Don’t Fret. Fress or Essen.

Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, March 12, 2021 / 28 Adar 5781

Summary: This week’s Oasis Songs is all about the food…

*Fress is Yiddish to overeat. Essen just means to eat.

Reading Time: Four minutes

Over the past two weeks, in sermons and here, I have reflected on the pandemic. Topics have included Jewish ethical thinking around vaccinations, and the meaning of this year of shut down. Next week, we will mark a year of being shut down with a ritual gathering. Simultaneously, on Passover we will welcome back small groups of congregants via a sign-up process for services for the first time since the world closed.

With all the attention being paid to the pandemic, both at CNS and in the media, I thought it would be great to shift our focus to Passover. This will be the second year in which our gatherings will be limited. Across our community, individuals and groups are working on our online Haggadah. As soon as it is completed, a link will be provided to you.

Like last year, most of us will have smaller gatherings. That is appropriate. Next year, we will be able to attend larger gatherings again, but for now, we need to stay the course. As a consequence, some of us will be forced to spend the holiday and the s alone. That’s not exactly the most pleasurable way to spend the holiday—and our festivals are meant for us to enjoy. Given that, I encourage all of us to utilize Zoom or the equivalent platform to make the most of this. Join our CNS second night Seder. If you feel too worn down to make a big to-do, streamline where you can.

At the same time, let’s all make our Passover as enjoyable as we can. It’s an actual mitzvah to do so. To help in that, I wanted to offer you a gift of a recipe that is suited for smaller numbers of people. The dish is an Italian one, Salmone al Cartoccio, or salmon baked in foil.

Many cultures have created dishes that are baked in a pouch, or sealed in a pot, or even surrounded by mud. The principle is the same. The item steams gently, and all of the wonderful aromas are preserved until each diner opens the foil packet on their plate.

There are several other benefits of cooking fish in foil or parchment paper. First, the fish tends to stay moist. Second, it can be cooked quickly just before serving. Third, many people don’t like having a fishy smell in their homes; this method eliminates that concern. Fourth, it is very simple to make a beautiful presentation, and opening the pouch is dramatic and fun. Fifth, once you have the principle down, this dish can be endlessly modified. If you eat tofu during Passover, you can even prepare it in a similar manner. Finally, there is no waste. You can make exactly the amount you need, and preparation time is minimal. This is a wonderful dish for a pandemic Seder.

If you do choose to serve this salmon or a variation at your Seder, please let me know how it turns out.

Let me conclude with several traditional salutations you can use to greet friends.

Chag kasher v’sameach—A happy and kosher festival. This salutation is specific to Passover because the laws of kashrut are more involved during Pesach.

A Zissen Pesach—This Yiddish greeting means “have a sweet Passover.”

Moadim l ’simcha—This means “our holidays are for happiness. The traditional reply is chagim u’z’manim l’sasson—“our festivals and holy times are for joy.”

A Happy Passover to you,

Rav D

Salmone al Cartoccio (en papillote/in foil or parchment packages)

This recipe is set up for a single serving, but can be scaled up for however many people you are cooking for. It is fast to prepare, cooks quickly, offers a beautiful presentation, and remains moist. Ingredients can be varied endlessly.

1 12” square piece of aluminum foil per piece of fish

1 serving wild salmon filet if available (6 ounces, but this recipe is forgiving, so you can decide your serving size)

1 organic lemon, thoroughly washed, 3 thin slices,
reserve the rest reserved for juice.

5 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut in half
(if using white, make an additional cut the long way or peel the bottom half as they are denser and have more fiber than green)

1/4 red bell pepper, sliced into half inch wide fingers

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter

2-3 sprigs oregano

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lay out the square of foil in front of you. Fold it in half so it is creased, then unfold it flat again.
  3. On the lower half, make a bed with alternating slices of peppers and asparagus.
  4. Lay the salmon on top.
  5. On the side closer to the crease, lay 3 slices of lemon.
  6. Sprinkle the fish with salt and black pepper and scatter the garlic on top.
  7. Pour the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice on top of the fish.
  8. Fold the top half of the foil over the fish, and crimp the foil together to seal the package.
  9. Place the package on a sheet pan and bake for ten minutes. Serve.

Shabbat Table Talk

  1. Did you have a favorite Seder food growing up?
  2. How are you planning to celebrate Passover this year?

If you’d like to continue this discussion, follow this link to CNS’s Facebook page to share your own perspectives on the topics raised in this week’s Oasis Songs. Comments will be moderated as necessary.

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