And beautiful, poignant memories fill my being.
Mother and daughter
Cleaning the kitchen together
Changing the dishes
Excitement filled the air.
All the time
Enjoying one another.
Every holiday was like this
Transforming the kitchen into sacred space
For years my job
Was to crack walnuts,
Pick out the nutmeats and,
Using the “hocker” and special wooden bowl,
Chop what felt like zillions of walnuts
(shelled walnuts were quite expensive then)
Dish after dish was prepared with such love
The table was set so beautifully.
Each year, mom would give me a dollar or two
And send me to the florist to see what I could buy
It was a mile walk there and back
From these flowers,
She would create a beautiful centerpiece
Filling in with cuttings from our property
Mom taught me about Hiddur mitzvah-
Making the fulfillment of a sacred obligation
As beautiful and joyful as possible
These are the sweet memories
That have sustained me through hard times
And which brought Judaism to life
This was the tradition we created
It wasn’t about gourmet food
Nor was it about which Hagaddah –
Of course we used the Maxwell House Haggadah
That we brought home from the grocery story
And with every wine stain or lingering matzah crumb
It took my family on a journey to freedom
That formed, connected and blessed us
This precious Torah of my mother.
Wishing you and those you hold dear a sweet and freeing Pesach,
Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi
12 Nisan 5776/ 20 April 2016