Sv•tv The Passover Prize
By ELEANOR KANTER
Passover is coming. My
mother and her weekly helper start
to clean the house. It smells good
from all the cooking and baking.
Mom is taking some of the food to
my grandparents' house. We
always go there for the first seder.
I can hardly wait.
I no longer say the Four
Questions. I haven't since 8-year-
old Naomi took over from me.
Now, Benjy who is 6, chants the
Hebrew proudly. He's very good,
He thinks he wants to be an
airline pilot and fly planes for
Israel when he grows up. Dad
says, "God willing, they will only
fly for peace." Naomi dreams of
being a dancer and is taking
lessons. She wants those fancy
slippers that lace up the leg.
I am Rebecca, 10, What do I
want to be? I write poems and play
the piano but I don't know what I
want to be when I grow up. Right
now, my desire is for new skates. I
can't stop talking about them. If I
find the afikomen or as Benjy used
to call it, the "Passover Prize," I
will ask for them. He is sure he
will find it and ask for another
model airplane. He has them all
over the place. Twelve-year-old
David jeers at us. He plans to be
an astronomer and wants a good
telescope, not a toy. Grandfather is
very clever about hiding the
matzah though. He knows how to
play the game, too.
But there is more to Passover
for us than finding the afikomen. I
am allowed to polish Elijah's cup
which will stand in its special place
on the table. For me, opening the
door for Elijah is very special. We
children take turns. I look out into
the mysterious dark night and
FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 1990
imagine the long trip the prophet
must make. All over the world,
Jews are waiting and hoping.
When the door closes and I peer
into the silver cup, I am sure one
drop of the wine is gone. He
wouldn't disappoint us! This year
is my turn at Grandfather's.
We will sing joyfully and eat
the delicious Passover food. Also,
we always wear something new.
We all come together just once a
year, aunts and uncles and
cousins. My favorite cousin is
Deborah who is my age. She
either wants to have 10 children or
be a great actress. When we
spend the night together, we talk
and talk with the lights out until
some grownup says it's late and
WILL we go to sleep? We giggle
and talk softer and after a while
On the Sunday before
Passover, our religious school has
its model seder. Each of us has a
paper cup with a little wine in it
and a paper plate with matzah and
a hard boiled egg on it and a
paperback Haggadah to read from.
At Rabbi Goldstone's place at the
long table, there's a real plate with
the roasted egg, parsley and
everything and a silver cup for
Elijah. The Rabbi goes through the
service with us. He asks us
questions and reminds us what we
forgot from last year. A first grader
chants the Four Questions. This
year, the Rabbi has something
new. A prayer for Jews in Russia.
He explains how hard it is for
them to be Jews, to teach their
children Hebrew and to have the
things they need for Passover. He
tells us that we must pray for them
and write letters to the leaders of
Russia urging them to let the Jews
go as Moses urged Pharaoh. He
says special money is collected to
buy them matzah every year
because they can't get it in
"We are one people all over
the world," he says, "and we are
commanded to help each other."
We sing Dayenu and do about
all the things we will do at the real
seder in our own homes in a few
days. We don't open the door for
Elijah but the rabbi reads that part
and explains that Elijah is the
guardian prophet of Israel and will
announce the coming of the
Messiah. We sing Adir hu and
Hadgadya and say, 'Next year in
Jerusalem' and it is all over.
All the other kids are laughing
and telling each other what they
want if they find the hidden
matzah. But I don't say anything. I
can't stop thinking about the
Russian Jews. I could tell Deborah
but not now. We look at each other
and she understands. I love her
"And what do you want,
Becky?" another girl asks me.
"I don't - know." I feel
ashamed for not wanting to
She looks at me in a funny
way. "You don't know!" she
laughs. But she is too full of
herself to pester me much. I am
glad when she walks off.
Skates now seem wrong. If
we were in the place of those
Russian Jews would skates
matter? Only we're not. I know
how my great-grandfather escaped
from Russia so he wouldn't be
drafted into the Russian army to
serve for 25 years, so many years
to make him forget he's a Jew.
More years than I can imagine.
What does it mean to forget
you're a Jew? I can't imagine that
The night before Passover
Daddy goes around the house
hunting for hametz with four
excited children following him.
Baksets of Passover dishes sit
waiting to be unpacked and put
on the freshly-washed shelves.
Daddy sweeps up the bits of
leavened food Mom carefully
places in corners for the
ceremony and I think that when
we come home from school
tomorrow, Passover will be here!
The next evening, our
grandparents' house if full of talk
and laughter. But I am mostly
quiet. Should I give up asking for
the skates — if I find the
afikomen, of course! — for the
Russian Jews? I dread being
laughed at. I'm the only one who
doesn't want a present. Only
Deborah knows. She can't help
wanting money for her foreign
stamp collection. And if I tell
anyone else, I'll lose my nerve
and back out.
We take our places for the
seder. There are so many children
that we have a special table. My