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Passover Stories

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Does someone tell the Passover story with a twist? Do the kids hide the afikomen so you can't find it?

Tell us the unique ways your family celebrates Passover.

The Lieberman family wears costumes for the best story telling impact.

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Why On This Night Do I Panic?

Before my Lake Worth seder, I’ll ask Four Questions. “Can I squeeze 15 people around a table for 10?” “Will Publix still have potato starch?” “Why am I making gefilte fish from scratch?” “Am I crazy making both nights?” which won’t be my last because Jews never ask only Four Questions.

For 50 years, my husband Herb and I hosted seders. Still I worry: grandma made soup from a hen, picked at a live poultry market . My chicken is machine cleaned, just defrosted. But soup is cake compared with matzoh balls. Julia Child dubbed the souffle a prima donna. How about matzoh balls?

One year Herb claimed he chipped a tooth on mine. Another year, they were egg drop. Next seder,I boiled them in the soup and the balls drank the liquid. Once, on Long Island, a year the seder came early, ( Psst! Jewish holidays are either early or late!) My refrigerator was packed, so I put the balls in the cool garage.The weather warmed up. When I asked why nobody was eating soup, Herb wise cracked, “They died!” My son David called them, “Killer balls.” Another guest, “A new plague.”

For half a century… I’ve made my family memories, and now we’re passing the torch to my daughter Terri, along with my grandma’s dented soup pot bought on the lower East Side, my mothers recipes, and wine stained, mismatched give away Haggadahs. I know my daughter will prize them. My question is: “Kinahora, we will live and be well, to see it?” Kinahora, it should happen.

- Carol Cott Gross  


Green Eggs & Shmear?

About 10 years ago my son created a "Family" version of the Haggadah designed to keep the children active and interested throughout the Seder.  Each year he creates a different version as the children get more mature.  My favorite version was in 2006 and was called "a Dr Seuss Seder." It combined the ordinary service, told by various Dr Seuss characters, speaking in rhyme as each character would speak, portrayed by those attending the Seder. The blessings were shown in Hebrew copied from a standard Haggadah. For example:
 
Sam I Am is the moderator and he opens the Seder:  

I am Sam, Sam I am.

I do not eat green eggs and ham, and I won't eat non-kosher Spam.

And for eight days I will not eat anything with risen wheat.
I will not eat muffins or bread, not at a table, not in a bed.
I will not eat wheat this week, unless it's matzah of which we speak.

For Passover starts this very night, as we remember ancestor's plight.
Stuck in Egypt, worked as slaves; all the Maxes, Jeffs, Daniels and Daves. (participants)

So rest your back and recline, we'll tell a story before we dine.
Of Whos that slaved and Jews now saved, we'll even drink four cups of wine.  

Wine is a symbol of joy, don't you see. With it we rejoice and thank G-d that we're free. So lift up your Who-wine, your Who-juice, your Who-potion As long as your first rise, so get that tuchas in motion.

(Please rise for the Kiddush)    

The complete Seder is about 16 pages including the standard Hebrew prayers and even a rhyming song about the plagues sung to the tune of "Rock Around The Clock".  

Every year we hear a different theme,  (this year is Jeopardy), but Dr Seuss is my favorite.  

- Chuck Gorman


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Grandma Sadie, my mother’s mother died in 1981 at the age of ninety-four. She always told us that my mother, Evelyn (Chava Ettl) was born on the last day of Pesach, 25 Nissan 5621, the 23rd of April 1911. Pesach was always a special holiday in our home as we were growing up. Mom and her sister, Aunt Hen, gently nudged their father (Grandpa Charlie to my brother and me) to speed it up as the “kinder were getting hungry.”

Mom’s health was failing at the beginning of the new year of 2003. She lived long enough to take a picture with her three great-grandchildren.

The last two were born in October and November of 2002, and they, with their mothers and fathers and older granddaughter, made the trip to Florida to see “Lala”, as my children and grandchildren called her.

She died on 12 Nissan 5763, (April 14, 2003.) Her funeral was the morning of the first Seder. She was two weeks shy of her ninety-second birthday. My cousin Susan, Aunt Hen’s step-daughter, made the Seder meal outdoors at her home in Cooper City, Florida. The rain, which had threatened us all day at the cemetery, never materialized for the Seder. Susan said that it was my Mom’s spirit, and her intercession with the Almighty that allowed us to remember the Passover, and remember mom on that special night. 

          - Hani Lipp


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While my father’s family reclined at the annual Seder in my grandparents' home, my mother did her own reclining at the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital. I was born that morning.

“Big sister” Gloria, aged two, missed her mommy and wailed pitifully. Everyone in the room sympathized, but the show must go on. To divert her attention (and quiet the noise), Gloria was given an official job. She was deemed “seltzer monitor.” She did an admirable job and performed this service for many years to come.

          - Murray Schneier 


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A few years back, I found a kosher-for-Passover pizza recipe which became my seder starter. Boy, did I take flak from the family.

“Passover pizza, my daughter makes,” my mom sighed. I was in trouble because my own mother, the Florida Snow Bird, was referring to me in the third person in my own dining room. “What’s wrong with your mother’s recipe for chopped liver?” she asked. It was a rhetorical question, as was my husband Herb’s question, “Pizza for Passover? Are you kidding me?” This, from the guy who, on all other nights, loves anything Italian.

“Mom, this is bogus!” said my daughter Terri, eyes rolling. “I hope we’re having matzoh ball soup.”

So I learned the hard way: planning a satisfying seder menu is a balancing act. The family wants to eat nostalgia, and the cook wants to put her own stamp on the Seder meal.

The following year, I tried my mother in law’s Passover potato kugel. This time, I wised up and asked my husband if his mom used a blender for the potatoes. One dirty look from him and I rushed out to buy a hard to find old fashioned hand grater. To assure authenticity, I bought her brand of oil to coat the pan. But instead of a crispy edged kugel, mine was soggy. Why? I used a Teflon coated pan. No match for the 30 year old well-seasoned, you could get a hernia lifting the cast iron pan my mother-in-law had inherited from her mom.

So I learned my lesson. Evoke the spirit of Seders past. Don’t try for a reproduction. When my husband suggested, “What about making gefilte fish from scratch?” a few years back, I agreed….. until I conjured up images of my own grandma Fanny bringing home a live carp. I wasn’t about to turn my bathtub into a fish tank, like she did.

Nor did I want the smell of boiled fish to permeate my house for days. So quietly, I doctored up jarred fish with celery, onions and carrots. I combined convenience and nostalgia. I wouldn’t pass the dish off as home made, but I wasn’t announcing that the fish was recently swimming in jarred jell.

The ploy almost worked, until we were half way into the brisket, (Frank Rich, NY Times critic, has dubbed brisket, “The Bird of our people.”) In the heat of my gefilte fish plan, I forgot that my husband Herb is allergic to MSG. The jarred fish was loaded with it.

My kids still laugh about the Seder when their father got Chinese Restaurant Syndrome because of my, air quotes, “homemade gefilte fish”. So I guess my legacy won’t be the heartwarming images my father had of his own mother, Fanny, hocking fish by hand, or my mother-in-law Lillie gagging down a bit of the raw fish to make sure the seasonings were just right, before she started boiling the balls. And if you ask my husband Herb about the fishy smell, he’ll tell you he’d give anything to savor what he remembers as the delicious aroma of his mother’s made-from-scratch gefilte fish.

          - Carol Cott Gross (story originally appeared in Newsday and other Jewish publications)


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When my granddaughter Lauren (who is almost 26 now) was about 5 years old and she went to hide the afikomen, she said to me, "Grandpa is never going to find the afikomen!"

I asked her where she hid it, and her reply was, "I ate it!"

    - Sandy Fram 


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Like many others who share my Judaic faith, I remember always looking forward to spending Passover with my large extended family.

Gathered around the Seder table, we listened to my observant grandfather reciting every syllable in the traditional Haggadah while the grandchildren all tried to stay awake as we anticipated eating the delectable meal and drinking the special "children's wine" my grandmother had lovingly prepared.

With the passage of time, it eventually became my turn to host our family Seders. Although we were now a much smaller group, we followed the traditions of blessing the wine, having one of the children ask the four questions, and of course hiding the afikomen.

For my Americanized family, just being together for the holiday was obviously more important than reading every word in the Maxwell House Haggadah.

But that was all about to change!

It happened the year that Bernie and I decided to take our children to a Community Seder at our Temple. For the first time, I experienced a very different type of celebration – one where the story of Passover was told in an abbreviated but meaningful way. I loved the fact that our Cantor introduced an element of joviality into the evening when he led everyone in the singing of Passover parodies.

Many years had passed and we now had young grandchildren. Hoping that I might be able to emulate that feeling of festivity that I remembered from that Communal Seder, I decided that I would try my hand at writing an abbreviated Haggadah to use at our family Seder. Just to be sure that I had not omitted anything important from the narrative, I had it reviewed by a Rabbi.

A little more than 15 years ago, my friend Seena Rubin (a resident of the Palm Isles Community) thought it would be a nice idea to have a Community Seder for those residents in our Palm Isles (55+) Community who were unable to celebrate Passover with their families. At the time I had offered to allow this group to make photocopies of an abbreviated Haggadah that I had previously written when my grandson was eight years old.

What started out as a small group of participants has continuously grown in popularity – and this year we had 175 people attend our Community Seder. Together we read the eighth edition of my Haggadah interspersed with many Passover Parodies.

Reflecting back to those earlier days, I am sure that I had no inkling about the extent of the journey that both my Haggadah and Seena's Community Seder would eventually take.

          - Ethel Liebman, loosely adapted from her memoir "Legacy", published in 2012 by Xlbris.

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