Pesach, First.

I spent almost two hours today shopping for Passover foods. First, I went to Sobey’s, which being located in a relatively Jewish neighborhood here, and they had some things I needed—overly expensive macaroons, matzo, matzo ball mix. Then it was on to Safeway, which had a nicer display of Passover fare. And then I found some dill, horseradish, and parsley, all key ingredients for a dinner. Granted, I was shopping late, but the selection wasn’t there and it was hard to find all of traditional Pesach foods I really wanted. I left the supermarkets feeling oddly down, as if my new home couldn’t sustain me Jewishly. This city isn’t Brooklyn.
Then I talked with my friend, M.B., who kindly reminded me that there’s only one Brooklyn and that the vast majority of people who celebrate Passover scrape it all together and just celebrate the holiday, wherever and however. And then he said something that I just only figured out, “The whole holiday is about making it work,” or something like that, and he’s right, of course. This was a huge gift to me.
Passover is about the celebration of human freedom, the liberation of the spirit, and the beauty of the bountiful that surrounds us. It’s a holiday about the redemption of Jews from slavery and, amazingly, it’s suffused with the sadness of G-d’s reign of terror upon the Jews’ masters.
I’m sorry I took for granted the incredible bounty surrounding me, here, in Western Canada. An embarassment, of riches.
One of the final passages of the Haggadah, the book read during Passover, is this: “On this Seder night, when we pray for freedom, we invoke the memory of the beloved Elijah. May his spirit enter our home at this hour, and every home, bringing a message of hope for the future, faith in the goodness of man, and the assurance that freedom will come to all.”