What’s for supper? Vol. 372: MEATSTER

Happy Friday! Happy Friday that is within the octave of Easter, and you know what that means: Every Good Boy Deserves Flesh. And that’s why, right now, there are two giant racks of pork ribs rubbed all over with sugar and spice, waiting for the heat. Resurrexit!


Actual Passover is not for several weeks, but because our family celebrates it both to mark the liberation of our people from slavery, and as a precursor to Easter, so we have it on Holy Saturday; and we don’t have it on Holy Thursday, because there’s so much food. It also marked the liberation of the freezer from an enormous stock pot and a growing number of foil-wrapped bundles. 

First we do the ceremonious part of the seder, and then we eat. All my Passover recipes except for the sponge cake are here!

The menu:
Chicken soup with matzoh balls

Gefilte fish, because it’s spectacularly unphotogenic;

Chopped liver

Cinnamon garlic chicken

Roast lamb

and Charoset, which I also didn’t take a picture of, even though it’s quite beautiful (actually it doesn’t look like anything much). 

I did make spinach pie, but while making it suffered several of what my friend Francesca calls a “menty b,” and it was so bad. Just tasted truly bad. So I threw it out! For the vegetable, we had giant pickles, instead. 

Then for dessert:

Citrus sponge cake

This is a new-to-me recipe, and it turned out excellent. Passover baking is tricky because you can’t use leavening agents, so all the airiness comes from egg whites. It is pretty fussy, but the results were worth it. I made it on Thursday and it was still soft, fluffy, and tender on Saturday. I had one angel food cake pan, and one springform pan which I lined with parchment paper, and then I put a can full of rocks in the middle. Both worked great. Definitely using this recipe in the future. 

For dessert we also had chocolate caramel matzoh, with and without almonds, and various store-bought macaroons, halvah, jelly rings, and fruit slices.

Then we went to the Easter Vigil! It was three hours long! Five baptisms and confirmations, and two confirmations, and it was great. Nothing like the Easter Vigil, man. 

Feast of leftovers!

Everyone got up at a leisurely pace and got to work on their Easter baskets. The little basket gifty this year was a Lady of Guadalupe mirror key chain, very classy. 

For supper, there was enough soup and matzoh balls for everyone to have one bowl, and there were plenty of leftovers of everything else, phew. We made SO much charoset this year, to everyone’s delight. I think we went through 15 pounds of apples. 

The rest of the day was just for eating candy and making eggs. This year I got one of those EggMazing egg spinner things, which the younger kids really enjoyed. 

I got it into my head to try embroidered eggs, which unsurprisingly turned out to be extremely fiddly and time-consuming, so I only made one. I cut an access hole in the back of a raw duck egg with little curved nail scissors, emptied it and washed it out, dried it, and coated the outside with Mod Podge. Then I used the nail scissors to make holes, and then embroidered it, getting a little confused about the design as I went.

With egg embroidery, you can only do stitches where the holes have space in between, obviously, or else you’ll wreck the shell. You could do cross stitch, but I really hate the look of cross stitch for some reason. It just pisses me off. So instead I made this thing, and now I can stop thinking about it, which is the main reason I do crafts. 

I also made an eclipse egg and a sort of Medieval astronomy egg,

which I wish I had planned out better and added some red, but, again, now it’s out of my head. I made the designs with clear nail polish. 

The reason I’m mainly showing my eggs and not the kids’ is because they did eggs that were like “Frasier’s Red Scare Egg” and it’s bad enough I have to know about it. They are just so weird. 


Not pictured: The other kitchen counter, which also looked like this. But I was fueled with jelly beans, so I powered right through the first layer and then left the rest for the kids. 

Shepherd’s pie

We had quite a bit of leftover lamb, so I diced it finely and made shepherd’s pie. I checked out a bunch of recipes and decided this is something I can definitely wing. And, for the first time in my life, I used instant potatoes. 

Guys. Guys. I may never mash another potato. At very least, I’m definitely using instant for shepherd’s pie. Everybody just loved the taste, and it was ten thousand times easier than peeling, boiling, and mashing all those potatoes. I know the rest of you have already long since figured this out, but it’s a revelation to me! 

So I whipped up three packs of potatoes with cheese, heated up some frozen corn, and made a savory sauce for the lamb

threw it all in a greased dish, and baked it until it was bubbly and the top was browned

and it was completely delicious. 

Very glad I wrote down the recipe as I made it,

Jump to Recipe

because I’m going to do it exactly like this next time. 

BLT’s, nacho chips, birthday batcake 

Tuesday was Irene’s birthday, and she requested BLTs. That’s a can do. 

(You can see that, at this point, we had washed the Passover dishes, but not yet put them away. It’s a process!) 

She also asked for Batman-themed cake, leaving the details up to me. So, uh, I immediately thought of this:

and it turned out kinda, well, look. It had homemade cream cheese frosting. Let’s lean on that. 

You can’t really see it, but I molded a little can of shark repellant spray out of gum paste, and tucked that into Batman’s hand. 

The little signs are labels identifying everything on the cake

Did I mention it had homemade cream cheese frosting? I used a sifter and everything!

Areyes with yogurt sauce, Jerusalem salad

Wednesday I tried a new recipe. I think I saw a video on Instagram, alerting me to a food I never knew existed: Areyes, which is Lebanese street food. It’s just seasoned ground meat fried inside pita, and I didn’t see how that could fail to be delicious. And I was right!

I used the recipe from RecipeTinEats, which is almost always good stuff. Pretty basic seasonings, nothing too exotic: onion and garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, allspice, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt. I put the onion through the food processor, since I was making a lot of it, and then you just mix everything all together

and divide it up into about 1/4 cup per sandwich.

Cut the pitas in half and carefully open them, and then press the meat flat and slide it in. 

The recipe called for spraying them with oil spray and then frying them. I did this, but they didn’t come out as crisp as I was hoping. 

Still extremely delicious, though. Just about everybody liked them. I made a Jerusalem salad for a side (cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh lemon juice and parsley, and a little salt) and a big bowl of garlicky yogurt sauce, and it was a lovely meal

Definitely making this again, but I need to figure out something to make them more crisp. Maybe still use the oil spray, but cook them at a lower heat so they spend longer in the pan, or possibly fry them in butter. Anyway, the idea is that you fry them up with the meat still raw, so it kind of melds with the inside of the bread, more like a quesadilla than a hamburger. Brilliant. 

Also on Thursday I managed to pack up all the plates and glasses and whatnot! It’s not really that hard! But I hate it!

Chicken and salad

Thursday I just roasted some chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and served it over salad, and I got some rolls from the store. I hardly ate any because I broke down and completely abandoned myself to gobbling down a childhood snack: Matzoh smeared with butter and sprinkled with salt. The incredible power of food to turn you six years old again. What a thing. 

I also got the kids to haul all the Passover stuff back up into the attic. It has to be a week-long ordeal; it’s a tradition. 

Pork ribs, risotto, asparagus

And today is MEATSTER, as I said, so Damien is making those ribs. I’m gonna make some risotto — not sure if I will go whole-hog and do it on the stovetop

Jump to Recipe

or take a shortcut and make it in the Instant Pot,

Jump to Recipe

which is quite good but not sublime like slow stovetop risotto — and some asparagus, the first of the season (from the store, I mean. My own asparagus bed is under about six inches of snow right now, alas). I will probably just lightly saute it in a pan and serve it with lemon wedges. 

Oh, and last weekend I processed the last of the maple sap. I had about four gallons and made a little batch of maple sugar candy, which is quite simple, as long as you have a candy thermometer: You just boil the sap until it’s syrup at 220 degrees, and then you keep boiling it until it hits 235. (You can start with syrup! No need to start with sap.) 

Then you let it cool to 175, stir it up until it turns light and creamy, and pour it into your molds. I let mine cook a little too long, because I was goofing off, so it dried out a bit and was somewhat crumbly, and I had to smoosh it into the molds, rather than pour it. It was still undeniably candy, though. I stirred in a bunch of finely-chopped walnuts, and I was pleased. It tasted intensely of maple, and it melted in your mouth like it’s supposed to. 

And now that’s something else I can stop thinking about!

Still thinking about those ribs, though. 

All my passover recipes are here, and here are the recipe cards for the week. 

I woke up in a little panic, thinking it was eclipse day and we were missing it. But that’s Monday! Some of the family is going to the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, where they’re supposed to have a good ninety seconds of totality. We are bringing tons of food, extra gas, and possibly one of those portable women’s urinals, because I really don’t know what the traffic will be like, but I’m guessing horrendous. But, AN ECLIPSE. I AM EXCITE. 

Leftover lamb shepherd's pie

This recipe uses lots of shortcuts and it is delicious.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.

  2. Prepare the mashed potatoes and set aside.

  3. Heat and drain the corn. (I heated mine up in beef broth for extra flavor.)

  4. In a saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in pepper.

  5. Add the flour gradually, stirring with a fork, until it becomes a thick paste. Add in the cream and continue stirring until it is blended. Add in the cooked meat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

  6. Add enough broth until the meat mixture is the consistency you want.

  7. Grease a casserole dish and spread the meat mixture on the bottom. Spread the corn over the meat. Top with the mashed potatoes and spread it out to cover the corn. Use a fork to add texture to mashed potatoes, so they brown nicely.

  8. Cook for about forty minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the meat mixture is bubbly. (Finish browning under broiler if necessary.)

Instant Pot Risotto

Almost as good as stovetop risotto, and ten billion times easier. Makes about eight cups. 


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups rice, raw
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • pepper
  • 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese


  1. Turn IP on sautee, add oil, and sautee the onion, garlic, salt, and sage until onions are soft.

  2. Add rice and butter and cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque and butter is melted.

  3. Press "cancel," add the broth and wine, and stir.

  4. Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.

  5. Release the pressure and carefully stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Add salt if necessary. 


Suppli (or Arancini)

Breaded, deep fried balls of risotto with a center of melted mozzarella. 
Make the risotto first and leave time to refrigerate the suppli before deep frying. 


  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 8 + 8 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 cups raw rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make suppli out of the risotto:

  • risotto
  • 1 beaten egg FOR EACH CUP OF RISOTTO
  • bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • plenty of oil for frying
  • mozzarella in one-inch cubes (I use about a pound of cheese per 24 suppli)


  1. Makes enough risotto for 24+ suppli the size of goose eggs.

    Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

    In a large pan, melt 8 Tbs. of the butter, and cook onions slowly until soft but not brown.

    Stir in raw rice and cook 7-8 minutes or more, stirring, until the grains glisten and are opaque.

    Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

    Add 4 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

    Add 4 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

    If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding cups of stock until it is tender. You really want the rice to expand and become creamy.

    When rice is done, gently stir in the other 8 Tbs of butter and the grated cheese with a fork.

  2. This risotto is wonderful to eat on its own, but if you want to make suppli out of it, read on!


    Beat the eggs and gently mix them into the risotto.

    Scoop up about 1/4 cup risotto mixture. Press a cube of mozzarella. Top with another 1/4 cup scoop of risotto. Roll and form an egg shape with your hands.

    Roll and coat each risotto ball in bread crumbs and lay in pan to refrigerate. 

    Chill for at least an hour to make the balls hold together when you fry them.

    Put enough oil in pan to submerge the suppli. Heat slowly until it's bubbling nicely, but not so hot that it's smoking. It's the right temperature when little bubbles form on a wooden spoon submerged in the oil. 

    Preheat the oven if you are making a large batch, and put a paper-lined pan in the oven.

    Carefully lower suppli into the oil. Don't crowd them! Just do a few at a time. Let them fry for a few minutes and gently dislodge them from the bottom. Turn once if necessary. They should be golden brown all over. 

    Carefully remove the suppli from the oil with a slotted spoon and eat immediately, or keep them warm in the oven. 


sugar smoked ribs

the proportions are flexible here. You can adjust the sugar rub to make it more or less spicy or sweet. Just pile tons of everything on and give it puh-lenty of time to smoke.


  • rack pork ribs
  • yellow mustard
  • Coke
  • extra brown sugar

For the sugar rub:

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp white pepper


  1. Coat the ribs in yellow mustard and cover them with sugar rub mixture

  2. Smoke at 225 for 3 hours

  3. Take ribs out, make a sort of envelope of tin foil and pour Coke and brown sugar over them. close up the envelope.

  4. Return ribs to smoker and cook another 2 hours.

  5. Remove tinfoil and smoke another 45-min.

  6. Finish on grill to give it a char.

Liked it? Take a second to support simchajfisher on Patreon!

17 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 372: MEATSTER”

  1. Simcha, I love your meal roundups. But as a practicing Jew myself, I am surprised and dismayed to see that your Catholic family celebrates Passover.

    Passover is a Jewish holiday which celebrates the covenant of G-d and the Jewish people — and it certainly isn’t a “precursor” to Easter, any more than Judaism is a “precursor” to Christianity! These are separate holidays from separate religious traditions.

    Though Christianity has its roots in Judaism, we diverge on one crucial point: the Messiah. Jews do not believe He has arrived yet, but eagerly await him! Christians believe he was Jesus, and Easter celebrates his second coming (as I understand).

    So Passover is about the relationship between Jews and our G-d, and Easter is about Christians and your relationship with your G-d. Neither are secular — that would be an absurd idea! — and neither should be practiced outside of their religious traditions. Passover has nothing to do with Jesus and Jesus has nothing to do with Passover — and to say otherwise does harm to practicing Jews, a religious minority who have historically been violently persecuted by the Catholic Church .

    This article phrases my objections better than I can:


    “3,500 years of persecution, much of it by Christians, is not negated by the relative freedom from discrimination that Jews in America have experienced in recent decades. The horrific fear that so many Jewish people have felt cannot be understated. From Easter traditions that involved hunting down Jews to pogroms to ghettos to the Spanish Inquisition to the Holocaust, history is rife with this violent legacy.

    Christians mounting their own reading of the Haggadah almost always want to discuss how Jesus is like the paschal lamb, using the occasion to show how all the Hebrew scriptures point to Jesus as fulfilling the prophecies. This theological exercise, known as supersessionism, is problematic enough in a purely Christian context, but as part of a Jewish ritual it is deeply out of place.”

    Here is another good article about why Christians celebrating Passover is cultural appropriation:


    This is regardless of whether or not you consider yourself and your children ethnically Jewish. You are not religiously Jewish! It is as inappropriate (and theologically nonsensical!) for practicing Christians to celebrate Passover as it would be for a Catholic-born Jewish convert to take Communion. And to graft the magen david onto an Easter egg…that to me is as offensive as seeing Satanists use a statue of Mary or a crucifix in a black mass would be to you.

    I so enjoy so much of your content. We are both trying to raise faithful children in our religious traditions. But let’s respect the differences between those traditions! Let’s not strip those traditions of their religious meaning! I think we can both agree that tradition matters.

    1. Other than being a fan of Simcha’s, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I read the two links you posted and don’t see how they apply here. This is not a case of Simcha putting on Jewishface and pretending to be Jewish. Born of a Jewish mother, Simcha IS Jewish.

      Serious question: I have many Jewish friends, family, and acquaintances. Lots of them are atheists and agnostics. Should they also exempt themselves from observing Passover if Passover is meant only for religious Jews?

      1. Simcha is a Catholic of Jewish descent, both of whose parents converted to Catholicism. She may be ethnically Jewish, but she was not raised Jewish and has not raised her children Jewish. As far as the Jewish community is concerned, both Simcha and her children are lost to the Jewish people.

        That’s what conversion means! That’s why the Catholic Church has historically made conversion part of its mission of genocide against the Jewish people!

        Well, we don’t even have to talk about history: if a person was raised Catholic and converted to Judaism but decided (for some reason) to have a “secular” Easter holiday which involved burying statues of Saint Joseph in the dirt for children to dig up…devout Catholics would probably find that sacrilegious! They’d say that this person was appropriating sacred elements of their faith and desecrating them…and they’d be right!

        To your question:

        There is a difference to be made here between a Jew *without* a strong religious belief and a person of Jewish descent with a strong belief in the Christian religion! I have hosted Passover seders attended by nonobservant family members and friends who still actively participate in Jewish life. Because of the unique history of Judaism, these religious celebrations are part of what defines us as a community — which is why it is so important they not be taken out of their uniquely Jewish context!

        And given the history I mentioned earlier, it is especially important that these traditions not be taken out of their uniquely Jewish context and transposed into the context of a religion which spent hundreds of years trying to wipe us off the map.

        You might say Catholics like Simcha aren’t trying to wipe anyone off the map. Perhaps that’s true! But “evangelizing” is still part of the Catholic mission, as I understand it. It seems to me that Christians who want people to “accept” this evangelization only consider what they think we poor souls have to gain — “eternal life in heaven!” — rather than all we have to lose. And all we have already lost, and all we might lose in the future.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that conversion is about loss. You gain a new religion, yes, and a new religious community with new traditions and practices, and I’m sure Simcha would say that gaining Jesus has been wonderful! But you also lose your old religion, and your old religious community, and your old traditions and practices. The act of conversion is a tradeoff — and those who make it clearly believe that the gain is worth the loss!

        But my faith is not an a la carte buffet. From what I’ve read of Simcha’s (beautiful!) writing about her faith, I think she’d say the same — which is why this post shocked and dismayed me as much as it did! To continue the food metaphor (a passion I share with Simcha) you can’t have your cake and eat it too…even if it’s unleavened.

        1. Listen, I hear what you are saying. I really do. I remember my grandfather dreaming that my mother took him to a Catholic church and, instead of crosses, there were swastikas. My own family bears the scars of this history and this incongruity. But I would like you to think hard about what you are asking of me. You are saying that I must cut myself off from . . . all of my ancestors. All of my family traditions. My most precious and meaningful childhood memories. And I must still suffer hatred and attacks from people who despise Jews, without the solace of any of the sweetness of the brotherhood of my indisputable heritage.

          You say “this is what it means to convert.” And yes, I would give it all up if that’s what it took to be a Christian. But I am not convinced that this is necessary. I wish I had phrased my explanation of what we do more sensitively, but it sounds like you don’t just want me to stop talking about it in public; you want me to stop thinking of myself as a Jew.

          1. Thank you for your reply, Simcha!

            You are assuming a lot of me here. You say *I* am asking you to cut yourself off from your ancestors and traditions — but I am simply pointing out that this is what conversion means! You leave one religious community and enter another by adopting their beliefs and practices. And yes, it is tragic to be cut off from the community you would otherwise have belonged to! I think of Richard di Niro’s Shylock at the end of “Merchant of Venice,” watching as the gates of the Jewish Quarter are closed to him…this is why so many Jews see conversion as a tragedy! This is the loss I am talking about — the loss that counterbalances the gain.

            And I have to say, Simcha, it seems you are holding my beliefs to a different standard than your own. I very much doubt you would move your celebration of Easter to accommodate Passover — or decorate a crucifix with Wiccan symbols, or let one of your children bring the host home to spread with brie and enjoy as a snack. You have written so movingly about how sacred Catholic symbols and practices are to you — I think about your blog entry “He is not safe with me.” Yet you are willing to take Jewish symbols and practices out of their sacred context — and when I, a Jew, objects, you say I am telling you not to talk about your Jewish heritage or even think of yourself as a Jew! Which doesn’t actually address your actions or the reason I object to them. Why aren’t my faith practices accorded the respect with which you treat (and would want others to treat) your own?

            You’re happy to celebrate Passover totally out of synch with the Jewish calendar, because the Christian calendar takes precedence — and this makes sense, because you are a Christian. But what then does it mean to be a Jew? I remember Tevye: how far can we bend before we break? Your children are baptized, not bat or bar mitzvah’d. A person seeking to understand Jewish life and culture would gain no insight by observing how you live and worship. If your children wanted to rejoin the Jewish people, they would need to undergo conversion — they would not otherwise have sufficient understanding of our beliefs and practices. You and your household are dedicated to the Christian god, the Christian faith, and you are active in your Christian community. You read Christian books and write Christian articles for Christian publications.

            Where is the sweetness of Jewish brotherhood present in your life? Through engaging with practicing Jews and following Jewish law and custom? Or through engaging with your children and family members, all of them Christians of Jewish heritage, and adapting here and there the elements of Jewish practice that fit your Christian lifestyle?

            I believe that you have taught Catholic classes. Say a student came to you and told you that they were born and raised Catholic and still consider themselves such, but have also chosen to observe the rites and practices of, say, Norse Paganism. They pray and make sacrifices to Loki and Thor, and to participate in fertility rituals which involve sex outside of marriage and the use of contraception. You would probably tell them that regardless of whether or not they think of themselves as Catholic, they are not *acting* like a Catholic — that these practices are incompatible with living a Catholic life, being a member of the Catholic community, and being recognized by others as a Catholic. Indeed, if these practices *were* accepted as compatible with Catholicism, the category of “Catholic” would cease to have a coherent meaning; it would become severed from its historic definition.

            As someone who cares so much about the Catholic faith, you would probably see this as a tragedy! You would probably encourage this person to stop engaging in practices which violate the tradition of which they claim to be a part — or, if they really are that committed to Norse Paganism, to at least consider the possibility that this means they are no longer a Catholic, and what life without that identity might mean for them.

            I hope we can both agree that regardless of your heritage, Christianity and Norse Paganism are theologically incompatible — and so too are Christianity and Judaism.

            You say that I want you to stop thinking of yourself as a Jew. Not so. I want you to understand that Jewish traditions and practices are of as much sacred importance to Jews who have not converted as your Catholic traditions and practices are to you. I urge you to reflect on why you feel comfortable treating those traditions and practices with less respect than you would want others to treat those traditions and practices from your own faith — and why a Jew speaking up about their discomfort elicits such a strong response.

            1. Ok. But aren’t atheists converts as well? You’ve basically given Jewish atheists a pass.

              There most certainly is theological overlap between Christianity and Judaism. Both hold the Pentateuch sacred. Furthermore, large swaths of the New Testament are devoted to whether or not non-Jews can even be Christian.

              I think you might be shocked at the spectrum of Catholics. There are many people whose practices and beliefs are abhorrent to those of us who follow the Catechism.

              Another question for you: how do you feel about all the kids in my area making dreidels and singing Chanukah songs in school or at Scouts? There’s a Star (of David? Or is it Bethlehem?) that hangs on our Christmas tree. One of my boys made it in preschool out of yellow popsicle sticks and blue glitter. Honestly it never occurred to me that some might find it offensive. No Jews who’ve seen it have ever remarked negatively to me on it but I sense you wouldn’t like it.

              1. Atheists are not converts for the simple reason that they have not left Judaism for a conflicting belief system. There is room in Judaism for questioning G-d. This is actually a surprisingly good Wikipedia entry on the subject!


                There is certainly theological overlap between Judaism and Christianity — and between Christianity and Judaism and Islam, and indeed between Christianity and Hinduism and Buddhism…I could go on! But no one would argue that Christianity and Islam are functionally the same religion. Overlap is not redundancy. The differences matter!

                And you are right: I find it incredibly offensive that you have a Star of David on your Christmas tree. I had no idea that Catholics felt so entitled to our sacred symbols — symbols they have historically tried to extinguish, along with the Jewish people!

                Simcha wrote a blog post once about seeing the statue of Mary in a New Age store along with crystals and ouija boards — with the implication being that it is troubling for such a religiously significant figure to be in such company. I expect many Christians would feel the same if they saw a crucifix on a Satanist or a Wiccan altar!

                The only difference here is that Christians have been the dominant religious and political power in the West for a thousand years, while Jews have been a religious minority under constant threat of extinction by Christians — making this modern-day appropriation all the more painful.

                Would you find it appropriate for your son’s Scout troop to sing songs of praise to Allah? Would you put a Jainist symbol on your Christmas tree? Or would that seem inappropriate? I suspect it would.

                I ask again: why do Christians feel entitled to take the symbols and practices of my faith out of their religious context and put them into the context of a religion that tried to wipe us off the map? What motivates this desire to de-Judaize our culture? Could it perhaps be a modern-day manifestation of a far older and more sinister attitude toward the Jewish people?

                Please understand: I am not accusing anyone of being a “bad person!” I simply cannot understand why a Jew pointing out that a Christian has done something offensive would result in such pushback and defensiveness. When people from historically oppressed groups speak up, please, have the grace to listen.

                1. And I also want to add that I don’t endorse Catholics or Christians with no Jewish heritage partaking in Jewish customs or holidays on their own. This is also something I have written about. Every once in a while, a priest will ask me if it would be appropriate for them to have some kind of Passover remembrance at their parish, and I tell them it would not.

                  It’s interesting about the kids doing songs and crafts for various holidays of religions that they don’t share. I’m sure this varies by region, but in my area, the schools tend to overcompensate for the Christian majority that you describe, and what almost always happens is that we have, for instance, a “holiday concert” in December, and the kids WILL sing Hanukkah songs and perhaps Kwanzaa songs, they do not sing any Christmas songs, but only winter or “holiday” ones, focusing on family and jolliness and whatnot. I understand why this happened, but it amuses me. People give each other Christmas presents, but they refuse to say why they’re doing it, because it’s a public school; but then they learn about Eid and Diwali. The lesson I draw from this is that Americans are extremely confused about religion, and when you come across someone who at least means well and has the intention to be respectful, you shouldn’t yell at them.

                2. Just to clarify – my son was in a non-sectarian preschool at the time and he was just making the craft of the day. He came home from school and hung it on the tree with all the other ornaments they’ve made. Not sure if the teacher intended a Star of David or those were just the colors my son picked. It could easily be the Star of Bethlehem. He was 3 at the time. But I assure you if my son had come home with a crescent moon symbol on a string, it’d be on the tree.

                  Over the years and at various preschools, all my kids have made dreidels – a fun craft that didn’t hold religious significance for them, but still builds bridges to another faith tradition. If we’d have had a bunch of Muslims (or even one) in our Cub scout troop (we didn’t) and they wanted to sing fun children’s songs of praise to Allah at the nursing home, I certainly wouldn’t object to it. The point is to include everybody, right? Several of my kids have done the Holi color runs with their Hindu friends. I wouldn’t have dreamed of not inviting my Jewish nieces and nephews from our family’s Easter Egg hunt (They always came). We live in a multicultural society. Isn’t it good that the children should carry forth positive feelings about faiths and traditions not their own?

                  Do you object to gentiles having any level of participation in Jewish rituals and celebrations? In my NYC/Philadelphia experience, when we attend Jewish life events, my husband and sons are expected to don the kippahs that are always in a basket at the entrance. We’ll shout, “Mazel Tov!” at the appointed times. And at receptions, my athletic sons have several times been chair hoisters during the horah, usually at the request of their Jewish hosts. Likewise, our Jewish and other non Catholic friends and family stand and sit at the appropriate times during Masses. They smile and wave and sometimes even shake hands at the Kiss of Peace. (Kneeling would understandably be a bridge too far). Would you object to these sorts of behavior too or is it ok because we (and they) have been invited to participate?

                  I really do appreciate your answers. Thanks!

            2. Actually, it’s not really true that I would see it as a “tragedy” for someone to retain and attempt to engage in Catholic practices while no longer behaving as a Catholic. I even wrote about the experience of seeing a statue of Mary jumbled in among miscellaneous pagan paraphernalia, and my ultimate conclusion was that Mary can take care of herself, and that some pagan who encounters the statue and takes it home might actually find it a conduit of grace in their life. As a separate incicent, just recently, I talked to someone who has left the Church but still likes Our Lady of Guadalupe, for whatever reason, and even tells other people about her. So you are mistaken there. It is true that I would be upset to see someone treating the Eucharist carelessly or thoughtlessly, but we understand a consecrated Host to be actually God. So there are special rules for that! But when it comes to non-Catholics borrowing Catholic practices and imagery, which is EXTREMELY common, I generally approach it with two ideas: One, that when someone is doing it with good intentions and respect, I cannot be mad about it; and two, that these are things that have been given to us *by God,* and I trust that God will use them to his purposes one way or another, whether I personally witness it or not.

              That being said, the example you give is not actually a good parallel because a Norse religion has nothing to do with Catholicism. They are incongruous by any standard. I understand that *you* do not consider Catholicism to be congruent with Judaism in any way, but this conversation will not make any sense unless we acknowledge that I do consider it congruent. Everything in the Passover seder is something that I, as a Catholic, can say and affirm with a clear conscience. The book *Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist* is a scholarly work that outlines exactly how Catholic theology began in Jewish theology. I understand that, to you, this is nonsense at best and offensive, but it’s not as if I’m making it up. My Catholic faith has its roots in Judaism.

              You ask: “Where is the sweetness of Jewish brotherhood present in your life? Through engaging with practicing Jews and following Jewish law and custom? Or through engaging with your children and family members, all of them Christians of Jewish heritage, and adapting here and there the elements of Jewish practice that fit your Christian lifestyle?” You are again mistaken. I have had many extended cordial and heartfelt conversations with practicing Jews, including Rabbi Josh Yuter. I live in NH where there is not a large Jewish population, so I pretty frequently have experiences like buying a toy at a toy store, and the owner, Mr. Levy, saw my name on my debit card and smiled very warmly and spoke to me in Hebrew. Or the other day, when I was buying matzoh meal and had a question about the gluten free variety, I chatted with another woman who was also shopping in the Jewish section, and her face looked like she could have been a relative. I was at a school concert and the kids unexpectedly played Hatikvah, and I started to cry, because I suddenly remembered how my mother, who was dying, used to sing it to me when I was falling asleep. And there have been numerous occasions, in the last few months, when I’ve had to explain to people why, no, being mad at the Israeli government doesn’t give you a reason to boycott Jewish delis or harass Jewish students. So no, I don’t only feel fellowship with the Jewish people filtered through the lens of Catholics.

              I will say that I have had more and more qualms, as the years go on, about celebrating Passover on a different day, and before you left your comment, I was already considering changing that practice, because it didn’t feel right. But as I said, the practice of the seder itself is something that my parents gave to me as part of my faith. Everyone in my family is gone. My yiddish-speaking grandparents died long ago, my father died, my mother died, all my great aunts and uncles are dead. Most of my siblings do not make a point of retaining any Jewish practices. I hope and pray that my children will find their Jewish heritage as meaningful as I do, and will keep it alive, because we need more Jews in the world.

              1. I didn’t see your comment until after I published mine. It’s funny that we referenced the same essay about the Mary statue, but drew different conclusions from it! I kinda feel like, since it was my essay about my experience, my conclusion is probably the definitive one, haha

  2. The Bat cake is great – I think your household has more than its fair share of talent and imagination! I can’t imagine trying to sew an egg but I think those spin eggs are something I could do – I just dyed mine plain green, as I’m the only one who eats them and I was tired from singing in the choir at our Easter Vigil, which unfortunately wasn’t too long as we had no baptisms this year and only did three of the readings. My sister used to save chicken livers in the freezer to make chopped chicken liver and my brother-in-law used to make fried matzoh – he also introduced me to Joyvah halvah, which I thought was fabulous. The gefilte fish always looked like a lab specimen floating in the jar on the supermarket shelf – not sure what you could do to make it look better, but if anyone could do it, you could! Happy Meatster to you, too! We ate fried rice with HAM tonight – earthquake, meat on Friday…what’s next?!? How about an eclipse?!?

  3. The areyes sounds like a really neat idea. I didn’t expect the meat to be cooked inside the pita. And that is the best Batman cake ever! If it isn’t Adam West, it isn’t Batman.

  4. Happy Birthday Irene! I love that Batman cake. I was looking at it, looking at it, looking at it, trying to locate the bat shark repellant and I couldn’t find it, but you did not disappoint! Just awesome, all the way around.

    We had an earthquake here this morning, and we’re all a little freaked out. It’s comforting to know that at least someone still remembers what’s important in this world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating