Sisterhood Blog

Passover At YOUR House?

By Nechama Liss-Levinson

  • Print
  • Share Share
Nechama Liss-Levinson
Levinson family seder, 1950.

Every Seder has its own story. There was Passover circa 1960, when Uncle Buddy stood in for Elijah. Or the Passover of 1985, when we started the Seder as we got up from sitting shiva for my father. I will never forget the Passover Seders when each of our children recited the Four Questions for the first time. Or the Passover when our first grandson made his appearance, and we all were transformed in our familial relationships and identities.

But no matter what the backstory, for each Seder it was clearly understood where the event should take place. For example, in my childhood, my parents lovingly prepared and led the Seder in our apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens, which was filled with family members and friends. And for the past 30-odd years, the Seder has taken place at our home on Long Island, with our own children, grandchildren, my mother-in-law and friends showing up faithfully each year, celebrating amidst the cacophony of generations.

Of course, there were occasional outliers, like the year our older daughter got married and she and her husband made their own Seder. “So, are the newlyweds coming to you this year?” friends asked with a smile. I forced a smile back. “They are making their own Seder. Isn’t that amazing and beautiful?” I opined. I felt it was true, but another part of me wasn’t quite ready for the separation. (Ironically, I then remembered that my husband and I had also created our own gestalt-experiential vegetarian Seder for our friends in graduate school when we were first married.)

Then last year, in the middle of the Seder meal, our son-in-law asked, seemingly nonchalantly, “How would you feel if we wanted to host the Seder at our house, if all of you and my parents came to us instead of us coming to you?”

There it was, in one brief question. It’s not for nothing that the word “Seder” literally translates as “order,” for the entire order of our world was about to turn upside down. What we had built and experienced over the course of our adult lives was about to undergo a seismic shift.

“We would love to come to your Seder,” my husband and I said at once. Our older daughter shook her head in disbelief. “That is so politically correct, and so not what you feel. You would hate it. Be real.”

I tried to search the inner recesses of my being. What did I actually feel?

“No,” I said slowly. “I do mean it. What’s the point of all of this anyway? I don’t do all of this work just to clean the house and make a meal. It’s about transmitting something important to our children, to you. If you want to make the Seder, that means what we did was successful in some way.”

But I added one more thought, with a bit of anxiety. “If we have the Seder at your home next year, it doesn’t mean that it is a fixed thing. After all, what if your sister wants to have the Seder at her place? I mean, that has to be an option too.”

Our younger daughter stared at us for a while. “Actually,” she said, “I really don’t want to be the one making the Seder. I mean, I don’t like to cook, I don’t like to clean… Of course the Seders would be at my sister’s house.”

So much for my anxiety.

I meant what I said about moving the Seder to our children’s homes, but I haven’t been really tested yet. This year, there’s a new baby and increased professional responsibilities for everyone; the time was not yet right. But I feel it. I don’t know if it will be next year, or in five years or even 10. But I am psychically preparing for this move. I try to imagine being a guest at my child’s Seder. It will be an end and also a new beginning. It will be the Seder story created by the next generation.

Nechama Liss-Levinson, Ph.D., is a psychologist and author. Her most recent book, “When the Hurricane Came,” was selected as a finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards, Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: seder, sisterhood, passover, jewish holidays, jewish women, family

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach!
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.