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Ricki Segal


by Ricki Segal, April 6, 2011

Around the long oval table we wait in anticipation.
Our whole family is here, plus friends and even strangers –
No Jew should be alone tonight!
At last the youngest child,
the shy little boy with brown curly hair and wide brown eyes,
asks, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
The grandfather, the old man with white curly hair,
his brown eyes surrounded by lines of age,
proudly answers, “We were slaves in Egypt…”
So begins the story of the flight from Egypt to
the Promised Land.
I reflect on the Passovers of my youth:
Baba and Zayde, Mom and Dad, sister and brother,
aunts, uncles and cousins; all crowded around the Seder table.
The Four Questions were asked,
the Passover story was told.
We ate crisp matza, gefilte fish with horseradish,
brisket and roasted potatoes
and other mouth-watering delights.
I remember Baba's crisp white tablecloth,
the candles flickering on the counter,
the smell of the wine, intoxicating and delicious,
as we remembered Moses, Pharaoh and Elijah.
Our prayers tonight
mingle with the prayers of Seders of past years,
Seders that have sustained our people,
Seders celebrated throughout the generations,
in prosperity and in poverty,
in times of peace and of war, even during oppression.
In the Warsaw ghetto, our people
found determination, strength, and courage
at the Seder table.
Moses, Pharaoh, and Elijah came alive to them
as they asked the questions, told the story, chanted the prayers.
Tonight, as we remember
that once we were strangers and slaves,
I recline, and reflect
on all the people whose spirits surround me at this table
while once again we retell the Passover story
on the Festival of Our Freedom
which has come again, as always
at this time, in this season.

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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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