As the night of the first Seder moves towards us, we being to think deeply about the meaning of the holiday–slavery and freedom–that is, some of us do. Others of us are mostly wondering who is coming and how many is she bringing, who is not coming and why not,
how many chairs can we really count on and where oh where are all the Hagaddahs, which seem to disappear one by one each year. There are many kinds of Hagaddahs: antique
Then there are the questions of which dishes to use and how many extra do we need and from which set, do we still have all the pieces from Grandma’s silver, and who was it who broke one of the irreplaceable crystal glasses last year and did we really invite him again? Plus how do we make it relevant to Jew and non-Jew alike, including those who did not grow up with the tradition? Or incorporate burning issues of the day, such as US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ reminding us that in Passover 5773, Too Many Women Are Still Slaves.
Of course there the major issues–turkey or chicken? pot roast or vegetarian? should we accept Aunt Joan’s offer of potato kugel–it is so very very heavy, but she is a good kind person and who is going to do veg prep for 22 people?
Finally, how do we get those large and small tables to stick together across the doorway between the two rooms without rocking and which tablecloths will fit, for heaven’s sake, and since I forgot (again) about the lamb’s shank, will the chicken bone do?
Then, there is the main course. I have held seders with organic humanely raised free-range birds, kosher turkeys, recently kosher organic turkeys and vegetarian substitutes. All of these are delicious but, as we are Jews, they all come with their own set of issues, guilts and anxieties. You could go vegan…
For my favorite matzo stuffing, see my previous post at https://shellysretirementadventure.com/2013/11/23/thanksgiving-triage-or-what-to-cook-and-what-to-outsource/.
For my favorite chicken soup, see my post at https://shellysretirementadventure.com/2013/11/21/grandma-rachel-and-her-soups/
Which leaves us with other items: gefilte fish (sure, you can buy whitefish and pike, but what about carp?), potato pudding–you can make this but stand a good chance of bloodying your knuckles, applesauce–sweetened or unsweetened? or both?, and finally, the green vegetable. Growing up in my house, green vegetables ran the gamut from canned peas to canned spinach, preferably mixed with mashed potatoes (don’t say yuk until you’ve tried it). We have since graduated to frozen peas, fresh green beans and possibly spinach although if you are not willing to spend the required amount of time rinsing out every last grain of sand, don’t make this. The best thing to do is get one of your guests to bring the vegetable or salad of choice.
Once you have put out little bowls of horseradish (red and white), parsley, salt water and large platters of matzo (including the recently available and enormously expensive hand made Shmura matzos) all over the tables, you are just about done. Don’t forget the wine–Extra Heavy Malaga for traditionalists like myself who visit the dentist often, dry and/or kosher versions for more modern folk, (you will drink four cups of this, so make sure there is something you like) and of course, purple and white grape juice. These are in addition to water, seltzer and diet Sprite. Then there are the glass of wine for Elijah and the glass of water for Miriam (a recent addition). Many other items are brought by your guests.
At this point, give yourself up to the good smells and welcome your happy guests to partake of the most important and delicious meal of the year and one that most Jews and a surprising number of non-Jews participate in.
According to recent evidence (Wikipedia), the first Passover seems to have been held the night before the Jews were expelled form Egypt in what scholars now date to be 1250 BCE and one History Channel professor’s idea is that the traditional seder stems heavily from 2 periods: late 1st/2nd/3rd Centuries CE/AD, and medieval times.
Whenever it was and whatever its meaning is to today’s Jews, you will have plenty of time at the feast to discuss (argue) ancient and contemporary issues and to encourage ideas and thoughts from everyone–also a tradition. Enjoy!