NYFS logo    tagline
 Pinto Guira making guiramaking a mandalaplaying mandolin

New York Folklore Vol. 4. Nos. 1-4, 1978
Utica Project Issue
View the Table of Contents here. Back issues of New York Folklore (1975–1999) and single articles are available for purchase.
JOIN the New York Folklore Society today to receive Voices.

Cover of Vol. 19, Nos. 1-2, New York Folklore


Vol. 4, Nos. 1-4, 1978

by Marc Tull

Passover’s observance is based on a system of dietary restrictions lasting six days, during which time no legumes or leavening agents may be eaten. A tradition of specially prepared food has grown out of these restrictions. It is possible to understand some of Passover’s food traditions by examining one such recipe in the context of its preparation. The recipe for kosher brownies was collected from Mrs. Belle Rosenthal of Utica, New York. This article is in appreciation of her help with my research and in admiration of her maintenance of Jewish tradition.

The modern celebration of Passover originates from a prebiblical festival called pesah, which served to reaffirm friendships and associations among Hebrews and to celebrate the coming spring. Sharing a meal has been a common method of forming close associations since pre-Biblical times, and the shared pesah meal is the strongest of the symbols of renewed friendship. The elements of the pesah meal have been transformed into the symbols of Passover, while retaining their original form. A roast egg and a lamb shank, which symbolize the rebirth of spring and ritual sacrifice, are placed on the table although they have no part in the ritual Passover meal. An extra glass of wine is placed on the table and the door of the house is briefly opened during the meal, ostensibly to allow the Prophet Elijah to enter and drink the wine. However, the wine and the open door also harken to the pesah invitation to share a meal in friendship. This invitation continues in modem times as the Passover meal is shared among the extended family and family friends.

This process of religious and symbolic transformation is an integral part of Judaism. Such transformations are directly related to the Jewish tradition of the individual interpretations of religious law. One example of this is that Mrs. Rosenthal, who is Orthodox and keeps a kosher home, celebrates the sabbath on Monday rather than Saturday. As the owner of a kosher delicatessen, Mrs. Rosenthal could not afford to be closed on Saturday, her busiest day. She interpreted the law, which says to rest on the seventh day, but does not stipulate which day is the seventh, to mean that she could make any day the sabbath. Mrs. Rosenthal made Monday the seventh day and thus kept the sabbath as well as her means of support....

Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society. To become a subscriber, join the New York Folklore Society today.

TO PURCHASE A BACK ISSUE of New York Folklore, visit our online book store.

TO PURCHASE THIS ARTICLE from New York Folklore, use the form here.



New York Folklore

To order a single article, please enter volume number, issue number, and title of the article you wish and click on an order button below to purchase through Paypal or with your credit card. We will send you a PDF of the article via e-mail upon receipt of your order.

ITEM #603
Single Article $3.00

Volume No. & Issue


Member Price  $2.00

Volume No. & Issue


NEW YORK FOLKLORE SOCIETY ♦ 129 Jay Street ♦ Schenectady, NY 12305 ♦ 518.346.7008 ♦ Fax 518.346.6617 ♦ nyfs@nyfolklore.org