a weekend of traditions

Easter tulip at Upper West Side Community Garden

captured at the upper west side community garden, nyc

Growing up I really don’t recall any Jewish acquaintances in our family, at school or at work, so there’s never been a real understanding of the various traditions during Passover.  However, I’ve always been interested in all religions and have the desire to better understand the various beliefs.

As mentioned several posts earlier, I recently was adopted into a blogging community of women called Vision and Verb spearheaded by my blogger friend, Marcie Scudder.  She writes, photographs and posts daily on her blog, Marcie Scudder Photography.

I’ve read and reread Marcie’s post for Passover and for the first time I get it.  I mean I really get the meaning of Passover in the simplest of terms.  No one has been able to put it into words like Marcie has, at least for me.

WHY IS THIS NIGHT?

Why is this night different from all others?

Because – the story tells us – this is the night we celebrate our right to be free. Our exodus from the tyrrany of slavery and bondage. On this night  – we gather and sit and re-tell this story. This one that has been told and re-told time and time again.

It is the story of one Pharoah’s attempt to enslave the Jews. It is the story of Moses – born of a Jewish mother and raised by that same Pharoah. How it is that he found himself exiled and in the   desert..answering to God’s call to set his people free.

It is the story of the 10 plagues – that began with the all of the waters of Egypt turning to blood..and ended with the killing of the firstborn in every Egyptian family.

It is the story of how – in their hurry to leave – the Jews had only enough time to gather their belongings and bread that had not had time to fully rise. When they arrived at the sea – it magically parted…allowing them to cross over into a land that was safe and free. It was there that it began. The long journey across the desert and search for the promised land.

Why is this night different from all others?

It’s the coming of spring. It’s the passing over. It’s a fresh clean start…a new chapter and  a new beginning.

As a young child – I first asked that question…as it is the tradition that the youngest of the children ask.

As an older child – the questions I began to ask were a little different. Yes – I wanted to know ‘why’..but the why’s were less about the story itself. They were more about challenging the tradition and why this annual ritual and meal? Why the cleaning of every closet and cupboard? Why the need to remove every trace of bread? Why all of this effort and fuss? I was no longer wide-eyed..captivated by the magic…young and innocent.

As a young mother – I returned to my roots and my beginnings. What was passed to me..I passed on to  my own. I watched proudly – as each of my three – had their turn to ask these same questions…that I had once asked myself.

Why is this night different from all others?

Because – on this night we gather. We celebrate. We tell the story of how it is we came to be here on this day. We eat matzo – to remind us of the unleavened bread. We dip our spring greens in water that is salted with our ancestor’s tears. We eat bitter herbs so as to never forget. We drink four cups of wine. We recline..because we are free.

Now – as an older mother..and with grown kids of my own. I get to sit back and watch. I’m looking forward to that someday when my children will sit with theirs as I did with mine. To their passing along the telling of this story. That this night will always be a one that is celebrated as different.

It is on this night that we not only honor and celebrate the Passover holiday..but every person’s right to be free. No matter the race or religion or nationality or language. We eat and we sing and we honor the tradition.

Year after year. Time after time again. We ask the questions. We answer with the telling of the same story.

Once – it is said – we were slaves in Egypt. Now – we are free.

Every time I’ve read this post (and it’s been several) …it’s brought tears to my eyes.  What resonates with me so is the passing of tradition from generation to generation.  Living in a Jewish community here in the Upper West Side of NYC, it’s been so enjoyable to see all the family gatherings and the importance they place on gathering for Seder.

So all of this has made me think more about the importance of traditions and my hopes are for more Marcie’s of the world who are keeping those traditions alive for our future generations.

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9 Comments

  1. Posted April 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm by Marcie | Permalink

    And – reading it here – brings tears to my eyes!
    Thank-you – Robin – for sharing!!!
    Hope you’ve had a wonderful Easter day!

  2. Posted April 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm by Frida | Permalink

    I have very little knowledge of Jewish traditions and reading Marcie’s post was a beautiful introduction to the Passover.

    • Posted April 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm by gotham girl | Permalink

      Me either Frida and I totally agree. I’ve never read anything like Marcie put together, but then that’s our Marcie! Hope you had a nice weekend!

  3. Posted April 9, 2012 at 12:02 am by E'Clair | Permalink

    Beautiful and very touching! Thanks for sharing Marcies words. I love you MORE!

  4. Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm by Ginnie | Permalink

    I know exactly what you mean, Robin! Growing up in a Baptist minister’s home shielded me from other religions during my growing-up years. But the day I realized my Christian roots were Jewish, I had one of those AHA experiences! In fact, now that I look back on my life and see my reactions to Jewish movies (like Yentl and Fiddler on the Roof) and experiences (seeing smokestacks in Germany), I have a distinct feeling I was Jewish in a past life.

    It’s funny how these bits-n-pieces seep into our consciousness, isn’t it. I would LOVE seeing the neighborhood where you live in NYC. In fact, I actually wondered if maybe even YOU were Jewsih!

    • Posted April 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm by gotham girl | Permalink

      Well by now you know I’m not Jewish, but so interested in learning about all kinds of religions! Can’t wait for you girls to come visit in NYC one day! But we’ll do your country first and see if I pass the test, ha ha!

      • Posted April 13, 2012 at 7:23 am by Ginnie | Permalink

        Pass the test? OMG! You passed it at Hello! You should see Astrid right now. NYC is one of her FAVORITE places in the world. To see your neck of the woods through your eyes would be a dream come true. And we’re pretty good about our dreams coming true! :)

        • Posted April 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm by gotham girl | Permalink

          I so love that! “And we’re pretty good about our dreams coming true!”

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