Chag Sameach! Happy Festival!
This week, SHALOM, Disney’s first Jewish Business Employee Resource Group, invited us into their world as they gear up for the Spring celebration of Passover! Beginning at sundown today, family and friends will gather over Matzah and matzo ball soup to honor past suffering and celebrate Spring, rebirth, and community.
Yonit Olshan, Disneyland Resort Costume Designer; Lacey Popkin, Group Specialist Resort; Judy Fixler, Walt Disney World All-Star Music Concierge; Sarah Wagner, Sales and Solutions Specialist; and Carrie Nocella, Disneyland Director, External Affairs, took us on a walk down memory lane to share their favorite Passover memories and how they sprinkle a little Disney magic on this special holiday.
How will you celebrate Passover this year?
Yonit: Many people celebrate with a seder, a festive meal with unique stories, songs, questions, and traditions. This year, SHALOM is excited to start a new tradition—a Zoom celebration for the Disney community. Passover can be celebrated by anybody who has a story to tell because the themes are universal: remembering the hardships of our past and being grateful for better times to come.
Judy: My favorite part about the Passover Seder is opening the door for Elijah. No matter where I am, this has always been a tradition we have done. When my family couldn’t gather in person during the pandemic, we had a Passover Seder over Zoom.
What role does food play in Passover?
Yonit: Food is a huge part of Passover. One would think that avoiding bread and yeast would be difficult or frustrating, but I see it as a way to get creative with recipes. I find it incredibly special having a “kosher for Passover” diet. You can have Matzah, bread without yeast, with almost anything! Also, can you ever truly have too much matzah ball soup? It truly does warm the soul.
Lacey: During Passover, we eat foods that we do not typically eat throughout the year, like Gefilte Fish and chopped liver. I was the most adventurous food eater in the family compared to my siblings, so I always enjoyed the different food!
Sarah: I get to eat my family’s secret-recipe Matzah Ball Soup and brisket!
How do you share Passover traditions with your fellow cast members?
Judy: I often bring Matzah to work to show my co-workers what it looks like and what we eat as a substitute during Passover. My mom taught me how to make a delicious Passover granola, and I usually share that. Also, I like telling the story of Passover and explaining why we eat unleavened bread.
Lacey: I’m the only Jewish cast member on my team, so I love sharing my traditions. I brought Matzah for everyone to try because people that haven’t eaten it their whole lives seem to love it. I was interested to see what my team thought! I love sharing my culture with them, and they all love to hear about our different traditions.
Sarah: I bring Passover to work by answering all questions and allowing myself to be a resource where cast members and leaders feel comfortable asking questions. This year, I am hosting a Seder with my close work friends to let them taste my family’s generational recipes!
What is your favorite Passover memory?
Sarah: When I was younger, we celebrated Passover at Magic Kingdom. We brought our own “Kosher for Passover” chips and soda and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Matzah. We sat in front of Splash Mountain while watching the parade. It is still so fun to keep tradition and have great family time at Walt Disney World!
Yonit: I’ll never forget the Passover Seder that my mom hosted at our Synagogue – the theme was “The Incredibles.” I don’t think there is a family out there who can’t relate to “The Incredibles.” My mom connected each character and their superpowers to symbolism in the Haggadah! For example – part of the story reads “God brought the Israelites out of Egypt with an outreached arm” – guess who that sounds like? Mrs. Incredible!
Carrie: I grew up going to Seders with my grandparents. They were four-hour-long traditional Seders, all in Hebrew. My family always had me say The Four Questions in Hebrew. So, it is special to see the new generation of kids in our family say the same questions now. Passover is by far my favorite holiday.
Of course, we have to ask – What Disney character would you invite to your Seder dinner?
Carrie: Princess Rebecca from Elena of Avalor. She is our first Jewish Latina Princess. A win for representation! I’d like to see more Jewish representation in our stories sharing holidays like Passover.
Judy: I would invite Winnie the Pooh. I feel like he would like the sweet Passover dishes with honey in them. I also feel like he would really enjoy the tradition of relaxing at the table while eating the meal.
Lacey: Pumbaa, of course! He’s my favorite. Also, he’s a warthog who eats bugs, so he would clearly eat the more adventurous Passover foods with me.
Sarah: Most definitely inviting my Peruvian-Jewish friend Kronk. I hope he brings his spinach puffs! I would also invite Mei Mei and all of 4*Town. They would provide great entertainment. And of course, the big cheese himself, Mickey Mouse!
This year, Passover will be celebrated starting at sundown on Friday, April 15, and goes through the evening of Saturday, April 23.