Ghosts linger around my Passover table 


The Passover of 2016 was tinged with sadness because I couldn’t help thinking of my childhood.  My parents and grandparents faded from sight; one right after the other, mostly without warning.

Grandma was a small, stout lady, with a face that I can’t really ever forget because I look so much like her, especially in my 66th year. My grandfather, was short in stature, but high on everyone’s respect list. He had a head full of beautiful white hair.

I remember going along with my tall, handsome, adored daddy to pick them up at their apartment. My grandmother would have her coat on, and announce to my grandfather that “the machine is outside, and it was time to go.” Why she didn’t just refer to it as the car was a mystery to me. I do remember she wore red old-fashioned shoes, a longish skirt, and a long sleeve blouse. She always carried a  black purse that held Dentyne gum. She would offer this special treat randomly to all her grandchildren.

We’d arrive at my house where we ate the standard dinner we always ate at holidays, it didn’t really matter which one. Mom was in charge and she didn’t appreciate any help.

There was always chopped liver and matzah ball soup, my mother’s tie to her ethnic background. We’d all gathered around  the kitchen table, my grandparents sitting next to each other on one side, my mother, wearing her blue apron, always up during the meal serving us.  My father and

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa's house,

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa’s house,

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

two sisters and I would take our familiar seats. It was usually turkey, sometimes a roast, salad, sweet potatoes, and a vegetable.

The Seder I remember was not too formal. I do remember my grandfather singing some prayers. He had a beautiful voice that I can almost hear when I close my eyes and concentrate.

Little did I know that one day my grandparents and parents would be long gone, but their presence would always linger; they’re always around me, like a loving purple aura.

This year I particularly missed them all, but I’m grateful for the love that is still there.

 

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Thoughts on a Jewish Tradition at 60+


Tonight I cooked a Passover dinner. It wasn’t probably the one my grandmother cooked. Back in those days, they really cooked from scratch. They made their own gefilte fish. They plucked their own chickens. Maybe it meant more when you finally sat down to eat.

I bought some of my dishes ready-made from the local Kosher grocery which is housed in a Kroger in Columbus, Ohio.

Jews Celebrating Passover. Lubok, XIXth centur...

Jews Celebrating Passover. Lubok, XIXth century. Русский: Празднование Песаха. Лубок XIX века. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t keep Kosher, so it was just symbolic for me. The generations that preceded me gently nudge me to do what’s right. Get the bread out of my house, eat Matzah, and read the Hagaddah with my family—a book that describe the Jews exodus from Egypt.

My aunt, who cooked us many Kosher Passovers was in attendance. It was at her house, that I first read that Hagaddah with my  growing family. Now, she’s almost 90, and doesn’t have the energy to put on a dinner. Now, she takes a lesser role than in previous years past. Many of the people who attended her Seders are gone. She’s taken good care of herself, and has outlived almost everybody.

I think about the first Passover I remember when I was a little girl. It was at my Aunt Arlene and Uncle Clem’s house. My aunt bought all the little cousins presents. (Her idea, not a Jewish tradition). We had fun at that first Passover, though I remember all the reading being a little too much for a little kid.

Last night there was only one little kid in attendance because there just aren’t many children in my family. He was my great-nephew, and he is six. He started reading the 4 questions in halting English. (He is only starting to read). The youngest child in attendance asks the four questions. In the answers, the child will learn what Passover is all about.

It moved me because it’s a link to my past. I think about my own children reading those words. How I listened carefully, and with pride, because I knew it was a connection to their heritage, and I knew it meant they were growing up.

So, that’s how it is when you’re in your 60’s and starting to think about what traditions and holidays really mean. It’s comforting to have a book where the same story is told year after year. It is comforting to know that the tradition will go on in some way, even when you’re not here anymore.

Do you have any traditions in your religions or family, you’d be willing to share?

Happy Easter to all my friends who celebrate it!