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Next Year in Jerusalem!
I had no sooner walked through the front door with Son #1 when I was attacked and hugged by a delighted child, Son #5. I have never, ever been greeted so enthusiastically, anywhere. Son #5 had seen me the past two years when I went to the @iWe home for the Passover/Pesach celebration. He was either very pleased to see me (or was counting on my reading him some stories during my stay). Then Son #1 instructed him matter-of-factly to take my carry-on bag and backpack up to my room, two and one-half flights up. And this same Son #5, uncoached, pulled out my chair for me at the Seder meals. Did I mention he is seven years old and 4’1” tall (so he tells me)?
When I entered the iWe home, I had entered the space of timelessness and antiquity, of celebration and remembering the suffering in leaving the slavery of Egypt. This Pesach celebration, like the past two years, was a time of sweetness, poignancy, history, and memories. The iWe family takes both seriously and joyfully their celebration of Pesach, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else to connect to my Jewish roots with both moments of sadness and much happiness.
Although I’ve only been to one other orthodox Seder, I believe iWe when he says theirs is not the ordinary Seder. We follow the order of the meal (seder means order), but everyone is encouraged to ask any question about Pesach. Silly questions don’t earn a piece of candy, but good questions do. I even asked a pretty good question this year, and iWe kindly acknowledged its relevance (although I suspect he says that to all his guests). The three oldest boys carried on a fascinating discussion about one portion of the Exodus story, running up and down the stairs to bring Jewish source books to back up their arguments. Their joy in possibly identifying a new way of looking at this 3,000-year-old story was palpable. (It’s hard to know if anyone outside the room would have accepted their theory, but it was very bright and creative.) And the singing, ah, the singing. When iWe sings with his older boys in sweet harmony, we are all transported to a time of deserts, hardship, freedom, and joy.
So many moments stand out for me from the Seder meals and the lunches over two days: fabulous food by Mrs. iWe, including a chocolate cake to die for; iWe laughing until he is red in the face at a very funny remark by another son; Mrs. iWe quietly coaching son #6 through the Four Questions; thundering feet up and down stairs to be the first to find the Afikomen; and much more than I can include here.
But even more than all these experiences was the intimacy I felt with the family and the sense of their including me in this special time. Mrs. iWe reminded me that I had now established a tradition that I must go there every year for Pesach! (She told me that last year, too.) And a number of the family members said that they were glad that I came.
There was the walk I took with Mr. and Mrs. iWe and Son #2 that deeply moved me. I told them that I was making sure that my sadness and frustration with my personal practice wasn’t marring my Pesach experience, but I felt as a Jew returning to the faith that I wasn’t doing enough. iWe said all Jews feel that way; Son #2 shared a couple of thoughts about relationship to the faith. But Mrs. iWe really connected with me when she suggested that instead of focusing on all the things I wasn’t doing, to make a list (it turns out we both love lists) of all the things I was doing. At that moment, something changed for me. The idea of acknowledging to myself the steps I was taking to deepen my relationship with G-d, and doing it in such a tangible way, was liberating. It allowed me to enjoy the growth I had experienced and gradually find new ways to move forward.
Last night when I said my goodbyes, I felt a loving connection with this very special family. When they said they were glad I had come, I think they meant it.
Next year in Baltimore!Published in Religion & Philosophy
Sounds like a great time was had by all. How fortunate to be able to celebrate Passover in such a manner.
I feel as if I don’t do it justice, VC. It is so very special, and they are a very special family.
Thanks for the post, @susanquinn! My hazel eyes just got slightly more green… :-) So glad you were able to share the blessings in such a truly sacred space with such warm-hearted, faithful folks as the dear iWes! “Someday, in Ball’mer!”
Susan, thank you so much for the kind words. It is so special having you join us!
And you know we mean the invitation for next year!
I am writing up the novel ideas my sons had – I think that once they are properly dressed, it will be clear that they work. I’ll post them on the Member Feed, of course!
Sounds wonderful. Chag Semeach.
I would love to attend one. I don’t think my husband’s family ever held them. For our daughter’s sake we did one every year—I relied on a videotape made by Elie Wiesel.
(Now im hungry for Charoset. That is so good, I always wondered why people don’t eat it all year! )
Next year in Jerusalem! Every year.
But, I get what you’re saying. It sounds lovely.
Can’t wait to see them! Yes, I think you know I meant it. Couldn’t help but be a bit self-effacing. Thanks to all of you again!
And to you, Dave. Thanks.
The iWe’s making plenty and I load up!
Yes, it’s made without flour! Everyone who tasted it agreed that it was amazing, given that many products for Pesach taste, well, not so good!
What a blessing.
Thank you for sharing.
What a wonderful story Susan and what a great host and hostess!! The best part is celebrating the faith and your relationship with God in such a powerful way. It’s so special and rare nowadays – now…can I have the chocolate cake recipe??
Actually there are a couple of recipes I’d like from Mrs. iWe. In addition to the cake, I loved her zucchini latkes, also made without breadcrumbs or wheat flour. I want to wait a week to ask her, because she’s “recovering” from Pesach; when I get the recipes, I’ll let you know!
Thanks Susan, great post.
OK, here it is. Pesachdik, Gluten-free, Celiac-friendly, and OHSOGOOD:
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda (mixed into 1 tsp vinegar)
½ cup cocoa
pinch of instant coffee
¾ cups potato starch
½ tsp salt
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 Tbsp hot water
3 Tbsp cocoa
3 tsp oil
Mix the ingredients together. Bake in a greased pan at 350 for 40 minutes.
The glaze is mixed and poured over the cooled cake. It is not necessary, but makes the cake even better!
This freezes well.
The Zuchini Latkes are my own invention, and I eschew recipes… I kind of make it up as I go along. But here is how I make them:
I have now posted the first idea that my sons got so excited about at the Seder. Give it a read!
The choco-holic in me says: Bless you (and Mrs. iWe) abundantly for sharing so open-heartedly and: OM-NOM-NOM! P.S. My Seder question would be: Why do we persist in the desire/longing to “return to Egypt”?
Also, OM-NOM-NOM…Thank you!
It is as if you were there! See my post!
Thanks so much for both recipes, @iwe!! I won’t make the cake immediately or I’ll eat it all myself !
What’s wrong with that? :-)
Easy for you to say! ;-)