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Something not to Pass Over

I’m going to be straight with you — this is my first Post. I’m new to this whole “blog thing” but I figured I better jump on the blog wagon now before it goes (too) out of style.

Phew! Now that I’ve gotten that elephant out of the virtual room, I’d like to introduce myself. What better way to do so, than with a peek through the window I sit by as I work in my Jerusalem apartment.

We’re mid-Pesach break now. Outside, I see the children. Like a flock of ducklings, they waddle behind Mommy pushing a stroller, and Daddy (or Tatty if you prefer) with a backpack slung over his shoulder and possibly even sporting sneakers that peek out of his long black pants. Each child is in their Chol Hamoed best, spanking new outfits from Bazaar Strauss that are still bleach-clean white. They’re certainly out to a long-awaited trip, because during the year — well, there’s just no time. Now with a few days at their leisure they — along with the rest of us — can enjoy long afternoons in parks, eating matzah spread with cream cheese or jelly or butter, with a side of potato chips and apple slices.

Pesach didn’t always look like this for me. I grew up on Long Island, where Chol Hamoed trips needed to be way better than our Sunday outings to the park; think: Six Flags Great Adventure with soaring high roller coasters that make your stomach turn while watching them speed. Where we tried our best to stay true to our values while not sticking out as being “too” Jewish. Where Jews are many, but Judaism is more…private, something to do in your spare time — and definitely an indoor activity.

As I grew older, my own family shed the veneer of New York culture for a much more Torah-centered mode of dress and behavior. My siblings and I all live in different parts of the world now, where we all wear our Jewish clothing — and our Judaism — with pride.

But NEVER in my wildest dreams could I have pictured myself raising a family of Israeli-born children — and in Jerusalem, no less! They speak mother-tongue Hebrew, and my son even knows Yiddish. My husband looks like one of those Rabbis I asked all my philosophical and halachic questions to as a kid. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll open my eyes and wake up from this dream. I still have not.

The obviousness of Jewish practice in Israel around “holiday” season, and on Pesach in particular, is a reminder to me that I yearned for such a life — and I got it. I count my blessings as often as I remember to: my family, my job teaching Jewish values and Torah to groups of students who come to Israel for their seminary year, my modest home in the holiest place in the Universe. I try to remember not to take anything for granted, to remain grateful — as well as optimistic that God will continue to shower even more blessings that I can only begin to imagine.

And that, my new readers and friends, is what I find to be a central message of Pesach. A time when we sit for many hours around a magnificently set table, recounting the Miracles our God performed — and continues to perform — for us. We put ourselves in the painful mindset of the slave, trapped in Egypt, who yearned for a different life but knew not exactly what it was he hoped for. And as the evening progresses, we bask in the happiness of the redemption, dine like royalty, and celebrate the lives we have today with a hopeful eye towards an even brighter future.

About the Author
Mindel Kassorla is a magazine columnist, graphic designer, and Judaic Studies teacher who moved to Israel sixteen years ago. She and her husband Naftali both teach in various Anglo women’s seminaries across Jerusalem and enjoy hosting students for Shabbos from all backgrounds. They also act as a “Shadchan Team,” guiding singles towards marriage and towards a better understanding of themselves.
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