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A Hanukkah Passion Project

latkes
In the spring of 2015, Andy Goldfarb, a local venture capitalist and entrepreneur, launched a new social media site called Breaking Matzo. Goldfarb, an avid Jewish learner, undertook this passion project as a way to share his love for Judaism and family holiday rituals with a broad audience. In August 2015, he began studying with Rabbi Or Rose, Director of the Center for Global Judaism, as Goldfarb was developing the Hanukkah version of the site. Recently, Rabbi Rose spoke with him about this innovative project.

OR — What led you to create Breaking Matzo? Why did you follow up with Hanukkah?

AG — We launched Breaking Matzo to help people make Passover magical, meaningful, and memorable. In designing the site, we divided it into three basic sections: Food, Fun, and Philosophy (as you can tell, I like threes!). My mom, who passed away just as we completed the Hanukkah site, was the inspiration for the project; she instilled in my brothers and me a love for family holiday celebrations. Cooking together was always at the heart of our celebrations. My goal with Breaking Matzo was to share some of this joy with others by inviting them to explore Passover in new or different ways. After receiving such positive feedback to our Passover edition, I decided to move on to Hanukkah. I love the rich symbolism of light and of the menorah (or hanukkiah), the fun of playing dreidel, and of course, experimenting with different recipes for latkes (there are 5 different ones on the website)!

Goldfarb family

 

OR — What is one interpretation of the menorah that you find particularly resonant?

AG — Of the several commentaries I studied with you, I was particularly moved by the idea that by lighting the menorah in our homes we can symbolically bring some of the holiness of the ancient Temple (where the menorah was once lit daily) into our midst. I want to inspire people to make Hanukkah and other holidays that have home rituals more magical by engaging in multigenerational preparation, celebration, and reflection. I believe that simple tactile acts like lighting candles, spinning a top, and cooking are powerful ways to celebrate our heritage and to bring people together. Tradition is repetitive action with meaning. We want to encourage people to make their celebrations inclusive, fun, and meaningful.

OR — What has surprised you most about this project?

AG — I think I have been most surprised by how willing members of our Breaking Matzo Facebook community have been to share their personal stories of Jewish holiday celebrations. When we created the site, we hoped that it would inspire visitors to explore various ways to celebrate with their family and friends. But we did not know how interested they would be in communicating with us and with one another. What we have seen is that people love to share their stories, family recipes, pictures, and ideas for celebration. It has been so gratifying to see a community grow around the site. I think the focus of Breaking Matzo on accessible Jewish rituals and traditions has helped people feel safe enough and excited to share their experiences with others.

OR — What is one aspect of Hanukkah that you want to share with people visiting the Breaking Matzo site?

AG — It is hard to pick just one, but I do want to convey to people how powerful it can be to engage with family and friends in preparing and celebrating this holiday together, and it doesn’t need to involve buying expensive presents. The site includes instructions (including short videos) on how to make candles, homemade gifts, and delicious foods. We also have wonderful discussion questions for each night of Hanukkah that people can explore with their loved ones. The aim of Breaking Matzo is to stimulate people’s minds, touch their hearts, and uplift their souls.

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