Book Review: A Sweet Passover

A Sweet Passover, by Leslea Newman, illustrated by David Slonim

There is, at the base of this particular story, at least one thing that is off, but it is a minor thing, in that technically the Passover is itself only the one-night festival at the beginning of the 14th day of the first month of the biblical calendar, while this book uses the mistaken conflation of Passover with the seven day period of the Days of Unleavened Bread that begin on the 15th. That apart, this is a book that is easy to relate to. The author is correct that it is a required act to eat unleavened bread during the Days of Unleavened Bread (‘seven days you must eat unleavened bread’ and all that), and as someone who has gotten tired of the same bread when one eats it over and over again at every meal (as was the case when I had hallullas at the Feast of Tabernacles in Chile in 2000), there is a lot about this story that I can personally relate to, although I must question whether the recipe at the end is as unleavened as the author would like to believe given its ingredients and the process of making it. Even so, the story itself is sweet enough.

This book is a short volume of less than 50 pages that deals with a girl named Miriam who loves celebrating the Days of Unleavened Bread with her family–most of whom are given appropriately biblical names like Nathan and Rachel. Throughout the story the author talks about the family love that is present in three generations of this particular family, and how it is that after trying to eat matzos–apparently the plain matzos–a variety of ways, Miriam gets sick and tired of matzos on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, where she refuses to eat an apparently tasty matzo version of French toast before being convinced to try it by her hunger and arguments that appeal to her sense of duty, after which she helps her grandfather cook it to eat. A recipe of the dish is included at the end for readers to try for themselves, and it uses matzo and water as a dough to which eggs, milk, and other ingredients are added. And, of course, a lot of time is spent on the mostly nonbiblical traditions of the Seder, which tend to be easily enjoyed by many.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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