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Cleaning (#BlogExodus, Day 6)

Cleaning (#BlogExodus, Day 6)

In my earliest seder memories, we went each year to Dallas to celebrate Pesach at my Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Bill's house. Usually we flew on Southwest; it took about an hour to get from San Antonio to Love Field. But somewhere in my childhood, we started alternating years: one year in Dallas, one year at our house in San Antonio.

On the years when we hosted the seder at our house, the preparation for Pesach always involved taking down the boxes of pesachdik -- kosher for Passover -- dishes from the storeroom. I didn't grow up in a kosher home; we didn't maintain separate sets of dishes for milk and meat. But we did have a separate set of dishes for Passover which were strictly kept in accordance with halakhic constraints.

We had special Pesach dishes because some of our family members kept to those standards of kashrut. In the interest of inclusivity, my mother kept a separate set of dishes for Pesach only, so that our family who kept that kind of kosher could join us for seder. I don't think I realized any of this at the time. The fact that we had special dishes we only used during these few days each year just added to the holiday's specialness.

So every other year, when it was our turn to host, my mom and her army of helpers would kasher the kitchen, scrubbing and scouring and covering surfaces with tinfoil, and bring down the pesachdik dishes from the high shelves where they lived the rest of the year. And once the kitchen was kashered, my grandfather Eppie, of blessed memory, would make the matzah balls. (One year I took lessons from him; I still use his method now.)

My own preparations for Pesach tend more toward the spiritual (reading Hasidic texts and poring over my Haggadah) than the practical. But when I clean my house at this season, I think of generations of my ancestors who searched every cranny for hidden crumbs of chametz, and I'm grateful for the work they did to keep Pesach meaningful and alive.

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat was ordained by ALEPH in 2011. Author of 70 Faces (Phoenicia, 2011), a collection of Torah poems, she serves Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, MA.

Originally posted at Velveteen Rabbi

Published: 3/18/2013

Categories: Jewish Holidays, Passover
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