As a child, Passover was always a big affair. Growing up as the granddaughter, niece, and daughter of rabbis, we always hosted large Seders. Generally, the first night was the Seder at shul with the congregation and the second night was what we called “family Seder.” Don’t let the term “family Seder” deceive you… they were generally composed of more than just our family. We invited people who had nowhere else to go along with many non-Jews wanting to experience a Jewish festival meal.
My father established a number of traditions for our family Seder, all of which are still in practice today. First, is always his ‘order.’ He teaches us to remember the order of the Seder with this mnemonic – Kooky Mr. M&M may come schlepping after silly boys holding noses (KUoKY MR. M&M May Kome Schlepping after Tzilly Boys Holding Noses – Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Maggid, Rachtzah, Motzie, Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Beirach, Hallel, Nirtzah) and you have the order of the Seder.
Another of my cherished memories involves the Haggdah. My father collects them and encourages everyone to select a different copy when they arrive at the Seder. Each version has a unique twist and he asks people to read what their copy says at different points during the Seder. We also always recite my grandfather’s poem during Karpas.
As my father likes to say, it’s quite complex and profound. I remember, as clear as day, my grandfather (ZT”L) reciting the poem at the Seder table when I was a child. Are you ready for it? It goes, “Parsley is garsley.” Everyone would always dissolve into laughter.
In recent years, since I got married, our newest tradition is to bring our two families together for Seder, and my in-laws, who emigrated from the Former Soviet Union, tell their stories of difficulty being Jewish in the FSU. They tell of not knowing when Passover exactly was or all the details of the Seder but they knew that you eat matzah and so they made and ate matzah.
This year’s family Seder will hold a very special significance. Last year I was pregnant. I remember the intense wave of nausea when I ate the Passover chocolates for dessert and managing morning sickness with shmurah matzah. This year, we will get to share the decades of family traditions with our son, David Moshe, who is named after his two great grandfathers. David, who survived WWII and the Holocaust, who built a family on the back of great tragedy and came to the United States in 1980. And Moshe or Maurice, who was a great rabbi who fought for civil rights and whose poem will (G-d willing) live forever. So this year, when you dunk your Karpas in the salt water, just remember – “Parsley is garsley.”
Talia Haykin is currently the Chief Marketing Officer of JCC Denver and the mom of a (very handsome) little boy. In her free time (ha) she and her husband grow thousands of pounds of food each season and make award-winning hard apple cider. She also occasionally blogs at TaliaSheWrote.com.