My mother loved the springtime, and preparing for Passover was one of her favorite rituals. In addition to the delicious food she set out, the table was beautiful, sparkling with china and crystal she saved for the occasion.
I have not followed in her gracious footsteps. She was raised as an Orthodox Jewish girl and I didn’t even go to Sunday School. I was overly indulged and when I told my parents they made me drink white milk there, they assured me I didn’t have to go back.
Instead, Sunday mornings found me on the tennis courts of Druid Hill Park in Baltimore working with a wonderful coach. The lessons paid off, as I rose in the ranks of local players and loved playing the game. I can’t even remember if my sister attended Sunday School, but our family was definitely Reform.
On the special first night of Passover my mother served lamb (which I still think of as a delicacy,) delicate asparagus and all the appropriate holiday accompaniments to make for a festive occasion. With his jokes and desire for the lengthy meal to end, my father often ruined these nights.
As Passover arrives this year, I think of my mother and the beautiful lady she was. Although I do not observe the holiday, she would be proud to know her granddaughter does with her father. I don’t feel guilty, just a bit nostalgic. At times like this, I regret being alone in the area with no family. But the truth is that I don’t miss the ceremonial occasions of my religion.
I wish I knew a bit more about my heritage, and I could have taken classes to clarify the history of the Jewish people. But I never made the effort. After Mom died, the family was never the same.
Since my divorce, I have dated non-Jewish men almost exclusively, and I have felt comfortable with them despite our different backgrounds. Maybe I don’t want the pressure and expectations of a Jewish wife. I am just not very domestic.
So, as Passover is upon us, I buy and eat the proper matzo, enjoy the macaroons, and conjure up images of families enjoying this time together. Enjoy whatever religious holiday you are celebrating this weekend. I will be saying my silent prayers and thinking of my mother.