor services and holiday events in a local park with social distancing and people wearing masks. The religious school is no longer a neighborhood school with families located in the San Diego County area, out of town and out of state.
Kids are allowed to be kids as group classes and smaller Hebrew Pods are interactive with social time for the children built in. Partnering with ShalomLearning, an online Hebrew and values curriculum, the structure is flexible to the needs of the children and everyone has a place in the virtual classroom.
There are many ways to learn in addition to the traditional classroom setting. In some ways the experiential approach can be more exciting, drawing the children in, learning about Judaism, values, and holidays such as Passover so that we may truly discover learning through the eyes of a child.
Here’s to a meaningful Passover Seder – no matter how you celebrate this year!
Ann Jaffe’s Mock Chop Chicken Liver
2 onions, chopped
3 tablespoons your favorite cooking oil
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
5 hard boiled eggs
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Sherry
salt and pepper to taste.
- Sauté onions with the oil and sugar until golden brown, Remove onions and put in bowl.
- Sauté the walnuts in the same skillet as used for the onions.
- Put all ingredients in a food processor and mix together. Do not over blend, should have some texture and completely smooth. Refrigerate and enjoy!