Growing up as one of four sons, I was raised in an Orthodox home and therefore we had an Orthodox Passover Seder. Our Mother removed any leavened bread and took them out of our apartment to be used again after the holiday of freedom.
You can go to my daughter’s site “When you put it that way” to read about tradition and the Passover holiday. Also if there is the usual TV showing of the film, "The Ten Commandments" you can learn a version of the Jews leaving Egypt for the Promised Land.
Well, back to the old days in an Orthodox home. We lived in a second floor apartment on the west side of Chicago with the hanging light in the middle of the kitchen. My brothers and I were assigned a place at the table. I don’t remember if our Mother ever sat. Our Father conducting the service stood in place for most of the Passover service reading and telling the story of the exodus from Egypt.
The service usually started after dark and went on for two hours or more. During that time we were not permitted to eat so as young boys we complained we were hungry. True to form he always said “That’s the way we did the service in Europe and that’s the way we do it here”. You would think we were being starved but the wait was well worth it. Our Mother who had prepared a sumptuous meal and it was welcomed by all of us. Our Father prayed through most of the meal. That was then.
Moving forward all the sons got married and eventually held their own Passover Seders. And, the changes came. Our Parents were aging and attended the services at their son’s homes. The preparation was all the same then and now but the services are different in most homes in this generation.
I led the service at our home and tried to shorten the service. No, no, not with my father sitting there. Each time he felt the explanation wasn’t thorough enough he always said let me give you another explanation. So what we had planned to be a shorter service turned out to be just as long. The big difference was my wife prepared snacks for our children that eliminated the moans and groans of “we are starving.”
As the years passed and our children were becoming adults we shortened our service from two hours to one hour and eventually to 30 minutes and let’s eat. Times had changed. Women were working and were unable to prepare the same way our parents did. Men were working longer hours. The economy was changing and as a result shopping habits changed as well. And TV entered our lives. Without realizing it, we changed as well.
Today, each family has their own variation of the Seder service. Those who are Orthodox and observe the traditions to the letter can recite the prayers for hours and never seem to get hungry. Others have adopted some relatively new ways of the service for modern times. Those who read this will understand the then and now. However then and now, we will always observe the Passover Seder to remind us that once we were slaves and now we are free. Happy Holiday.
Memories light up the corners of my mind and I hope yours too.