What are such articles doing at the Catholic Education Resource Center, right there at:
This is right there at their front page now, at Easter. The article following this one -- an article by Richard Cohen, is linked to JUST BELOW this one, right off the FRONT PAGE of the "Catholic" Education Resource Center at EASTER TIME:
Tastes Like Home
As I walked by the Kosher-for-Passover section at my local supermarket, I did a double take. There, on freshly cleaned shelves lined with pretty white paper doilies, amid the yearly excess of coconut macaroons and chocolate-covered matzoh, I spotted a surprising product, new to me — a jar of Streit's ready-made haroseth.
The thick maroon-colored jam is central to the Seder, the holiday dinner, observed next Wednesday and Thursday, in which Jews re-enact the exodus from Egypt. Each item at the Seder table has a symbolic importance, reminding us of our ancestors' sacrifice and redemption. And so, for instance, matzoh, the dry crispy cracker, reminds us of the Jews who couldn't bake their bread properly because of the rush to escape. The bitter herbs help us to recall our years of servitude under the Egyptian taskmasters. The hard-boiled egg reminds us of the cycle of life, and we dip it in salty water and think of the tears we once shed.
Then there is haroseth, the most mysterious of all the Seder dishes and perhaps the most complex. The concoction is supposed to conjure the mortar and bricks that Hebrew slaves used in their labors and all the blood that they spilled while doing so.
I remember that my mother would make our family's haroseth from scratch — no jar of Streit's (or any other brand) in our Brooklyn kitchen of the 1960s — and in her hands it became a delicious treat, so tasty that it was hard to make the connection between the sweet substance and the suffering of an ancient generation. According to Rabbi Raphael Benchimol of the Manhattan Sephardic Congregation, the sweetness of the haroseth is not central to its symbolism. The key is rather in the ingredients: the apples because Jewish women would give birth in remote areas under apple trees to escape the notice of the Egyptians, the wine to symbolize the blood of Jewish male infants who were to be killed under Pharoah's decree, the dates because they are a symbol of the Jewish people.
My mother would devote hours to making our own Sephardic version: pitting mounds of fresh dates, chopping them up and putting them along with raisins in a big bowl of water to sit overnight. The next day she would take the contents and transfer them to a massive steel pot where, over a low flame, she would stir ever so slowly, occasionally tossing in a cup of wine or a spoonful of sugar, until a fragrant, intoxicating stew developed. I would shell almonds and walnuts and pound them into fine pieces to sprinkle over the concoction.
When my father came from synagogue, he went straightaway to the dining room table and began the service. At some point, he would chant, and we would clink special little silver spoons against our wine glasses. My favorite part of the night was when I could at last dip my spoon into the haroseth bowl and eat the fruits of my mother's labor.
Now that my parents have died, I find myself yearning for the texture and richness of my mother's dark red jam and for the musical sound one of those gleaming spoons would make as my father tapped it against his wine glass. I guess that is why I winced when I saw the Streit's jar. Instant haroseth, I thought. Is nothing sacred?
Passover has always taken on a literal cast for me. I was born in Cairo, and my family had to leave when I was 6 years old, as part of a massive, modern-day Exodus of tens of thousands of Jews from Egypt and the Levant in the aftermath of the creation of the State of Israel. At the Seder, Jews read that we must regard the flight from Egypt as if it were our own personal journey. This was no trouble for my family. We'd had our own encounter with a Pharaoh — the dictator Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Despite our hardships there, we also missed Egypt, perhaps never more than on Passover. Our holiday had an inverted quality, longing for the place we were grateful to have left.
And now a jar of premade haroseth has made me miss my mother's homemade variety all the more. I called the Streit's company, an 81-year-old family-owned business, still in its original location on New York's Lower East Side, and asked whether this is the first time that it was selling this product. I tried to keep outrage from creeping into my voice. A man whose name was Boris Glusker told me that his company has been selling haroseth in a jar only for the past few years. Mr. Glusker was humble: He didn't rave about his industrial haroseth, which is made in Israel. He and the Streit cousins who run the company were actually comforting when I confided how hard my mother had worked to produce this delicacy. "It's America," sighed Aaron Gross, the founder's great-great-grandson. "People want ease, efficiency."
Haroseth in a jar is fine, but Mr. Glusker acknowledged the truth that, for him and for me, it is never as good as Mom's.
Lucette Lagnado. "Tastes Like Home." The Wall Street Journal (April 7, 2006).
Reprinted with permission of The Wall Street Journal © 2006 Dow Jones & Company. All rights reserved.
Ms. Lagnado, a Journal reporter, is writing a memoir of her Egyptian-Jewish father for Ecco/HarperCollins.
Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company
The Americans have protested, the Brits have protested, the Vatican has protested and so (I assume) have some others. But if there has been a holler of protest from anywhere in the Muslim world, it has not reached my ears. That is appalling.
The murder of a person for his religious belief ought to be inconceivable. It is something we in the West stopped accepting hundreds of years ago, and while Americans and others continued to kill on account of race deep into the past century, the right of the government to take a life on account of religion has not even been argued in the longest time. We are way beyond that.
Afghanistan was once under Soviet occupation, and it may have learned something from those days. Just as the Soviets sometimes pronounced political dissidents to be insane (why else would they question a perfect system?) so have Afghans decided that Rahman is nuts. (Why else would a Muslim choose Christianity?) Now that the case has been dropped and he has been placed in solitary confinement for his own protection, he will probably be spirited out of the country. To remain in Afghanistan is to remain in grave peril of death.
Rahman's troubles began, as they do for so many, with a divorce. In contesting his attempt to gain custody of his children, his wife told the court that Rahman would be an unfit father because he had converted to Christianity about 16 years earlier. This is what's known in football as a late hit. Nonetheless, when the prosecutor heard of the conversion, he promptly charged Rahman with apostasy, which is punishable by death. Rahman's choices were once to repudiate his conversion or plead insanity. The latter would have been the more sane choice.
"The world is too much with us," Wordsworth once wrote. This is certainly the way I feel. To be confronted on an almost daily basis with the horrors of Iraq is profoundly disturbing. The torture and decapitation of huge numbers of people, the casual homicides, the constant suicide bombings — all of this makes you wonder about your fellow man. It is no longer possible, as it once was, to see the world only from your front porch, being disturbed only by the ringing of the bell on some passing ice cream truck. In Africa, Asia, too much of the world — it is Joseph Conrad much of the time: "The horror! The horror!"
But you can say that these horrors are usually being inflicted by a minority. You say it is a few crazed terrorists of Iraq who are doing the killing. It is not most Iraqis. You can say the same about suicide bombers and torturers and rogue governments, like the one Saddam Hussein once headed. You can take solace in numbers. Most people are like us.
Then comes the Rahman case and it is not a solitary crazy prosecutor who brings the charge of apostasy but an entire society. It is not a single judge who would condemn the man but a culture. The Taliban are gone at gunpoint, their atrocities supposedly a thing of the past. In our boundless optimism, we consign them to the "too hard" file of horrors we cannot figure out: the Khmer Rouge, the Nazis, the communists of the Stalin period. Now, though, this awful thing returns and it is not just a single country that would kill a man for his beliefs but a huge swath of the world that would not protest. There can be only one conclusion: They were in agreement.
The groupthink of the Muslim world is frightening. I know there are exceptions — many exceptions. But still it seems that a man could be killed for his religious beliefs and no one would say anything in protest. It is also frightening to confront how differently we in the West think about such matters and why the word "culture" is not always a mask for bigotry, but an honest statement of how things are. It is sometimes a bridge too far — the leap that cannot be made. I can embrace an Afghan for his children, his work, even his piety — all he shares with much of humanity. But when he insists that a convert must die, I am stunned into disbelief: Is this my fellow man?
Richard Cohen. "Unfathomable Zealotry." Washington Post (March 28, 2006).
This article is reprinted with permission from The Washington Post. Reprinted with permission.
Richard Cohen's columns have appeared on the op-ed page of The Washington Post since 1984. He joined The Post in 1968 after attending the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and after doing, as he puts it, "some post-graduate work" at Fort Dix, N.J., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Cohen was born in New York City, and earned his undergraduate degree from New York University. Cohen has received the Sigma Delta Chi and Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Awards for his investigative reporting. In 1974, he and Jules Witcover wrote A Heartbeat Away: The Investigation and Resignation of Spiro T. Agnew (Viking).
Copyright © 2006 The Washington Post Company