Israel-US Recipes: Tips for Fasting and Pre-Fast Meals

The 9th of Av Fast is on Tuesday. Monday afternoon meal is followed by a meal symbolizing mourning right before the fast. Details below.

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Jamie Geller and Tamar Genger,

Seuda Mafseket
Seuda Mafseket

It is a custom for Ashkenazic Jews to refrain from eating meat and drinking alcohol during the 9 days leading up to Tisha B’av (Sephardic Jews refrain from meat the week of the fast) and until the afternoon of the day following the fast.  This year, Tisha B’av falls on July 16, 2013, but begins at sundown on Monday (look at your local synagogue bulletin for the exact times).  Here are some tips for the fast and some menu suggestions.

To start with, push hydration.  There is nothing as important during these hot days of Summer than staying hydrated.  During the three days leading up to the fast it is best to focus as much as possible on drinking more fluids, preferably water or herbal iced tea.

Those who are regular coffee or caffeinated cola drinkers may want to wean off by switching to decaf to avoid or at least delay the inevitable fast day headache.

Plan a filling, but not heavy meal for early dinner right after the afternoon service, leaving time for the meal that symbolizes mourning right before it begins.  You don’t want to overdo anything before starting the fast. So many of use get scared by the idea of not being able to eat or drink for 24 hours that we stuff ourselves and get sick.  Here  are two dishes, one that will hydrate and the other to fill you with sustenance.

For the special meal eaten right before the fast, see the end of the article.

Vegan Corn Chowder (4 servings)

This non-dairy corn chowder is the easiest soup that can actually be served cold or hot. It is inspired from Judita Wingall's Raw & Simple cookbook.

Prep Time : 5 min   Ready Time : 5 min


2 pounds frozen corn kernels, thawed (you can use fresh off the coben it is in season)

2 cups water

1/4 avocado, plus more for garnish

3 cloves garlic

1 lime, juiced

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chipotle or chili powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Garnish: diced avocado, diced tomato, chopped cilantro, chopped jalapeno, chopped red onion


In a blender, blend together all but 1 cup of the corn, the water, the avocado, garlic, lime juice, chipotle, salt, and pepper until smooth. Stir in the extra cup of corn and adjust seasoning to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with garnish of choice.

If you wish you serve it hot, you can warm on the stove or microwave and then add the garnish before serving. If your family members aren't broccoli fans, substitute a frozen vegetable of your choice.

Easy Macaroni and Cheese - No Bake (4 servings)

Prep Time : 20 min   Cook Time : 10 min   Ready Time : 30 min


8 oz (2 cups) whole wheat elbow noodles1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli

1 3/4 cups low-fat milk, divided

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 4 minutes. Add frozen broccoli and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and broccoli are just tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 cups milk in another large pot over medium-high heat until just simmering. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup milk, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the simmering milk; return to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in Cheddar, Parmesan and mustard until the cheese is melted.

Drain the pasta and broccoli and add to the cheese sauce. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat, until heated through, about 1 minute.

The Meal Right Before the Fast: Seuda Mafseket (By Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff)

Tisha B’av (the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av) is the national day of mourning for the Jewish people.

The final meal before Tisha B’Av (“Seudah Mafseket”) is eaten in a state of “mourning”, sitting on the floor, eating a piece of bread and a hard boiled egg with some ashes.

Eating round foods such as eggs, beans or lentils as a sign of mourning is an ancient tradition. When Abraham died, his grandson Jacob was making red lentils for his father Isaac to eat. It was these lentils that Esau purchased from Jacob in exchange for his birthright. The reason such foods are eaten by mourners is to remind us that death and mourning is part the circle of life. Just as bad times come around in our lives, so too good times are sure to follow.

Also these foods are completely closed and have no openings. This reminds us that the mourner also has no “mouth” and is left to sit and mourn their loss without having to speak if they do not wish to.

The Seudah HaMafseket is not eaten as a communal meal. Everyone present sits apart on the floor, so not to cause them to say Birchat HaMazon (the blessing after the bread meal) as a group, which increases happiness, but rather alone.

May this be the last Tisha B’Av our nation must endure before the rebuilding of the third and final Temple in Jerusalem.

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