It’s crazy to think we are all celebrating the same holiday when our experiences are so varied. Pesach (passover) has come to be the holiday my kids look forward to most, and the one I tend to dread. I love all the Jewish holidays very much, so the competition is fierce, and for every minute that I spend dreading it I am usually pleasantly surprised when it ends up turning out O.K. Similarly, when discussing Pesach with friends I am often left wondering if we’re even talking about the same thing. Here’s some examples of the spectrum of possibilities at hand when commemorating the time of our salvation.
Pesach in a house filled with LOTS of family.
It probably sounds like I have to make Pesach but the reality is I rock up at my mother in laws’ an hour before it all begins and still find time to complain. Despite having attended three years of religious seminary there are still aspects to this lifestyle that don’t come naturally. You can learn all the lingo of a culture but when it comes to spending eight days under one roof with a very large family, suddenly the whiff of a McDonald’s Happy Meal doesn’t seem so bad. I love all my in-laws very much, and they are very tolerant of my battle to spend copious amounts of time in close proximity to other people. However, having grown up in a house that was only ever occupied to 25% capacity, reversing this equation drastically is challenging to say the least. Whilst my husband doesn’t flinch at the thought of waking up to nieces and nephews embarking upon World War III as they fight over who’s turn it is to ride the toy stroller, I struggle with such feats daily, often resisting the urge to run out the door. Which is really not such a difficult urge to resist being we are in Cleveland Ohio and there is nowhere to go.
Making Pesach at Home.
I’ve only ever seen other people do this and they always seem very mad. That is until Yom Tov begins, and then their joy is effervescent. When they coined the phrase, “you get out what you put in,” they definitely had people who make Pesach in mind. Those that have Pesach kitchens only get half the credit because it’s clear that the ones really toughing this holiday out are the ones that don’t. Remember stocking your kitchen when you first got married? And being in the middle of making babaganoush only to notice you left “garlic crusher” off the bridal registry and now that garlic ain’t gonna’ crush itself? Imagine doing that all over again except this time everything has to be sterilized and kept away from humanity, sans the one time of year its use is needed. Then, before you know it, the week is over and everything has to be re-packaged like a fragile shaloch manos being shipped from New York to Pittsburgh, only to make its debut again the following year. One day when I end up doing this I am sure I will look back on those Passovers at my mother in laws’ and appreciate the good thing we had going.
Pesach Program Devotees.
“I miss peeling tomatoes” said no adult on a Pesach program ever. For those unfamiliar with this concept, Pesach programs are the short way out of a really long holiday. They involve sitting by the pool and munching on kosher l’Pesach pizza that’s been prepared by someone actually being paid to do all the hard work. Experiencing Pesach from the comforts of a hotel room void of the luxuries of sharing a bathroom with everyone that shares your last name must be very difficult. Whilst sitting down to a scrumptious three course breakfast comprising of everything from pancakes to hashbrowns to sugarfree skim lattes, persons finding themselves vested in such opulence may benefit from squeezing a lemon here and there to ensure some of the authentic Pesach experience is not surpassed.
Wherever you are, whoever you’re with, I’m sure your Pesach experience will be a breath of fresh air away from the daily grind, a freeing experience in itself. The amazing thing about Pesach is that regardless of how its celebrated, all Jews, the world over, sit down to the same Seder. The same one that we’ve been orchestrating for thousands of years. Whether it’s from the luxuries of a resort, the comforts of your own home or the warmth of your Mother-in-law’s abode, the Seder in itself remains an untouched consistent piece of history, paying tribute to the beautiful free lives we are all able to live as Jews today.