Passover 2014: from childhood to now, a tradition I can't live without

Passover 2014: from childhood to now, a tradition I can't live without

Think "Fiddler on The Roof": Tradition!! This word is defined as "the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way." My life has been defined by the traditions that have been ingrained in me as far back as I can remember and I wouldn't know how to live any other way.

The traditions of the Jewish people vary greatly depending on the degree of religion or practicing of the religion. To a dear friend who is governed by the laws and rule of the Chabad Lubavitch,  Passover is spent in synagogue for many, many hours with a month's work of cooking in preparation. Everything is strictly Kosher; everything prepared by hand.

For me, growing up in a Reform household I only remember that it was all about the food and a service that all us kids wanted to get out of participating in. We didn't really care about Moses leading our people out of the desert. We didn't really care about the plagues the Angel of Death or all the other things we went on about. WE. WERE. HUNGRY. But the point is, we did this every single year.

My mother would start cooking weeks in advance. She always invited extra guests, outside the family, so that they could experience a seder (I think everyone should go to one at least once in their life). And I looked forward to the food. The food that was enough to feed a large army - the food that mom always was sure was never enough. "OY VEY", she would say, "I think I'm going to run out". (That is the most Jewish mother thing ever, cook for weeks, claim it's not enough and have everyone tell you how they can't believe how hard you worked!)

So as the years passed by, this time of year became one that I always knew what I was going to do. And I looked forward to it.

In the early 1990's my parents moved to Florida and when Passover rolled around, I didn't know what to do with myself. It was tradition that we all had this holiday together. Tradition. How do you NOT do something that you've been conditioned to be a part of every year since you were born? You carry it on yourself.

That's the whole point of tradition! It's something that is carried on from generation to generation. Growing up in the house that I did, I learned everything I needed to know about it. My grandparents passed it on to my parents; they passed it on to me.

I never realized how much I absorbed until I started doing the seders myself. From the first to last detail, I was literally channeling through my mother. The table filled with china, crystal and silver. The seder plate with all the proper components. The right amount of wine so everyone would have their customary four glasses (a really fun part of the service). And on and on.

Back in 2010 with my mother gone, father living in Wisconsin and my girls both away at college during the holiday, I was, fifty one years old and had never NOT had a seder gathering.  I didn't know what to do with myself; I couldn't stand it. So, just for my husband and I, I prepared the whole meal. I set the table, we read from the Hagaddah. My husband is not Jewish yet he knew how important this was to me, so he went along with it. (Probably feeling like when I was a kid and I wanted the service over so I could eat!)

Since that time, up until this year I have hosted the seder. I invite guests just as my mother did. I try to share the tradition with others as I am proud of my heritage and all that it is.

I look forward to the day my daughters will have their own families and I can share this special holiday with my grandchildren.

Even if they fidget through the service.


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