Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Last Days

The last two days of Pesach here in Exile are special - of all the holidays in the Jewish calendar, they are the only ones that have nothing unique to them. Some communities do have customs for the eighth day - an afternoon meal to honor the Messiah, or just to finish up the matzah (Neilat haPesach) as we do in our shul. People who avoid "gebrokts" or matzah products mixed with water or other liquids during the first seven days will eat them the eighth because it's only Rabbinic. But none of these are intrinsic to the holidays. So when we light our yom tov candles or say the kiddush, we do not say "shehechiyanu" as we do all other holidays. Yes, we're still eating Pesadich, but we've been doing that all week, and we who have lost a parent say yizkor on the eighth day, but we say it three other times, too. It's like they're the essence of yom tov - they're celebrated because the Torah says to.

The first day was Shabbat, so I made a plain Shabbat dinner, not too far from my normal one. I made sweet potatoes as a change from white ones, and I made marinated asparagus because the way I serve hot vegetables only works with sturdy ones like green beans or peas or corn - things I can't serve during Pesach. We went to friends for lunch, which was wonderful and full of veggies because that's how she cooks. Then I napped.

I've been doing a lot of sleeping on Shabbat lately - waking up very early and going back to sleep for several hours and then napping in the afternoon. Plays havoc with my sleep patterns. Also, I miss shul. I went straight to my friends' house that afternoon, in fact, because I missed shul.

Saturday night flowed into Yom Tov. When it was dark enough, I turned the oven up (we hold that you can adjust temperature on yom tov) and put in my Mina di Espinacia to heat, and then lit my candles - my two yom tov candles and my yarzheit candle because it was a yizkor day. Jonathan came home from shul and we ate dinner - I made a salad to go with the pie.

I had to go to shul Sunday because it was a yizkor day - the day when we say memorial prayers for the dead. In our synagogue, as in most O synagogues, all those who still have both parents leave during that service. This would include our rabbi, who is a grandfather. Except he was ill and wasn't in shul at all. Which meant that when I got to synagogue (during the Torah reading), I found three members of the board (the president, the treasurer and the secretary - aka jonbaker) having an emergency meeting in the hallway. Because the dinner journal goes to print on Friday and we haven't gotten many ads and we had to make an announcement. Rather, Jonathan did. After he did the haftarah. Normally, a rabbi makes a fundraising speech before Yizkor, because part of yizkor is pledging to charity in the deceased person's name.

So on ten minutes' warning, my husband had to compose a speech that A. was a sermon combining the Torah portion and the holiday, B. mentioned those being honored at the dinner (the three families making aliyah this year, which includes the president and the people we'd had lunch with on Saturday) and C. urged the purchasing of ads before the deadline. And he had to do it without writing anything down. Fortunately, he'd done some appropriate learning the night before and he managed a lovely one which tied everything together.

We went to a Sephardi family's for lunch. He's Yememite and they follow his customs, but she's Indian, so she served Jewish Indian food. This meant food fun - because they are Sphardi, they eat rice and beans and such, but we and their other guests - a family of three, including a three year old - are Ashkenaz and don't, nor does her mother. So every course included determining what we could eat and what we couldn't - no on the hummous, yes on the fenugreek, this version of "potato chops" - mashed potatoes molded around ground beef and vegetables, rolled in matzah meal and fried - has peas and was just for the Sphardi, that one has carrots. One cauliflower dish was just steamed the other had peas and carrots. We can eat food cooked in the same pots or served on the same utensils as kitniyot because it's not chometz, so that wasn't a problem. This was fine for the adults. Moshe David had some problems.

They sat him with Yissochar Shalom, their not-quite-three year old, at their own little table. (The difference is amazing. Moshe David has short hair, is toilet trained, wears a kippah and tzitzit and understands concepts like muktza (not permitted on Sabbath or Yom Tov.) Yissochar Shalom, who turns 3 in August, has longish curls because his hair has never been cut, does not wear a kippah or tzitzit and is still wearing diapers but is about ready to discard them. And he happily played with a toy he shouldn't have.)

And they served Yissachar Shalom hummous (which I suspect is yummy with matzah. I wouldn't know because the idea of eating matzah on non-Pesach is unappetizing) and Moshe David wanted some. And you could tell he didn't understand when Mommy told him, "It's not your custom." He's three. He doesn't HAVE customs. All he knew was that Yissachar Shalom (and yes, we use both names) had something nice that was clearly okay because *his* mommy and daddy gave it to him and he didn't. So he took some. And when Mommy noticed and brought it to Daddy's attention, Daddy said it was fine. Because. Three. And 8th day. And I have long maintained that Ashkenazim should eat kitniyot on the 8th day, just as those who eat non-gebrokts eat gebrokts on the 8th day. Not that I do, but we should.

Then we went home, along with everyone else. That is, on that lovely, lovely day, everyone seemed to be leaving where-ever they'd had lunch at the same time. Which makes sense - most shuls let out at about the same time and lunch is going to take about the same time to eat. And there were all the baby strollers because it's Yom Tov and they're permitted. It was just NICE. And I slept away the rest of the day and when Yom Tov was over, we changed back to year-round.

But I have a slice of meat pie waiting for my lunch.
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