One year ago, on Vav Sivan, my world turned upside down. While cleaning for Pesach, my seemingly healthy and vibrant father, Tuvia Ben Nachum – Dr. Theodore Saltzberg (z”l) suddenly passed away. It was incomprehensible to us. My father was a visionary and energetic leader of our family and community. It wasn’t possible that he was gone.
Here I am, one year later reflecting on the time that has passed. It has been a difficult year. My father did so much, it’s incredible how much he accomplished. His shoes were so big, and he is missed so much – not just by me and my family but the entire community. It’s not uncommon for someone to come up to me, even a year later, and tell me how much they miss my Dad.
With Pesach right around the corner his presence is even more strongly missed. My father was world renown for his killer chrayn (horseradish). It was so hot that once the kids dared one of my sons to take a big sniff of the chrayn. He did, turned red, and literally couldn’t breathe for a minute or two! Wanting to be completely prepared to make his famous chrayn, six weeks before Pesach Dad would put up his russel, beets to ferment for the fermented beet juice he would add to the ground horseradish. The engineer in him came up with the process improvement to use a “Sun Tea” pitcher with a spigot on the bottom so he didn’t have to remember to foam off the moldy part on the top of the beets. Then he would be on a mission to find the dirtiest horseradish roots he could possibly find. He always said that the dirtier ones were the strongest. When he found them he would call up with such excitement “I found the best dirty horseradish today!” If he found it too far in advance to have the horseradish roots be fresh, he would fill a vase with water and stick the bottom of the horseradish in it. Eventually it would grow roots and a green top which we would use at the seder. My father was an early riser, and every time I wanted to help him prepare the chrayn (otherwise how would I learn?), he told me he had already gotten up at 4 AM and finished it! My father never put off doing a mitzvah, especially one that gave him so much joy – we really enjoyed that super hot chrayn on Pesach! Last year while we were sitting shiva, my husband found the russel and horseradish that my father had prepared for Pesach. One of the hardest things I have ever done was finishing the chrayn that my father had started last year. I couldn’t conceive of letting the mitzvah that my father had started remain uncompleted. Baruch Hashem my mother (KIH) helped with the recipe (it had been her mothers original recipe). During Chol Hamoed I pulled out the blender, and with the support of my dear husband and kids we finished what my father had started with tears rolling down all our faces the entire time. We savored every bite of that horseradish last year – it was my father’s legacy and tradition passed down to us.
This year I went out and bought my own “Sun Tea” pitcher and put up russel before Purim. I too went in search of “dirty” horseradish and ended up with nine roots – I kept finding ones that were dirtier than the ones I had already bought! I bought a few glass vases at the dollar store and lined up the horseradish roots just like Dad did. This past week I once again pulled out my blender, my gorgeous russel, and my son’s safety goggles, and proceeded to make Zaide’s Chrayn. Let me tell you, nine horseradish roots make a lot of chrayn!!! Wanting to give hakoras hatov to some of our very special friends who have been incredibly kind, supportive, and loving this past year, I bought some Mason canning jars to fill with some of the chrayn that I was making to give as Pesach gifts to these special friends. In the end I had nineteen jars!!! Dear Husband and Dear Niece (who is vising from NY – HOORAY!) helped to add a finishing touch of some special labels and Zaide’s Special Chrayn was complete. The labels even had a “Caution HOT” emblem on them – no one can say they weren’t warned.
I have written in past articles about the impact that my father had on my cooking style. “My Dad is the “by the book” cook and baker in the family. He will follow a recipe exactly and the engineer in him always comes through in the “whys and how’s” when he is in the kitchen.” I really miss his guidance in the kitchen and out. There is a hole in my heart, and I am so sad that he’s not here physically with me now. I know that this Pesach will be especially hard without him here, but I also know that we will try to continue to teach our children about his legacy and all that he stood for. He will alwaysbe here with us in spirit, and in the traditions he taught us.
Have a Chag Kasher V’sameach!!
For more of my Pesach articles check out:
- Passover Meat Thing
- Sharon Matten’s Famous Matzoh Ball Recipe
- Nutty Passover Recipes on aish.com 2013 (because I’m such a nut!)
- Mainly Meringues on aish.com 2012
Starting early…February 10th…
Cut up beets in my pitcher
Add the water…and wait…
Two days later…
Check out the foam on top!
This foam is so gorgeous it needed a close-up!
The horseradishes are waiting…
The beets are fermenting!
It is time.
Beets are done.
Amazingly dirty horseradish!!
Dad would have loved these!!
Peeled, cut up, and into the blender…
Prettiest Russel I’ve ever seen!
I kind of made a mess…
Yes…it took me a while to clean up…
All 19 jars!!
But it was all worth it in the end!!
Ready to go…
We love our friends and
want to give you hakoras hatov for
all your love and support!!