Happy Passover & Easter!
Happy Passover to all my Jewish friends around the world! Tonight at sundown begins one of the most significant holidays of the year. It is ironic that two of the most important religious holidays, Passover and Easter, will be celebrated during the month of April. And, isn’t it ironic that Passover’s focus is centered on plagues and hardship and finally; freedom.
Over 3,000 years ago in the land of Egypt, there was a biblical plot happening before God freed the Jewish people from slavery. He chose Moses as their leader to lead the freed Jewish people to the land of Canaan, today known as Israel.
I think Passover is particularly poignant today as we face the COVID-19 pandemic, another plague. I wonder what God’s message is for all religions around the world. So, I wonder… I think. And, I will continue to wonder until I live into my own answer.
Fortunately, I believe we are adaptable and resilient and will rise up to every occasion just as the Jewish slaves rose up against their persecutor Pharaoh in the land of Egypt over 3,000 years ago… for freedom.
Shelly and I were looking forward to celebrating Passover with my daughter, son-in-law and our grandchildren at our home in California. Plans were made two months ago but at that time I knew other members of our family would call and invite themselves knowing they would be a gift to us.
My thoughts go back to last Thanksgiving. A few days before Thanksgiving our family grew from 4 to 10 family members and I served Thanksgiving dinner at home in Chicago. So, I am more than certain that tonight we would have been more than seven of us.
Of course, I never in my wildest dream thought I would celebrate Passover without my family in quarantine! I was disappointed but adaptability is one of my stronger suits, so I have adapted myself to spending the newness of this year’s Passover celebration with my Ultimate Concierge and our pooch America! Though our family will not be able to celebrate Passover together, I would never get into a funk and cry into my soup. Instead, my mind goes to the positive. My family is well. No one is alone. There will be next year. And, that’s that!
The Celebration of Passover In Brazil
I have had opportunities to celebrate Passover in a few countries around the world. One of my favorites was in San Paulo, Brazil. My Ultimate Concierge had a very important real estate meeting in Brazil and it fell over the first night of the Passover celebration. That evening we were invited to a friend’s home. Of course, I did not mention Passover because the holiday did not require going to synagogue. At nine o’clock we rang their doorbell and walked into a home filled with a gathering of friends who greeted us with, Happy Passover! I forgot to mention that all of our friends were Catholic.
My girlfriend served Matzo instead of bread, Mogen David wines, Matzo ball soup, leg of lamb, roasted carrots and her cook made a delicious noodle kugel!
Passover in San Paulo will be an everlasting memory. A celebration of sincere friendship with respect for all religious beliefs.
The Celebration of Passover at Rabbi Posner’s Home
One year we celebrated Passover at the home of Rabbi Posner and his wife, Chaya. The Rabbi belongs to the Orthodox Jewish movement, Chabad, that promotes Judaism through daily Torah studies and Jewish insights. The Rabbi teaches a weekly history Torah study class in Rancho Mirage. I began attending his class several years ago and because of Rabbi Posner and Chaya, my teacher, I had my Bat Mitzvah in my 60’s.
Why I Had My Bat Mitzvah
I decided to tell the story of why I had my Bat Mitzvah because in a way it can be related to Passover. A Bat Mitzvah like Passover is a celebration. A Bat Mitzvah honors Judaism as Passover honored freedom from slavery. It is not an easy task to study and learn Hebrew and write your thoughts for all to hear, it is a commitment. It was not easy for the Jewish nation to escape from Egypt and travel through the desert until they reached Canan, the state of Israel today.
I decided to definitely have my Bat Mitzvah after I had a conversation with Rabbi Posner.
After class one day, I approached him and told him my thoughts. He asked me to meet him at the Chabad, his home where family, friends, and students convened.
Words From My Rabbi
He took me into the small Chapel. These were his exact questions and his lesson:
Rabbi: “Susan, is your mother alive?
Rabbi: “Do you have daughters?”
Rabbi: “What is your Hebrew name?”
Rabbi: “Ah! Sarah was the first Jewish woman to light Shabbat candles in her tent. Shabbat begins at sundown on the 7th day of the week with a Shabbat dinner and is a joyous Holy day. It has the status of being the most important Holy day in the Jewish calendar and is the first Holy day mentioned in the Bible. Your Hebrew name is Sarah.”
I listened as he continued…
Rabbi: “Because your mother is alive and you have two daughters, if you decided to have a Bat Mitzvah, it would be beautiful to do your Bat Mitzvah at a Shabbat dinner and have your mother, your daughters, and all the women at your table light the Shabbat candles along with you.”
As I listened to him speak it became clear I should study for my Bat Mitzvah. In my mind, all the pieces of the puzzle fit, and to me, it appeared mystical. And, that my darlings, is exactly what I did!
I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah one year later at one long table with sixty people; family and friends. I spoke my Bat Mitzvah at the center of the table. My grandchildren were all there, as well as our children. I hoped to instill in them what my grandfather instilled in me.
My Thoughts and Hopes
I want to take this moment to wish everyone a Happy Passover and a Happy Easter, a week later. Both holidays are celebrations of community, resilience, and regrowth. Amen.