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 cried reading this, David. Such pure love flows in you. May your wife and daughter’s hearts open to celebrate with you – to one day taste the gift of family in the matzah brie. So much heartache, so much pain your people have known. But praise God for sweet redemption ever flowing. How amazing it must have been for your parents to make their home in Israel after all those years of persecution and pain.

  2. I have fond memories of sleeping over at my grandparents home when I was small. For breakfast, my grandma would make matzah brie, fried in a pan. I think there was egg in it. Had it with maple syrup on top. Memories…Yum…

    1. ❤ Janis ❤ – it's truly my pleasure. d'Verse is a very supportive community – lots of wonderful people writing poetry there 🙂

      Sincerely,
      David

  3. It is always fascinating to read the background to traditions – I looked up Matzah Brie and fell down a rabbit hole reading about all the different things one can do with Matzah! Thank you for another peek into your family’s life David.♥

  4. I read your links with interest. There’s so much history attached to food customs, and when religion has its own culinary rules, you get something elaborate. I must say that I can’t manage anything more than a cup of coffee in the morning so I’d have to pass on your matzah brie, which I’d assumed in my ignorance was a type of cheese…

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