Monday, April 16, 2007

Post-Pesach Tidbits (Some Should have been Pre-Pesach, Oh Well)

This Pesach's experiences will prompt a number of the next few posts. But in the meantime I thought I would add a few random things on my mind before getting back on the blogging block too soon.

First off, while I was computer free, AlazLaz tagged me to find out what Haggadah we use. While we have a growing number of Haggadot on our shelves with commentaries, all of which are fantastic resources, a simple Pesach Haggadah serves us best at the Seder. There is a particularly enjoyable Haggadah that we enjoy using, compiled by Rabbi Marc Angel of the Spanish Porteguese Synagogue Shearith Israel, complete with various commentaries from Sephardi Chachamin, past and present and a complilation of various minhagim. The index also has a very brief biography on each of the commentators which is easy to reference and is in and of itself a fantastic feature.

The highlight of this Haggadah is the inclusion of key Ladino translations and songs including Quen Supiese, a Ladino version of Mi Echad Yodea, and Un Cavritico (One Kid/Had Gadya). What we discovered when we ordered this Haggadah is that there is more than one Ladino version to each of these songs. While extremely similiar, there are some differences. And that is what an Oral Messorah is for. Fascinating! And Pesach is filled with oral family mesorahs that are so numerous and so interesting and often myterious. This Haggadah is really is a great edition to any library (and no, I'm not being paid to say that). What is does lack is a Ladino translation of the Four Questions. Next year, iy"h, I will insert this into the Haggadah.

Some of the notable differences in the seder are 1) Only two berachot over cups of wine are made, keeping in mind the 2nd and 4th cup 2) Mah Nishtana follows the order of the Gemorah and the 3rd Question (afilu pa'am achat) is asked first, 3) Kos Eliyahu and hiding the Afikomen were adopted from the Ashkenaz tradition while not originally Sephardi customs, and 4) Men and Women all lean which is not a universal practice in Ashkenazi circles. I will stop at four for now. Gives me more to blog abour next year and four is just an appropriate Pesach number.

Onto other tidbits:

--> The Four Questions: I was a big nervous that my pre-schooler would get stage fright and be unable to "perform" the four questions which he had been working on quite intently (Last year at not quite yet 2 he did one Mah Nishtanah and one question with a bit of help) .

Despite the fact my MIL/FIL never sent their children to 2-year old or 3-year old nursery (formerly known as day care), they have become big believers so to speak as my SIL/BIL set the stage. As the younger sibling, my husband and I receive rather large clues that we aren't doing things right and we are going to put our children behind academically through these choices.

While I should just ignore all of this since I'm armed with my own facts and my kids are performing remarkably well for only have me as a teacher, I still put pressure on myself to perform. So when my almost 3-year old son stood up and performed the 4 questions flawlessly in beautifully accented Ivrit. I burst into tears.

Incidently, the younger cousin in nursery didn't even attempt a question. I've got to stop pressuring me. Fortunately, I'm not pressuring my own kids. This boy is probably as driven as they come and he takes to everything like a sponge. I should have recorded him singing on the Purim Podcast. He could have sung nearly any song from Eishet Chayil to Chag Purim to Shalom Aleichem.

--> Berachot: One little issue, after learning the beracha "al achilat matzah" he nows says "al achilat yadayim." I think we can straighten that out soon.

--> Confusing Environments and New Rules: While I can't complain about not having to clean and kasher my own home for Pesach as we joined my husband's family for the festivities, I don't believe it is easy to go away either. Taking little children (and some adults too) out of their environment for 2 weeks (extended trip) isn't easy by any means. It isn't just the living out of a suitcase, bouncing from place to place, and throwing off any semblance of a schedule that is difficult. It is all of the other things that happen (or don't happen) when you outside of your environment. Probably the biggest difficulty when traveling with small and curious children is that the new environment has not been tuned to their impulses and neither have the hosts. To make a long megillah short, I'm not sure that there was a place untouched despite very vigilant parents (that's us). Now our family host has her own children, but it appears they not one has been a tenth as mechanically inclined, athletic, etc as ours. If so, the house, set up, etc would have been completely different. And because of the bad weather, my son did not see a ball for the entire trip (is that a form of child neglect?).

--> Diet: Another difficulty is diet when outside of your home, and not just the Pesach diet! In our home regular Shabbat seudot include vegetable based soups, a little bit of poultry or meat, a variety of vegetables and/or salads, and a starch. More often than not, dessert is fresh fruit with a cookie. Our hosts are the opposite: heavy on meat/poultry/gefilte fish, extremely light on veggies which usually appear in the form of a kugel or in the form of a garnish if and when they appear, and heavy on potato starch/matza meal prepared desserts. Lunches and snacks are matza and cheese, matza brie, and matza rolls: not a fruit in sight, but thank G-d for the overpriced Pesach yogurt. And the biggest killer of all: Coca Cola served at every meal. There is a reason I don't bring sodas into our home. I spent the week after Pesach weaning my son off the Coca Cola. Now that we are home it is cold turkey because we have none here (baruch Hashem). The stuff is a drug, yet present at every meal, every kiddush, etc. Now I'm no health food fanatic, but putting Coca-Cola out at every meal? I can't think of a worse idea.

--> Needing Explicit Instructions: Lastly, I like to help wherever I go and I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I want to be told what to do! As a guest in a kitchen that is not my own and that I did not grow up in I need explicit instructions, especially on Pesach, when a kashrut messup could be devestating (even if it really isn't a problem, but I digress-I ranted about women's learning in my last post).

Unless a host family is super organized and has all utensils clearly labelled, all chometz utensils locked away (and I do mean locked because small children and even sitting babies can easily pull tape off cabinets if you blink an eye), and clearly written receipes, helping in the kitchen is not a "do it yourself" project. I can't walk into a kitchen and just know which utensils are milk, meat, and parve if they are not clearly labelled. I also do NOT know how so-in-so family member's Bubbe or Savta made their chicken soup. So, if you don't have the secrets clearly recorded, I really can't help you.

It isn't fair to grumble about lack of help if you don't create an environment that is safe to help in. Baruch Hashem this year things were more spacious and I was able to help much more. So while this issue is one of the past, I just figured I would put it out there.

Next Up: When a couple blows a simcha in the eyes of one set of parents?


RaggedyMom said...

Glad you're back, SL!

The challenges of leaving one's home environment over Pesach are significant, though I don't dare mention them to members of my family and friends who slaved away actually "making Pesach." This year, our apartment was Pesachdik except for the kitchen (I know that that's a huge 'except'!) to allow for my neighbor's extended family to stay here.

I wrote about this over at RaggedyMom, but I'm not tired of the topic yet. I found that for the sake of not disturbing a large group of family and friends, staying away from home often means compromising on a lot of things with my kids and giving in to things that I would be firm on at home. On that note, now that Andy (nearly 18 months) is adjusted to being back at home and over a bad cold, we are actively in the process of getting rid of his pacifiers, which I delayed because I knew nobody would be able to put up with it while we were away.

This Pesach, I realized that future extended holidays and G-d willing, recuperations after baby deliveries will have to occur mostly or completely in my own house! Moving into my parents' home is becoming less and less of a long-term option!

Anonymous said...

don't let anyone undermine your parenting. A toddler doesn't need a program to learn. There are opportunities to acquire skills and information at that age in day-to-day tasks.

Reb Yudel said...

> al achilat yadayim

I wonder whether a beracha requirement could discourage thumbsucking the way a beracha discourages the eating of bread during the year....

Lion of Zion said...

i hope you watch your fingers when feeding him

Orthonomics said...

RM-Glad you aren't tired of it either. My husband today said maybe we should just go for the sedarim next year. While I used to be loathe to clean "only" for the last days, I now welcome the opportunity.

Ariella-I couldn't agree with you more about learning in day to day tasks.

Reb Yudel and Ari-My only one with the thumbsucking issue can't say a beracha and my one who makes berachot beautifully can also use silverware beautifully. Does that make me a shlamazel?

AS said...

I went away for pesach and it wasn't so easy, let me tell you!

RaggedyMom said...

I think we're on a tentative "Sedarim only" plan for next year too! We'll see if I chicken out . . . !