We know that most think we are crazy, but the idea of not making Pesach for a crowd still does not resonate well with us. Sorry, folks. We enjoyed the visits to the Jean Talon market to buy our vegetables—all 75 pounds of potatoes, 10 cabbages, 30 pounds of carrots, etc. We loved planning special Chol Hamoed trips to various Quebec sites and knew that there was always the Biodome as a last resort for our children to visit. They still joke about the number of times that we went to the Biodome. It was a pleasurable, exhaustive experience.
We have learned in the new community we live that many, if not the majority of, families living here go away for the chagim. Pesach programs abound in variation. Just open any page of The Jewish Link in the past month and note that you can travel throughout the world and enjoy Pesach with no damage to anything but your bank account.
We ask ourselves if is it the same memory for a child to giggle over his hands becoming totally red from peeling beets while making chrein as it is for dashing into the tea room and grabbing a cookie or piece of fruit any time that he would like.
Cleaning the house for Pesach with the knowledge that families will be at home has to be completely different from packing up and closing the front door with the knowledge that you will be away for eight to 10 days.
We have heard all about the amazing barbecues that take place near the pool. Rumors have it that the hamburger and hot dog rolls taste exactly like “the real thing.” Everyone, remember: every time you bite into one of those you are really eating parts of a potato. We are told that the food is so amazing at these palatial getaways that it would be difficult to remember that it is Pesach. In our family everyone knows it is Pesach. We pack up matza and veggies and eggs to take on a family tiyul that remind us that we are prohibited from eating anything else. We always wear special Chol Hamoed clothing, but it is not a problem to wear the same outfit two days later. No one is concerned about wearing something twice in the same week.
Every year, special recipes that we made only on Pesach would reappear, to the joy of everyone’s palate. Dena was known for making vegetable stew with dumplings. Malkie made eggplant parmesan in her special Pesach mode. Chavie enjoyed making Grandpa’s matza coffee brought to our table from the memories of a grandfather growing up in Berlin, and, of course, everyone participated in Zaidie’s cracking open every kind of nut and putting them in a glass of wine. Matza brei a la Bubbie still excites everyone, and wherever we will be for Pesach one can be assured that it will be made. We are not sure what foods are especially remembered from hotel dining on Pesach. We love when Uncle Baruch or Uncle Chaim would take the younger children during our Seder and sit with them on the couch, talking about Pharaoh and the frogs and making them more comfortable than sitting for such a long time at the table. Gosh, where do you open the door for Eliyahu in a hotel dining room? Some of the children in our home would always need assurance that no one scary was going to enter. Others were just happy to have the opportunity for some fresh air.
Is there a better or worse way in trying to decipher whether one should make Pesach or go away? We definitely have our preference. Despite the work we can’t imagine doing it any other way. Every bite of food is prepared with love and the determination that there should be something special for everyone. Having cousins line up on the floor in their sleeping bags, dorm style, and listening to them giggle until they are finally quiet brings smiles to our faces as we think about it. Would we think differently if we had the financial means to take our entire family away for Peach? We think not. As Nina has said many times, “When I win the Lotto I will take all of you to Yerushalayim.” One aspect of this she has not considered is that she must first buy a ticket! No matter where one makes Pesach, it is not an inexpensive proposition, yet our choice would always be to stay home with our children and watch them bond as their faces become full of jelly every time they bite into a piece of matza; and although we have barbecued every year in Montreal with snow surrounding our special Pesach barbecue, we were able to forego the rolls and, no, it did not taste exactly the same. Yet, isn’t it the point to remember that for one week of Pesach, things should not be the same?
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick
Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick are living in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Rabbi Glick was the Rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel as well as a practicing clinical psychologist in private practice. He also taught at at Champlain Regional College. The Glicks were frequent speakers at the OU Marriage Retreats. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for special needs young adults. They can be reached at [email protected].