You Are Required to See Yourself As If . . .

Orange_Iowa Clouds_2012-09-03


2014-03-11 – The invitations are out and accepted. We will be hosting the Passover Seder again this year (April 14, which was my father’s birthday—of blessed memory). This after attending my cousin’s Seder last year. Last year, our kitchen was in the process of being remodeled. This year it is ready.

For those of you who don’t know about the Passover Seder, think about a Thanksgiving feast sandwiched in between two programs of prayers and songs and story about the ancient exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. We drink four cups of wine (if you do your full duty). We break bread literally (matzo crackers of unleavened bread). We eat foods that remind us of the bitterness of slavery and foods that remind us of the sweetness of freedom.

The Passover liturgy, which is contained in a small book called a Haggadah, contains a passage that tells us that we are required to see ourselves as if we had been enslaved in Egypt and freed. This is a holiday of empathy.  The Torah tells us twice to love the stranger and be compassionate because “you were slaves in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:34 and Deut. 24:18).

Do unto others—on steroids.

Passover is my holiday. Many years ago, I wanted to do an illustrated Haggadah. There is a long tradition of this art form and I wanted to do one of my own. To do this, though, I wanted a translation of my own from the Hebrew. I did that and the project ended there for a while. I printed up copies and used them for my Seders for several years.

When my boys were in preschool, I decided to redo the Haggadah so that it related to them as kids. That was my children’s Haggadah, which included, for the first time, my original song “Talking Matzo Blues.” We used this Haggadah until my sons were in high school. At that point I decided to bring back some of the elements from my first Haggadah and put together a Haggadah that has no title but has to be called the Grown Children Haggadah.

My next and final project will be to return to my original idea and do the illustrations. I have them all mapped out, but it won’t be ready until next year.

In the meantime, a key element is the feast.

Many food items (especially bread) are forbidden on Passover, so there is some challenge to getting the meal together. I’m not saying that it has ever been bad. We always rise to the challenge, but this year we will have the culinary expertise of my son the chef on our side.

And he will be working in our new kitchen.

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