The good

I know it’s almost Passover because today I got tipsy while tasting my homemade charoset.

If this is what they used to build pyramids in Egypt, it couldn’t have been THAT bad.

Almost two bottles of dry red wine. Yeah, baby.

Passover is in the air. The extra traffic on the streets of Jerusalem gives it away. Spring is tipping its hat hello as birds sing outside my window and everyone is asking each other where they’ll be for the seder (birds included). Even my produce store has a garlic decoration in honour of the spring holiday.

At the mall, dozens of stalls are selling Passover-related goods like seder plates and charoset holders. It’s all so enticing and creative (and I don’t want to hear one thing about it being made in China).

Everyone is cleaning, including a majority of restaurants which are already closed today so they can be kosher in time for Passover.

But maybe most exciting of all, Gilad Shalit will be celebrating his first Passover in years, free in Israel.

The bad

And then there are the people who probably cannot fathom cleaning or enjoying the coming of spring. I imagine them being too busy suffering blinding sadness in order to think about things like that.

As the holiday approaches, these people are on my mind. For example:

Avivit Shire
Avivit stood outside her home in Rechovot last week and watched as her five children burned to death in their home. Her husband, Guy Shire, 38, died trying to save them. Their children: Eliav, 12, Eviatar, 8, Amitai, 7, Shira, 3, and Itamar, 2.

Eva Sandler
Eva is the wife of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, and mother of Arieh and Gavriel, ages 5 and 4 who were killed in the horrific terrorist attack in Toulouse, France, two weeks ago.

Rabbi and Mrs. Monsonego
These are the parents of Miriam Monsonego, age 7. She was also killed in the Toulouse terrorist attack.

Such fresh wounds. My heart breaks thinking about them before the holiday.

And, heartbreaking in its own right, today, barely two days before Passover, Jews were removed from their possibly illegal homes in Hebron. Did the courts plan this timing on purpose?

The augmented

The steadiness and reliability of the holidays seem to make them a grounding factor in our Jewish lives. The holidays make us feel more united because of our common experience, and yet more individualistic because no two people experience a holiday in the same way.

Around the holidays, people’s feelings of pain are more cutting and people’s joy is more profound. Holidays truly augment the human experience.

I am sure that some people are wondering how they’ll find the strength to celebrate seder this year. And yet, in all its reliability, it will come. The sun will set on Friday and our seders will begin.

I hope that Pessach will be a grounding and uniting experience for everyone and I wish us all a happy and peaceful Pessach.