Below is the latest entry in the “Preparing for Passover” Blog written by participants in JOI’s Mothers Circle Program:
Recently, I found myself reflecting on a Passover checklist. One glance had me simultaneously laughing and growing anxious. I laughed because the items reflected an approach to Passover and the Seder which is wholly absent in our home. Anxiety set in when I saw what we’re not doing and started second-guessing how we do things.
The whole cleaning and koshering (or is it kashering?) of the kitchen ritual is entirely alien to me. Years ago I received the wise advice that hiring somebody to clean your home for you is far less expensive and more effective than marital therapy. After 10 years of marriage, I have to agree with this statement. Every other week, a lovely woman, Zina, cleans our home. Actually, what really happens is that every other week I realize that Zina is going to come to our home and I frantically run around, cleaning in advance of Zina’s arrival (if she can’t find the floor, she can’t vacuum). A few years ago, Zina arrived one early spring morning and asked eagerly if I wanted a “Special clean.” I didn’t understand what she was offering and asked her to try and explain more fully.
“You Jewish clean?”
“It’s your holiday coming! The Passover? You like the Jewish clean today?”
I was touched. Zina’s Russian Orthodox but understands that we’re Jewish (or at least that’s what we fill out on the forms). I knew that Zina also cleaned the home of our neighbors who’re more observant than we, so I asked what she did for their home.
“I used the Easy Off.”
“Yes. I cleaned the oven with the Easy Off very good.”
Not that I’m one for “keeping up with the Jones”, but in this case, it sounded reasonable. So I agreed. “Yes. Please. That would be good.”
Zina seemed pleased that she could help me with The Jewish Cleaning. I was pleased that I could feel like I’d done some cleaning activity worthy of Passover preparation.
Thankfully, my mother in law set a very low bar against I may be compared. About a decade ago (before her decline), we’d have a Passover dinner at her home. My mother in law was a lovely woman and extremely capable in many ways. Housekeeping, however, was not her strong suit. I will always recall one year when our niece and nephew (ages 9 and 6, respectively) eagerly went on their search for the afikomen. A few minutes into the search we heard my niece shriek in terror and my nephew exclaim, “Eeew! Gross!” In their search, they’d looked under a side table in the living room and discovered a long-deceased mouse.
We presumed that my mother in law hadn’t yet gotten around to going around with the feather.
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