My mom yells at me: "Hurry up, it is almost Pesach and we haven't done anything yet."
The memory goes back several years, when I was a teenager living with my parents and brother in our three-story building in western Tehran.
For The Kids
When you clean your house for Pesach, don't forget your drawer full of makeup. Yes, makeup. Your lipstick, lip gloss, foundation and eye shadow may contain wheat and oats that some rabbis say you need to stash away with the rest of your unleavened food products.
I added a new experience to my Passover preparation last year. In addition to counting the haggadahs, practicing the Four Questions with my daughter, inviting guests, shopping and cleaning the house, I made gefilte fish from scratch for the first time ever.
Neither my mother nor any of my grandmothers had felt the need to initiate me into the gefilte fish sorority, even though I know they all had this experience. After trying it myself for the first time, I think I may have a good idea why they decided not to pass on this tradition. I went in with blind and irrational optimism after watching the instructor at a cooking class make it look so easy. Here's what I learned.
In fact, for all the women interviewed in this article, having others judge their Pesach cleaning standards would be just another anxiety to add to their very full plate of pre-Pesach concerns -- so they all asked to be quoted anonymously about their experiences cleaning for Pesach.
Each year I search for ways to make the entire week of Passover come alive for my family -- not just the seders. I get excited about the holiday, always finding a surprise experience to create for my children, depending on their ages and stages. I passionately search the library and Internet, looking for new meanings to the holiday. Each year there is something old and something new at our family seders. I also look for experiences before Passover begins, as well as during the week.
Rabbi Safra roasted the meat. Raba salted the fish.
According to the Talmud, this is what these two great sages did every Friday afternoon, in preparation for Shabbat. The Talmud regards this information as noteworthy because, although both sages certainly had others in their households who could have done this work, they insisted on doing it themselves. "It is greater to do the mitzvah with one's own hands than to delegate it to others" was the motto by which Rabbi Safra and Raba lived. And they apparently applied this motto without discrimination. It pertained to messy or smelly mitzvot just as it did to mitzvot that did not get one's hands and clothing dirty. A mitzvah is a mitzvah.
Usually, I'm so used to the clutter that has accumulated inmy 1986 Honda Civic that I don't even notice it. Now and again,however, I squint and think to myself, "Why am I seated in a mobilegarbage can?"
The good news about Passover in America circa 1998is that more Jews than ever are embracing the holiday. It has become,as Dr. Ron Wolfson tells us (in the Passover section), our mostpopular Jewish holiday. Even non-Jews seek an invitation to a sederat the home of Jewish friends.