19 days until the first seder; I can’t wait.
I’ve been counting down to Passover since early March. It’s hands-down my favorite Jewish holiday. This year, in particular, it will coincide with a most welcome April vacation, so I am very much looking forward to Patriots’ Day, the Marathon, the 11 in the morning Red Sox game, and the first Seder all arriving on April 18.
I’ll be writing and reflecting more about Passover in the coming weeks, but as I frame my thoughts about the upcoming holiday, three distinct ideas come to mind that speak to why I have come to celebrate and love it so much.
1) My grandfather was an incredible man. He was a Rear Admiral in the Coast Guard, served in World War Two, when his ship was attacked by a U-Boat (but they told the crew they hit a whale), was a very committed Jew and synagogue attendee, and he used to deliver hour-long lectures to me when I was very young (like 8 years old) about anything from American Indians to Greenland. He also took me to great museums in Washington, DC, and introduced me to the romance of train travel. But in the context of Passover, I’ll never, ever forget two things about Grandpa Jacobs- the potency of his homemade, hand-grated Maror, and his encyclopedic and rote knowledge of the songs and prayers of the seder. My memories of the heat of his horseradish, and the burning of my ears from being so tired due to staying up late from all of his songs and blessings, I will always hold onto.
2) For the intervening years between my much younger days at Seders in DC and my Seders now with my own kids, I always had the responsibility of opening the door for Elijah the Prophet. I loved that job- it got me up and moving around during an evening when there was a lot of sitting around, it gave me a few minutes outside in the cool darkness as everyone else was still inside, and allowed me the chance to think about how many other Jews were also standing at their doors, welcoming Elijah inside, at the same time that I was.
3) The new memory for me deals with my outsourcing (finally) of the Four Questions. As the younger brother, and the youngest grandchild, it was my job to ask the Four Questions until very recently. Luckily, though, my two boys, ages 7 and 5, have now inherited that responsibility. All I can say is that it’s about time! And they are also wicked cute when they sing them… it’s a toss-up, though, as to whether they’re better at Maoz Tzur or the Four Questions. Pretty soon, though, they’ll be done with that job as they pass it off to their little sister. Now THAT will be even cuter.
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