Pa Mixed Horseradish for Pesach
Best Wishes on the Passover
ties, a third a set of very valuable
(Copyright, 1965, JTA, Inc.)
books. But always—at the second
In our household in Rochester, Seder — the presentation of the
no holiday touched the large fam- birthday gift to Pa was a highlight
ily more closely than Passover. Not of the night's ceremonies.
only because Passover is one of the
There are many other memo-
three greatest holidays of the year. ries. One recalls the first seder
But also because Passover was cel- we held in the United States. A
ebrated as Pa's birthday; and be- Hassid, a Chabadnik, and an "en-
cause of the special significance lightened one," a Maskih, Pa
of moror, the bitter herbs—horse- never feared • to improvise his
radish—in our family. Throughout own interpolations into the Haga-
his life, no one in the family—not
dah. That time, after the door
Ma, nor the daughters nor the had been opened for the first
numerous daughters-in-law w h o time, and the invitation had been
had ultimately joined to swell the
extended tc the wayfarer to enter
clan, could grate the horseradish. and partake of the bread of af-
Only Pa. That was his prerog- fliction, Pa delivered a speech.
ative—and he insisted on retaining He spoke of Liberty. He com-
that privilege until a year before pared the life in our old Rus-
sian home, where we were op-
There are many memories con- pressed and where we feared, to
nected with our family's observ- the liberation of the Hebrews
ance of Passover. Because the holi- from Egyptian bondage, right
day coincided with Pa's birthday, down, to the feeling of freedom
we had to think hard each year we had here, in America. It was
about what to get as the family's the greatest American patriotic
birthday present. One year it might speech I have ever heard. Pa
be a suit, another a pair of neck- could get a medal for that speech
from the American Legion today.
BY SAUL CARSON
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Something else happened that
night. A lad of 16, living in the
fiat above ours, was a guest at that
Seder. Although he was Jewish,
his mother (his father was dead)
did not conduct a Seder. Ma had
invited him to partake of ours. Pa
treated him as an honored guest.
the next night—when Pa got
his birthday present, which hap-
pened to be a suit—Pa gave the
suit to that boy. "He needs it," Pa
said simply. That was another les-
Perhaps the most poignant of the
Sedorim was the one conducted by
Pa a year before he died. He had
been blind for a number of years.
He joked about his lack of sight.
'The One Above," he would say,
"knows what He is doing. I have
probably read too much in my life
that isn't holy, so He took my eyes;
and left them to Label—who never
read a book in his life." Label was
a favorite friend at Pa's shul. "La-
bel does need eyes; he couldn't
play pinochle without them," said
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Hazel Pork, Michigan
19971 JAS. COUZENS
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fore the Seder started, Pa called
me aside and asked me to follow
the Hagadah carefully as he
would recite it from memory—
in case he might skip a line or a
word. I w a tc he d. He never
skipped a syllable.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, April 16, 1965-431
"Michigan's Most Complete
Happy Passover to Our
But what touched 2.15 all that
night was the fact that, just be-
The next year—on the night of
the first Seder — he died — just
short of the age of 90. But he had
waited until midnight — adjuring
us, earlier, to make sure that we
conduct our Seder, even without
him. We did. The horse-radish that
year was ground and mixed by
the eldest of the seven sons. But
until that year, that had always
been Pa's job.
No matter how busy he might be
with his various affairs — in the
printing shop or in communal af-
fairs—the afternoon preceding the
first Seder was spent by Pa at home
—mostly in the kitchen. He would
mix the charoseth too. But the bit-
ter herbs made up his chief inter-
est. He would grind—wipe tears—
go on with the job, mix, add the
best juice for the coloring—shed
more tears—laugh—and we kids
stood by and marveled, and listened
to his yearly speech on why we
must have the bitter herbs to re-
mind us of the bitterness of the lot
of the Jews—not only in ancient
days, but now—and why, from that
bitterness, we must take heart and
fight on for the liberty, which Pass-
Now we buy the horseradish in
glass jars. I have tried to tell the
story of Pa's preparation of the
Passover horse-radish to my grand-
children. They're bored. The fault,
I am sure, is mine. I can only tell
them about Pa—I cannot live his
life. But forever, at Passover, I
think first of Pa — then of his
horseradish. It was good too. Much
better than the stuff in the jars.
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