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Monday, March 29, 2010

Passover Thoughts

Passover cupcakes from Crumbs from:

It's kind of hard to have a seder without a table. But we did make an effort. No we didn't go through the Passover story, because we'll do that tomorrow night. So I went for making a brisket for dinner. We had to eat on our laps, but we used real plates and not paper (This makes it a real occasion.) I used a Kosher wine to braise it in and my new Slow Cooker - Crockpot. It was a great recipe and I got it on the internet. Everyone loved it.:)

Cut to the next night:

We left plenty of time to get to Manhattan from Stamford. But when we got outside the weather was so bad we wondered why we were going anywhere at all. Rte. 95 seemed okay and we moved through the various feeder highways until we got to the Saw Mill River Parkway. Just the name should tell you that there might be a problem with this highway during a rainstorm. It is almost always closed for flooding. I wonder why.:) The river runs parallel to it and overflows its banks almost constantly. We got onto it and it was deceptively empty. Thinking that it was that people were avoiding it due to the weather we pressed on and drove at a pretty good pace until we hit a huge traffic jam. There seemed to be no reason for it, but there was one of those arrow trucks pointing to the left. I thought it was only moving us over a lane, but when we got to the source of the arrow we saw orange cones across the entire roadway both North and South. The stream of traffic showed us that we were going to be stuck in this mess if we went that way. So of course, we didn't. We just went back onto the other side of the road, which was open, and we found our way to another of the ways to get to Manhattan.

The thing about living up here is that there are so many ways you can get to Manhattan. What you want to do is avoid unnecessary traffic usually going toward the George Washington Bridge. It's inevitable that you will run into traffic somewhere on your route no matter which way you go. There are always accidents that will slow down traffic and tonight was no exception. My husband said to me, "Call your brother and tell him we'll be there any minute." But he didn't account for the the accident on our right that slowed traffic. By that time we were about an hour late for the seder and we still needed to get off the highway and go cross town.

The good part is that we did get there and we did have a seder tonight. We don't follow the whole traditional way, but we do adhere to some traditions. It's not like when we went to seders at my mother's house or when we went to my aunt's house later. Those were more formal with hordes of children and adults. One seder in particular stands out in my mind.

I had been living in Buffalo, NY for a few years since my husband was going to Law School and I had a job teaching there. We had just decided we wanted to try having children and I wanted to go down for Passover and see my family. My husband couldn't get away, so he stayed up there and had a makeshift seder with his friends involving fish sticks and other non-seder items. Being with my family was lots of fun and I remember spending time with my dad alone. He seemed a little less energetic than usual and I worried about him. On the night he took me to the airport as he was getting my suitcases out of the trunk he hit his head and I got a strange vibe - as if this were the last time I would see him. A few days after my visit I got an early morning call from my mom telling me that my dad had passed away. In his typical feeling that he didn't want to bother anyone he had gotten up in the middle of the night to change his pjs, since they were soaked and then lay back down in bed. He never woke my mom to tell her something was wrong. Instead she woke up and found him unresponsive. My husband and I caught a plane to NY to be with my mom and family and for my dad's funeral.

Jewish people have a custom called "sitting shiva" after the body is buried and for days afterwards you stay in one house and all you can do is sit, talk or eat. You are mourning, so it isn't fun. In fact, it is the opposite of fun, though there is sometimes a party atmosphere. People bring food over and send food all the time. You find that there is no place to put anything and if you are the ones sitting shiva you are responsible for serving the food and keeping it fresh. Usually the principal mourners do not do much work. You sit on cardboard boxes or straight chairs when people are there. But you have a lot of time to eat, too. I kept eating and eating and was always hungry. I thought something was wrong. So when I got back to Buffalo I checked on it and found I was pregnant.:) My dad wasn't there to share my joy, but I had given him an indication that I might be getting pregnant that last night that I saw him. Unfortunately, this baby was not to be, and it would take seven more years until I got pregnant again.

But every Passover I think of him and wish that he could be here to enjoy my two grandchildren and my brother's three. We always remember him in some way at every seder. This year we talked about how he used to follow the seder to the letter including the parts where you have to wash your hands and say a blessing. My mother is gone too, and it's been years since we lost my dad. Yet they both remain with us. Tonight my brother made my mom's matzoh balls. He knew her secret and I wondered how I could have missed it. I won't tell, because that is what a secret is.:)

My children will probably not observe the holiday as we did, but at least they will know their tradition and see the progression of family that brought us to where we are today.

One other thing. If you missed ordering the Passover cupcakes from Crumbs you can get them until April 20th. But they are not Kosher for Passover. Who cares? They are delicious and much better than any of the ersatz cake you can eat from anywhere else. At least they don't have any flour so if you aren't really observant dig in and enjoy.:)

Until the next time, Happy Passover to all who celebrate it and good luck with eating the matzoh. I made matzoh brie today and plan to make a few new recipes that are definitely not the usual Passover fare. Can you believe lasagna with matzoh?

April is bringing a guest author, Eric Luper, author of Bug Boy, who will be here to tell us all about himself and his new book coming in June, Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto. I will also be reviewing it soon. Eric is going to be on my April show too. More about that later. If I don't get back on, Happy Easter to all those who observe that too.


  1. Barbara,
    That is a touching story about your dad. It sounds like he was pretty special in your life, and still is after his passing.

    We celebrate Easter over here, but the secular version...more like the Easter Bunny! It's lots of fun. The kids love it!

    Enjoy your weekend.

    I finally made it here! Yeah!!

  2. Thanks, GUYS!

    Yes, my dad was very special to me and he kept me sane during my teens. I was a late bloomer and sometimes I would need comfort and he was always there for me with the kind of message that enabled me to feel better:)

    Happy Easter to you! We're pretty secular Jews too:) But traditions are important so you have a sense of your roots.

    Enjoy the Easter goodies and have fun.:)


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