- States and other countries in Europe, as
well as those prepared locally, which are
supervised by one of the kashrut author-
ities, such as the London Beit Din (reli-
The first thing I always notice is
matzah, which comes in very early from
Diane: The first thing one notices in the
grocery stores is the shelves being cleared
away and an entire section of the store
_cleaned for Pesach.
Next, the kosher-for-Passover cookies
usually show up on the shelves, with the
Sephardic cookies appearing first. This is
very important because during the week
prior to Passover, when everyone is
cleaning kitchens, the Sephardic cookies
are being bought up so that there will be
no chametz in the house.
These cookies are forbidden for
Ashkenazim during the actual holiday
because they contain matzah ashera (egg
matzah), but they are great to keep kids
happy until Erev Pesach (the evening
that Passover begins).
The major difference I noticed
between the United States and Israel,
however, is that in Israel most Passover
foods don't show up until about a week
or two before Pesach.
In the United States, everyone stocked
up early so that they wouldn't miss out.
Here, while we order our meat and
chicken a week in advance, we don't go
shopping until three or four days before
the actual holiday.
Otherwise, we'd have nowhere safe to
store all the food, due to the size of the
Roberta: Skokie has kosher stores and
supermarkets that have large kosher sec-
Since some foods are kosher-for-
Passover all year, it's the displays, not the
food, that catch your attention.
The kosher grocers start emptying
shelves so all Pesach food can be togeth-
er. The regular stores move the Passover
food to the front. The first thing you see
is special candy. These displays start
appearing two months before the holi-
Ione: Special holiday foods start appear-
ing on the market shelves in abundance
in the major markets. These include
matzah, gefilte fish, horseradish, matzah
ball soup, wines and plenty of green veg-
etables, both dried and fresh, as well as
beautiful fresh fruit.
#3) Are there any traditions unique to
your city? Any annual progatms, COMMU-
nity seders, foods that are always sold out?
John: London is an international hub,
especially for the Jewish world.
Jews from the farthest reaches of the
diaspora come here, which makes for a
very vibrant community.
Of course, they also bring their tradi-
tions with them, including those relating
to Pesach. Each year, I always try to
attend one of the communal seders in
the city because so many of the foreign
Jews attend, and this makes for an inter-
esting and lively evening.
For example, last year the group was
very diverse, so the rabbi attempted to
find out the number of different lan-
guages in which the group could recite
the Four Questions.
Jews from more than 15 countries
recited the Four Questions in their
native tongues. It was amazing to see
Jews from so many different places shar-
ing that moment we have all known as
Diane: Many major supermarkets here
have food bins to collect Passover foods
for needy families. There are community
seders sponsored by the city and institu-
In the past, the city has dispersed eggs,
matzah, oil and wine to those who can-
not afford food. Also, each religious
neighborhood has its maot chitim (fund
to help the needy at Passover) and tries
to ensure that all families have the neces-
sary funds for this very expensive holi-
day. I've been approached personally at
work to donate funds to help specific
families purchase holiday clothing for
Jerusalem has another tradition. There
is nothing like it in the world.
In the weeks before Passover, nearly
anywhere you go in the city you will see
people cleaning for Passover. Rugs and
furniture are turned out on porches and
in gardens, people can be seen washing
their windows or cleaning their cars.
This turns into a frenzy a few days
before the holiday itself.
One year, two days before Passover, I
left the house at 9 a.m. to buy new suits
for Passover for my sons. The neighbor-
hood was totally alive — people were
out everywhere, cleaning and scrubbing,
banging the dust out of books, and
making that last-minute effort for the
Even the non-religious in this city
leave work early the day before Passover
to go clean out their refrigerators and
cabinets so they don't have any chametz
left in the house.
Roberta: Before Pesach, volunteers in
the city and suburbs pack food boxes
and deliver them to needy Jewish fami-
lies through the Greater Chicago Maot
Between Passover and Rosh
Hashanah, about 16,000 people benefit
from the food.
Some shuls have community second
In small and large groups, women
have begun holding their own "third"
seders. They incorporate new traditions,
including placing Miriam's cup on the
table and an orange on the seder plate.
People who want to get away, but not
too far, can enjoy a kosher-supervised
week at a resort in Lake Geneva, Wis.
The Chabad House at Northwestern
University provides hand-baked shmurah
matzah (matzah that has been prepared
with extra supervision).
The food we can't find by the end of
the eight days is Kraft's Philadelphia
cream cheese marked for Passover.
Ione: This community is not unlike oth-
ers in all of Los Angeles County. The
traditional seder is conducted in many
synagogues where facilities allow.
When one realizes that the Los
Angeles County covers more than 425
square miles, this includes and encom-
passes a huge territory.
#4) Where do you typically go for a seder,
and who else will be there?
Nancy: We have the first seder at the
house of my parents, Bill and Betty
Hoffman, and the second seder we go to
the home of my in-laws, Dorothy and
Each night, there are a variety of fami-
ly and friends who celebrate with us.
John: Usually, I spend the seder with
friends in London, rather than going
back to the United States to be with my
Last year, I was with Danish friends.
The year before, I was with Syrian and
Turkish friends. Usually, these seders are
very large and include many friends
from all over the world.
Diane: Seder is for family, not for social-
izing. For the past several years, we usu-
ally have stayed home with the kids.
We may have one or two friends, but
it's really a family affair. Last year, we
were invited out, but the kids insisted
we stay home alone for our seder.
We have an invitation this year, but
have not yet decided whether to accept.
The decision will be made by the entire
Staci: In the last several years, we have
had the first seder at my house; the sec-
ond night, we go to my sister's house.
My family is very blessed to have all
our family in town, so our seders are big.
On the first night, we usually have in-
laws, out-laws and friends: two mothers
(and a companion), one
grandfather/great-grandfather, three sib-
lings and two spouses, four cousins and
friends (plus the four of us).
Roberta: Depending who was in town,
our recent celebrations have been at one
of our daughters' homes or at our house.
This year, it's again at our home.
Besides children and grandchildren,
expected seder guests will be our sisters,
Barry's mother, his niece, his nephew
and fiancee, and Jack's father from St.
Louis. We try to squeeze in friends who
would be alone for the seder. My parents
are in Florida so they can't join us.
Ione: Typically, the seders I have attend-
ed have been in the homes of friends or
family. Since many of us are no longer
in our own home, we need to make
Usually, the facility where I live has
holiday observation for all denomina-
#5) Please describe the evening of the first
Nancy: My parents have 8-to-10 family
and friends sharing in a joyous, song-
filled evening with lots of great food and
John: The evening of the first seder is
very special. It usually includes flowers
and traditional foods from all over the
My friends tend to be very observant
and enjoy spending the entire night
telling the story of the Exodus. This usu-
ally also entails the recounting of person-
al stories of liberation and deliverance.
One friend from Zimbabwe told
about how his family was recently
thrown off their farm and forced to leave
the country. His parents are both sur-
vivors of the Holocaust, so this was their
second migration in 50 years.
Another friend told of how his family
had to leave South Africa in the 1970s
because of their support of the anti-
apartheid movement. Yet another told of
how her family was forced to leave
Baghdad after the Gulf War.
Having grown up in the comfort and
security of America, I was amazed to
hear these stories from people my age.