Plagued by Pesach Internet offers tips, recipes, insights

Pity the poor Jewish Web site developer: No sooner is one Jewish holiday over than another is upon us.

A few weeks ago Jewish Webmasters were all scrambling to get their Purim sites up. This week, Passover pages are causing them sleepless nights.

Here's a roundup of some of the winners among this year's crop of Passover sites.

Aish HaTorah, the big Orthodox outreach group, has one of the most lavish Passover sites on the Web — and, this year, one of the earliest.

Look to for "Haggadah insights," family activiti es, essays on the meaning of freedom, and — of course — recipes.

"Leave Egypt in Style with Aish's Passover Gourmet Cookbook," the recipe page blares. And they're not kidding. The extensive listings include no fewer than four different matzah ball recipes to satisfy just about every taste. There are also alternative menus, including a complete Passover dinner "to impress your mother-in-law."

Lots of luck.

The site also features good multimedia selections, including plenty of Passover songs you can hear on your computer, complete with transliterations on the screen.

Jewish.Com, a top-flight Jewish Web portal, offers a good assortment of alternative Haggadot, Jewish music and an "Ask the Rabbi" feature that tackles everything from the basics ("Why do we eat matzah on Passover?") to the real mysteries of the ages ("What about non-kosher pet food?")

Jewish.Com also has just about the best collection of Passover links on the Net. Check it out at

Jewish Family and Life!, a slick online magazine, has an unforgettable URL —

As usual, the emphasis here is on making the holiday meaningful for the entire family — and not just traditional Jewish families.

Chabad was just putting its big Passover site up this week. But a peek at the beta version suggests it will be an extravaganza, with information on Passover customs, a how-to guide, recipes and a lot of stuff on doing Passover the Lubavitch way.

There's also a "sell your chametz online" feature, now pretty standard on Passover sites. Also: games, stories, messages from the late Lubavitch rebbe and graphical features aimed at kids, including an animated walking matzah ball.

The Lubavitchers, too, have an easy-to-remember address. It's

At the other end of the religious spectrum, the Society for Humanistic Judaism offers a brief exploration of how to celebrate Passover the secular way. Check it out at

And Machar/The Washington Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, offers a complete humanist Haggadah online at

What would Passover be without food? Dozens of sites have recipes for the holiday. One of the best is Mimi's Cyber Kitchen, at passover/recipes.htm

This isn't food your grandma used to make. Check out the Matzah Caramel Pecan Squares.

Too rich for your diet? Then go low-fat vegetarian at these sites: passover.htm and passover.htm

The Orthodox Union offers an extensive assortment of holiday topics, with some useful extras, such as listings of kosher-for-Passover foods. There's learning for all levels, as well as a handy glossary of Passover terms for the ritually impaired at chagim/pesach/pesachguide/ default.htm

The kids will love the nice collection of Passover clip art they can import into their word processing or graphics programs at

Project Genesis, the place to go for serious Jewish learning online, has a big collection of Passover commentaries. This is sober, serious stuff; education, not holiday fun, and can be found at

Last but not least, check out the Jewish Heritage online magazine for a nice essay on a "History of the Printed, Illustrated Haggadah" at nisan/history.html

James D. Besser is a Washington-based correspondent who has been writing about Jewish Web sites since the early 1990s. His columns alternate with those of Mark Mietkiewicz. Besser can be reached at [email protected]