Not only are we in our Holy Week, but the start of Passover began at sundown on Monday.
While doing our series of demonstrative speeches for the public speaking course I teach at Valparaiso University, one of my students, Guy Shabtay, 28, a Jewish Israeli student attending VU on a soccer scholarship, shared his family's recipe for Israeli Salad.
Shabtay, a senior and majoring in mathematical applications and analysis, will graduate in May. While sharing his story and recipe with me, he noted he had to make sure he emailed it to me during the day on Monday, since he would not be permitted to use any computer devices after sundown in observance of Passover.
And here's how he explained the faith and traditions shared by so many this week: "Passover, or in Hebrew, Pesach, is our Jewish holiday that commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and from the Egyptian slavery to independence. Because the Jews did not have time to bake their bread as they hurried from Egypt, instead they baked it at very high temperatures without allowing it to rise (leaven). In remembrance of this, the Torah commands us today to avoid all leavened products—Chametz—for the duration of Passover. Similar to Shabbat, all biblical Jewish holidays include the prohibition of working, with the definition of work as understood in the Talmud to mean 39 specific categories of activities. For example, one of the 39 activities that is prohibited is to ignite a fire. So, derived from this law, in respect to today's era, anything like starting motorized devices, or electrical devices is considered as igniting a fire."
Shabtay went on to explain: "In Judaism in general, the mixture of milk and meat products is prohibited by the Jewish Law. In order to fulfill this Law, our Sages (the smart Rabbis of the Mishnah and the Talmud) explained to us how to conduct the separation between dairy and meat products. For example, today, a Jewish observed house has two different sets of dishes, and two different dishwasher machines in the kitchen; a dairy dishwasher and a meat dishwasher. In larger homes where space is available, you might even find two separate kitchens and dining rooms devoted for serving such separate menus. This can give you the idea of why Kosher food has to be restricted to the very last details. As with kosher in general, the only way you can know if a commercially produced product is fit for Passover is if it is certified as such by a reliable agency."
And as for his salad recipe, he said one of his biggest "culture shocks" when he came to the U.S.A. was the first time he ordered a salad.
"It consisted only of this flat, tasteless leaf lettuce, which we don't eat in my country, nor do we cover things in such thick dressings and sauces," he said.
"Our salad has a base of diced small cucumbers and other vegetables and just a light addition of oil and lemon juice to bring out the natural flavors."
Thank you to Shabtay for sharing for this week's column. And to all Times readers of every faith, and to your families, blessings during Passover and Easter.
3 small cucumbers, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/3 of a medium onion, diced
1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 to 4 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 2/3 of lemon, squeezed
DIRECTIONS: The key to this salad is to prepare vegetables by cutting up everything very fine. Add the oil and seasonings and lastly, the lemon juice. Mix and combine. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.