Vanquish the stress and get rid of the mess
Book: How to Make Pesach in Five Days
Author: Meira Spivak
Publisher: Mosaica Press
The birth of the book
As NCSY director in Portland, Oregon, I’ve been giving classes for a few years on How to Make Pesach in Five Days. Once COVID hit, I realized that with so many first-time Pesach-makers, there was a need to spread the word. I did a video class for a Jewish women’s Facebook group, which got almost 3,000 views, and that made me realize that this should be written down and available. Yes, people managed to make Pesach last year, but they scrambled. With this method, the fear and stress are removed.
Chopping and changing
In my classes, I speak about preliminary organization first, then the five days of actual Pesach work. But in the book, we put the instructions for the five days first, then followed it up with the organizational phase, when you put things like shopping, cleaning help, and babysitters in place. The last section of the book contains Pesach menus and recipes and guidance for women about Pesach from Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg ztz”l.
The best investment I made as a writer
Taking Dovid Bashevkin’s writing course through NCSY’s leadership development series.
Goal of the book
To remove people’s dread of Yom Tov. To vanquish the stress and overwhelm and keep things simple, but nice. This isn’t a gourmet Pesach cookbook; it’s a quick and solid way to make a nice Yom Tov. Of course, everyone can take the idea and get a little fancier if they want to. Personally, I’d rather be rested for the Seder than up until 2 a.m. making three-layer ice cream.
The hardest part
Speaking and writing are very different. I had to refine my material a lot to change the classes I’d given into this written form.
Who the book is for
This is for women and families who want to feel more positive about Pesach, and simplify their Pesach-making. It will be especially useful for young couples, and for those who have gone to hotel programs until now, but want to experience Pesach at home, stress-free.
My writing philosophy
The same as my philosophy for everything else. If I can do it “well enough,” I don’t have to wait for perfection. Talented copy editors can do the rest.
What I learned from the writing process
The power of writing. Giving a class or shiur is amazing, but when you put something in writing, it’s out there forever. Anyone who googles that topic can see and share what you’ve written. Inspired by that power, I started blogging during this COVID year, and I found that it has helped me refine my message and discover my own passions.
This book is very timely — it only has around one month’s sales window each year, which makes selling it a challenge. All proceeds from sales are going to NCSY, and I’ve already presold about 1,100 copies to shuls and other nonprofit organizations. The book is for sale at Judaica Place as well as on Amazon.
What I left unwritten
I intentionally left out both halachah and hashkafah. Halachah has people saying “This is too machmir /meikil for me,” and I wanted it to be accessible and pareve and positive. I’m a very practical person, so the practical approach suited me.
The perk of pressure
As you might have guessed, I work well under pressure. A deadline is a challenge to me, and I enjoy rising to it.
Roll with the punches
Erev Pesach with the kids is crazy in my house too. I find that you can either laugh or cry as the pressure is on and the house turns upside down. It helps if you choose in advance to laugh and roll with the punches.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 733)
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