It’s spring in Bushwick. For many of us that means shoving our winter coats so far under our beds that we forget they exist or it means waiting for the day immediately following Easter so we can buy discounted creme-filled chocolate eggs to gorge on despite not entirely being sure what said “creme” consists of.
For some of us this also means preparing for Passover. The Jewish spring holiday is famous for its themes of renewal, freedom, and its dinner party service that includes a minimum of four glasses of wine before you eat, and its one week ban on the consumption of bread or leavened products, encouraging instead the flat, cracker bread called matzo, ever-so-temptingly dubbed “the bread of affliction.” Passover 2019 will begin in the evening of Friday, April 19 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 27.
“We all celebrate Passover differently,” Rabbi Menachem Heller of the Chabad of East Williamsburg said. “There are as many ways to celebrate Passover as there are homes.”
Luckily, we’re in Bushwick, so you can celebrate the holiday in ways that are as fun, inclusive, and original as we are.
CHABAD OF EAST WILLIAMSBURG
If you’re looking for a place to be with community and do all the things your mother wishes you were doing without having to leave the neighborhood, the Chabad of East Williamsburg is your place. The Chabad is located at 1087 Flushing Avenue and offers a completely homemade meal for anyone who wants to come by. As many traditions as possible will be accounted for and you’re always welcome to bring something special of your own. Seders take place at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, April 19 and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.
If you want to enjoy your own sedar at home with friends, the Chabad is also available to provide Haggadahs (the Passover prayer book) for anyone in need in case you’re not already singing the Passover Rap or using the same childhood Haggadah you’ve been reading aloud since you were five.
But where will you find the requisite items for the seder plate? Some of the mainstays, like a roasted boiled egg and parsley are standard grocery store items. If you’re looking to get especially kosher you can pop down to the nearby Hasidic Supermarkets Chestnut Market and Hatzlacha Supermarket just south of the Flushing JMZ station.
Lucky for Bushwick, we’re already living in such an internationally diverse area that almost all of our neighborhood supermarkets have Jewish food sections, especially the Food Bazaars on Wycoff, Gates, or Myrtle Avenues and the Key Foods on Wyckoff Avenue. There you can find chopped horseradish for your seder plate (with or without beets), matzo in wheat, white, and even the new gluten-free variety, and all of those matzo meal-based cakes by Manischewitz, i.e. the only way so many nine-year-olds have historically survived the eight night bread ban.
What about the rest of the week outside of your seder? Instead of eating matzo-brei (scrambled egg with matzo) every single day this week, you can mix it up with some off-the-beaten path neighborhood favorites.
Plantains are a local standby and a delightfully starchy option for enjoying sandwich-like items without breaking the Passover rules. Cachapas y Mas in Ridgewood offers patacones, a smashed and fried plantain sandwich that might curb your bread-lust for at least a couple of hours.
Potatoes are the long-held standby of Passover eating. While we might want to spend the entire week eating french fries, La Isla near the Knickerbocker Avenue M Station also offers Kosher for Passover treats like tasty rellenos de papa (potato balls).
Another beloved Bushwick restaurant, Bunna Cafe, hosts a surprisingly kosher for Passover menu. Their flat sourdough bread, injera, used as the base for all of their dishes, is made from teff flour from Northern Ethiopia. It is made from a grain that is not one of the five grains explicitly listed as off-limits for the holiday.
For dessert when you’re tired of those store-bought macaroons or chocolate-covered matzo (although why would you be?), head over to Bake Shop on Flushing Avenue for their rich flourless, gluten-free chocolate cake.
The Escalation Sedar at Alpha Space April 27, 8 p.m.
Finally if you’re looking for something to entertain you in the way that previously you believed only a baguette could (and you’re ready for a bit of a schlep), head to Crown Heights for the only Passover-themed performance night: The Escalation Sedar at Alpha Space. Featuring burlesque and cabaret performances by Bushwick-based artists like Darlinda Just Darlinda, Fancy Feast, and more and music from the queer Jewish band Isle of Klezbos, this might be the only Jewish Revolution-themed performance and party night to end your Passover in style.
So save the kvetching for the kids this year, there’s plenty to enjoy in Bushwick for Passover. Either way, there’s always those four glasses of wine. Chag Sameach!
Cover photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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