With Passover just a few hours away, I’m feeling a bit guilty for not doing more to prepare. In particular, I have not done (nor will I do) anything even resembling the traditional Passover cleaning, in which the home is purged of all chametz, the forbidden leavened products and grains.
Granted, cleaning is not my forte and the pre-Passover blitz is not a tradition in which I, the product of wholly secular Jews, grew up. In fact, I only learned of it my sophomore year of college, when I became a member of Kosher Co-op and discovered that by joining I’d committed myself not only to helping cook for a seder, but to a whirlwind week of labor, some of which involved a blowtorch.
Nonetheless, on the few occasions in which I’ve participated in Passover cleaning, it’s been satisfying in the way that any exhausting activity is satisfying once it’s finally completed. Plus, it’s obviously easier to abstain from bread, pasta and beer (the few things I usually do abstain from on Passover) when it’s not actually sitting in one’s cupboard!
On the plus side, I have been preparing for the holiday in other ways: my kids and I have been listening to a lot of Passover music, especially "Halilah Hazeh,"a soulful new album by Dafna Israel and a boisterous and fun Pesach collection by Jewish kiddie rocker ShirLaLa. And, thanks to my Aunt Terry, we are now the proud owners of a Pharaoh punching bag, which has been absorbing all family aggression. (Three-year-old Sophie is mostly obeying my orders to punch Pharoah instead of Ellie whenever she gets mad.)
Also, my 6-year-old daughter, Ellie, and I are leading the extended-family seder on Friday (yes, not an official seder night, but more convenient for the out-of-towners), and we’ve put together our own Haggadah for the occasion. It relies heavily on material cribbed from other Haggadot, especially Rabbis Joy Levitt and Michael Strassfeld’s “A Night of Questions” and Francine Hermelin’s “My Haggadah Made It Myself” (http://madeitmyselfbooks.wordpress.com). The centerpiece, however, is our own retelling of the story of the Exodus, which I wrote in simple, easy-to-read language and Ellie, a longtime fan of Dreamworks’ “Prince of Egypt” and virtually every other version of the Moses story she’s encountered, has illustrated.
So our home isn’t Passover-ready, but hopefully our minds and souls are.
And best wishes for a happy Passover, however you celebrate it!