If you’re thinking of hosting Seder next week but have cold feet, kiss those nerves goodbye.
What if we told you there are folks here in Boston who have YOU in mind with a product they’re pulling together for a second year in a row in these weeks leading up to Passover. It’s called “Seder in a Box.” And it’s free.
Intrigued, we asked the creators a few questions about their Passover ‘kit.’ Here are the responses from Liz Polay-Wettengel, Community Manager for JewishBoston.com, who helped launch Seder in a Box last year.
1. What part of the Seder meal do you think makes hosts/home cooks the most anxious? Why?
There is much to be said about the angst of cooking the seder meal, especially the entree (Chicken? Brisket? What about a kugel?). But, if I had to answer this myself, I would say the matzah ball soup, because everyone’s mother/grandmother/aunt made the best matzah balls in creation, and yours will never stand up to legend.
2. Will Seder in a Box allay those anxieties? How?
It helps! We’ve put together 5 different seder menus to help you format your meal. Everything from a treasured aunt’s brisket to a gluten-free matzah ball soup. We provide the recipes and a grocery list. (Just print and shop! No stress!)
We also include our own customizable Haggadah, a seder plate, a kiddush cup and some frog finger puppets. If all else fails, maybe you can use the finger puppets to make everyone laugh.
3. When was Seder in a Box first made available? How was the idea hatched?
I should clarify that we do not sell Seder in a Box, we give them away for free if you request one from our website. The only catch is that you need to live in the greater Boston area.
Seder in a Box debuted last year, Passover 2011. Our 20s/30s committee came up with several great ideas, but Seder in a Box was the clear winner of the bunch. We thought we’d be successful if we gave away 50 boxes, [but] we ended up capping the distribution at 800 because we ran out of materials!
One of the things that was so special to us was the feedback we received from recipients who were hosting seders in their homes for the very first time because our kit made it so easy (52% reported it was their first time). This is really what JewishBoston is all about. Helping people participate in Jewish life in their own way. We were thrilled with the great response and the great feedback we received.
4. When did gluten-free, kid-friendly and vegetarian options for Seder come into the picture? Do you feel this ‘flexibility’ has meant that more Jews participate in Seder?
Vegetarian was available last year, but we added gluten-free and kid-friendly this year. I believe that having flexibility, and knowing that a seder can be inclusive of everyone’s needs, makes it easier not only for a host, but also for people who need these options. Certainly vegetarian or gluten-free are not the first types of menus you think about when considering a Passover seder but, for many, it is an essential twist on tradition. I deliberately set out to find a gluten-free matzah ball soup at the request of a friend who missed that part of Passover tradition now that she discovered she has Celiac Disease.
As a mom, it was important to me that making the seder table inclusive for children was added. This year, not only do we have the kid-friendly menu, but we also have a free, downloadable guide to engaging kids and adults together at the seder table that includes crafts and great ideas to keep kids interested.
5. What’s your favorite traditional Seder recipe? What’s your favorite innovative recipe from this year’s new picks?
I’m a sucker for a good matzah ball soup. I can’t explain it, but it is the most treasured part of the meal for me. It feels like home and seders past and memories of my father all wrapped up in a warm bowl of comfort.
As far as the new picks go, I’m looking forward to making the crispy potato and leek roast, but I think my kids are most excited about the apple and almond butter sandwiches!
Here’s what Seder in a Box includes:
• Seder Plate
• Kiddush Cup
• a copy of the second edition of The Wandering is Over Haggadah
• Leader’s Guide
• Menus with shopping lists and recipes
Take pictures! And comment at JewishBoston when your holiday is over. They want your feedback. So do we!