Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pesach Prep

Pesach this year largely spans the weekend for Yom Tovim.  Sedarim are Friday and Saturday nights, the concluding days are Friday and Saturday.  Moreover, Good Friday precedes Seder to allow a more leisurely entry than most years.  I will still need to sneak in an afternoon of patient care somewhere during the three days. Friday before Seder may work best for me as I have my own Seder to arrange Saturday night but little to do in advance of the first Seder.

In my preference for Jewish Holidays, Pesach usually comes first.  I find it a form of separatism, some preparation that seems arduous in the process but satisfying as a form of accomplishment once the festival has begun.  It has been a time for a family to assemble in one place, at one time the gantza mishpacha on my mother's side going so far as to rent a space for cousins and second cousins to gather.  I've been to large Sedarim in college and some so limited in attendance to my wife and me.  I try to sneak in a little learning before the holiday and some during the holiday.  For an entire work week I do not have to go to the doctors lounge for coffee, yet I never feel deprived of not having any.

Services for the Yom Tovim have been a mixed bag.  As a Bachor, or first-born, I am expected to fast the day of the Seder but there is an exit strategy by attending minyan then finishing a section of Talmud.  On work days I usually just fast, but this year with the day off I will more likely attend the tziyum.  Among my fondest memories of this were the tziyumim at the JCC Spring Valley during my teen years where there was a real discussion of a real tractate followed by breakfast with authentic local bagels and a good deal of camaraderie among first-born friends and their first-born fathers.  That has not been duplicated in Wilmington though the occasion probably stands on its own.

Usually Daylight Savings Time has begun before Pesach arrives so the sedarim can be quite late, particularly the second which cannot begin until after the first day yom tov concludes.  Not having to go to work the next day helps but there are a lot of groggy looking folks in shul.

Dietary restrictions add to the sense of separation and for myself and generations before reflect a challenge in creating treats amid limited availability of raw materials.  there are classics like matzoh brei and cremslach and macaroons.  There are matzoh kugels that would be wonderful anytime but special this season.  And there are new recipes to try out.  Most years shabbos Pesach coincides with Good Friday which remains a semi-secular holiday for the local companies and medical enterprises and schools.  With a day off and Pesach usually under way, I try to have dinner guests that evening and make something special.  Even though this year is a little out of sync, I will try to do the same.

Pesach is food and people and pageantry and effort, all worth it.

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