Spring is such a great time of year. We’ve got March Madness going on, baseball season is coming and, of course, warm weather hopefully on the way. It is also time for Passover, the annual Jewish holiday that honors the liberation of the Jews from ancient Egypt. We celebrate the holiday with Seders, a gathering of friends and family, on the first two night of the eight-day holiday. It is one of the few Jewish holidays that doesn’t revolve around going to Temple and instead we participate in several traditional acts, songs, prayers and dinner at home.
As a kid, my favorite memories of Passover were going to my aunt and uncle’s home in Western New Jersey or making the trip to Brooklyn (traffic included) to see my grandma’s house. While I always recognized the importance of the traditions and reading the prayers, I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite part. I always looked forward to eating (matzo ball soup is awesome!) and the end of the night when it was time to find the afikoman.
Early in the Seder, the person leading the prayers, breaks a piece of matzo in half. One piece is shared with all at the dinner table and the second piece, the afikoman (which translates roughly to dessert) is reserved for later. There are different ways that families incorporate the afikoman. In one version, the kids figure out a way to “steal” it and then ask for a ransom of candy or money so the service can end using that piece of matzo.
But in my family, that second piece was hidden somewhere by either my dad or my uncle and at the end of the meal, my sisters and I, along with my cousins, went on a hunt to find it. I guess there should only be one winner, the one who finds it. But in our family all of us got crisp, new $1 bills. I thought I was rich, especially because it was a buck a night!
Next week it’s now my turn to host a Seder. It’s the second one we’ve had at our house and I am looking forward again to my boys and their cousins sitting together at the table. I try to make the Seder as much fun as possible for the kids since I remember being so antsy waiting for the traditional prayers to end and dinner to start. But the highlight will again be the afikoman.
Since I doubt the kids will read this, I am going to share a secret. I’m going to hide it in the family room, under the cushion of the green plaid chair in the corner! Hopefully the search will go on for a little while!