Marc and Marla graciously invited Tara and our family over to their home to celebrate the Passover meal with their family. We gladly accepted! What a gift! We've never participated in the Pesach meal before - so this was a real treat. The Spanjers are a neat couple (they have to be - I see them in Starbucks every once in a while!) and their daughter and our daughter enjoy playing together. Not only did Tara and I join them, but so did Emma, Levi and Isaac. Eli's not been feeling well, and even if he was, I'm not sure he's up for a four hour feast!
We arrived at 4:30pm and were greeted by some of the Spanjer's family - Marla's folks, her brother, and a special guest: JessAnn Smith. She is performing in a show during the month of April at the New Huntington Theatre. Being from New York, and wanting to partcipate in Passover, she made some phone calls and was able to meet Marla and arrange to join her (us) for the dinner. What a treat! And the end of the meal she asked if she could sing for her meal - to which the family heartily agreed. She offered up a very beautiful and tender song written (as I recall) by a Jewish musician who was captured during the Holocaust, escaped, but then returned to help others escape. She was eventually caught and never rescued. So the song was very special on several levels.
The meal, the readings/singing from the Haggadah, and the fun atmosphere made for a wonderful evening. Having spent a lot of time lately reading through the Exodus story, Exile stories, and other writings from the Psalms and Prophets, it was very enlightening to hear the Passover story read and celebrated with the family of a rabbi. These writings are not just text to be studied and figured out - they are the real history and life of people and families.
It was evident that the Spanjer family enjoyed each other, enjoyed observing Passover meal, they loved to tell stories, and they loved having guests in their home. We arrived at their home around 4:30pm and left around 9pm. There are lots of memories in that time, here are some that stick out to me (that haven't already been mentioned):
* eating the matzo and maror - the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs (pretty much very strong horseradish colored with beets). It was very potent maror - which is kind of the point: to remind you of the bitter toil and enslavement of God's people in Egypt. Prior to that we had eaten parsley dipped in salt water to remember the tears of the oppressed. Emma, Levi and Isaac liked the fact they got to tear a piece of parsely off and dip it in the salt water, but they had no intention of eating it!
* the Feast! Matzo ball soup! Roast chicken and Tender beef brisket! Potato Kugels! Cakes! Cookies! Coffee! Ahhhh...we were so full, almost all of us pushed ourselves away from the table, put our hands on our tummy's and sighed with a smile! :)
* the reading of the Exodus story - the singing in Hebrew - the comment on the story...
* opening the door for Elijah.
* the stealing of the afikonam: Michal stole the half wrapped up under her grandfather's chair when "no one" was looking, and then her and Emma snuck upstairs and hid it. Then, when her grandfather needed the half of matzo to finish the story, Michal and Emma "refused" to hand it over unless he give all the kids gifts! What fun! The girls and boys had fun handing the afikonam over for toys!
And there other reflections and thoughts - but that is for another post.
Levi, Isaac, Michal, Emma