I began a post yesterday about my Passover reflections, writing as I have the past two years about how I have changed coming to this Passover and how I hope I will change before the next. I reflected on what was special and unique this year, and what bothers me about where I am at. And then, I realized, none of that matters for me! What matters is that I am here, I am in Jerusalem. Last year I said “Next year in Jerusalem” and now, here I am! And to make it better, my Tanta and my sister are here with me! Finally, after seven months I see people related to me, people who love me unconditionally, I see my family. I don’t think I could have done Passover without at least one other member of my family. Passover is my favorite holiday because I get to be with my whole family, because we celebrate traditions from years before I was born.
This year in Jerusalem, this year it is different! I tried my best to create a seder meal and seder exactly as I like it, exactly as my mom and dad did, exactly as their parents did before them. But somewhere along the way, I know it will not be the same. This year, instead of each aunt and cousin bringing their traditional contribution to the seder, my Tanta and sister and I spent the whole day in the kitchen trying to do it all. And I miss my family more than ever! This year, there is only one child at home instead of the whole nine or ten of us sitting at the table. This year, when the Haggadah says that you shall tell your child on that day, my father will have no child to tell the story to because we are both here. But this year the story is different. This year I am living in Jerusalem, This year I am striving to be free. This year I am growing. This year I have tasted a new freedom, and this year I value my family more than ever.
This year in Jerusalem, I walked the streets yesterday to find stations of boiling water with lines of people waiting to kasher their kitchen. Only in Jerusalem! This year in Jerusalem, I walked the streets this morning to the smell of bonfires burning chametz, Only in Jerusalem! This year I went to the grocery store only one day before Pesach to do all my shopping and got everything I needed. Only in Jerusalem! This year the grocery store will only sell kosher for Passover food during Passover, and I don’t have to worry about buying chametz. Only in Jerusalem! This year the restaurants are kosher for Passover, and I will eat in them. Only in Jerusalem! And this is a taste of a new freedom, something to be savored.
This time is short, my seder begins in one hour, and I have so much to do! May each of us know the joy of Pesach in Jerusalem, the excitement of knowing that next year in Jerusalem will come true. May we be blessed with the refreshment of renewal and rebirth as we go back to our ancestors and move from slavery into freedom, no matter how large or small that freedom might be. L’Shana Ha’Zeh B’yerushalayim!