Saturday, April 23, 2016

Is This Night Really Different?

I asked my great nieces and nephews, individually 9, 11, 12, 14 after traditional family first night Seder, what does Passover mean to each of them?

Each one said in their own way, not sure about really "getting" the story but the food is always great and the chaos is always fun--laughing with family, that's what passover means to me.

I shared this with my sister and we went down memory lane of Yiddish Bubbie stirring pots in the kitchen while Grampa Hymie mumbled through a two hour Seder in Yiddish at the fold-out table in a small living room in the Bronx. All the cousins sat around looking at each other, giggling and spilling wine (grape juice). Scaring each other when we opened the door for Elijah the prophet.

It was funny that we didn't understand the story back then either because of the language but we always remember the food and the chaos--and the family. In a way, like the Passover story, the story doesn't change but the cast of characters replace the previous generations cast of characters.

Recognizing the sustaining roles of our elders in our own current gathering is always a sensitive and special feeling. Last night, my sister stirred the pots and made sure everyone was over-fed. my brother-in-law talked rapidly through a modernized Haggadah which was over ruled halfway through to a more traditional one. each of the kids asked one of the four questions, (before the 3rd grader pulled out his trumpet to play the star trek theme).

We sang Dyaneu mumbling the verses but screaming out the chorus.

The kids ran around throwing over sofa cushions looking for the hidden matzoh.

I made chocolate matzoh with my 14 year old niece at midnight because we didn't do it earlier in the day-"as we do every year"- and she said it wouldn't be the same without the tradition of her and me making chocolate matzoh together. "I'm not letting you off the hook, don't even think about it," She said.  Creating this memory for her, and me, was more important than much needed sleep. When the seats at her table are replaced this will be part of her passover story.

Tonight I head to second night, at my daughters home, Rabbi Jessy, with a small group of family and friends in a small living room filled with food, friends, family and chaos--the chaos that is special to passover Seder's.

 My best wishes for everyone for an evening filled with family, food and chaos that makes your Passover Seder story or just a Saturday night story.