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JCC President Puts Own Spin on Passover Tradition

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Karen Spar Kasner is doing something a little different for Passover this year.

"I am cooking everything," the JCC Mid-Westchester president said Wednesday. "What I love about this holiday is that it's an opportunity for family and friends, their families, to partake together at a very enlightening Seder. It's always a time for fun, and special food."

Passover is the celebration in memory of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. This year, Passover begins in the evening of Friday, April 6, and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 14.

Kasner's celebration begins with the traditional Seder on Friday night. She said it will begin with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, chopped liver, Passover crackers, crudité "and other light bites."

Next comes the meal, starting with matzo ball soup. Then the gefiltefish.

"I add to it," Kasner said. "Or make it very beautiful on the plate with unusual vegetables, so it is the traditional dish but more in the modern context."

She said that has included serving it in a tourine with layers of gefiltefish, salmon and spinach.

The traditional brisket is served next, Kasner said, along with a chicken or turkey dish. There's also matzo with kugel, which she plans to add apricots to this year to make it sweet.

She will also be making a key lime pie this year, with a matzo crust, along with chocolate cakes, macaroons and candies around the table.

Kasner is planning a twist on the traditional four cups of sweet, Manischewitz wine this year.

"I love it, but most of the company doesn't," Kasner said. Because most of them want traditional, kosher for Passover wine, she will serve each person in "four little cups" and move on to regular wine.

To bring some levity into the celebration, she said, her husband cuts out a newspaper editorial about Israel and reads.

Kasner said she likes to go to New York City the day of the Seder, pick up fresh-cut flowers and do her own arrangement, but may not be able to make it this year.

“Even though our kids are in their 20s, and our friends' kids are in their 20s, we buy them each a present,” Kasner said. This stems from the tradition that calls for someone to open a door for Elijah to come in. A piece of matzo is hidden and the kids have to find it, and whoever finds it gets a present.

"I've decided to give them each a contribution for the JCC Mid-Westchester in each of their names," Kasner said.

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