Book review: P is for Passover


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I love reading to my son.  One day soon, he’ll actually understand the words but for now it is still special bonding time over the pages.  As much as I love Dr. Seuss, I am starting a collection of Jewish holiday children’s books.  For Passover, I bought the book P is for Passover by Tanya Lee Stone at the first ever Passover fair at our Shul

Since my son is only 6 months old, he tends to respond more to books that has a good rhyme to it (which this book does well).  I love how he sits up and pays attention when the words have a rhythm. 

When I first opened the book I wondered if the author would skip letters or just stop somewhere in the middle of the alphabet.  I was impressed (and pleasantly surprised) that there is indeed a Passover “something” for each letter (ok, the X was in Exodus, but still). 

The artwork isn’t anything terribly fancy, but the colours are bright and there is much to look at on each page. 

Do you have a special Passover book you read with your kids (other than the Haggadah)?

What is your Mitzrayim?

We celebrate Passover to commemorate the Jewish people’s redemption from Egypt – Mitzrayim in Hebrew.  The root of the Hebrew word for Egypt refers to that which is constricting, perhaps even slows us down and prevents us from moving forward. 

As a parent, what is your Mitzrayim? 

I have much to learn as a parent.  My person Mitzrayim is to overcome the personal issues so that I can be a better role model to my son.  One specific example I can think of is that of charity.  I didn’t grow up in an overly generous home.  In fact, I can’t recall a single time I saw my parents sign over a check to help someone in need.  Money in my parents house was something to save for a rainy day.  It certainly wasn’t for sharing. 

As I started my spiritual journey and learned more about the Mitzvah of Tzedakah (charity), I had to work hard to break from that monetary mold.  I found myself open to giving away money, but I was very untrusting.  Who were these organizations?  Was it just a scam?  I forced myself to write the check without questioning the recipient’s motives. 

Now that I am a parent, I continue to work on my Mitzrayim and I have a game plan so that my son is raised with generosity as a value.

So, what is your Mitzrayim?

Passover cleaning the soul

Jewish thought has a concept of Cheshbon HaNefesh – making an account of the soul.  Every day one should spend some time thinking about their day – what was done well, what could be improved.  We return to that concept big time at Elul, the Hebrew month leading up to Rosh Hashannah, kind of a Jewish version of New Year’s Resolutions.

At Spring time, right before Passover we rid the house of chametz, that which is leavened, or puffed up.  Between the fall and the spring, we forget about our personal resolutions, and maybe let our egos get the best of us.  We return to our not-so-evil-but-not-so-great ways.  Passover is a time to clean out the soul again and see if we are heading in the right direction. 

For the first time, as I cleaned my kitchen, these were the thoughts that went through my head.  As I cleaned, I was removing the gunky stuff, not letting it get too thick (since I cleaned it last year and every year).  I felt it liberating, that the Jewish calendar provides opportunities for soul cleansing and redirecting. 

Do you see Passover cleaning as a chore?  Or do you feel it is an opportunity to rid your house of the puffed up gunk (of the soul)?

Thinking of Passover

With Purim now done, we look forward to pushing the clocks an hour ahead, spring and Passover (cleaning). 

What do you do for Passover to prepare?  Is there a massive clean up?  Do you plan a special menu or stick with tradition? 

I enjoy our Seders, which has been just my husband and myself.  We always have additional readings and talk about various themes of Passover (like freedom).  When we are elsewhere, people always want to zip through the Haggadah and get it all over with.  I guess since I’ve only been doing this with my husband for the last 3 years, it is still so novel and fun to me, and with all the preparation, I want to enjoy the Seder

I am looking forward to hearing my son ask the four questions, and adding games and activities that will whet his appetite for Seders.