Today, I decided to write an open thank-you note to Stacey. About a month ago, she invited my husband and me to a Passover Seder at her parents’ home. I was thrilled, and Ralph said yes right away.
While it is true that Stacey and I are currently writing a book for Stenhouse Publishers on writing workshop, working relationships do not always extend to friendships – at least the kind of friendship that does not involve participation in a professional organization. Stacey and I are friends. We do not live right around the corner from each other, and yet we try to meet around the winter holiday and again in spring somewhere between our homes. Rose Cappelli and Diane Dougherty have joined us for a lunch in the Lancaster area. Stacey brings Isabelle and Ari. It’s always a special treat. We visit on facebook and twitter. We skype. This spring or early summer, Ralph and I hope to join Stacey for a walk at Longwood Gardens. Stacey read lots of posts about Longwood from Rose and me during March Slice of Life 2018, and these posts have tempted her to make the trip and enjoy Londwood’s beauty.
Pesach is a holiday I miss celebrating since it is steeped in tradition and brings family members together. The seder is the centerpiece of any Passover experience. A seder is an elaborate festive meal that takes place on the first nights of the holiday. The word seder means “order,” and the Passover seder has 15 separate steps in its traditional order.
The seder at Stacey’s parents’ home was over-the-top wonderful! Ralph and I felt like part of Stacey’s family. Her parents, sister and brother-in-law, husband, and children treated us like family members. Mr. Shubitz, Stacey’s dad, provided a kippah or yarmulke for my husband.
On a small plate on the long dining room table at each guest’s seat we found herbs such as horseradish which signifies the bitterness of enslavement, a non-bitter vegetable (parsley), which is dipped in salted water to symbolize tears, and Haroset, a mixture of apple, nuts, and wine that represents the mortar and bricks used by the enslaved Jews. Stacey led the traditional ceremony, and everyone had a reading part. Isabelle was unbelievable! I thought my husband would fall off his chair as she read and sang Hebrew prayers smoothly and beautifully. It was very moving! The child’s questioning triggers one of the most significant elements of Passover, which is the highlight of the Seder ceremony: reading the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Stacey skillfully led us through a slightly-abbreviated version of the ceremony. The main meal was so delicious: matzo ball soup, brisket and roast chicken, potato kugel, and a stew of carrots and prunes. All delicious, and it is Stacey’s dad who had prepared most of the meal! I was, however, thankful that gefilte fish was not on the menu. Dessert included cookies, cakes, and candies. Stacey’s sister brought a cake from a French bakery near her home in New York – covered with slivers of almonds, gluten free, absolutely scrumptious!
When we finally said goodnight, Ari waved goodbye from the doorway and blew kisses. Isabelle waved. She had already extended an invitation to join her family at Passover Seder each year until she graduated from high school. She added, “That’s a long time!” Sweet Isabelle, we would be delighted to join you again and again. You amazed us! You entertained us! You filled our hearts with joy! Thank you, Stacey, for your invitation to join your family in an evening steeped in historical significance and rich tradition. We will remember this time with you and your family always.