Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #47, March 28, 2021

 Hi all,

Tonight is the second night of Passover, and the second seder (the festive meals that begin this Jewish holiday).  The Haggadah - the book that tells the story of Passover, and which we read at the seders - includes a line near the beginning that reads "Let anyone who is hungry, come in and eat..."

In normal times, I would invite many of you to join me and my family for our seders - over the years, many of my friends have joined us, from my closest friends to new acquaintances from my first semesters at Harvard and NYU to colleagues from the whole arc of my career.  My family's seders are something I've always enjoyed, and something I've been proud to share with the people in my life.

I've decided to continue that tradition in these decidedly abnormal times as well - although we can't invite you to come over and join in person (and, indeed, my family is scattered in our various homes again this year), we'd love for you to join our virtual version.  If you've never been to a seder but are curious, or if you have and enjoyed it, or if you don't even know what a seder is, or if your family isn't doing one this year and you miss it, please let me know and I would be more than happy to share the Zoom link with you.  Although I now lead our seders these days, and I'll be the first to admit that I'm no match for my grandfather's confident theatrics and sonorous voice that are so much a part of my childhood memories, I do my best to stay true to our traditions.  We'd be thrilled to welcome anyone who would like to join us this evening.  We'll open the Zoom for hellos at 5:30pm EST, with the seder itself starting around 6pm.

As always, previous digests can be found on my blog at  If you have suggestions or would like to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.


Entertainment and Education
  • Ok, so we can't really fly to Paris for fun yet, and most of us still aren't up for trips to museums, but the Louvre just released its entire collection online!  Bon voyage!
  • Looking for a more structured guide to famous art?  Check out this online class on the art and history of Florence, courtesy of 92Y.
  • Is MasterClass not quite scratching your itch to learn new skills?  Check out this list of nine free courses being offered online by NYU - most are computer-related, but there's also one on Performance Studies.
  • For the baseball fans out there, 92Y is offering free online streaming of a literary performance of Don DeLillo's classic baseball novella Pafko at the Wall; it was performed in October 2019 by Billy Crudup, Zachary Levi, and Tony Shalhoub, and was followed by a discussion among writers Jennifer Egan and Rowan Ricardo Phillips and Harper's Magazine web editor Violet Lucca.  The video will be available here through Tuesday.
  • NJPAC has brought back the open mic - virtually, of course.  Check out the next performance on April 1.
  • If your kids are fans of How to Catch a Monster, be sure to catch this reading by the author!
  • Looking to inspire your kids with the stories of other amazing kids?  In the 1990s, when the ADA was stalling in Congress, activists organized a demonstration to show lawmakers how difficult it was for people with physical disabilities to move around in public spaces, and demonstrators shed their assistive devices like crutches and wheelchairs to crawl up the front steps of the U.S. Capitol.  This kids' book, All the Way to the Top, tells the true story of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, the youngest participant at 8 years old.
  • The New York Times Book Review is 125 years old!  Take a virtual tour through the history of the Book Review here.
  • SCOTUS is back!  The full list of cases being argued this week can be found here, but the highlight is probably the NCAA compensation case on Wednesday at 10am EST - you can listen to all the oral arguments on C-SPAN's website here.
  • Are you a coder?  Check out this game inside of a font!
  • Children of the '80s and '90s, rejoice!  Toys 'R' Us will be making a comeback this year, with new stores opening in time for the holiday season.
  • Have a vaccine appointment, but need transportation?  Curb is offering free transportation to vaccine appointments for all New Yorkers, via taxi or ambulette service.  See here for details.  Lyft and Uber are also offering free rides nationwide - see here for details on how to take them up on the offer.
  • I'm a little late on this for this year, but apparently, it's quite easy to create a custom Haggadah for your next seder at, with options to either download it as a PDF or order prints.  I will definitely be looking into this for next year!
Passover Recipes: One of my family's, plus a few from the internet that look delightful.
  • Matzah Brei (aka "fried matzah"): Break 2 sheets of matzah into 9 pieces each.  Place in a bowl, cover with water, and soak for about 20 seconds - you want it to soften a bit, but you don't want it to get waterlogged and start disintegrating!  Drain the water and add 1 egg (if you like it eggier, use 1 egg/sheet), and salt and pepper to taste.  Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saute pan over medium heat, wait until it froths and browns slightly (or not, if you're hungry), then add the matzah and cook, stirring occasionally, until the egg is thoroughly cooked (it will get less shiny as it cooks).  If you want to mix things up a bit and go savory, try adding some chopped rosemary, or some garlic and parmesan cheese.  If you want to go sweet, try some cinnamon sugar (only recommended for those with a serious sweet tooth, or for Day 8 when everything is starting to taste the same).
  • Passover Popovers
  • Martha Stewart's Toffee-Chocolate Matzah
  • Passover Macaroons

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