Kelli Pfaff April 18, 2016

While my family relishes traditions that help us mark and commemorate each major Jewish and American holiday, Passover remains our collective family favorite.

The traditions of celebrating Passover with extended family continue to evolve as my generation grows in our faith and our children get older.

First night Seder is celebrated at our dear cousins, Michelle and Doug Striker. Every year they out do the year before: mouth watering brisket, matzah ball soup and a spread of delicious foods that help us commemorate and honor our freedom as Jews.  Doug is our Seder leader and creates interactive ways for kids and adults to participate, complete with plastic figurines and masks for each plague.

Second night Seder has lent us a new tradition. My husband, Evan, and I host a small group of our interfaith friends. While I was raised at Temple Emanuel, I never fully grasped the significance or meaning of Jewish ritual. In contrast, Evan was raised in a conservative synagogue and attended Orthodox day school in Bexley, Ohio. His depth of knowledge and connection to Jewish prayers and mastery of Hebrew have inspired me. When we got married, we opted to keep kosher in our home and prioritize Judaism as a central part of our nuclear family.

Sara Pfaff, the famous brisket maker, and her grandson
Sara Pfaff, the famous brisket maker, and her grandson

This second night Seder offers a space to lead a more traditional Seder service and provide an inclusive space for our friends.  Best of all, we get to share his mom’s famous brisket recipe!

Evan and I enjoy opening our home to our community. We like to entertain; it gives us such great joy to laugh and be with good friends and family.  Each year we attempt a little greater adherence to Pesach customs – removing all chametz, deep cleaning, eating on separate plates. I find that these actions enhance my observance of the holiday and models tradition for my children.

And so, without further ado…here I share my mother in law, Sara Pfaff’s famously simple and delicious brisket recipe:

Lay brisket fat side down in pan.
Sprinkle meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dill seed
Cover with chopped onions
Spread coat of ketchup over all
Cover and bake at 325 until fork goes in fairly easily (it will cook more when you reheat it).
When cold, slice against the grain.


Kelli Trotsky Pfaff is a native Denverite and enjoys yoga, cooking, studying Kabbalah, and socializing and entertaining.  She lives in Lowry with her husband, their two children, Levi (5) and Aviva (2), their fabulous nanny, Melissa, and Demi, their Tibetian Terrier.