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Passover

April 13, 2009

Passover, as most Jewish holidays, is about food and story telling. We gather family or friends, or friends and family and participate in a Seder. Seder means order. The story is told in a particular order with certain steps to take as you go through it. That doesn’t mean you can’t skip, you can, and most Reform Jews do, liberally.
On Passover we tell the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt where they were enslaved. Jewish men used lamb blood to mark the houses of Jews so that when the Angel of Death came to smite each Egyptian’s first born (the final plague) those houses would be Passed-Over.

This is the first year I’ve truly let myself be a part of Passover. Last year there was a family Seder, but I wasn’t committed and I didn’t keep Passidic (Not eating leavened things to remember how quickly the Jews had to flee Egypt, not allowing their bread to rise)
After my Dad died, I didn’t want to celebrate anything, and in the eyes of Judaism I shouldn’t have for a full year. So, when Passover came around in the first Spring since my Dad had died, I let it pass me by. I wasn’t ready to connect to it again until this year.
At my Mom’s Seder we utilized the Haggadah (The book used for the Seder) my Dad had put together many years ago. His Seder was comprimised of this Haggadah (bits and pieces he had taken from other Haggadah’s) and the stack of reference materials he’d come to the table with, should any interesting points need to be raised. He loved learning and teaching.
As we sat down on Saturday night I realized how long it had been since I’d let myself fully participate in a Seder. The years before my Dad died I was busy with other things, I went to a couple of family Seder’s but the meaning never really sunk in, and at one I was so doped on pain meds from having my Wisdom Teeth out that I was asleep half the time.
I took pleasure in going through the Haggadah my Dad had put together. I thought about how thrilled he’d be that we were using it, that we were discussing points, that all these people who have been in our life for so long were back together again celebrating the Holiday.
At one point we were reading a page and our family friend Mark said, “I have Eric’s copy (indeed the front did have Eric written on it) and this page is crossed out.” We all laughed, he put in skips! So we skipped!
As we went through the night and I spoke with people I hadn’t seen in years about how nice it was to all be back in this capacity again, I realized what I had been missing out on. I’d been avoiding Passover because it was a holiday that meant a lot to my Dad. The history, the sharing of view points, the telling of stories, these were all things he loved so much about Judaism. All things that I’m sure he wants me to enjoy, to carry on, to take part in fully. I realized that these past few years I was being passed over, or maybe I was passing over experiences I should have been a part of. I thought I was passing over the pain, but with all things related to grief you can’t pass it over, no matter what you put on your doorpost it is coming for you, sooner or later.
So as continue to avoid the leavened items in my kitchen (If I was Orthodox they would all be thrown out!) I look forward to many Passovers to come, Passovers that I fully participate in, and hopefully many Seder’s I will be host with a Haggadah put together in honor of my Dad.

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