Jodi Berman, Associate Executive Director of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, takes Passover very seriously.
For Berman, the Passover tradition of cleaning the house starts in January. “It’s a spiritual cleaning, as well,” she said. After Berman cleans a cabinet or drawer, she marks it with a Post-It note. A week before Passover, her kitchen is meticulously lined with Post-It notes.
“I clean out closets, we go through every item, every possession. Really, I could teach Marie Kondo a thing or two,” said Berman, cracking a smile.
“The truth is, I learned everything I know and my love for Passover from my mother and my maternal grandmother.” Her grandmother, who migrated to Canada from Eastern Europe to escape the Holocaust, taught her how to clean for Passover, how to set a table and prepare a seder plate. “She was really the matriarch who started it all.”
Always looking for new ways to enhance her seder, a few years ago Berman’s friend Lisa Fortman posted a recipe for Matzah Roca, a caramelized matzah brittle, on Facebook. “I made it that first year and the rest is history. And it’s now my famous Matzah Roca recipe with a little credit to Lisa Fortman,” she said. Matzah Roca quickly became a family-favorite and must-have addition to her festive Seder table.
“Passover is really my favorite holiday and it really represents what being Jewish is all about,” said Berman, after whipping up a batch of Matzah Roca, her trademark treat she likes to serve on the chametz-free holiday. Berman, who has an Ashkenazi background, makes sure to incorporate many cultures into her seder, including the addition of Egyptian charoset (which uses dates instead of apples) and the Persian tradition of whipping each other with scallions during “Dayenu” (to simulate the whips endured during slavery). “Every year I add something new,” said Berman.
By celebrating Passover, taking the time to continue the traditions she inherited from the matriarchs of her family and finding new ways to add her own unique spin, “I really feel the spirit of my grandmother and I feel the honor of coming from such a wonderful line of strong, Jewish women.”
To add Matzah Roca to your Seder Table, follow the recipe below:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Lay out parchment on your cookie sheet. Put whole pieces of matzah on a cookie sheet - fill the cookie sheet with matzah, even if you have to break some pieces in halves or thirds to fit them.
3. Melt two sticks of butter or margarine in a saucepan with 1 cup of brown sugar. Stir constantly for about 2-3 minutes, concoction can bubble a little bit.
4. Remove butter/sugar concoction from heat and pour the liquid mixture over the matzah.
5. Bake the matzah for 6-7 minutes, you should see the liquid bubbling atop the matzah.
6. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle a bag of chocolate chips over the matzah, wait about 5 minutes until it is gooey and can be spread all over the matzah.
7. Sprinkle anything you want on the chocolate - sprinkles, almond slivers, shredded coconut - anything you like!
8. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes until all ingredients have hardened.
9. Remove from freezer and cut or break up into pieces.
Do you have a favorite recipe? We want to film you making it! Email Jodi Berman at JBerman@wbtla.org to be featured in our next video!