“Dried Fruit Compote,” (recipe, page 265, Food, Family and Tradition)
We are in the midst of Passover now. Each meal requires special thought and planning. Even yesterday, when I went on a small outing with my granddaughter I thought about what to bring for lunch (because we eat only unleavened foods and use only utensils specific for Passover) including the drinks. And this is part of the tradition of Passover itself. Bringing matza and cream cheese, along with some cut veggies and fruit. Maybe some kosher-for-Passover chips and cookies for a special treat.
As I plan more meals and reflect on the evening of the Seder, I sit and smile. At our Seder, we use the traditional Haggadah that my father had been using for over 50 years. Our tradition is to involve everyone, so each person read some of the story as we discussed it, relating it to today and to our understanding of the Exodus from Egypt and what it means to us. And we sang the traditional songs.
We had planned the evening with our traditional foods. One of my granddaughter’s favorites is the Dried Fruit Compote, a recipe for which is in Food Family and Tradition.
As we come to the last days of the holiday, I am always reminded of the last Passover my parents, Sandor and Margit Kirsche, celebrated in the towns of their childhood. As I related in last week’s blog, in 1944 the Kirschenbaums (my father’s family) stayed true to their tradition of making matza for all the Jewish families in their home town of Hluboka, Czechoslovakia, and were taken, the day after Passover, to the ghetto and then to Auschwitz. The Weisz family, (my mother’s family) lived in Vásárosnamény, Hungary. My mother remembers the last day of Pesach (Passover) in 1944 as “The Beginning of the End.” Here are her own words:
“It was the last day of Pesach in 1944. My uncle Hersch Meilich, came over to our house aftershul. I was so happy to see him, because I loved my uncle and was always happy when he came over. Then he started to cry. He said that all the Jews would have to leave their homes. I was scared. In fact, I had been scared and could not sleep for most of the month prior, and I started to cry. My three younger brothers immediately went to pray—to say “Tehillim” (Psalms). We tried to escape. My uncle’s family and my family each hired a non-Jew with a wagon to take us away, separately. We hoped we could hide out until the War was over, but the Nazis caught us after 30 kilometers and brought us back. That was the last time I saw anyone from my uncle’s family. None of them survived.”
Both my father and mother survived the Holocaust, came to this new country, and, before my father passed away in 2007, they raised a new family and celebrated many Passovers with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Today my mother is in her nineties, but still celebrates—still remembers.