Last year, I volunteered to host the family Passover Seder.
(I was three months postpartum, and thanks to serious sleep deprivation and delusions of grandeur brought on by fitting into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans courtesy of my BFF Spanx, I had clearly lost it.)
And what was supposed to be a small Seder turned into a jam-packed affair – 20 people crammed into our living room.
But, between the card tables and the colorful table cloths and the place settings; between the home-cooked stuff – the brisket, the tsimis, the chicken soup and matzah balls, the kugel and the ginger yams; between the store-bought chopped liver (don’t ask) and gefilte fish (I heart you, Manischewitz) along with and a lot of help from B. and my step-mother and father-in-law, (not to mention a boatload of Kosher for Pesach wine, we had ourselves an honest-to-goodness Seder meal.
And between the story-telling–our Seders have always been a seamless blend of English and Hebrew–and the traditional nigunim mixed with Go Down Moses (you should hear the Paul Robsenesque pipes on my dad!) and Bob Dylan, we rocked it.
And even though it was waaay past their bedtimes, we made it with our then-not-quite-two-year-old and three-month-old to the line: NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM.
And here we are. One Jewish calendar year later. And while technically we aren’t in Jerusalem, we’re a heck-of-a-lot closer than we were in years past. This year on the Kibbutz.
And all I want to do is book a direct flight with El Al and go back to LA.
I’m dreading the Seder this year – stumbling through the unfamiliar melodies, lost in Hebrew, missing the familiar tastes and textures of my own Seder. I am yearning for the frenetic give-and-take of my own family in LA: Aunt Caren with her last minute floral arrangements. Uncle Robert on the guitar. My dad holding forth. Twirling around in my own kitchen, tasting the soup, shaping the matzoh balls. A sprinkle of kosher salt here, a sprig of dill there. Mixing the ginger yams by hand, following my mother’s recipe for haroset down to the last Granny Smith Apple.
And this year, B.’s family said “just bring some ice cream.”
Because, after all, I’m just a guest here. A stranger in the homeland.
Next year in LA.
For more on Passover, including movies for the whole family and stylish additions to any seder table, go here.