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Matzo Musings

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04/07/2015

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Passover has always been my favorite Jewish holiday. Not for the funky food – and definitely not for the candy fruit slices that taste like Tums – but for the people. Passover, more than any other holiday, has been a special time to for our family and friends to congregate.

When I was a little girl, Passover meant a visit from my cool older cousins in Colorado, an annual event that brought me so much joy, I’d start countdown calendars in the back of my school notebooks months in advance.

My sophomore year of college, Passover meant renting a house in Portland, Oregon with my great-aunts, my grandmother, and an assortment of cousins. Between Seder prep, we went on walks through the green spring rain and taught my 90-year-old Great-Aunt Zera how to use an iPad. (Aunt Zera loved the device so much, she went out and bought one as soon as she got home.)

Last year, Passover meant a new chapter in our family narrative as we held each other close and celebrated Pesach without my grandfather for the first time.

This year, Passover meant broadening our social and culinary horizons. In a feat of love – and possibly madness – in addition to welcoming new friends, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, to our Seder table, we prepared a vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free friendly dinner to make sure that everyone in attendance had plenty to eat regardless of their dietary restrictions. This endeavor  to let “all [vegans] who are [definitely] hungry come and eat” led to the sitcom-like moment of watching flax seed matzo balls dissolve in the boiler and learning that not all brands of margarine are, in fact, dairy-free – a realization that led to a few last minute trips to Jewel.

While the details of Seder each year have always been a surprise, the question of where I would end up for the next Passover never troubled me because I knew I’d be with my family. But it seems like Passover 2016 will pose even more than the traditional four questions, because next year, I’ll be in Israel.

Yes, I, the girl once cripplingly afraid of change, will be moving to Israel for the year to study and intern in Tel Aviv, and I couldn’t be more excited!

But, I can’t help wondering what being away from home for so long will mean. I wonder how I will change individually and Jewishly. I wonder how I will grow as a friend and as a thinker. I wonder, especially, who I will meet, what I will experience, and what the faces at next year’s Seder table will look like. Right now, imagining next year’s Seder is like looking at photograph with the human subjects in silhouette. So close, I can almost smell the Tsimmes, but far enough out of reach to leave my questions unanswered.

But like the four questions, my queries do have answers – I just don’t know them yet. But, I guess that’s one of the fun parts of Passover – and life. You never know how dinner will turn out until everyone’s at the Seder table.

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