April 06, 2009

Transitions- Passover Seder

Some of my favorite memories as a young boy are of shaving with my father. I was around five or so and had my own special razor. It was special because it didn't have a blade in it, but I didn't care. Dad would help me lather up and we'd share the mirror and shave together.

Eventually we'd finish and he'd help me clean off the remaining shaving cream and throw on some aftershave. Mom would always compliment me on how good I was at it, how smooth my face was.

I thought about that earlier today. We were at the hospital visiting my grandmother and mom made a comment about how thick my beard is and the lines in my forehead. She is having a harder time accepting my turning 40 than her turning 65. Or maybe it is that it is becoming harder to visualize me as the little boy I once was.

At the moment things with grandma aren't serious and it appears that she'll be out in time to join us for the seder. It is going to be at my house again. It is the second time that I get to run the show.

Last year it wasn't a planned event. The folks had been spent a couple of months in Israel. My dad got sick and was briefly hospitalized and as a result when they came back to the states he had to undergo some treatment on the East Coast.

As a result the seder was moved from my parent's home to mine. It was a big deal to me. While I had always expected that one day I would take over I hadn't ever imagined that it would happen as it did.

This year my mother called to ask if we could do it again and of course we said yes. It is kind of funny, but I am a bit nervous about it. Last year they weren't here to see me lead, but this year they will be. This year my father won't be at the head of the table, I will and it will be my job to run the show.

So it occurs to me that when I think about 40 years of Pesach memories that my children are finally old enough to really remember things. They have already begun talking about last year and are asking what they are going to get to do this year.

Part of me doesn't feel old enough to do this. Part of me says that I can't possibly be that old and part of me is excited to take this on. Inside my mind I am mapping out what I want to do and trying to decide how I want things to run.

At the same time I have so many images running through my skull. So many memories of past sedarim. A mental scrapbook of things that once were. Great-grandparents, my great-grandparents telling their own stories. My great-grandmother saying that she was shikkered (drunk) from the grape juice. My father talking about his grandfather's English and how he always read "herb" without the silent "H."

Earlier today my daughter asked me to tell her who was worse, Haman or Pharoah. And then she wanted to know if they got to eat Matzah Pizza in the desert.

So many thoughts and so many things to consider. What do I want to emphasize. What is most important for the children to get out of this. Some of the adults will be less than patient, so what do I do to keep them interested.

I am struggling to keep this moving forward, so I'll go for the default option and provide some links to past posts about the holiday.

Struggling With Pesach
Passing The Baton- Grandma is 94
Passover- The High Cholesterol Holiday
What is Your Favorite Pesach Memory?
Some Passover Musings


shavuatov said...

Writing as someone who has no Jewish holiday memories to think about, I really enjoyed reading this, Jack. I will be in a similar boat - I can't make our synagogue's Seder this year, so I am doing ours at home, with an audience of one. I am nervous because I've never done it before, but also relieved since my audience is my BH who has no previous experiences with which to contrast my (likely) mistakes!

I'm sure yours will be a joy and your children will get the answers they want - for now!


manker said...

isnt it amazing how certain "memories of magic" are associated with certain holidays, be it rituals or food smells... You conjure that up so vividly for the reader.

Time for some matzah cafe (one of our chidhood pesach things)

Jack said...

Hi Rachel,

I am sure that your seder will be fine. Chag sameach, I hope your Pesach is very meaningful and rewarding.


You are absolutely right, some of those memories really are magical. I find certain smells to be especially powerful, they really bring out images.

That matzah cafe line sounds quite appropriate. Chag sameach.

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

How different is running a seder from blogging, Jack? Not that different in my experience.

Jack said...

How different is running a seder from blogging, Jack? Not that different in my experience.

Comment moderation is a bit tougher. When Uncle Moishe gets out of line it is harder to ban him than it is here. ;)

itsmypulp said...

One of the things I admire about Judaism is that the stages of life -- the passage from one stage to another -- are demarcated. In this instance, taking over leadership of the Seder marks a change in relation between you and your parents. It's much more positive than saying you're middle aged -- i.e., in the middle generation, between your children and your parents, with certain responsibilities toward each.

Jack said...

Hi Stephen,

That is a good way of looking at it. I am really pretty excited about everything.

It feels a bit like when I was a kid and my folks would come watch me play.

And it is good for my children to see how this all works. I am especially pleased to show them that some of the changes in life are to be eagerly anticipated.

westbankmama said...

So, nu, how did it go? I am sure you were great and your kids are already storing up memories.

Jack said...


It went ok, maybe I'll blog about it.