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The Price of Preparing for Visitors who bring Hope: the cost of Passover - Easter items in Greenburgh
By: Riley Wentzler & Felicia Barber
The Town of Greenburgh consists of the villages of: Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings, Irvington, and Tarrytown. It is a very diverse community: religiously, linguistically, racially and in however else one might define the word, “Culture.” Greenburgh is proud of its multi-faceted cultural diversity. With holidays on the horizon, we turn our attention once again to people of faith.
There are many people of faith in Greenburgh. Whether Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, or Jewish people, all have houses of worship which they treasure. We have covered many of these houses of worship already: Greenburgh’s Jewish Population can look with pride on Greenburgh Hebrew Center located at 515 Broadway Dobbs Ferry, Greenburgh’s Catholic Population can look with equal pride at Mount Carmel Church located at 59 E Main St, Elmsford, Greenburgh’s Presbyterian Population is wonderfully represented by the historic South Presbyterian Church in Greenburgh located at 343 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry and Greenburgh’s Episcopalian Population is justifiably proud of the equally historic Sanctuary of Zion Episcopal Church located at 55 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry. This Holiday Season as in years past, Greenburgh’s Jewish population whether they are: Hasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform, will be celebrating Passover which commemorates their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Greenburgh’s Christian Population, whether they are Catholic or some type of Protestant denomination, will be celebrating Easter which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Both holidays are a time of great joy and hope in the respective religions. Therefore, they both include a special visitor whose presence is an omen of hope. During Passover, Jewish People wait for the Prophet Elijah and on Easter, Christians wait for the Easter Bunny.
We looked to see what, if anything, had changed and what withstood the test of time. We came to the conclusion that the way in which these sacred holidays are celebrated has remained fairly constant. The Tarrytown Daily News has articles describing Jewish people going to synagogue before returning home to have seders with family as early as 1918 (Tarrytown Daily News March 27th 1918, p. 7), and articles describing Easter Egg Hunts as early as 1925 (Tarrytown Daily News April 9th 1925, p. 12). This is a beautiful thing, especially given that from 1918 to Present Day this country has endured: The Great Depression, two World Wars, and a global pandemic. The continued observance of these holidays and the preservation of the unique and beautiful traditions associated with them is truly a testament to the strength of the human spirit. BUT while the celebrations have remained constant, the prices of the items associated with each of these holidays has changed drastically from 1918 - Present Day.
Here is a brief overview:
This is an afikomen bag. An afikomen is a piece of matzah
which is broken off during the seder and which the children
search for after the meal. This is roughly equivalent to
Christian children searching for the Easter Basket.
No single item screams, “Passover is here!!” quite like matzah, since pieces of it are eaten at the seder after a special blessing is said and a piece is also hidden as the afikomen which the children search for after the meal. This tradition in The Jewish Religion is ,as stated in the caption to the photo above, the rough equivalent of Christian Children searching for the Easter Basket. Except, that upon finding the afikomen, children do not get candy, dessert is not allowed on the two nights of the seders. Sometimes, children receive money after finding the afikomen, but never candy. Matzah in a box, like it is available today, did not exist at the turn of the 20th century. People used matzoh flour to make their own matzah, (Personal communication from Naomi Feinkind), but this flour was very cheap. In 1932, and 1933 it was only $0.10 per pound (The Daily Argus November 18th 1932 p. 11, The Daily Argus April 7th 1933 p. 8).
Ad for matzoh flour in The Daily Argus 1932
Today, a five-pound box of matzah will cost you $9.99 or at best $5.00 when on sale (https://www.shoprite.com/sm/pickup/rsid/3000/product/manischewitz-passover-matzos-5-pound-00072700000017).
Easter Bunny hiding Easter Eggs
When one thinks of Easter, one often thinks of eggs whether you are the parent decorating the Easter Eggs or the child eagerly hunting for them. In 1923, you could buy a dozen eggs on sale for the special Easter Price of $0.25 (Tarrytown Daily News March 30, 1923 p. 7).