I learned how to make matzah brei from Papa z"l. This is a very fond childhood memory of mine and remains one of my favorite Pesach foods even today.

Hold the vegetables, or: Salted with my tears

A poem in blank verse

They met and married in the seventies,
several years after their Aliyah
from the Soviet Union, a regime
which had stripped their families of Jewish
knowledge and traditions. Very few Jews
were granted visas for emigration
in those years, as leaving the Mother Land
was considered betrayal. Israel
transformed them; they were reborn as free Jews.

Identifying as non-religious,
they nonetheless adopted a Jewish
way of life. They gave up consuming meat
with dairy, as well as pork; my Mama
learned how to prepare some traditional
Jewish dishes, which she then introduced
him to. One Passover, she made matzah
brie, which he loved, although he could have
done without the added vegetables.

That is the backstory to Passovers
as I experienced them every year
of my childhood. My Papa was two things:
an early riser; a man of simple
taste. Vegetables had no place in his
matzah brie - only matzah, eggs, water,
oil, a touch of salt. Oh, and mayonnaise -
always mayonnaise. Mama never rose
early enough to add vegetables.

I dare say that matzah brie matters more
to me than observing the Passover
seder (heretic that I am). Every
single morning of Passover, except
Shabbat (religulous Jew that I am),
I cook matzah brie for myself. My wife
doesn't eat it, sadly, nor does our young
daughter, although I hold out hope that she
will prepare it for her children someday. 

d’Verse poetics prompt – food!

At d’Verse, poets were encourage to write poems about food.


Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

99 thoughts on “Hold the vegetables, or: Salted with my tears”

    1. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, Kunjal – I know that the references are not universal – this is a very culturally-specific poem.

  1. Beautifully penned David! An emotional tribute to your parents, the story of their and your life, the taste of culture and traditions… you’ve done it all! Your poem says so much in a very special way. I love it! โค Please, share some more like this one! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป I really enjoy listening to people’s life stories. Everyone is unique and has something beautiful to tell. Memories keep us alive. Thank you David! ๐Ÿ€

  2. I’ve mentioned this before, but one thing I really love about your poetry is the culture and history about which you write. I learn new things each time you post pieces like this one, and it’s enlightening and very much welcomed. There’s nary a shred of Jewish culture in my area, so I find your family history fascinating, and marvel at the journey your parents had and which you now continue with your own family. This is such a wonderful way to connect with people. Thanks for sharing your life with us, good sir! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I love this story you shared with us, David, and the way food affects you from your father’s tradition. Some traditions are ours and ours alone and must be enjoyed for that alone. Well done.

  4. Added veggies might make a dish of matzah brie better,mightn’t they? I always love veggies in my food,they do add a variety of flavors to the dish to tickle my palate ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. For many Russian Jews, holidays associated with specific foods, and Matzoh Brie, or Gefrishte Matzoh, as we called it, was definitely high on the list of holiday specials. Your mother learned Jewish foods in Israel, while I had learned to cook from my grandmother in Odessa, but the sentiments attached to them are still the same.

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