Seder Trivia Game, 2023 edition

At our synagogue's congregational seders for the last few years, we have played the following game: I have collected unusual Pesach stories, and shared three such stories with the community: two true stories, and one fictional story. Participants then have to guess which two stories are true and which one is false. (If you listen to Wait, wait, don't tell me, you get the idea, except that only one story is false.) You can see previous editions of this game here This is what was presented at our congregational seder in 2022. 2 are true; one is fictional. Answers at the bottom!


Maybe you’ve seen the news about the “great Passover Kosher chicken shortage of 2022.”  It inspired our trivia game this year:  All our three stories this year are related to unusual stories in the news about the availability, or lack of availability, of specific Passover foods.  Two stories are true and one is false. 

Story #1. 

The global supply chain.  Some of us didn’t even know what that was a few years ago.  And now we are all aware that because of the pandemic’s delays in getting items loaded on ships, there are backups in many of the world’s most important ports, and that is delaying production of lots of necessary products.

For example:    The food thickening agent with the unusual and repetitive name “agar-agar” is made from seaweed.  Any product made from seaweed needs to be produced under strict conditions of rabbinic supervision to make sure there are no non-kosher fish products mixed in by mistake.  And one of the few places in the world where the thickening agent called agar-agar is produced under rabbinical supervision is the southern coast of India. But supply chain issues and port backups have reduced the supply of kosher supervised Indian agar-agar this year.

And that had a devastating effect on the market for a particular Passover staple: jellied fruit slices.  

Inexplicably, jellied fruit slices have been one of the most popular Passover desserts in the United States for more than 75 years.  But kosher shoppers noticed that the cost of Kosher for Passover jellied fruit slices were 50% more expensive in 2022 than before the pandemic.  Some manufacturers sought to change their recipe for the fruit slices to do without the agar-agar, with mixed results - some of the slices didn’t retain their shape.  One manufacturer had to put a sticker on the 2022 boxes that says “This year, please refrigerate your Mazon jellied fruit slices.”   

Story #2:


“This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.” 

A Passover Seder is not complete without Matzah -- and for most of us, that Matzah is handmade shmurah matzah.  For many of us, shmurah matzah just makes a seder feel like a seder, in a way that machine-made matzah doesn’t. 

But handmade shmurah matzah is not so easy to find.  In fact, most of the world’s supply of hand-made shmurah matzah comes from just three places in the world.  Two of these top shmurah matzah producers won’t surprise you, but one might.  

Lots of Shmurah Matzah sold around the world is made in various matzah bakeries in Israel.

And lots of Shmurah Matzah sold in the United States is made in various Shmurah matzah bakeries around the New York area.

It’s the 3rd Shmurah Matzah factory that is more surprising.  It’s located in Dnipro, Ukraine - the city that was known as Dniepropetrovsk until 2016.   (You get extra points if you are able to correctly pronounce the word “Dniepropetrovsk.”)   This is the third largest city in Ukraine, and the city with the largest Jewish population in Ukraine.  

Under many years of Soviet oppression, it was almost impossible to buy Matzah in Ukraine or anywhere else in the Soviet Union.   There are records of Jews in the Soviet Union being put on trial in the 1920s for the crime of baking matzah in secret.   

But since the fall of the Soviet Union, the matzah factory in Dnipro has provided a large proportion of the shmurah matzah sold in Europe, and also sells a lot of matzah to the United States and Israel.  Its matzah bakery annually produces about 100 tons of Shmurah Matzah -- or about 2 million 1-pound boxes.  

However:  Whereas much of the 2022 matzah was baked before the Ukraine war began, as of late February 2022 there were 20,000 pounds of matzah on a ship in Ukraine’s port of Odessa that were not permitted to leave.  And much of the remaining matzah made in Dnipro was not able to get where it was intended to go because of the war.

This drop in product available for sale was enough to drive up the price of shmurah matzah around the world in 2022.

The 100 employees of the Dnipro matzah bakery were, however, confident that, come Passover 2023,  they would be back to their normal volume of Matzah production. Imagine what an amazing symbol of freedom and resilience Ukrainian Shmurah Matzah will be, we pray, for Pesach of 2023!

Story #3: 

What’s the most unusual food you could serve at your Passover table?  The Biblical Museum of Natural History in Israel has a new recommendation for your Seder table.  Can you guess what it is? 

Here’s a hint: think about the Ten Plagues. Consider:  Which of the plagues are edible?  And if edible, which of the plagues are kosher?

Let’s go through the list. 

  • Blood: theoretically edible, but not kosher.

  • Frogs: edible - but not kosher. 

  • Lice: hopefully not edible. 

  • Wild beasts: theoretically edible; some wild animals might be kosher; let’s come back to that one if we need to.

  • Cattle disease:   Cattle are kosher, but diseased cattle are not. 

  • Boils:  Yech.

  • Hail:  theoretically edible.  Also theoretically kosher.  Let’s come back to that one. 

  • Locusts:  well, theoretically edible.  And also - Kosher, according to the book of Leviticus.  Locusts and grasshoppers are described in the Torah as being kosher -- even though by the time of the Talmud most kosher observant Jews had stopped eating them…..

…. Until now…. because -- new in 2022 - in time for Passover - the gift shop of the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Israel is selling jars of kosher certified dried locusts!   If you’re willing to pay the shipping costs, you can even get them delivered to the United States!  Apparently they taste like sesame seeds.  

Only one problem, though.  A note on the Facebook page of the museum notes: 

Many people have asked if they [the dried locusts] are kosher for Pesach….. While there is no formal certification regarding Passover, it is our view that they are perfectly permissible for consumption on Passover. The ovens are never used for anything else and are regularly cleaned and disinfected, the locusts are fed nothing other than greenery, and these are whole locusts with nothing added to them.

The museum has, however, indicated a desire to have Kosher for Passover certification for the locusts for 2023.    (And yet we hereby promise you that we will never serve locusts at our congregational seder.)



Story #1 is false.

Story #2 is true (see among other articles)

Story #3 is true   (See and search for 'locusts'


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