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Happy Passover!

Yesterday’s joy: Passover with Ruth and her family, not a regular Pesach with long readings from the Haggadah but a secular celebration with all the traditional foods: bitter herbs (celery dipped in salt water), gefilte fish, hard-boiled eggs, matzoh ball soup, charoset with matzoh, and then, after all that, the actual meal: melt-in-your-mouth brisket, roast chicken, sweet potato, and of course KUGEL. Raspberry shortcake for dessert. So much food! As we say, all Jewish holidays are about: They tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat.

Two of Ruth’s sons and families were with us; her third son Daniel telephoned. A professor of religious studies, he told us there’s absolutely no proof that the Israelites escaped en masse from slavery in Egypt, which is what we were celebrating. We celebrated anyway, with much animated talk, and gave thanks for the liberal judge just elected in Wisconsin and the kids demonstrating for gun control all over the States. 

There were three half-Jews at the table, including Ruth’s grandson and her friend Leslie, who had a Jewish father and shiksa mother, like me, but was raised Jewish, unlike me. There have been few seders in my life, but I cherish the memories, especially one on Long Island in about 1962 with many of Dad’s family. Despite my father’s fierce atheism, I felt his love for the familiar essence of Judaism — the humour and arguments, and especially the food, his mother’s food. That was, of course, before the state of Israel tragically became the aggressive pariah it is today. 

Ruth’s Tony has prepared a special short version of the Haggadah for use next year. 

More good times — the great pleasure of the Y is the diversity of the members. On Wednesday, after struggling through a biblical downpour and thunderstorm to get there, I warmed up in the sauna with a group of naked women listening to a woman from Mongolia tell us her mother is old at seventy-four, that her culture disapproves of women exercising. In the gym I talked to Art, a classmate for decades, and found out for the first time his father was a coal miner in Cape Breton, and because the mines extended miles under the Atlantic Ocean, deaths and injuries were common. 

The banquet of life. 

On a sad note, this headline in the Star: Drinking has no health benefits. Sigh. 

My “Things I Accomplished Today” list is pretty sparse. Rode to the Eaton’s Centre today to get a spring jacket for Ben, as requested by his mother, and to see if I could find Abigail Thomas’s new memoir at Indigo, a former bookstore where now you search for books among throw pillows and saucepans. Not there. I did see another huge tome about my guy. Will not be buying it. This is only Volume 1.

The weather is brisk but nice. We’re getting there. Hang in, Canadians. Here are the new arrivals at Riverdale Farm. Those ears! 



5 Responses to “Happy Passover!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The goats are very dear, aren't they? And ah, the banquet of life…I remember visiting Glace Bay and touring a mine, the tunnels of which reached far under the seabed, and how we couldn't stand upright, and when the guide turned off the lamp he was carrying, the darkness was terrifying. I imagined doing that work, of necessity, and daily, and knew I never would have lasted.
    There might not be health benefits from moderate wine consumption but the pleasure of a glass of wine at the end of the day is something I value. And the dangers — well, the metrics keep changing, shifting. I will keep drinking a glass with my dinner and doing the other things that are quantifiable, like regular exercise and eating lots of vegetables!

  2. beth says:

    Me too, Theresa, the pleasure of a glass or two of wine is far too great to live without. And yes, maybe it'll all shift again sometime, and they'll discover that those of us who relish life do in fact live longer. Or at least, have a great time while we're here! As for mining, I can't even imagine such a gruelling way to earn a living.

  3. Trevor says:

    Wisconsin maybe – picky me -Happy Holidays

  4. Trevor says:

    A Guardian commentator (forget their name) opined that the Wisconsin supreme court election was way more newsworthy than the Trump circus in NYC -I have to agree – US politics is arcane but matters so much to the rest of us, more's the pity.

  5. beth says:

    Thanks for your correction, Trevor, I will make it, should have checked. To me, side by side Wisconsin and Michigan are more or less the same, as are all those mid-western states, but of course they are not – bad Beth. And yes, I found it sad that when at the seder we decided to list good things that had recently happened in the world, they were all about the US. Talk about sucking all the air out of the room.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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