I’m proud to share these beautiful thoughts about Pesach, in a guest post by my wife, Randi Lipkin…
We are at the time of the year that many of my Facebook friends disappear or at least are not so interested in my posts. I understand why, I get it, I really do! I love Pesach and many of you don’t, are afraid to or can’t handle the weeks leading up to it. I love everything about it, from the moment Purim ends to the moment the last box is repacked for next year.
As a teenager I would work hard to help! With music (Meatloaf again??) in the background and the smell of spring in the air I happily (??) cleaned my room, measured and cut paper to line the cabinets and drawers and crawled into tight spaces in order for that paper to be just right.
As a child it was a highlight of the year! Days before the holiday began we would pull down the steps to the attic and have an assembly line to bring down all the Passover dishes, pots, pans and all the extra special pieces that would be the foundation of some of my fondest memories.
I would sit with my mother watching her make her famous cakes and mandle bread. A day before the Seder my grandmother would come over and make her yummy fricassee. My father would pass through the kitchen, peak under the huge soup pot lid and complain (but not mean it!) about all the money spent.
At the Seder we begin the Passover story with the words “All who are hungry – let them come and eat. All who are needy – let them come and celebrate the Passover with us”. I think this was my mother’s favorite part. Weeks before we welcome guests as part of the Seder my mother would be on the phone making sure everyone in the family would be coming to at least one, if not both, Seders. No one could be alone on Seder night! If we knew anyone who was in need of a Seder she insisted they join us… singles, couples, friends of friends. There was always another table and more chairs that could fit into the “L” shaped living room and dining room.
It’s been a lot of years since we sat in that “L” shaped room on Pesach. My parents and other beloved relatives are gone, family and friends have scattered around the globe and now most of my own family lives in Israel where we celebrate one Seder with children and grandchildren who my parents would have adored. They might be gone but I try hard to link the Pesach of my past with the Pesach of my present through the memories of those years in their home. I do my best to bake the same beautiful cakes (my sponge cake never rises as high as hers did) and serve my meal in many of the same dishes that graced her table. I have the “depression glass” cranberry sauce dish from my grandmother, the chinuk from my other grandmother and the sour pickle dish that I bought my mother for one of her last Pesach holidays with us. But my favorite is preparing the Lenox Seder Plate that I got as a wedding gift and she loved. I decided that I wouldn’t be making Seder any time soon so I wrapped it up and gave it to my parents for their 25th anniversary. This beautiful plate graced my mother’s Seder table for over 10 years until the time came for me to take it back and place on my own table.
So you see, friends, I love the cleaning and the shopping and the menu planning and the cooking and I love sharing that enthusiasm with you because all of it is a link. Not in the chain of bondage to our kitchens but in the chain of warm, happy holiday memories from one generation to the next.
And now I see that I have already prepared the salt water for this year’s Seder…
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I originally wrote this a few years ago, ages before we knew what 2020 would look like. Last year was so difficult for everyone. Seders for one, Seders smaller than we ever could have imagined. No opportunity to share everything we love to share: food, Divrei Torah and songs. People were getting sick, there was fear and confusion everywhere. And yet we all prepared our homes, cooked our favorites, albeit in smaller quantities, sang our familiar tunes and said at the end of the Seder “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
We had no idea what the year ahead held. And now, all over the world, we appear (thanks to the vaccine and unbelievably selfless health care workers) to be peaking out on the other side of this pandemic. I for one am so grateful to be having company at my Seder table again. I only wish there could be more of my family with us. Maybe next year… in Jerusalem.
Wishing you all a Chag Sameach. Enjoy every minute of it!