While we were writing, I told Fred about the other activities in the Senior Center, including the Coffee Cup and its mahjong games. Then Eleanor and Fred reminisced about playing mahjong, or “mahj” as Eleanor called it, with all the other Jewish families back in the day. And Norman announced that The Head and the Hand is publishing his work! The best part of Fred’s visit was that he said he would have to leave at 1:45, but he stayed until 2 and listened to all our stories. He slipped out before we could include him in our senior selfie, but I’m glad he enjoyed his visit.
The Seder Plate
When my grandparents died, my mother asked me if I would like a memento. I looked through the few faded old things she showed me before choosing a chipped and well-used metal Seder plate, dark turquoise and faded gold. This Seder plate brought me back to my childhood and memories of my grandparents. The were Polish Jewish Yiddish-speaking immigrants who settled in Montreal in the 1920s after escaping anti-Semitism and pogroms in eastern Europe.
My earliest childhood memories are of a dusty, small apartment, filled with the smells of Jewish cooking – brisket with prunes and apricots, potato latkes, homemade applesauce, honey cake. My grandparents, Moses and Anna, had thick Yiddish accents.
Back to the Seder plate – The most exciting event of the year was the large family gathering that my grandparents had on Passover. My mother, her four brothers and their families would all descend on the small apartment. A long folding table took up the entire living and dining room with room for me and my three brothers and myriad aunts, uncles and cousins.
The Seder seemed to last for hours as my grandfather read the story of Passover. The Seder plate held the symbols of the Jews’ oppression and hardships in their 40-year exile in Egypt. Bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Even the children drank sweet red wine.
My Seder plate conjures up these sweet memories as I do my own, much shorter version of a Seder every year.
You can check out Norman's publisher, Head and Hand, by clicking here. For more information about the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, click here. And wish us luck!
Curated by Caitlin Cieri