Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Path to Passover :: Interview with Miri

Welcome to my second interview in my Passover series! Today's interview is with Miri from (check it out!). I've never met her in person, but I have followed her blog for a while. I love the projects she displays. It makes me wish sometimes that I lived in LA to see in person some of the beautiful things she makes. Enjoy the interview!

Please introduce yourself, including the Congregation you attend as well as the role(s) you play. No role is too small :)
My name is Miri, and my blog is I attend Ruach LA. Because I was married only last June, my husband and I have taken a much needed break from any kind of leadership or service position, and we are really enjoying just being attendees.

How would you describe your level of Jewish observance? 
My Jewish observance is really what I can handle without pulling my hair out. I used to be very Conservadox, especially when it came to abstaining from certain things on Shabbat. This last year when I got married, I did everything myself: The bridesmaids dresses, the decor, the food, the cakes. I basically killed myself slowly for 6 months, then after the wedding work became very demanding, and I was pulling down at least 60 hours a week. Shabbat became more of a break from the trauma. Throughout all this, I've always kept a kosher kitchen with separate dishes and hechsher-only foods. Now that my husband and I are working for ourselves, we are working to get back to a better Shabbat observance.

How long have you been celebrating Passover? Did you grow up celebrating it?
I did not grow up celebrating Passover as my parents became Christians when I was young. We also lived in a very remote place. A couple years ago I was at my mom's local grocery store looking for Matzah Meal and it was no no where to be found. The Messianic Movement introduced me to seders, and you can imagine for a while that looked like big congregational seders. When I became a little older, I started existing in both Messianic and non-Messianic communities, so I've been invited to many a home seder on both sides. I've actually never hosted an actual seder at my house.

What do you do to get ready for Passover? Please give me a brief description of your preparations. When do you start? How do you plan?
About 3 weeks before Passover I begin baking like a mad woman. This year we got a Costco membership, and bought the big bag of flour. I made a ton of bread and desserts, and most of them were distributed. I usually go overboard, as I did this year, and all that flour is almost gone. Once I've gone through eating the chametz, I go through all my cabinets in the kitchen, take everything out, toss anything containing the five grains, separate any kitniyot, wash all the dishes, deep clean the oven, refrigerator, stove and the inside of all the cabinets. Cover all the counter tops with tin foil, replace my cooking dishes with Passover dishes, replace plates and utensils is disposables and we're ready to go!

What do you and don't you eat during Passover? Do you follow a particular tradition?
I follow and Ashkenazi observance regarding Passover restrictions when it comes to food (I don't worry about toothpaste or shampoos). And, admittedly, sometimes in the middle of the Passover week I'll decide I'm actually Sephardic.

Describe your seder. What is your favorite part?
As I mentioned previously, I've never hosted a seder, but I do usually host something called Slumdog Pesach. It's a completely kosher for Passover Indian Buffet dinner party on the Saturday during Passover (as long as it's not the 1st or 2nd day). 

Do you have tips on getting through eight days without bread?
Quinoa, merengue, potatos, potato starch, tapioca flour. Or just decide you're Sephardic and there are plenty of options.

If someone were to come up to you never having kept Passover before, what advice would you give?
Take it slow. Don't plan a seder yourself, go to someone else's house. Give everything a deep a thorough cleaning, and get rid of the five grains. Don't worry about hechshers or corn and all that. As with anything done well, take you time and add restrictions each year.

How does Passover fit in your spiritual journey?
Cleaning the house is a very cathartic experience for me. In fact, one year I had just moved to a new place before Passover, and volunteered to clean someone else's house so I could exercise that discipline. Preparing for freedom requires a lot of work, self-examination. Cleaning does that for me.

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