Thursday, April 21, 2011

Making Passover in Monsey

On Monday, I took a schlep over to the community chametz burning and left smelling like bonfire (my apologies to anyone and everyone at the grocery store who had to smell me afterward).

Burn chametz burn!
Monday night, I took off to Monsey (or, rather, Spring Valley) to meet up with Tuvia, because we were set to spend the first two nights of Passover -- the seder nights -- with our amazing family (well, Tuvia's family, my in-laws, the Katzes). I was eager, nay, excited for Pesach by them because, well, the past two years we'd jet-setted off to Florida for Pesach with the Galatz side of the family, and although it was always great, we were among the few religious relatives and we spent our days pool-side instead of at synagogue.

These sederim were filled with mishpacha from Toronto, us from Jersey, and the Monsey family, and the table was full of children -- five, to be exact! It felt like what I can only understand as a "real" seder where there are enough children to read the Four Questions and sing the kid-geared songs, where the kids are at an age where matzo still tastes good. I really felt like a part of the family; I connected with the hosts on a personal level and I felt like the kids really were excited to have me there. Having a Jewish family that wants me there feels so powerful, especially on a chag.

The first night, we topped off the evening at 12:15 and the second, we shaved five minutes off the seder. The food was outstanding (homemade applesauce? yes, I got leftovers), and everything tasted so fresh and delicious because, honestly, it was made with love for such an important chag. 

The second night, I was charged with washing and checking the lettuce -- oy. Talk about some major pressure. But we put the seder together in record time before the guys got home from shul and for the first time in my life, I actually really enjoyed being the woman behind the scenes, at home, rushing and fixing the table for the meal, proud of my handiwork, having placed all of the items on each of the seder plates. I stood back proud. (Of course, I did have to check the haggadah for what was what because, let's be honest, I couldn't remember the Hebrew for the shank bone, which left me feeling like I couldn't muster the proper Jewish strength to figure out the chag.)

Every year, I get anxious around the chagim. They come once a year, and let's be honest -- this was actually only my fourth or fifth official Passover in the history of me. That means I don't have much experience on the nitty gritty, and I've never had to put together my own seder. But the confidence that the hostess -- who is amazing -- had in me made me feel a part of the whole thing.

Now it's time to enjoy some chol ha'moed matzo and cream cheese. Although I had my ($28/box) oat matzo for the sederim, I'm sticking to the Yehuda brand "matzo-style" crackers. And? I'm excited. Excited for homemade applesauce, some leftover ratatouille, and lots, and lots of schoolwork.

Alas, school doesn't stop just because we stop to recall and relive the Exodus ...