March 2013: Passover
As Passover quickly approaches, I would like to wish everyone a joyous holiday. My daughter Sara is studying abroad this college semester and she will be missed dearly at our Seder. The excitement builds as we prepare for the holiday. It is more than just spring-cleaning as we methodically remove all traces of chametz in our house. Our kitchen is transformed as we replace all of the cooking and eating utensils with the kosher for Pesach set that has been in storage all year. I love all the different recipes we use during the holiday. I never get tired of eating matzah. I appreciate the change in our daily life even though it is for a short time. My tefillin will get an extra kiss after the holiday since I will have missed wearing them. Our lives are so structured that the Jewish holidays allow us to pause and be thankful for our precious freedoms.
Over the years, I have realized that I get great pleasure from traditions that are not necessarily from the Bible. The pure expression of our love of Judaism is experienced when we dance with the Torah on Simchat Torah. We choose to celebrate these traditions, which are not mandated. These proud expressions of joy help identify who we are as a group, and strengthen our beliefs for future generations.
Sometimes extra holidays are celebrated only in the Diaspora and not in Israel. This is the case for the Second Seder on Pesach. In ancient times, authorities in Jerusalem certified the observation of a new moon for the purpose of declaring a new lunar month. The first night of Passover begins on the 15th of the month of Nissan. After the destruction of the Second Temple, Jewish communities, such as the one in Babylon, were at great distances from Israel. This led to the adoption of the practice of observing an extra day of the pilgrimage holidays to allow for the timely notification of the new month to arrive from Jerusalem. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to celebrate an additional holiday. The importance of this holiday is shown through the sanctification of all the same blessings we recite at the first Seder.
This year we will be celebrating the Second Seder at Temple Beth Sholom. Over the past six months, members have formed committees with specific responsibilities for the occasion. From set-up to clean up, volunteers have been working diligently. The energy and organizational skills of these individuals is inspiring. I will be honored to celebrate the Second Seder amongst friends this year at TBS.