Celebrating Passover with a Sustainable Seder
Passover is a perfect time for a green holiday, given the emphasis on renewal for a new season and a better world. One of the best websites that melds sustainability and Judaism, The Jew and the Carrot, has a guide to a green seder, including an environmental approach to ritual cleaning and a sustainable Seder food guide. The Jewish Climate Initiative even has a short version of a green haggadah. For setting the table, Simple Touch sells beautiful handmade glass Judaica, including a luminescent matzoh holder and a unique iron and glass seder plate, both of which come in a variety of colors and shapes. Foods for your seder table can include fair-trade nuts for charoset, organic meat (think: brisket), from farms like Wise Organic Pastures and of course, handmade organic matzoh (delivered to your door!). The Jew and the Carrot also has a nice kosher organic wine list. One excellent choice on their list is Four Gates, a small California winery which produces Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc all on a tiny vineyard. The grapes are certified organic by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). Herzog is another small but excellent California kosher wine made with vinifera grapes. The Special Reserve Merlot would be perfect for seder. Passover is also a time for reaching out as we recall the historical flight to freedom and modern day attempts to create a better world. The Passover story, retold in the Haggadah, asks people try to envision the experience of their ancestors: one way to do that is to consider the plight of those who experience slavery today, such as cocoa workers in West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown for chocolate. One suggestion is to talk about global slavery during the Seder and to serve fair trade chocolate at the meal (cacao nibs make an excellent and unusual addition to charoset). Equal Exchange and Dagoba organic kosher chocolate bars make great Afikomen prizes at the Passover seder table and help reinforce the message that the historical experience of being slaves in the land of Egypt compels us to work against slavery wherever we see it and in its many forms. And if your Seder includes the traditional lengthy debate and discussion before your meal, steer the conversation to green issues of social conscience: for one example, check out the Northwest Jewish Environmental Project’s community-wide energy conservation campaign. The campaign will work to foster a dialogue in congregations, agencies and communities about the implications of U.S. dependence on oil for the environment, national security and Israel. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of how people can reduce their dependence on oil and other forms of energy at homes, synagogues and other Jewish institutions. Check out the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life, which as plenty of resources for greening your own world and helping others to do the same.