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The Women’s Seder

It starts a week before...

Each drawer, each shelf is stripped and scrubbed--
a rite performed each spring
since Pharaoh forced the Chosen Ones to flee
before their bread could rise.

I wash a dish streaked black from last years news,
filled with years of family Seders,
and think of Miriam,
the woman who began our journey to the Promised Land.

Did she lament the flat and tasteless bread she served her men? Or did she know that we would share her deed each spring as we recall the Exodus from bondage that has still to be complete?

As the smell of Spring and chicken soup mix pleasingly,
I peel an apple, chop the nuts, and sip the wine--
remembering the bricks
of countless Ghettos which confined the Jewish heart for centuries.

A tear glistens in the corner of my eye as I salt the water and reflect on Yochaved when she placed her baby in a basket on the Nile--
an act of faith that God would protect his life.

The shank bone roasts and fills the air within my modern home
with the smells of sacrifices women made to
prepare the Seder for family and friends.

A surge of renewal rushes through me as I place the greens of the earth on my table, and I smile wistfully as I remove the roasted egg from the oven. Tempered by the heat, it reminds me of the resilience of a woman’s heart
to be fruitful and multiply even in the darkest hours.

I fill a dish with bitter herbs, but feel no bitterness, because I know that each small task links me with every Hebrew woman
who prepared a Seder meal since God proclaimed the Jews should celebrate their freedom every spring.

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December 2012
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