On our last trip to Paris we planned to spend an evening catching up with our friend Jane. An artist and writer, she had gone to Paris to live and work a dozen years earlier.
Jane met us in the elegant dining room of our hotel and we were having drinks when my cell phone rang.
“Hello, this is Rabbi Zeller replying to your message.”, said an unfamiliar voice. “I’m sorry I didn’t call back sooner, but the factory was closed for Passover. How can I help you?”
Then I realized this was the rabbi at the Streits matzo company whose voicemail I had gotten two weeks earlier in New York when I had called customer service with a complaint.
And so with my husband, my friend Jane, and several Parisians at nearby tables within earshot, I went on to air my gripe transatlantically.
“First,” I said to set the stage, “I want you to know that my mother bought only Streits matzo, my father especially loved your Moon Strips, and so to this day I buy only Streits.”
“And,” I continued, “since I’ve been making the family Seder, I’ve used Streits mix to make light, fluffy matzo balls that practically float in the soup. But this year I had a catastrophe!”
“What happened?”, asked the rabbi, possibly fearing the worst.
“Our cousin Samantha was coming to Seder,” I said, “and I knew she was gluten sensitive, so I was glad to find Streits gluten-free matzo ball mix in the supermarket.
Happily I bought a box, and when I was ready to cook I added the eggs and oil to the mix and let it stand for 15 minutes. Then I rolled walnut-size balls between my wet palms and dropped them into boiling water. But to my horror rather than floating, they all dispersed leaving me with a pot of cloudy water. And so at Seder my cousin Samantha had no matzo balls for her soup.”
“I can’t image what could have gone wrong! I’m gluten-sensitive myself, and when my wife uses that mix her matzo balls come out perfectly.”, the rabbi said. “I’m so sorry for your trouble. Please give me your address and I’ll send you some Streits coupons.”
And so it was over cocktails in an elegant Parisian dining room that I had an epiphany – there are some mysteries in this world that even the wisest of rabbis can’t solve.
Dana Susan Lehrman