The Reality of Passover in the "Mock" Seder
Of all the earliest memories I have of our temple and my family's relationship to it, none has been quite as poignant as the student seders that are run every year on the days before Passover at our Hebrew School.
Originally I can't even tell you how, as a new congregant and young mother, I ended up volunteering for this effort because I was just getting my feet wet with elementary Hebrew school observances and programs. Yet there I was, at 8:00am, helping to prepare the food and set up for two or three rounds of Passover "mock" seders for 200+ students, their teachers, and our clergy.
In these early years, each class was asked to contribute a specific food for the seder - kindergarteners and first graders were asked to bring the grape juice, second graders brought the matzot, etc., but the task of preparing seder plates and place-settings for 10 to 20 tables at a time was nothing short of miraculous.
I met Stacey during these initial volunteer days, an old pro at this program, who told me of the experience roasting two or three dozen eggs in her kitchen while we washed parsley and opened up boxes of chocolate marshmallow twists. She had a list like a master chef poring over a fine menu, recounting all the foods necessary for the day's preparations. We were but two of the numerous wait staff, congregants converting our social hall and small lounge to accommodate young and old. We plucked the candlesticks from cartons, brushed off the children's Haggadot, and moved around the two rooms setting out plates, pouring Elijah's cups, scooping out spoonfuls of horseradish.
What were particularly fascinating were the reactions of the children - the singing, the reading, the excitement of the child picked to open the door for Elijah's arrival as well as the one who correctly guessed where the afikoman was hidden. It was yea to matzo, nay to gefilte fish, and like a deluxe catering hall, when one group finished and filed out, we set up the tables all over again.
Those days are sweet, as my children have grown and a new group, our PTA, has taken the responsibility of these annual seders. There's a little less egg and a lot more macaroon then there used to be. But despite the subtle changes, the spirit of Passover is alive at our temple, and I silently thank Stacey every year, when that mock seder day arrives.
Lauren B. Lev is a congregant of Temple B'nai Torah, Wantagh, NY, where she is a member of the Ritual Committee. She is a marketing executive and professor whose story on a Jewish education program impacting the local community appeared in "Thin Threads: Real Stories of Hadassah Life Changing Moments."