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Eerily Similar to Our World Today
Passover is less than a month away and yet, it seems especially fitting this year. Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. This is at a time when the world is bearing witness to the mass exodus of Ukrainians under siege from Russia and Putin. Ukraine’s President Zelensky, himself, is Jewish and lost family in the Holocaust.
For those that are not familiar with the meaning behind Passover, the Jews in Egypt had put sacrificial blood on their doors so that the death angel would pass over their homes when killing the firstborns in Egypt. Thus the name Passover.
Similarities between 1200 BC and Today
“The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and in every day.” — Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
After the Egyptian Pharaoh’s son was killed, he told the Jewish people they were free to leave but then changed his mind and chased after them following their escape. It’s ironic that the safe corridors for Ukrainians to evacuate were agreed upon. Yet, we have seen Russia change its mind and renew shelling
Our Family Traditions
“You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.” — Exodus 23:9
For as long back as I can remember, we have celebrated Passover dinner at my parent’s house. Often, there would be well over 25 people which included immediate family, relatives, and friends, whether they were Jewish or not. My parents instilled in us the importance of welcoming anyone who did not have a place to go for dinner. And, they loved sharing our tradition with those that were not Jewish.
When I started hosting Passover dinner at our house, everyone was welcome.
Hide the Matzoh
Traditionally, the middle matzah would be hidden by my father. I have fond memories of finding the matzah and then bargaining with dad for money. My daughters and their cousins all looked forward to this game at our family Passover Seders.
My two nieces found it every year. In the years they were not at Passover because of college or living out of town, the others certainly didn’t mind because now they stood a chance. Now that my dad has passed, my mom and I strategize to find a great hiding spot. Last year, we had a guest who is not Jewish. They followed the others but my 89-year-old mom sensed they looked confused. She discretely asked if they knew what they were looking for. Their answer was “no.” But, they ended up finding the matzoh and getting the money.
We have several toddlers in the family now. In a few years, the tradition will be passed on to their generation. Keeping these traditions alive every generation allows us to remember our past.
Passover Seder Is Back
“Sharing food is the first act through which slaves become free human beings. One who fears tomorrow does not offer his bread to others. But one who is willing to divide his food with a stranger has already shown himself capable of fellowship and faith, the two things from which hope is born. That is why we begin the seder by inviting others to join us. That is how we turn affliction into freedom.” – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks'”
In 2020 and 2021, our seder gathering was kept to a minimum, excluding friends, and those with nowhere to go, who we have invited in the past. This year, we will all be able to have our full seder with family and friends.
Most of the cooking is handled by me now since two of my sisters are CPAs. Ironically, they followed in my father’s footsteps which is the worse time of year for them to celebrate Passover. And, I have two table decors in mind; one formal and one using disposables. Because who loves having to clean after cooking all day or, in my sisters’ cases, working all day?
I share my Passover dinner menu and my two tablescapes.
We will remember Ukraine as we symbolically display the symbolic food representations on the seder plate.
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