Has a sensational, wholesome and heartwarming evening tonight, thanks to my friend Shachar, who invited me and an American friend to join her family’s Seder. “To be Jewish and not have a place to go for Seder is not right, ” she said. “It’s like in America being Christian and having no place to go for Xmas.”
Oh, did I mention Shachar cooks for a living? She travels to (lazy?) clients who’ve bought ingredients, and she prepares their meals for them. One dish was better than the next: the “crack” of Matzoh Ball soup (yes, I do love that expression a lot, but this soup was a-m-a-z-i-n-g, and I got to take some home! ), stuffed peppers, separate dishes of heavenly seasoned zucchini, green beans, potatoes and eggplant, spinach pancakes and a briscuit-y stew. Y-U [urp!] – M.
But more than that, it was being welcomed into a loving family’s warmth that was so priceless. There was Shachar and her husband Nissim, their adorable and engaging children Yoav (6) and Michal (4), sister Karin and her BF, sister Yarden, and mom Mira and stepdad. The whole family enjoyed singing Frankie Valle and the Four Questions, Dayenu, Chad Gadya, and other songs I didn’t know. And of course, we actually used Haggadot. I say “actually,” b/c in my family, we haven’t used them since I was a child. Once me and my cousins became teens, we scrapped the whole Seder thing. Oh, we still get together every Passover, but we’re so non-observant that for us, Passover is just like a Spring Thanksgiving. We’re together and we eat a wonderful meal – AND IT’S GREAT, but it was really nice to do a real Seder
with this family….or, I should say 1/2 a Seder. B/c in a true channeling of my family, after the meal we were so stuffed, that nobody wanted to continue. I cracked everybody up by saying that next year, they should start the Seder by just picking up where they left off this year.
Shachar’s sister Yarden is blind. I mention this, b/c she also speaks very good English (stay with me, I am going somewhere with this…). I asked her why she speaks English with such a correct accent, and if it was because of JAWS - the software for the visually impared that turns what you type into synthesized speech (you know, like a Speak’n'Spell-slash-Stephen Hawking type computer voice). I explained how I used to be a volunteer reader at The Lighthouse International in New York, the nonprofit dedicated to helping the visually impaired. We instantly bonded over this, and she was really appreciative of my dedication to the visually impaired. She had a Braille Haggadah! I asked about it, and she explained that the dots code is universal, so it’s the same dots in Israel as it is in the U.S….but a blind American still wouldn’t able to read her Haggadah, b/c the words spelled in it are Hebrew and wouldn’t make sense to an American. So, it’s universal, yet it would still be in a “foreign language” to the American. Neat, huh?
The kids were adorable searching for the afikoman. Yoav found it, and I high-fived him. Nissim gave both kids wrapped presents after this (we used to just get $5 – *faux retroactive envy alert!*). Michal loved her Barbie doll w/ butterfly wings (fairy?), but Yoav was disappointed with his magnetic dart board set. “He’s a tough client,” said Shachar.
For dessert we had chocolates, and Mira made a frigging scrumptious chocolate matzoh cake. All Jews know that Passover desserts suck. The unleavened matzoh meal almost makes you want to be a slave again. But Mira has a gift. She didn’t use no matzoh meal. She stacks alternating layers of matzoh and chocolate icing, and the result was killer. Thanks, Mira!
And thank YOU, Shachar – for an unequaled experience so far in Israel. xo
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