Monday night was the first Seder and twelve of us gathered around the dining room table. I took a deep breath and looked at who was there; at the far end was my husband Michael of 50 years. He has been working on putting together the narrative of Moses. You might say that I have become obsessed with telling the story of Moses from the basket to the wilderness so that my grandchildren understand the story. Actually, what I really am obsessed with is making memorable memories for my grandchildren. Last year, I did a little play for our five grandchildren to act out. These are the things that I wished we had done when I was growing up.

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The Seders when I was a little girl had their own fun, like my cousin Barry and I drinking too much kosher wine while we were sitting at the end of the table. Or the Seder that we went to in Atlantic City where my sister and I were in twin beds In a room with a slanted floor. The Boardwalk was fun, the Seder was led by a famous cantor and we were there alone. Then we had some Seders in Florida where the sun was fabulous after the freezing cold weather in Montreal where we lived. The pool was great, Miami was even more fun, but again we were alone as a family. The Seders we had with the Miller family were wonderful. By then my sister was married, the Millers had grandchildren and the two extended families had Seders together.

Marrying Michael meant having big family Seders again. His father was one of four brothers and two always had Seder together. In fact, the first time I met Michael’s sister, Carol and her family, was at Seder at the Usher’s house. For many years, the Ushers and my parents spent Seders together and I loved it. When we bought our house on Roslyn Avenue, the large dining room begged to have me begin making the Seders.  Using both mothers’ recipes, I gathered the family and close family friends around the table. We watched our own children learn the four questions, read parts of the story in Hebrew, and learn all the songs. I was so proud.

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Moving to Washington 36 years ago brought new Seders. Things change, and different people were around the dining room table. Thanks to my cousins Diana and Milton, they incorporated us into their Seders. Thus a new tradition started, and along with cousins, there were close friends and soon we had huge Seders with lots of singing, discussions,  and noise! When we had thirty people one year, I had reached my nadir!

Oops, I got a little off track here and went down memory lane. So back to our Seder on Monday night. Who else was at the dining room table; our son Douglas, his special wife, Libbie, and two of our five grandchildren, Joseph and Tess. Every Seder has its unique experiences. This is the one where Tess said the Four Questions in Hebrew. Joseph said the first question and did what he is so skilled at “pretending” the rest of the questions. His sense of pride was enormous. Our daughter, Joanna and her family, were in New York where we were treated by video, to the twins singing the Four Questions. Now all of our five grandchildren have achieved this milestone. Caroline, our fourteen-year old granddaughter, is now into the “debate and discuss” phase of her development, trying to stump us with her knowledge.

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Others at the table include our good friends Wendy and Gerry who have been coming to our house for all the Jewish holidays and we love having them. It is very special for me to see them enjoy these gathering. For both of them, I think this is a renewal from their past celebrations as children which weren’t as celebratory. In addition, Wendy is an outstanding cook and always makes us incredible goodies. This time it was Passover chocolate chip meringues. She actually makes them from her heart!

Jane is at the table sitting next to me. She is Libbie’s mother and is like a sister to me. We are family and we look after each other. She moved to Washington six years ago and has never looked back. We are grateful she is here with us. She made the delicious chicken soup.

Audrey, our niece, is at the table next to Jane. She came to Washington 30 years ago to be a Presidential Fellow, never left, and is an intimate part of the family. We have a unique familial relationship; close and reliable. She is always at our table for all holidays unless we are out of town. Her chocolate dipped strawberries are required or else there is no Seder!

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More relatives are included at the table. Josh and Gogo. Josh’s father, John, and Michael are first cousins. Josh is with the State Department and has been in DC on assignment which allows them to become permanent members of the “celebrate Jewish holidays at the Usher’s ” clan. All year Gogo has been studying Judaism with Rabbi Shira Stuttman. Josh has been going along for the ride. Their enthusiasm for the Seder this year was infectious. Josh’s specialty was the biblical time line. They both added content and joy to our gathering. What a blessing that we will have Gogo as a Jew by Choice in the near future. I love being a part of her process. They are leaving for Delhi in June and Gogo spent time with me telling me how she would like to create a Jewish community for the two of them so they can continue these celebrations when they are in India. How wonderful is that!

Back to baby Moses and the play. This year I hid Moses in the closet. Tess found him and then we reenacted Moses being placed by his sister Miriam in the bull rushes of the Nile, being found by Pharaoh ‘s daughter Bithiah, Miriam offering her mother, Yocheved as the nurse maid, and all of them trotting off to the palace.

As they say, the rest of the Seder was history!

Next year look for my Passover recipes.

Do you have a favorite Seder story you won’t to share with me? Please email it to me and we can put it up on this blog.