Why is This Night Different?

Because this is the first Passover where my father will not be attending a seder. Even when he was in the Philippines in WWII, there was a seder. He won't go tonight because he says he can't focus on the haggadah. He doesn't feel up to the reading. He knows the food will be good, and it would be good to be with family, but he just won't go.
I remember sitting in Pumpernick's on the beach (63rd and Collins) one year when I was in college. My folks brought me back to school after spring break. I got a car my senior year, so this had to be earlier, maybe '74. The waitress brought the usual basket of rolls and dishes of pickles and cole slaw. It was the seventh day of Passover. We looked at the salt sticks with caraway seeds. We eyed the pumpernickel onion buns. We looked at each other. My mother said something to the effect that it was close enough for government work and took a roll.

Daddy and I sat frozen. Passover wasn't over, yet. How could we possibly eat a roll? My father said he had never, ever broken the bread rule early. I looked at him. He looked at me. My mother continued to butter her challah. He took the pumpernickel onion. I took the salt stick. The guilt we both felt overwhelmed the deliciousness of the rolls.

And tonight, he insists he will nuke a little frozen Tabachnik's matzoh ball soup, and have a little Manischewitz. When I tried to talk him into at least going to the local deli for fresh, he yelled at me.

I can't even bring myself to make soup today, and yet I am home for that express purpose. To prepare my own family's seder. We will use the RLA's grandmother's silver. My grandmother's depression glass dishes. The silver platters were wedding gifts to my parents. The matzoh cover was made by hand and embroidered by my father's mother, and when my Auntie gave it to me, Daddy reminisced about using it when he was a child in Newport. Elijah's cup is the kiddush cup my husband received on his Bar Mitzvah. We will be comforted by ritual and surrounded by physical memories.

The youngest children will be in Disney World this year, on spring break with their mother. The oldest will be at Hillel at her college. To supplement the holes in our numbers, number two daughter will bring some friends.

Last year, my parents came to my seder. It was the last time my mother was able to follow along, sort of. The RLA's mother died just after Passover almost 20 years ago. She insisted on lasting long enough to have a seder with her family.

And all of this change and death just sucks, because Passover has always been my favorite holiday. I feel the continuum of Judaism across time and space. I can feel my ancestors in the rituals. I know that, where ever they are, my Jewish friends are doing the same thing I am. We are all connected on this night, in ways that are for me, more meaningful and real than when I sit in shul for the High Holy Days.

This is religion and ritual on a personal level. Like the haggadah says, on this night, G-d brought ME out of Egypt. On this night I need to let go of what ever is enslaving me. I need to be aware of those who are with me on this night, both in my home and in my heart.

Why is this night different? Because on this night, all is right with the world.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/05 at 03:13 PM in Maudlin Crap

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