I grew up in a family that never seemed to do anything right. Our approach to Yom Kippur, for example, was mixed: My father and I observed it; my mother and brother did not. Returning from synagogue at the end of the day, Dad and I were starving, so we grabbed a couple of slices of challah and spread chopped liver on top. Without ceremony, we leaned over a kitchen counter inhaling this snack.
Although the experience was a bonding one, by high school I realized that something was wrong with this picture, that something made me feel uncomfortable. Standing on linoleum, I'd pivot on one of my high heels and contemplate what routine other families followed when they came home from synagogue. How and when did they resume eating?
It wouldn't be the second night of Rosh Hashanah if our friends didn't come for dinner, contributing a cornucopia of dishes, especially divine desserts. There are enough pastries covering the buffet to keep judges at the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest busy for a week.
When newer, color versions supplanted the 1923 Union Haggadah Revised, Tamar Soloff's brother and father hoarded enough copies of the original to ensure that their extended families would have a supply of their own.
t's not that Jeanne Weiner wanted Aunt Leonie's Indian Tree dishes for herself. She hadn't used the hand-painted china in five years -- since just before her husband died -- and last Passover she was on the verge of giving the entire service for 31 to her daughter Joelle Keene, who had taken charge of the family seder.
But when it came to actually giving up the china, she balked. And even though this year she is making the transfer, these dishes -- more than the Thanksgiving dishes or all the furniture she gave to her daughters -- call up a wave of emotion and tears.
Mah Nishtanah Ha Lila HaZeh Mikol HaLeilot?
Why is this night different from all other nights?
On all other nights I'm required to act like a 25-year-old adult, but on this first night -- being the youngest person at my seder table -- I get to be a kid.