Passover is a holiday about storytelling. We spend weeks preparing, cleaning, learning, and meditating, so that we may unlock the doors to home and self; so that we become vulnerable and ready to reorient ourselves towards the Passover narrative. Each year, we retell the Exodus story, but we also reenact our own stories.
Leading up to the seders—our ritual nights of order and of commandment—I’m in the kitchen with my mother (and often my grandmothers), preparing the feast. It’s a gift to be around her. The way she moves so gracefully and ungracefully from stove to sink to cookbook and back again.
In the times of the temple, the high priests would prepare the korban, the Paschal sacrifice. Each move, each garment, each seasoning was dictated. We freestyle a little more than the priests did, but that, too, is part of our dance.
Though we spend hours on our feet washing, chopping, peeling, slicing—the food is not at the center of the seder experience. And so, we experience the transience of the colors, the power of creation for the sake of delight, but not for anything else.
The greens, the yellows, the reds, the purples. All in the sunlight of that room. Somehow, amongst the bounty and the blessing, I’m able to feel the meaning of the holiday’s command: “In every generation, each person must regard himself or herself as if he or she had come out of Egypt.” The Rabbis teach that Passover is about transitioning from a posture of shame to one of praise. Through the toil of remembering, through the work of chopping, slicing, and steaming, through the effort of re-telling, I feel not only the passage of generations, but the propelling into praise.
From generation to generation.
Photos by Hailey Wist
By Shira Atkins