When my Bubbe was in her 80s, she and my grandfather were robbed. They were walking past a gas station in Los Angeles and, as Bubbe told it, a man demanded their cash and jewelry. “I felt terrible for him,” she said. She couldn’t stop talking about his sad eyes. She was an empathetic person, my Bubbe.
It is hard to look at the sadness and horrors of the world. Strong souls fight for change, ready to face inequities and wrongness. Like my Bubbe, I think of the sadness often. Shamefully, I also turn my head to avoid facing it. I’m not proud of that and I work to change it every day.
Our ancestors were once slaves in Egypt. Today there are people in bondage all over the world. There are more than 20 million people in some form of slavery today — more than at the peak of the slave trade two centuries ago, says David Waksberg, CEO of Jewish LearningWorks.
“Passover offers an op-portunity to shine a light on contemporary slavery,” says Waksberg. “Just as Passover calls upon us to feel as if we ourselves were slaves, it calls upon us to not avert our eyes to the … bondage that surrounds us.”
The urge to go ostrich and stick your head in the sand is strong. But there are small things we can do. The important thing is to start.
This Passover, as you embrace flourless chocolate cake and macaroons dipped in chocolate, make sure you buy fair trade chocolate. For inspiration, and to find knowledge for your seder (and other) tables, delve into the resources compiled by Jewish LearningWorks: www.tinyurl.com/SlaveFreePassover.
Ina Garten’s (Chocolate Dipped) Macaroons
Makes 20 cookies
14 oz. sweetened flaked coconut
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 egg whites, at room
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 oz. fair trade dark chocolate, cut in pieces
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using a tablespoon. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
While baking, melt chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Dip cooled
macaroons in chocolate so chocolate covers 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 of cookie. Refrigerate to set.
Margie Gelb’s French Chocolate Cake
12 Tbs. unsalted butter
8 oz. fair trade bittersweet chocolate, cut in small pieces
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Place pan on a sheet of parchment paper, and trace circumference of pan. Cut out circle. Place parchment circle inside cake pan, and grease again.
Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler. Transfer chocolate to large glass bowl. Add sugar and whisk till chocolate is close to room temperature. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Place prepared pan in a large, steep-sided baking pan. Pour boiling water into outside pan around (not in) prepared pan. Water should come halfway up the sides. This is called a bain-marie, or water bath. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before unmolding.
Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O Manischewitz Cook-Off, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet” and works at the JCC of San Francisco. Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is www.thechickencontests.com.