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Passing Through Passover

Passover is my favorite holiday; in fact, sometimes I think it's the only designated holiday that I even like at all. I love that it's a celebration of freedom, that it focuses on a story of one of the more effective political organizing campaigns of the bible (e.g. the exodus), that it happens just on the cusp of deep spring, and that many people I love come to my house for a road-trip like sedar with plenty of pit stops for humor and conversation.

I've been co-hosting the sedar with two dear friends, Reva and Judy, for what? 24 years, I think. Kids have been born and have grown up, couples have changed, some families have gone to California and others have come to Lawrence, and one of our elder, Ben, died (although we have the Cup for Ben as part of the sedar to make sure he knows he's still welcome). Usually, we have 25-30 people. This means Ken or I do the annual trek-to-the-rental-store for tables and chairs, and my whole family (and sometimes friends swept into helping) sweep, clean, unfold chairs, and push back furniture together. The preparations are usually rushed, and this year, Ken pointed out, mop in hand, that this kind of haste in cleaning was perfect, given how the Israelites had to make such a hasty jolt from Egypt that their bread didn't have time to rise (thus, matzvoh).

The singing is loud, the company shines, and the meal is impossibly good, and almost always the same each year (each person brings something): lots of wine and matzoh, boiled potatoes and eggs, gefilte fish, matzoh ball soup, salad, a vegetarian version of shepherd's pie, and dessert. This year, we had one dessert, and I worried it wouldn't be enough, but it turned out to the dessert equivalent of the Hanukkah oil (which miraculously lasted for eight days): Something called "The Next Best Thing to Angelina Jolie (or Robert Redford, depending on your orientation)" is a layered delight of chocolate pudding, whipped cream, some other kind of creamy part, and a ground-almond crust (thanks to Courtney for making it all from scratch).

The other part of what fed us was the land and sky. People poured out the front door to the porch or the back door to the deck at regular intervals to watch the sunset, look at the bowls of greening hills, and enjoy the sweetness of the breeze. As always, being with friends and family, alive and connected inside and outside, was its own celebration of liberation. When it was over, just like each time we do this, I felt that I was now firmly landed in the new land of spring.

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