April 11, 2014
With Passover beginning sundown on Monday, I thought now would be the proper time for staff to share their Passover memories. What’s interesting is that while not everyone on staff here is Jewish (including myself), some of us still have participated in a Seder.
Susan Friedman Director of Finance
Here are some quick memories:
- My first Passover (when I was 6 months) was not celebrated with my parents and older sister. My family went to Florida for the holiday and thought I was too young so they left me home with my grandparents.
- When my sister was 16 years old, she insisted she needed to drink 4 full cups of wine to fulfill the commandment. By the end of the night she was drunk and throwing up in the bathroom. This was the last year she did that.
- One year we were at a hotel in Mexico for Passover. The chef was Mexican but he was cooking traditional foods. One of the funniest foods we had was gefilte fish with strawberries (instead of carrots).
- My family was in NJ for the holidays and my sister and I were driving in the NYC via the Lincoln tunnel to go to work. We were in the car passing H & H Bagels and I said to my sister, “Let’s stop for some fresh bagels”. My sister gave me a look like I was crazy. For just a moment I forgot it was Passover and we couldn’t have bagels. Woops!
- One year my sister and I were in Nice. We ate our meals on this balcony that had amazing views.
Laura Kulber Mintz Director of Tourism & Events and Marketing
We had Seder at my grandmothers with the whole family including our dog Buttons, an adorable black poodle. Our tradition was that my father would hide a piece of matzo (called the afikomen) and whoever found it after the Seder would receive a dollar. My father hid the afikomen and all the grandchildren hunted for it as usual. Normally this would take us just a short time. After an hour of looking for it, we tired and gave up. My father went to where he had hidden it, and it was gone! Surprised and miffed, he explained to us that we would each get a dollar for trying so hard to find it, though he had no idea what happened to it. A few minutes later, Buttons was crawling across the floor belching. SHE was the one who found it. We howled with laughter and retold the story year after year.
David Schafer Director of Development
My fondest memory—I was 8 years of age and I found the afikomen. I was the center of attention. The Seder couldn’t be concluded until it was returned. With consul from my older brother I negotiated five dollars. Wow! I thought I was rich. What is afikomen and what is its meaning? Traditionally, after the afikomen is broken, it is hidden. Depending on the family, either the Seder leader hides the afikomen during the meal or the children at the table “steal” the afikomen and hide it. Either way, the Seder cannot be concluded until the afikomen is found and returned to the table so each guest can eat a piece of it. If the Seder leader hid the afikomen the children at the table must search for it and bring it back. They receive a reward (usually candy, money, or a small gift) when they bring it back to the table. Likewise, if the children “stole” the afikomen the Seder leader ransoms it back from them with a reward so that the Seder can continue.
Laura Steefel-Moore Director of Volunteers & Visitor Services
I’ve only been to one Passover. It was when I was living in NYC, and I had just started dating Dan, my boyfriend. We both lived in Manhattan but his parents’ house is on Long Island, and they invited me to their Seder- and to stay the whole weekend! I was nervous because not only was it an extended meet-the-parents (and sister and sister’s husband and neighbors and family friends), but I wasn’t sure what Passover was all about or what I would have to do. I didn’t want to do or say the wrong thing and ruin the whole Seder! I remember when it was my turn to read, I was careful to enunciate every word loudly and clearly, as if that would somehow show Dan’s parents that I was worthy of their son. I also ate my entire plate of gefilte fish for the same reason! Now I’m pretty sure they like me enough that I can safely pass on the gefilte fish the next time we’re all together for Passover…quite a relief!
Adam Teresi Coordinator of Operations & Media (and staff blog writer)
My mother converted to Judaism in 1998. Two years later she held her first Passover Seder. When I was in town in 2002, she invited me to what would be my first Seder. It was an intimate group of six: me, my parents, my parents’ best friends and a friend of my mom’s. Other than my mom and her friend (the only two Jewish people at the table) it was an inaugural Seder for the rest of us. We were all a bit hesitant at the beginning, especially with the drinking of the wine. It wasn’t until the first time we were to refill our kiddish cups did we realize we did not need to be so prudent with our drinking – baby sips no more! It was then we all relaxed and enjoyed. I had my first taste of gefilte fish with purple horseradish and I’ve been a fan since. The next year, I invited my best friend (another gentile for the table) and he’s been to every one since – we fight each other over the gefilte fish.