Posts Tagged ‘Passover in Ocean Grove’

Paul Goldfinger . Bunche Beach.  Ft. Myers, Fla.    Spring, 2018.   Click to enlarge.  Blogfinger.net


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.


At the Passover seder, the ceremonial and traditional meal,    “Solomon’s Song of Songs” (from the Bible)  is read.   Much of it is about romantic love, but it also has something to say about Spring.

This is from Meyer Levin’s Israel Haggadah for Passover.  A Haggadah is a guide book which is read at seders.  There are many versions of Haggadahs, and one could search Blogfinger’s archives by typing in “Passover” into the search box at the upper right. One was written by an Ocean Grover.

As those attending a seder know, everyone gets a chance to read. The father says, “Like all people, our people in ancient, pastoral times celebrated the liberation of the earth itself from wintry darkness, and rejoiced in the yearly rebirth of nature.  This is beautifully described in Solomon’s Song of Songs read by the mother:”

For, lo, the winter is past,

The rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth;

The time of singing is come,

And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs,

And the vines in blossom give forth their fragrance.


And here is a Passover poem for 2023 by our friend Igor Timkovsky, immigrant, American patriot, and lover of Ocean Grove. He and his family will return this summer.


Dear Paul and Eileen,

It ‘s hard to say it’s yet or over. 
Time will shed light to show us what’s true.
Let us celebrate. Have a  Good Passover
To You and yours! It’ll lead us thru.
Best wishes.
Thank you Igor.


Paul Goldfinger.    Neptune Township April 16, 2019. Spring is emerging. ©


I met a young man in the Miami Airport.  He was waiting for the same Newark connection that we sought.  He is an Orthodox Jew who was reading from a large book of the Talmud. We talked, and he is a full time student of a rabbinical college in Lakewood. His college has 6500 students, all men, is the largest Yeshiva in America and is called BMG. (Beth Medrash Govoha.) It is an elite school and it is competitive to get in.  Everyone studies the Jewish guidebook “The Talmud”  from morning till night.  Only a minority become pulpit rabbis.  Some stay for graduate degrees.   The rest go on to other careers including law and medicine.


Typical huge class in Lakewood  college BMG. Web information.  There can be 1000 men in one study class.


He married one year ago, and his wife is “in real estate.”     Now he is returning home for Passover.  The Hebrew name for this holiday is Pesach, and that is also my Hebrew name.   All my uncles called me “Pesach” when I was a kid.    I asked this student why he thought my Mom would have chosen this name for me. He said that it is because Passover is a holiday that represents wonderful events for the Jewish people.




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Eileen’s Passover table in Ocean Grove. April, 2022. Eileen Goldfinger photo. © Click to enlarge. Make the matzah balls bigger.


J.A. Joel, Jewish soldier in the Union Army. 1862. Author of the Civil War seder article described below. (photo: Jewish Virtual Library)


During Reverend Stokes’ time, a Passover seder in the Grove would have been highly unlikely.  But these days, given the changing demographics in what used to be a one-size-fits-all religious environment, seders in the Grove do occur.

The seder is a festive celebration devoted to family, traditional foods and retelling  the story of the Exodus. A guide book called  the Hagaddah is used during the seder. It was invented about 1500 years ago and hasn’t changed much in its essentials over those generations.

Although Passover is a happy holiday, the recitation of this phase of Jewish history is a solemn obligation and a touchstone for Jewish identity. Most American Jews celebrate a seder at Passover. But seders are held all over the world, and, although the framework is the same for each seder, there are many variations of  the rituals, depending on regional and cultural differences.

It is surprising where seders have occurred in the past. We know, for example, that secret Passover celebrations were held “underground” during the Inquisition, in Spain and Portugal.

Image courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. Two marines and a soldier attend a seder in 1944. In front of them are Australian matzohs. They are probably in the Pacific.


In America, there are reports of seders being held by soldiers during the  Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  There were matzoh factories in unlikely places such as Montana and the Dakotas.

In 1862, an account by  soldier, J. A. Joel of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Regiment,  of a seder celebrated by Union soldiers in Fayette, West Virginia, was published in The Jewish Messenger.  Joel and 20 other Jewish soldiers were granted leave to observe Passover.  They received matzoh shipped from Cincinnati.

Said Joel, “We sent parties to forage for Passover food while a group stayed to build a log hut for the services. We obtained two kegs of cider (Ed. note: wine was unavailable), a lamb, several chickens and some eggs. We could not obtain horseradish or parsley, but instead we found a weed whose bitterness, I apprehend, exceeded anything our forefathers ‘enjoyed.’ “   (Ed. note: The seder table includes “bitter herbs” to recall the terrible  times as slaves.)

Joel went on to report how they used “Yankee ingenuity” to make substitutions for other traditional components of the seder. Those Jews who fought with the North felt like they had the moral high ground  (compared to Jews serving in the Confederate Army) because of the similarity between the freeing of Jewish slaves in Exodus and their participation in freeing the American black slaves. Happy Easter and Passover to those Grovers who celebrate these holidays.

Here is a link about a seder in Ocean Grove in 2011 with references to Haggadahs.

Ocean Grove seder 2011.


—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


ETTA JAMES: “Down by the Riverside.”


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Part of the lost tribe that found its way to Ocean Grove for a seder at Eileen and Paul's. April 4, 2015. Ed Faust photographer.

Part of the lost tribe that found its way to Ocean Grove for a seder at Eileen and Paul’s. April 4, 2015.  Ed Faust photographer.  (reposted from Passover 2015 on Mt. Hermon Way;  Mt. Hermon is mentioned in the Bible and is at the northern border of Israel with Lebanon and Syria.)


Matzoh ball soup is traditional for Passover, but the matzoh balls need to be light and fluffy, not hard like rocks. Eileen’s are the best. Blogfinger photo ©


Eileen’s Passover seder table 2017. Closeup.  Other traditional foods are pot roast, chopped chicken liver,  sweet wine, and gefilte fish with horse radish  (definitely an acquired taste.)  Blogfinger photo. ©

By Paul and Eileen Goldfinger @Blogfnger.net

April 10 is the first night of Passover.  It is the most fun because it is a history lesson retold each year. It is the story of a people who escape from slavery and wander in the dessert for 40 years.  Oops, I would prefer to wander among chocolate eclairs, but the correct spelling is desert.

In the photo above, Eileen and I are in the upper left corner.

And here’s a link to our 2011 Passover article:

Passsover in the Grove 2011

KLEZMER JUICE:   “Freylach #8”

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Ready for a Seder in Ocean Grove. Eileen’s table design includes the Seder plate (L)  with symbols of the Passover story.


Passover began at sundown on April 18 and will continue for seven days.  The holiday is about an event, described in the Old Testament, which occurred over 3,000 years ago when the Jewish people, enslaved by the Egyptians,  achieved freedom and returned to their homeland.  They were led by a charismatic leader named Moses, and along the way they received the Ten Commandments.

The story is retold each year throughout the world  during Passover, and 70% of American Jews attend Seders, which are events where families and friends gather to discuss the meaning of those ancient stories. It is a happy optimistic holiday that is accompanied by traditional foods, music and symbolic rituals.  A book is read during the Seder;  it is called the Haggadah and it has existed as a stand-alone document since the 15th century.

Over the years there have been many different Haggadah designs  with many variations on the theme, but the core elements of the Passover saga have not changed over the millennia, and that is pretty impressive.  In fact,  Dr. Shoshana Silberman, formerly of Ocean Grove, has written and published two Haggadahs including the marvelous Jewish World Family Haggadah with black and white photos by Zion Ozeri.

Some people say that the Passover story is fiction.  The exact truth regarding what happened back then is unknown—a matter of faith.  But there is archeological evidence that confirms much of the story’s framework.

There probably weren’t any seders in the Grove back in Rev. Stoke’s time, but who knows?   There is a Jewish community in Ocean Grove now, and Seders are certainly part of the fabric of life here in 2011.


MUSIC :  traditional Passover song “Dayenu”  (in Hebrew)–by the “Klezmers”


Eileen and Paul Goldfinger

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