Why would a very exhausted mother of three children, four and under, go out to Chelsea Piers on a very cold winter night? The Kosher Restaurant & Wine Experience was in town. I firmly believe that everything that happens between meals is life and everything that happens during a meal is living. Let me explain, I’m an Orthodox Jewish woman, wife, and mom. I am always preparing for some type of Jewish function that involves both food and wine. Every week we prepare two meals in celebration of Shabbat. Every month there is a holiday and food is either a part of it or in between the meal before and after a fast.
I tasted some of the best brisket from Pomegranate Kosher Supermarket, outstanding salsa from My Brother Bobby’s Salsa , Empandas from El Gaucho, and on the spot guacamole from Noah’s Ark. The puring section was full of young business professionals with class. My favorite wine of the event was Baron Herzog Late Harvest The taste was fruity and full with a kick. It is kosher for Passover and we will be serving this wine at our seder!
That’s right, the buzz has already started about two upcoming Jewish celebrations, both which will involve food and wine. If you don’t have a Jewish calendar, you may not be aware that Fast of Esther and Purim are at the end of the month, and at the end of March, Passover.
This is such a fun time of year, as we use up all of our not kosher for Passover items before and during Purim. Not sure what I’m referring to, I’ll explain. Purim is a celebration of many things and at the center of the story is Queen Esther. An orphan that grew up and then found herself in the life of King Ahasuerus because his current wife, Queen Vashi, was sent away for disobeying him. He made Esther, a Jewish woman, his wife without even knowing she was Jewish. Esther became the queen of Persia.
When Haman, the king’s prime minister, decides to kill all Jews because he is angered when one of them, Mordechai, because he refuses to bow down to him. The king agreed to kill all Jews because Haman added that the Jews were all of the land and would not obey the king. Not kosher at all. The word gets out to the people that on the thirteenth day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the killing would begin. The Jews fast and mourn and mourn and fast. Mordechai, Queen Esther’s Uncle, told her this news and pleaded that she do something about it. A strong women and a Jew, Esther risked her life and requested that the king put Haman’s deadly plan to an end immediately. She had told him how Haman was upset by Mordechai and that he should be hung. This man was no stranger to the king. Mordechai, the Jew, had saved the king’s life at an earlier time from two plotting courtiers who had tried to poison him. Now it was Haman that would go down and Mordechai and the Jewish people to go on. Haman was hung on the same gallows he had prepared for Mordechai.
The Jews were saved and hence the celebration of this on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the Hebrew month of Adar, which coincides with March 27th and 28th this year. This celebration is complete with meat dishes and glasses of wine, hence, the feast of Purim.
Passover falls out about six weeks after the Purim feast, which is good because we need to use up all of our not kosher for Passover items. This includes anything made from the five major grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) that has not been completely cooked within 18 minutes after coming into contact with water. Wines also need to be kosher for Passover, so here we go again. Four glasses of wine served during the course of the Passover Seder. For the answer as to why we drink four glasses of wine during the Passover Seder, I wanted to include an explanation that I found on Torah.org. This answer, by Rabbi Yehudah Prero, explains that the most famous answer to this question revolves around two verses in the Torah found in the book of Sh’mos/Exodus (6:6-7):
“Therefore, say to the children of Israel ‘I am Hashem, and I SHALL TAKE YOU OUT from under the burdens of Egypt; I SHALL RESCUE YOU from their service; I SHALL REDEEM YOU with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I SHALL TAKE YOU TO ME for a people and I shall be a G-d to you….”
Rabbi Prero responded by explaining that “The Four Expressions of Redemption” translate in the way that G-d spoke of the redemption to the nation of Israel as to how they would be taken out of slavery in Egypt. We therefore drink a cup of wine, on this night that we commemorate our redemption, for each expression of redemption that G-d uttered.
Once you’ve experienced a Passover Seder, you can understand the connection even more. So, L’Chaim and look for more articles in the coming weeks about these two Jewish holidays. If you have a special brand of wine or special recipe for either Purim or Passover, please share it here.