It does not matter what date Passover is scheduled to begin, or how much time we think we have to prepare. It never seems to be enough! So many last minute things to do, including four more runs to the supermarket and the three things you forgot to cook. But in the end, it’s all worth it. I have such fond memories of family Sedarim with my parents, grandparents, sister, aunts and uncles and cousins, and then, one generation later, adding new layers to those memories with my wife and children, my parents and in-laws, my sister and her family, my sister-in-law and her family, dear friends, and congregants who might have no Seder to attend. I’d like to think that my wife and I have created fond memories for all of them, and as time moves forward, even newer memories will be added, and all will look back at our Sedarim fondly.
One of my favorite characters in Jewish literature is Elijah the Prophet. We sing to welcome him not only at the Passover Seder, but also at the conclusion of every Shabbat and Festival. He is such an interesting personality, because according to tradition, Elijah did not die, but was brought to heaven in a fiery chariot. He continually pops up throughout folklore as a visitor, frequently in the guise of a beggar, to see if people are kind and generous to those in need. Many consider it important always to mention Elijah the Prophet. I have not one, not two, but three Elijah the Prophet stories for you for Passover.
As a youth, one of my responsibilities was to open the door to welcome him, and read the passage in the Maxwell House Haggadah that began with “Pour out Thy wrath and indignation…” One Seder, as I began my usual duties, I did not notice the newspaper boy coming to the house to collect for the weekly delivery. As I shouted, “Pour out Thy wrath” I no doubt scared him half to death as he ran away. My father insisted that I just scared away Elijah the Prophet!
It was the first Seder that my daughter Rachel would not be home from college, and I was a bit saddened missing her. Partway through the Seder, the doorbell rang. I could see from the angle that it was our neighbor across the street. I was initially somewhat annoyed that she would disturb us, knowing that we were conducting a Seder. My wife went to open the door, and in came my daughter! She took the Amtrak train to NY Penn Station, then the Long Island Rail Road to our stop, and our neighbor picked her up and brought her to our house without me knowing. I literally knocked my son off his chair as I bolted to the door to give her such a giant hug! Elijah came to my Seder that evening in the guise of my neighbor, who picked up my daughter at the train station.
For those who will join us for services during Yom Tov, the L’chayim Club will be offering Shlivovitz as the beverage of choice for Passover. With most liquors not permitted during Passover as they are distilled from grains, Shlivovitz is 100 proof plum brandy, with the best being distilled by Jelinek from the Czech Republic. It will definitely cure anything that ails you! Several years ago, I stopped in at a local liquor store owned by a congregant to purchase Shlivovitz. Out of the three varieties, there is only one with a Kosher for Passover label – the silver. He did not have that, but insisted he would find it for me. Fast-forward about one week to the Religious School Model Seder. The students and I are singing Eliyahu Hanavi – Elijah the Prophet – when in walks the liquor store owner with a bottle of Shlivovitz for me. Elijah attended the school Seder in the guise of a liquor store owner with impeccable timing.
May the spirit of Elijah the Prophet visit your Seder bringing warmth and a hope for a bright future. Janice, Rachel, Aaron and I wish all of our dear congregants a zissen Pesach.
Supplementary Seder Materials 5778
I’m pleased to share with you some resources that I have found this year that might be of interest to you to supplement your Seder. I offer them not as an advocate of any particular group, but as a provider of materials that may enrich your experience. I have chosen to not include music videos and short films, but I encourage you to view them as well. If you do utilize any of the materials listed below, or another new resource, kindly share with me how it was received.
American Jewish World Service
AIPAC Hagadah Supplement
A Hagadah for a Socially Responsible Chocolate Seder -
Four Questions on Asylum Seekers –
Haggadot.com: Our Ever Growing List of Seder Plate Additions
The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators: Interactive Seder Experience