Every year our family gathers to celebrate Passover. I spent the better part of this past weekend cleaning out my kitchen from top to bottom. I went through ALL of my cabinets and got rid of the forgotten stuff hidden way in the back and wiped down all the insides. I cleaned my oven and all the counters and appliances. I emptied out the entire refrigerator and cleaned that out as well. I banished the toaster from the kitchen because we won’t be needing it for the next week. I set aside one whole cabinet just for the foods permitted to be eaten during this holiday, and the other cabinets will not be touched.
And this day shall become a memorial for you, and you shall observe it as a festival for the L-RD, for your generations, as an eternal decree shall you observe it. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove the leaven from your homes … you shall guard the unleavened bread, because on this very day I will take you out of the land of Egypt; you shall observe this day for your generations as an eternal decree. – Exodus 12:14-17
We are not Orthodox Jewish, but we do our best in the spirit of the holiday. So for the duration of the holiday we will only eat those foods that are permitted. That means nothing with leavening, and no beans, no rice, no grains, no corn, no pasta (It’s kind of Paleo- eh?). I will instead use special flour made from matzah – which is an unleavened bread. I’ll also use potatoes and yams. There will be lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and wonderful family recipes handed down from my mother and her mother and her mother, as well as those from my mother-in-law and her family.
Aside from the religious aspect of getting rid of “chometz” (that is anything with forbidden ingredients for Passover) it is for me a ritual of Spring cleaning. It’s a lot of work but I actually look forward to having this time to go through everything in my kitchen and clean, purge, and rearrange. I feel a real sense of accomplishment when it is done. Besides the kitchen, the whole house gets cleaned and for me there is such a sense of renewal and beginning a new season.
Today (Monday) I will spend the entire day cooking. All of the holiday foods are yummy and spur memories of years past. When we begin the Seder tonight we will read through the Haggadah and relive the Exodus from Egypt. We laugh, we sing and we converse and discuss. We talk about Freedom and Liberty, since the Exodus was about being freed from bondage.
Passover for our family is always a wonderful family observance. The above picture was our Seder plate which has all of the symbols of the meal. The holiday table always looks so beautiful. More beautiful though, are the family members who sit around it, and those who could not be with us because of long distance or because they are no longer with us are certainly there in spirit.
If you observe this holiday I wish you a Happy Passover. May it give you time and space to pause and ponder the things which enslave you in your life..
We can be slaves to those to whom we owe something.
We can be slaves to our past.
We can be slaves to our own bad habits and vices.
We can be slaves to our impulses.
We can be slaves to time and technology.
We can be slaves to our bank account or our credit card bills.
We can be slaves to our wants and desires.
We can be slaves to the taxes we are forced to pay.
We can be slaves to the debts we have accrued.
We can be slaves to laws which we establish, be they just or unjust.
Passover gives us a space and some time to think about what we must do to make our own personal Exodus from the things that enslave us.
For everyone else who calls this “Holy Week”, may you also share the joy of family and good food, and a chance to renew the spirit and to take the time to thank our Creator for bringing us all to this season in our lives.
After all, this is what it is really about isn’t it?
About the Author
Judy Aron lives with her husband Michael in CT. They have three grown children who were homeschooled and are now successfully pursuing careers. Judy earned her Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Magna Cum Laude, with minors in Business Administration and Computer Science from the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Judy has been involved in politics for over 15 years. Judy has written many articles on various aspects of education at home and in public and private schools. She has been published in magazines and online, and has been interviewed on radio and in print.
She served as Vice President of Connecticut Homeschool Network (CHN) and was their legislative liaison. She now serves as Research Director for National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD) providing parents across the nation with important information on legislative issues concerning parental rights and education.