Dairy Seder

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After the fullness and bloated-ness of eating an entire piece of matzah in one sitting, the way we do during the Passover seder, and then a huge meal, you’d think that a cool, soothing bowl of ice cream would go over pretty well. Well, not if you’re having a meat meal and you keep kosher!

No surprise, the New York Times — which I’ve stopped thinking of as a newspaper and stared conceiving of as a really good blog — has an article about it. Plenty of good lines about Jews and assimilation, but not much in the way of answering the pertinent question: What do you do at a dairy seder, anyway?

Last year, we ran an article on being vegetarian and healthy on Passover. My wife emailed Rav Shalom, who runs our old yeshiva, Simchat Shlomo in Jerusalem. He’s an old-school Montreal carnivore, but his wife is a macrobiotic
cook and a vegetarian. They know a thing or two about this problem — they’ve been dealing with it for decades. Here’s what they said (Itta’s questions in bold; Rav Shalom’s answers in roman):

As I’ve never done a dairy Pesach, I wonder, what do you do about the zeroah {a shankbone from an animal} that goes on the seder plate? I asked a rabbi here and he said just separate it from the meal by putting it on two pieces of foil and it’s fine.

That’s what I do. But I keep it slightly wrapped and just ever-so-slightly visible, lest some carnivore will lose all sense of self control and attack it in the middle of the orderly ‘seder.’ {That’d be one of Rav Shalom’s puns; “seder” is the Hebrew word for “order.”}

Matthue uses beets anyway, but I was just curious to know what other vegetarian households do.

“Beets” me why he does that. Does it have something to do with ‘beeting’ the Egyptians and with the maka {plague} of blood?

It’s become semi-common practice among vegetarians to use a beet in place of the animal-bone, because beets bleed. It’s kind of more complicated than anyone thought, although MJL’s article on vegetarian shankbones does a bunch to clear it up.

Posted on March 25, 2010

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