Blessed be the sedermaker for she shall inherit the work!
My mother was always the sedermaker in my younger years. Her mother before her and her mother before her, through the generations. In your family, as in mine, there has always been a sedermaker. There are assistants for sure but the major responsibility goes to the sedermaker. This year I am but an assistant. That relegates me to making the gefilte fish and meatballs and doing lots of shopping in Israeli markets and vegetable stores.But I am decidedly not the sedermaker.
Seders have always been important days on all of our family calendars. We tend to think of dates in terms of are they before Pesach or after Pesach. And so I remember that my father died just before Pesach. I heard him, and the pain was mine, say This year Sam won’t be here for the Seder. He knew. He knew.
And yet right after the burial we had a one day shiva followed by, of course, preparations for Pesach. How these two conflicting events could conceivably happen, without missing a single beat, is, I suppose, a tribute to our peoplehood. Everything would be b’seder but Sam would now rest in the peaceful grave in the Herzliya Cemetery.instead of reclining at the head of the Seder table. One less beloved person to share the pride of listening to our progeny, the youngest ones, recite the Four Questions. One person less to comment on the quality of the kneidlach. Sam, my father, loved them heavy and dense, probably the way his mother had made them. I can’t say. I was named after his mother. But of such things are our memories made. The heft of the matzah balls. The bite of the horseradish. The hours of the Seder. Ours never end before midnight. And even then there is so much more to say……and to sing.
It is said, especially in America, that Pesach is celebrated by more Jews than any other holiday. Imagine that! A holiday that requires so much work and preparation is so universally commemorated. Surely not everyone is machmir in their preparations. But, celebrate they do and there is hardly a Jewish home without enormous amounts of matzah crumbs sprinkling the carpet like grains of salt. The eternal spark of Judaism still burns, even amongst the most assimilated.
The Passover story is majestic and powerful. With the help of God our people escaped slavery and became free. What could be more fitting for a celebration than that?:
My family, and yours, have been marking this occasion for centuries. Perhaps the meal at the Seder has evolved as we now have more and more ingredients that make the job easier and more gourmet. My grandfather, Pop, my mother’s father, used to comment on the Pesach cake. If it tasted too good it couldn’t be kasher l’Pesach. I suspect he’s still largely right, but I’ve had some mighty good dairy Pesach cakes, chocolate mousse, cheesecake among them. Pareve. Not so much! Even today. We always talk about a dairy Seder so that we can enjoy the rich desserts. Rarely do we follow through. After all, can you imagine a Seder without the perfume of chicken soup? I can’t.
This year we are awaiting most of our family. Flights will be coming daily with the first arrival due today and the last on Friday. Some of our grandchildren will be here a matter of only three nights. A long ride from EWR to TLV for three nights. I suppose we will be serving jetlag along with the chicken soup. But why do they come? Surely they can be invited to Seders in their various ports of call in Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey.
They come for the same reason that your family members do. So that we can celebrate our freedom together. So that we can sing the joyful songs that we sing at this time each and every year, with our voices blending in sublime harmony and spirit and love and friendship and Yiddishkeit. And so that our hearts will be joyous and our spines will tingle once again as we recite, in Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, L’shana habaa b Yerushalayim.
And so may it be for you and for us. A blessed and peaceful Pesach to all.