Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Passover

Unconditional Love

Here’s a corny old Jewish joke about the unconditional love of mothers for their daughters (told with a little sarcasm):

Two women who haven’t seen each other in years run into each other on the street.

“How’s your daughter,” the first woman asks, “the one who married that surgeon?”

“They were divorced,” the second woman answers.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“But she then got married to a lawyer.”

“Mazal tov!” the friend exclaimed.

“They were also divorced… But now everything is alright, she’s married to a very successful CPA.”

The first woman shakes her head from side to side.

“Mmmm, so much nachas (joy in Yiddish) from one daughter…”


My mother is back in Queens after a winter as a snowbird in Florida.    My intention was to live it up in my pseudo-bachelor pad all winter.   Life got in the way.    When I left Queens to come to LA, it was for a short trip.  I expected to return to New York in ten days, not still be in LA three months later.

My mother called five minutes after she walked in the front door.

“I am so mad,” she said.

I had left behind six bundles of dirty laundry and a broken dishwasher.

“Oops,” I replied, suddenly remembering that I promised to take care of things before my mother’s return, and never did , much like the “shower curtain incident” last year.

I wasn’t worried about my mother’s anger.   After all, she’s my mother.    I have been lucky with my parents.   I know a few of you got stuck with shitty parents.   I am pretty confident that my mother is going to continue to love me even if I caused a fire and burnt the entire apartment to the ground.

Unconditional love by a mother.


Of course, that same love can also ruin you.


Sophia and I had a fight last week over… yeah, the dishes.    One day I need to write a post on that one issue.   When we argue, I can feel the love disappear.   There is hate in her eyes.   The next day, when tensions subside, the love returns, as if a dark cloud has lifted.   This disturbs me.   It makes me feel very insecure.   I know, I know, your girlfriend or wife isn’t your mother.   Only your mother will give you that unconditional love.

Perhaps that is why I am looking up codependent in wikipedia.


I am very jealous of all the parents out there. You must feel this unconditional love for your children. It must be such a special feeling.   No one else can ever feel this special bond of unconditional love.

Maybe dog owners.   Remember Lassie?    That was unconditional love, right?


If there is one piece of advice about blogging that I can give to newbies without any reservations, it is this:   Never look for unconditional love online.   You won’t find it.   Through trial and error, I now operate on the assumption that I could lose 75% of my readers or online friends in one week by simply writing the wrong type of post or tweet.   Thank God for V-grrrl.   She’s like Mikey in those old Life Cereal commercials.   She doesn’t like anything, but still likes my posts.   I write half of my posts with her in mind.


It is Easter. The idea of unconditional love is an integral part of Christianity. It describes the belief in God’s love for humankind through the forgiveness of Christ.

Unconditional love is also central to Judaism, although the Jewish God sometimes confuses Passover with April Fool’s Day.


In Exodus, there is a moment when Moses shows his unconditional love for his people. Moses has just lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, and has given them the Ten Commandments.   What does he get in return?   He finds them partying with the Golden Calf, much like parents returning home early from their vacation to find their high school son having a wild party in the living room with more hookers than listed in Tiger Woods’ blackberry.

Does Moses show unconditional love?   Well, maybe not at first.   He curses them, throws the tablets at them, and several sinners die in a fiery blaze.   Let’s just say that anger management classes had not yet been developed.   But to give the dude credit, God later makes Moses an offer that most of us would jump on: “Let my anger burn against them and I shall annihilate them, and I will make you into a great nation!”

Basically, God is offering to get rid of all these schmucks and start over again with Moses in the chariot driver’s seat.  But Moses, for some unknown reason — maybe love is blind — begs for mercy:   “These people have sinned a great sin by making for themselves a god of gold. And now, if You would bear their sin. But if not—erase me now from your book that You have written!”

Translation: “Sure, these Israelites are are a bunch of sinning, high-maintenance assholes — just wait until one day when they have their own country — but I’m one of them, and I love them — despite it all — so just kill me too while you’re at it.”

Unconditional love.   Neurotic, maybe, but isn’t all love?


I know someone is going to comment here that the most important person to love is yourself.   Despite my kvetching, I do love myself.   I find myself very amusing and lovable.   But you just can’t hang around with yourself ALL the time.

Matzoh Brei


During Passover, you’re supposed to eat matzoh, symbolizing how the Israelites ran out of Egypt so quickly, they didn’t have time to leaven the bread.

The best Passover meal is not during the seder, but the next morning.  Matzoh brei is incredibly easy to make.  It is a cross between French Toast made with matzoh and an omelete.

I love matzoh brei.  If, for example, a beautiful woman invited me up to her apartment this week, and we made passionate love all night in her bedroom, I would wake up early the next morning to make her some Passover matzoh brei for breakfast, and after taking one bite, she would no doubt be praising the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Of course, since she praised the Lord several times last night in bed, when I went under the covers, maybe SHE should wake up early and make me the matzoh brei!

(Gimme a break!  Like the rest of you don’t promote yourselves all the time on your dumb blogs?  —  I wrote a book!  I went to a conference!  I met Dooce!   Blah Blah Blah.  — It’s time for me to promote myself!)

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Matzoh Brei
(via Melissa Clark)

Time: 20 minutes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup diced onions
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 boards(about 2 ounces) matzoh, broken into pieces
5 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. In a skillet over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms and raise the heat to medium-high. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.
3. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the matzoh and cook, tossing to coat the matzoh in butter, for 2 minutes.
4. Pour the eggs into the pan and season them generously with salt and pepper. Cook, scrambling the mixture, until the eggs are set, about 2 to 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 2

Neilochka Loves Matzoh Brei

I have been honest with you that things are bumpy with Sophia. I’m sure there are many single women out there waiting for the post where I finally write — “I’ve been booted out,” because that means it is now your opportunity to sent me that bra in the mail and win me over for yourself. But, I’m going to warn you. I’m not that easy. I will never date any woman who doesn’t pass a certain test. I’m not talking about judging you on your tits or ass. I’m not even talking about intelligence.

No, I’m talking about your ability to make matzoh brei.

What is matzoh brei?

To better explain matzoh brei, let’s go directly to the passage in Exodus where it is explained in the Bible:

One day, Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt, and was helping out the “cooking crew” by carrying some matzoh. His brother Aaron was carrying a big jug of scrambled eggs. These items were going to be served for breakfast, right after morning prayers. As they were walking, Moses got distracted by a young Israelite maiden.

“Holy burning bushes,” he said to himself. “Her breasts are a round and soft as Egyptian melons!”

Just then, he tripped on his staff and dropped all the matzoh in Aaron’s jug of scrambled eggs.

The Israelites, a stiff-necked people, started grumbling.

“What did you bring us into the desert for. Moses, to starve us? You ruined breakfast, Moses! Who wants to eat that crap? First the gefilte fish, and now eggs with matzoh inside? You’re killing us, Moses! How are we supposed to keep on walking in this hot desert without some nourishment? And what kind of God sends us to this crappy piece of land surrounding by people who hate us… and not even any oil on the land? Why not Paris or Toronto? Better to be slaves in Egypt. At least they made good shish-kabobs and we got to dance like Egyptians.”

Moses was distraught. Not only were his people angry, but his wife, Zepporah, saw him checking out the maiden’s cleavage, and she was NOT happy.

“God, help me!” cried Moses. “What can I do to appease these Israelites, who just keep on complaining about the food we’re serving? What do they expect — a four star restaurant in the desert.”

“Moses. These are Israelites. They love to complain. Listen to me. Lift up that tablet lying there at your foot. I will show you what to do.”

A bolt of lightening hit the tablet.

Moses read what was engraved.

“A recipe for matzoh brei?” asked Moses.

“Take my word for it, Moses.” said God. “Tell the Israelites that even Rachael Ray eats the stuff, so they’ll think it is more special that the goyim like it, too.”

“Thank you, God. You have saved your chosen people again.”

“That’s what I’m here for… sometimes.”

“Just one more thing. Zipporah is really pissed at me for checking out that fair maiden’s tits.”

“Those were excellent, weren’t they? How can anyone ever doubt my existence when a hot woman like that exists in the world?”

“Here. Here. But I think Zipporah is so mad at me, I might not get any… good-lovin’ tonight. Can you help me with that?”

“God is One. And all Powerful. Just not that powerful. You’re screwed Moses. Good luck. And from now on, include a bitter herb at the Passover seder to remember that bitter night you spent alone with the camels outside the tent.”

A simple matzoh brei recipe from The Complete Passover Cookbook by Frances R. Avrutick:


* 4 matzohs
* 4 eggs
* 1/2 cup milk
* Salt to taste
* White pepper to taste
* 3 Tablespoons butter

For variation, try adding some chopped fresh chives.

Break the matzohs into small pieces and soak them in the water in a large bowl until soft but not soggy. Drain well.

In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper. Add the matzohs. Blend together.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the egg mixture. Cook over medium heat. As the eggs begin to thicken and brown, stir from the bottom with a wide spatula or pancake turner, keeping the matzoh in large scrambled pieces. If you prefer, cook the egg-matzoh mixture as a large omelet, browning on both sides. Turn out onto warm serving dish.

Yield: 4 servings

Disney Israel Presents “The Girl Who Didn’t Believe in Passover”

Once upon a time, there was a pretty Israeli girl named Ariel. She lived in Tel Aviv. All she wanted to do was go to the beach with her friends and have fun, listening to music and checking out the cute, slacker boys.

“You can’t go to the beach on Saturday,” said her mother during dinner one night. “It’s Passover. We’re going to have a seder.”

“Do I have to?” complained Ariel. “The weather is going to be perfect on Saturday.”

“It’s Passover!” replied her mother. “We celebrate our freedom from Egypt. Think of all the good food we get to eat!”

“I’m on a diet, Mom. And seriously, do you really believe that old story? That Moses forced the Pharaoh into “letting his people go” from slavery? How could a bunch of scrappy kvetchers ever compete against the mighty Egyptians?

“It was God who guided them.”

“Right. And then you expect me to believe that with Pharaoh’s army in pursuit of the Israelites, the Red Sea opened up JUST FOR the Israelites, to let them pass through under the sea.”

“You know, you’ve very cynical for a young girl, Ariel!”

That night, Ariel had a wild dream about what happened under the Red Sea so many years ago. And during this dream, she finally learned the true meaning of Passover:

Still need a cool progressive-oriented Haggadah for your seder? Download a cool self-made one by Velveteen Rabbi (Rachel Barenblat).

An NPR Easter

The announcement came from Rome:  after pressure from the ACLU, the courts had decided that crucifixion was unconstitutional.   Jesus was released and returned to his job as a carpenter, continuing his sermons as a side gig, speaking out on progressive issues important to the local community while raising his blended family.

(Coming soon:  An NPR Passover — where God’s Ten Plagues are held up in court as excessive punishment,  Moses negotiates with the Pharaoh, and the Children of Israel remain in Egypt as immigrant-workers, but with better health insurance.


A man appears at the door.  It is Irving Berlin.

Irving Berlin: What kind of stupid post is this on Easter?

Neil: Irving Berlin?  What are you doing here?

Irving Berlin: I like to show up on every important Christian holiday.

Neil: Why’s that?

Irving Berlin: Well, the last time I came to remind you that shiksas love Jewish men who write Christmas songs.  Today, I’m going to brag about Jewish guys who write Easter songs.

Neil: I never liked “Easter Parade” that much.  Sort of a boring song.

Irving Berlin: F**k you, Neilochka.  Let’s see how you lucky YOU get with non-Jewish girls when you move out of Sophia’s house.

Neil: You know, Irving, would it have killed you to actually write a song for your own people — like a Passover song?  I’ve always found Jewish girls very hot.

Irving Berlin: Yeah, I guess they can be sexy.  But I avoid them because they remind me of my mother.

Neil: That’s silly.

Irving Berlin: You know, Sophia actually looks like your mother when she was younger.

Neil: What are you saying?  That I want to…. my own mother?!


Irving Berlin: How’s therapy going, Neilochka?”

Happy Easter!   Here are a few photos from the Easter Parade that Sophia and I took a few years ago —











Letter from Iran


Today is Passover.   It’s one of my favorite holidays, because of the food and the re-telling of the dramatic story of the Israelites leaving Egypt.   Who cares how true it is!  I perfectly understand weaving a tale filled with half-truths and exaggerations.  Maybe the Israelites just crossed a little river, but who’s going to see that movie OR join that religion?  Let’s make it the entire RED SEA!  And let’s give it some action, with the Pharoah and the Egyptians at their heels, racing to capture them.

Sadly, the Middle East is still a place of conflict and hatred.   Arabs hate Israelis.   Sunnis hate Shiites.   Our troops are fighting in Iraq.   Iran is creating nuclear weapons. 

I hate to sound Pollyannish, but I think we’re all basically the same at heart.  If you’re a man — I don’t care if you are from Toledo or Timbuktu — you have the same SEVEN BASIC worries as every other man.

1)  Can I get a date to the prom?

2)  Will my wife still look good in twenty-five years or will she look like her mother?

3)  Is there any safe way to make my penis even bigger?

4)  Is this the clitoris and should I ask her to make sure?

5)  Why do I make such a small salary?

6)  Why do the assholes from college always become the most successful ones?

7)  Boxers of briefs?

We think we are different culturally, mostly out of pride or nationalism, but it isn’t true.  We are all the same.  And every once in a while there is a brave hero who acknowledges that.

One of these heroes is Hedieh.    Hedieh lives in Iran.  He wrote me this email from Iran.  Af first I thought it was spam, but it is actually from Iran —

I have no idea how inconvenient this might be to write you an e-mail, but I thought it might be interesting for you to know that someone reads your blog from IRAN.
I was once browsing through weblogs trying to find one who talks about life, women, family, tough times, a bit of politics,…. And I came across your blog.  I started reading, and before I know it, I had been scrolling down for hours. Anyhow, just wanted to let you know that I truly enjoy your writing, your ideas and your style.
Oh, and you are funny, really.

Cheers to you Hedieh.   I knew it!  Deep down in their hearts, all men enjoy corny sex jokes!   In fact, wasn’t it the great Persian love poets of the Safavid era who combined both mysticism and erotic passion? 

Can blogging create world peace?  Hedieh, please tell you friends about some of the other blogs on my blogroll.  Read them carefully.    A bunch or weirdos, right?   Neurotic.  Horny.  Confused.  But dangerous?  War-monging?   Nah.   The just want to eat hummus, have orgasms, and watch sports on big-screen TVs, just like you do!   Why can’t we all get along?

May peace come about through blogging!  Happy Passover!

(update — this post makes less sense now that I learned that Hedieh is a woman!)

Thanks for the mention about “The Secret,” Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St.Paul.   I love Minneapolis, home to such wonderful people as Voix de Michele, Not Faint Hearted, and Mary Tyler Moore.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Double Entendres and Croissants

Never Trust a Female Blogger


The recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas after 1700 years shows "Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator."

So, it probably time to stop using the word "Judas" as synonymous with "betrayer." 

May I suggest a new term — "Megan."

Yes, cute and lovable Megan, the blogger who befriended my wife despite my concerns that this friendship will only means trouble. 

Men, do not let this happen to you.  Keep your girlfriends and wives locked away when meeting fellow female bloggers.  Women will always betray you.  It’s like they have a secret sisterhood.

What happened?  Why am I so up in arms today?  

Well, yesterday, I was in a very happy mood.  I got all my passive-aggressiveness out in my blog post and I was pure positive energy.  I even thought I’d surprise Sophia when she came home by opening the door wearing nothing but my boxer-briefs.  But as I opened the door, all I noticed was a scowl on Sophia’s face.

"I hear you wrote about me on the blog today." she said.   "And you portrayed me in a unflattering light."

"Uh… no, I portrayed you as nice.  How did you know what I wrote about today?"

"Because Megan called me.  She didn’t like how you wrote about me.  She said I need to bop you on the head when I get home.  And if she could, she’d beat you up, too."

"Megan… called you up… about my blog post?"

This was utterly shocking to me.  My Megan… the blogger I used to flirt with in emails.. can she be turning into a fink rat informer?    If she did this, she just broke one of the major rules in the blogger’s handbook.  "Do Not Rat Out Blogger to Wife."

"You are so TAKING that post down now.  You promised that you would ask me first before writing about me."

"I can’t take the post down.  I’m getting tons of comments on it.  And you’re the good one in the post.  Really.  It’s all about how I’m the passive-aggressive one."

"Did you tell them how you bought the exact cake that I told you NOT to buy."

"Yeah, yeah, sure, sure… I made you look good and me bad."

"And I’ll say it again.  I’m not like my mother."

"Of course not." (add appropriate emoticon for sarcastic effect)

(Editor’s note:  The last two lines were never really exchanged, but were added for "humorous effect.")

Sophia is really wonderful.  Eventually, she said it was OK to keep the post (after making a few minor adjustments to the story).  I see it as a victory for male bloggers everywhere.  Like Woodward and Bernstein, I stood true to my story.   I didn’t let the woman call the shots.  

For once, I roared like a Belgian tiger!

Later that afternoon, we got ready to attend our second Passover Seder.  No cake debacles here.  Our second seder was one of the nicest I’ve ever been to.  Sophia and I were invited to the home of blogger Danny Miller, who not only writes his own terrific blog, but contributes to the Huffington Post.  So going to his big-wig seder is the blogger’s equivalent of going to the celebrity seder of Leonard Nimoy.  Danny and his wife, Kendall, have an amazing historic home, the brisket was perfect, the guests were interesting, Sophia sang wonderfully, and Danny’s daughter, Leah, impressed us all with a puppet reenactment of the Ten Plagues.

But perhaps the highlight of the evening was when Kendall served me the matzoh ball soup with two giant matzohs balls.

"I hear you like big boobs."

Obviously, Danny told this bit of information to his wife.  But that’s OK. I don’t mind Danny imparting that type of information to the world.  I know Danny would NEVER rat me out to my OWN Wife. 

Eh tu, Megan?

Passover Joke


For months, Moses has been telling the Israelites that he’s going to get them out of Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land.   But ever since Moses got involved, the Pharoah isn’t budging, and the overseers are only making them work harder.

The Israelites, kvetchy by nature, are getting annoyed.

One of the Israelites goes to Moses and says, "So, nu?  What’s going on?"

"Don’t worry," says Moses.    "God is gonna get us out of here."

"Yeah, like how?"

Moses looks up towards the sky. 

"If the Pharoah doesn’t give in, God will smite Egypt with a rain of frogs."

"Oh, boy," says the guy sarcastically.  "Like that’s gonna really work with the stubborn Pharoah."

"Believe me," says Moses.  "If the Pharoah resists that, God will smite Egypt with a plague of locusts."

The guy remains skeptical. 

"The Pharoah’s no wuss.  You think he’s just  going to give in because of some bugs."

Finally, Moses gets a little peeved. 

"Listen, you stiff-necked nudnick,  why don’t you trust me?  God will get us out of Egypt."

"OK, so let’s say he gets us out of Egypt.  What happens when we get to the Red Sea?"
"God will part the waters of the Red Sea to open your path to the Promised Land."

The Israelite scratches his head. 

"If God can do all that, why doesn’t he just walk us out of here without going through this whole big rigamarole?"

Moses nods in agreement.

"I know.  I know.  I asked God the same thing.  But it seems like He’s a bit of a drama queen."

Easter vs. Passover 2006: The Grudge Match

(Easter eggs vs. Passover matzoh balls)

Yes, it’s that time of the year again as Jews and Christians battle it out for Spring Holiday of the Year.

Let the Games Begin!



Marshmellow Peeps  (-10)
Cadbury Mini Eggs  (+12)


Fruit slices (+5)
Barton’s Kosher for Passover Chocolates  (-15)




Hot Cross Buns  (+25)
Assorted Easter Cakes  (+50)


Streit’s Macaroons  (-150)
Passover Cakes (-100)




Glazed Ham  (-150)
Leg of Lamb  (-50)
Vegetables   (+50)


Brisket (+150)
Matzo Kugel  (+75)
Gefilte Fish (-25)
Matzo Ball Soup (+350)




Making Easter Eggs (+30)
Rolling Easter Eggs  (+3)


Finding the Afikomen [hidden matzo] and making money (+100)




The Easter Rabbit (+20)


Elijah showing up to the seder to drink his “glass of wine.” (-1)




“The Passion of the Christ” — a violent and depressing movie (-25)


“The Ten Commandments” — old-school epic with lots of action and sex. (+140)




Bringing Heidi Klum to your Easter Dinner.   (+100)


Bringing Barbra Streisand to you Passover Seder. (+550)


Time to Ruin Another Christian Holiday!


Dear Fellow Congregants of Temple Beit Blogosphere,


May I commend you on the excellent work you did last month.  Getting Walmart to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" was a real coup!  We even got Bill O’Reilly’s attention, and he ended up promoting it endlessly. 

Did you know that one of Bill O’Reilly’s producers is Jewish?  What a shonda!  Let’s not even bring up that Jack Abramoff.  Never trust an Orthodox Jew who spends too much time at an Indian casino.

Anyway, the Temple Sisterhood is already making plans for next year’s big Holiday controversy.  Imagine what FOX News will say when we suggest changing the title of the traditional carol "Silent Night, Holy Night" to "Silent Night, Ho Ho Ho Night."  so it is less "religiously Christian."  Ooh, boy, that’s going to be a good one!  You’ll all be receiving your memos in the mail some time in September.

As you know, the next big Christian holiday is Easter.  Normally, here in America, we don’t get much bothered by Easter.   After all, we have Passover, and most of us would rather eat some good gefilte fish than an Easter ham.   In fact, I’m sure if Jesus was here himself, he’d be chugging down the Manischewitz at a seder with the rest of us. 

However, things might be different this Easter.  According to the Washington Post, trouble is brewing in Easter-land, and it has nothing to do with wearing bonnets:

Three months before the annual Easter egg roll at the White House, the usually festive event is already taking on a divisive edge because of plans by gay- and lesbian-led families to turn out en masse in hopes of raising their public profile.

Conservative groups are up at arms at the thought of thousands of gays and lesbians coming with their children to participate in the annual White House  "egg roll.".

"It’s improper to use the egg roll for political purposes," said Mark Tooley of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Now, most Jews only know one "egg roll," and it goes best with a little spicy Chinese mustard.  But maybe it’s time for us to take a little political action of our own.  Why shouldn’t our children have the simcha of going to the White House and playing on the front lawn with all the Christian kids?  

Of course we want our "little bundles of joy" to maintain their Jewish identity at this event.  That’s why Danny Lebowitz of the Temple Men’s Club had the wonderful idea of providing each Jewish child with his or her own matzoh ball to roll on the White House lawn. 

What a great country this is where Christian children and Jewish children can play side by side, rolling their eggs and matzoh balls side by side! 

Take that, Bill O’Reilly!

Rabbi Neilochka Kramer