In preparation for Passover / Poland
The winter in this area of Poland was dying. The windows were losing the steel covering of frost. The trees outside are blossoming. The buds on the plants were peeking through the remains of the snow.
Although cold winds are still blowing, spring is around the corner. Even the personal covering of each individual is renewing because it is the time for new clothes, new shoes. It doesn’t matter if the wardrobe is full of clothes and shoes which still pinch. It is the law that twice a year, only then are the new clothes sewn (not bought). This is a special ceremony that I didn’t like. To go to the seamstress, who takes measurements (because I have surely grown), to see the disappointed face of my mother when in fact I hadn’t grown and hadn’t put on any weight (I was very small and thin), to stand quietly and chew on a thread against the evil eye. To argue with my mother that she not change the pattern of the dress (I was very conservative), despite all the unpleasantness – it was indeed an experience of renewal.
The house is also renewed. A new item is purchased in honour of the festival. Everything is polished and scrubbed not to make it kosher for Passover, our home was secular, but to follow tradition. Mother bends over on all fours in order to polish the parquet flooring. Everything is clean and shiny. We take down the beautiful, delicate utensils from the loft which arouse memories of good food reserved only for Passover. As you all know the festival of Passover is first of all food that arouses cravings and not only on Seder Night, but all the days of the festival. because there shall be no hametz or a kosher or regular dish that are served throughout the year.
At the head of the dishes march the dumplings – the kneidelach which are prepared meticulously. They are filled with pieces of goose fat. Each bite fills the mouth with a pleasant feeling, of softness running down easily to the stomach. After the kneidelach is the march of the wine, whereby throughout the winter we have heard the sounds of the filtered wine dripping from the one bag to another so that it will be clear and pure. This was father’s contribution in honour of the festival.
And the matza - that same matza baked at home based on eggs. Every bite was comparable to the Garden of Eden.
And what was the main thing – was the centre of the festival the Seder Night or the days of the festival in which all the family would meet up - it doesn’t matter. We didn’t adhere to all the parts of the ceremony on Seder Night. We liked to hear father recounting and singing the chapters of the Haggadah, without understanding actually the meaning of “we were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt”.