“I have an obligation to tell my children the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Our children don’t even know what charoset is! I have a responsibility to remember and pass on the traditions.” Adam’s voice rang strong. “At my seder table, everyone will read from the Haggadah and taste the maror, the bitter herbs.”

My husband, Adam, announced that while we were setting the table for our firstOur children don’t even know what charoset is! seder in our own home. I had enjoyed being with my whole family at my grandparents’ home, but last year, due to a lack of space, the children were relegated to the kitchen. There, they couldn’t participate in the seder.

“You’ll be rewarded some day for all the extra work,” he said with a smile. “Teaching my children as my father taught me is what the seder is all about. Then they will teach their children.”

That first time, Adam prepared the seder plate with our son, David, and daughter, Debra. Adam had a special chopper for the nuts, and had gotten horseradish and wine for the charoset. My son had his own seder plate—a custom Adam’s father had started that every man at the table have his own plate.

Finally, Adam sat down at the head of the table holding his favorite Haggadah. Everyone at the table held a Haggadah in their hands. Five candles were lit alongside a yahrzeit candle.

“Why do you have this one lit?” David pointed to the yahrzeit candle.

“I knew you would ask,” I said. “It’s lit so we don’t have to light a match tomorrow night to light the candles.”

“See,” said Adam. “The children are already learning. Everyone is going to have a turn reading.”

As the seder progressed, David asked: “How do you know which portion to hide?”

“You hide the bigger piece, to make it easier to find,” Adam informed him.

Adam read from his favorite Haggadah, “ ‘This is the bread of our affliction which our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt . . . Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel. Now we are slaves; next year may we be free men.’ ”

The children asked the Four Questions.

“With signs . . . and wonders,” could be heard around the table before everyone spilled drops of wine.

Debra murmured, “I’m hungry.”

“You have to be hungry for matzah to taste good,” Adam replied with a laugh.

“Everyone must have a taste,” Adam pointed to the horseradish. “ ‘In every generation one must look upon himself as if he personally had come from Egypt . . . For it is not alone our forefathers whom the Holy One, blessed be He, redeemed; He redeemed us, too, with them.’ ”

Adam tipped over his glass. Wine spilled onto the cloth. I passed the hard-boiled eggs and saltwater around the table.

After we ate dinner, Adam asked: “Where’s the afikomen?” He smiled. “I’ll give anyone who finds it some chocolate-covered matzah.”

David jumped into the air, one hand raised, holding the afikomen.

“Children, open the door for the Prophet Elijah.”

Then, we all sang “Dayenu.”



That was years ago, when Adam was young and strong.

As the years went by, the grandchildren came and learned with us, and asked different questions and sang “Dayenu.” Everyone laughed and learned.

A recent widow, this year I waited to go to David’s house to be with his family for a seder. I sat on a chair in the darkness of my empty living room and assessed my life. My large dining-room table was empty of plates. There were no sweet aromas of chicken soup with matzah balls, no roast chicken or potato kugels. No seder plates. A table empty of everything except for one lit yahrzeit candle.

I wasEverything was different, but everything was the same quiet as I walked with David to his home. As soon as I entered, I heard my grandsons laughing, and smelled the soup and the roasts. On the dining-room table—beautifully set with Pesach dishes—was a prepared seder plate. Both of my grandsons had their own similar plates. The lit candles shined through their eyes.

As my son stood up to read from his father’s favorite Haggadah, it seemed as though Adam’s neshamah, his soul, was here with us. Everything was different, but everything was the same. If I listened closely, I could hear Adam say: “This is your reward. Your life has had meaning. With your family, you will again participate in the reading of the story of the Exodus from Egypt.”

Everything was different, but everything was the same. I am being rewarded.