April 24, 2014
Each year during the holiday of Passover, Jews around the world commemorate our ancestors’ slavery in Egypt and the tremendous miracles that God performed in order to grant His children freedom in their homeland. This year, as I sat at our Passover seder meal in Israel with my family, friends, and 94-year-old grandparents, I truly felt God’s spirit present.
My children watched in awe for hours as my father and grandfather together sang traditional Passover melodies that retell the story of the Jews’ Exodus from Egypt, and it was clear to me that the message of Passover was resonating in their hearts. “This is what You meant when You commanded us to teach the Bible stories to our children,” I joyfully called out to the heavens. “And I feel blessed to be performing Your will right now.”
Watching my children absorb our family traditions and experience the tremendous blessing of celebrating a Passover meal with four generations of faithful family members nearly brought me to tears. I attribute much of my faith to the holidays that I celebrated with my family as a young child, and I still vividly remember the excitement, preparation, and godly presence in my household as we prepared for Passover over 25 years ago.
I will never forget helping my mother rid the house of leavened flour weeks before Passover even began. Together, we would search every corner, closet, and pocket, looking for even a crumb of bread. We would get rid of even the tiniest pieces with a big smile because we knew that we were fulfilling a biblical commandment. I can still picture the way my childhood kitchen looked as Passover began, with the counters covered with paper lining, matzah on the table instead of bread, and my father grinding the bitter herbs with a hand grater.
When I close my eyes, I can see myself as a little girl wearing a beautiful new white dress sitting at the Passover table and watching my father bless the matzah, eat the shank bone in honor of the Passover sacrifice that was brought to the ancient Temple, and chew on bitter herbs until his face turned red and tears came to his eyes. “Why do we eat bitter herbs?” he would ask me when his mouth stopped burning, and I was proud to know the answer. “To remember the tears of the Jews when they were slaves,” I would confidently tell him, and I knew that something special, important, and purely holy was taking place.
As a little girl, I would sit at our holiday table with one thought on my mind. “I feel blessed to be part of this,” I would repeat to myself. And this past Passover, as I watched my three children sit at the special holiday table with four generations of family members, traditions, and love, I could tell that they were thinking the same thing.
We sat at the Passover seder meal until around midnight, laughing, singing, sharing Bible lessons, and enjoying the special day. Then, we all got up from our seats to end the seder with the traditional singing of, “Next year, we should be blessed to celebrate in the rebuilt Jerusalem.” As I watched my 94-year-old grandfather dance with my 5-year-son, begging God to rebuild and redeem Jerusalem, it was clear in my heart that this redemption is coming soon!
With blessings from the Holy Land,