Passover Seder with the Albert Family
The table is set with love and treasures of four generations. Gathering her family, deeply inspiring the roots of Jewish tradition is Flossie Albert, joined with her family, the Albert’s.
The Passover Seder is rich in symbolism, following the Family Haggadah, re-calling the story of the Exodus and the command by God ‘that you shall tell your children what I have done’.
The fifteen step event is an interweaving of prayer, chanting, and song in between the sharing of foods, symbolic foods, along with the drinking of sacramental wine. Above is the Sacramental Plate, contains a beef shank, though lamb and goat may be used, horseradish, Charoset, scallion, parsley, and roasted egg.
The beef shank is symbolic of the lamb’s blood lining the surround of the doorposts among all of the Jewish homes so the Angel of Death would know to ‘Passover’ their homes on the eve the first born among the Egyptians met death.
The Charoset is a mixture of nuts, dried fruits, and apple. The Charoset represents the mortar required for use by the enslaved Jews in the buildings they made for the Egyptians over thirty-years.
At the Albert home the Charoset is eaten on a piece of scallion as part of the bitter herb portion of the service, representing the sad, bitterness of slavery. After eating the Bitter Herb, the Albert’s eat another item on the sacramental plate, the Matzoh and Maror sandwich which is simply Matzoh and fresh ground horseradish root, another bitter, spice.
The Matzoh represents the unleavened bread, remembering the Jews fleeing Egypt in haste, leaving no time for the bread to rise, this is why Jews refrain from all leaven products during Passover.
Following the opening prayer, and ceremonial washing of hands the first among the Service Order of foods consumed is to ‘Eat the Green Vegetable.’ Flossie explains that eating the green vegetable really includes any vegetable that grows from the ground. “We don’t serve Romaine as many people do,” says Flossie ” because our ancestors in Eastern Europe were poor and they did not have access to greens and foods like Romaine lettuce, they used potatoes, this is why we use potatoes.”
Flossie peels and cuts up plain russet potatoes into bite size pieces and boils them in salt and water until just tender. The potatoes are placed into a special bowl at the head of the table, passed around the table to be forked and eaten among guests following the initiation of the evening Seder leader.
The Roasted Egg on the Sacramental Plate symbolizes life and spring, but also symbolizes mourning looking back to a time of destroyed Jewish Temples when the people were not able to make their desired offerings to God.
There are also other thoughts relating to the roasted egg which is boiled first then roasted and this may be one of the reflections inquired by the Seder leader of the evening who also presides to engage active participation among all of the guests, including the children.
Flossie serves an egg salad just slightly moistened with the salt water from which it was cooked and it is served alongside the Gefilte Fish topped with carrots and garnished with parsley. Salt cooked in dishes throughout the meal reflects tears shed during enslavement.
During the story of the Exodus participants first dip their finger into a glass of wine then onto the plate showing that the Exodus is not all a joyous time, blood was shed and many people died, and so despite cruel treatment by the Egyptians there is an awareness declared of others for their suffering as well. Included at the head table is a silver cup dated 1908 belonging to Flossie’s grandfather from Eastern Europe, this particular cup at the Albert home serves as the Elijah cup, filled with wine, meaning welcome and anticipation that Elijah will return again.
The round embroidered cloth on the head table holds three matzoh figuratively representing the Jewish classes of ancient times, the High Priests, Israelite’ s, and Levite’s. The center Matzoh is broken in half and this piece becomes the Afikomen which is hidden then found by the children participating in the service who receive a gift for the finding. Later, the Afikomen is broken, shared, and eaten.
The Passover Meal at the Albert’s reflects simplistic sustenance in grand fashion, honoring traditions and remembrances of God’s command to share with your children what he did for the people. The evening also honors ancestors past in well thought out menu choices combined with tremendous effort and hard work putting forth an extensive feast, all from scratch.
What can be more warming than a homemade chicken soup lovingly dedicated then added in with large fluffy matzoh balls or fresh homemade Gefilte Fish ground and steamed in the broth of its fish, the carp?
The Passover is about remembrance, what God did for the Jewish people freeing them from slavery, and following the respect of those family members, ancestors past who, even poor, offered from all that was accessible, thoughtfully preparing from all they had to offer.
Thank you to Flossie and to all of the Albert’s and their families for sharing the evening. Happy Passover to All!