(Santa Monica Daily Press) — Like any devout member of the tribe, Jessica Katz looks forward to Passover Seder, the Jewish ritual feast that involves the retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.
She enjoys the time spent with family and friends, the customs, the opportunity to reflect and give thanks — and, most of all the, matzo, that unleavened flat bread considered by many to be the official food of Passover.
Jessica Katz, who suffers from celiac disease, soaks some of the gluten-free matzo she helped develop along with her husband Ben. U.S. consumers are expected to spend more than $3.5 million on matzo during the week leading up to Passover.
Some find matzo bland, kind of like a Saltine cracker without the salt. But not Katz. She loves it plain, mixed with eggs, brown sugar and cinnamon (matzah brei) or floating in a bowl of soup.
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But after being diagnosed four years ago with celiac disease — an autoimmune disorder in which your body's own immune system attacks your intestines when you eat gluten, the protein found in grains, especially wheat, and used as a thickening agent in many foods — she realized that she could no longer enjoy one of her favorite eats, and more importantly not participate fully in the seder. And that's a serious blow to any dedicated Jew.