Although it is still the pandemic, we know there will be spring. Spring in spite of
anything else that happens. Wars and Republicans. Sickness and shootings.
Sometimes spring is hard to remember. And equally hard to forget.
About the holidays, I grew up in a traditional middle class Jewish home. The
tablecloth for Passover was never anything but white, and we followed the Haggadah
rules without much deviation although the Haggadah itself changed once, going from
free paper Manischewitz to hardback Reconstructionist, and it took years for me to
ask if there was an Egyptian side of the story, and what freedom actually means. We
debated both with intensity and rigor. Passover was always a good holiday in our
house. People came, we ate, and there was always much discussion.
Seders are often a funny mirror into our lives, and some of what matters to us all.
Moe Foner used to tell stories about his family non-Seders. His parents were
Communists, so no one said the words Seder or even Passover, but they gathered
together every year and ate. His son-in law, Peter, an only child whose parents were
both psychiatrists and commented on every single thing he did, said that at his first
Foner non-Seder, they all sat together at a folding metal table and began a vigorous
debate about Communism versus Socialism. The table collapsed, food falling into
a central well. Not one Foner noticed, Peter said.
Their other family tradition was to each buy a mandatory raffle ticket from their difficult aunt. No one defied her until one year Moe actually looked at the ticket. “The raffle took place a week ago,” Moe said to his aunt. “ You thought you’d win?” she replied. So they continued to buy the tickets.
What I’ve done for Passover for many years is to ask my Druze friend Gazala, who
grew up in Haifa and loves Passover, to cook for everyone who wanted to join us.
Thirty people or so came each year to her small restaurant on 9th Avenue and 48th
Street, all part of our ever evolvingchosen family, from Africa and China, Cuba and
France. Annie and Joe would singThere’s No Seder Like Our Seder, and we would all
commit to working for freedom then we’d sing Go Down Moses along with Louis
Gazala’s small restaurant closed, and she moved uptown to a much bigger and less
personal place and it’s still this crazy pandemic so this year we are celebrating with
good friends at the Seder they will plan. Next year, post pandemic, my hope is we’ll
rejoin Gazala and sing together with Armstrong again.
MEANWHILE please do join us April 18, 7 p.m. for our Alte Passover Party. We’ll
be happy to see you. For the Zoom link, which will go out a few days before the
event, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Love, esther
Here’s Louis Armstrong, for your Seder.