Rabbi Shmuel

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Dip the Apple in the Maple Syrup

sugar.JPGAs we sit down to our Rosh Hashana meals, all eyes go to the challah/apple ceremoniously (or should I say unceremoniously?) dipped in honey. The kids begin to sing that lifeless ditty to the tune of Oh My Darlin’ Clementine “dip the apple in the honey, make a bracha loud and clear. . . . “ (I can’t recall the rest because we banned that song from our house more than a decade ago). Much ink has been spilled (mostly by the honey lobby) perpetuating this custom of dubious and suspect origin in the name of sweetness for the upcoming year. In keeping with the spirit of the New Jewish Food Movement, perhaps we should critically re-examine this custom and explore alternatives. As a maple syrup producer, may I humbly suggest using maple syrup.

To Be Green And Thirteen – Shlomo’s Bar Mitzva

Shlomo cutting a mortise for our new sugarhouse In less than three weeks we will celebrate our son Shlomo’s Bar Mitzva, G-d willing. Those of you who have had the privilege of meeting him know that underneath the black hat, fringes and payos (sidecurls) he is one cool kid – into farming, animals (he raised the first flock of laying hens for Isabella Freedman/ADAMAH), woodworking, sustainable building and even a bit of WalMart and corporate America bashing once he gets going!

Pesach on the Farm

Sugaring season is conveniently “sandwiched” between Purim and Pesach. When the nights are still below freezing and the days sunny and warm, the sap begins to flow up and down, coursing through the veins of mature sugar maples ready to be tapped, the sap eager to be boiled down into sweet maple syrup. The mountains are a patchwork quilt of snow and clearing and streams – swollen with runoff – roar with a nervous energy as their waters seek the rivers below.

Actually, the juxtaposition of sugaring to Purim – Pesach is quite serendipitous. For just as Purim showed us the concealed face of Hashem, so too, the clear cool sap – containing 98% water – hides the true sweetness which is only revealed after “boiling off” the excess. By the time we get to Pesach – the ultimate in your face, Old Testament big ticket miracle kinda holiday – the water is a distant memory leaving us with only the rich syrups with such exotic monikers as “dark amber” – as much a revelation as a revolution!