Passover is a great Jewish holiday. Think about it — adults eat all night long if they want, and the kids are allowed to literally act like animals at the table. I’m referring to the 10 plagues, of course. In my family, the seder is simply not complete without farfel and frogs.
While tradition remains the most important part of this sacred Spring holiday, such as when we read the Haggadah, eat matzah, and recite the blessings, the seder itself continually evolves. One year my family decides to go all out, and we reenact the ritualistic meal as we sit together on the floor. We take our time as we tell the story about when the Jews were slaves and had to eat the bread of affliction. We also take turns pouring sparkling grape juice into the wine cup (and sometimes the lap, accidentally) of the person next to us, which symbolizes how we are served like royalty.
For a change, the evening meal is casual and relaxed. We pretend to be aristocracy in ancient times and recline on our pillows and lean to the left to express our wealth and freedom. Another symbolic act is to wash our hands with a wet cloth in preparation for the seder and the Passover feast. I feel like I’m at a Chinese restaurant.
Everyone participates in the dialogue and asks questions along the way. After all, conversation is what this meal is all about. Luci licks up the crumbs while Sari wonders aloud, “If God is good, why did he kill the Egyptian babies with the tenth plague?” I stop and think about this one. Once again, my daughter throws me for a loop. I desperately flip through the pages of my new Haggadah, “30-Minute Seder,” to find an answer that an elementary schooler and myself can understand.
The book explains, “While we celebrate the freeing of the Israelites from slavery, God has instructed us to take no pleasure in the suffering of the Egyptians. To commemorate their suffering, each person dips their little finger into the wine and places a drop on their plate as we recite the 10 plagues that God brought down upon the Egyptians.”
This year my family looks forward to heading over to Aunt Amy’s house where we will turn her family room upside down and Uncle Keith will lead us in the Passover story like a standup comedian rabbi. When the cousins take turns reading the Four Questions in Hebrew and English, I can tell they’ve been awake for part of Sunday school. Passover is a highlight of the year because everyone is together again. It’s a time to think about people who are less fortunate than ourselves and appreciate the blessings in our lives.
“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Currently, she is obsessing over her free time after her son’s recent bar mitzvah, so please feel free to send any advice to: [email protected] or visit her website at www.mishegasofmotherhood.com.