Tag Archives: traditions

Setting My Seder Table is An Act of Love

22 May

Each year, on the morning of hosting a seder, I remove my Pesach dishes from the high cabinets where they sit away from life during the year. Many of these amber glass dishes have been in my family since the 1930s.

Once they were my grandmother’s dishes. She collected them during the Depression, as they were given away for free or a low cost. Sometimes they came in boxes of food or were prizes presented for going to the movies. I sometimes wonder if the fact they owned a bakery gave her more access to these dishes, as she had quite a collection of one pattern.

Grandma’s depression glass was produced by the Federal Glass Company.   Our pattern is called Patrician or Spoke. Many just call it Patrician spoke because of its center design. The color is amber, although this pattern came in several colors: pink, green, clear and amber.

When I first got these glass dishes, there was not a complete set at all. Many had chips along the edges. The collection included luncheon plates, a few dinner plates, a creamer, a sugar bowl without its lid, several coffee cups, more saucers, and two serving oval serving bowl and an oval dish.

Over the years, I have filled in the set. I now have dishes to serve 18 people at Pesach: dinner plates, soup bowls, bread/butter plates, dessert bowls, and multiple serving pieces. Many of the pieces I have repurposed, like the bread and butter dishes, now used for gefilte fish. The creamers and sugar bowls are used for charoset. Small bowls sometimes are filled with salt water or eggs. I have both cereal bowls and soup bowls…all are used for matzah ball soup to start the meal.

When I first used these dishes, I would change everything for the holiday. Pots, pans, two sets of utensils, everything in the house would change. But for Pesach I just used this one set of dishes, since glass dishes could be used for milk or meat. They just needed to be cleaned in between uses. This made Pesach a bit easier.

I have to admit, over the years, I have stopped changing everything for Pesach. I still clean out the cabinets and pantry. I still stop buying bread or any product with yeast. I still buy my Kosher for Pesach food. But I no longer switch all my pots, pans, utensils and more.

IMG_3209

My Patrician Spoke dishes, with my Rueben wine glasses and Lenox seder plate at seder.

But what I still do, and will always do, is take out my Depression glass dishes to be used for the seder. It is a minor ordeal. Someone, usually me, stands on a step stool to reach into these cabinets. Someone else, usually my son or daughter or husband stands below me as I count out the number of dishes I will need for the current seder.

They place the dishes on the clean counter.   There are many that have to be transferred. As I take out each dish, I run through the seder in my mind. What each dish will be used for; what time in the seder will it be used; what I need to still prepare for the meal.

Preparing for seder is a several day event. The foods, the dishes, the haggadah; each are planned according to the rituals and the group that is attending the seder. I have three sets of haggadahs. I switch depending on the mood and the attendees. But the one constant is my dishes.

Besides the dishes, we now bring out the seder plate.   My Lenox plate was my parents. When they stopped leading a seder, they gave me their original plate, and purchased another one for my sister. The special glasses from Murano, Italy, come out of the breakfront: one used for Elijah’s cup filled with wine; and now one for Miriam’s cup filled with water. These my husband and I took from my in-law’s home after his mother passed away when she was only 59. Each of these items bring memories as well as set our families who are gone at the table.

For many year’s I used a matzah cover created by my great grandmother in Europe in 1901.   Two years ago I donated it to a museum (see link to blog below). I now used a matzah cover I made as a teen.   But sometimes, I use one that my husband purchased for me in Cochin, India.

The small wine cups we use are Rueben glass from Israel.  One set was my parents,  I actually took all the Rueben glass when we cleaned their home for the first time.  The others were part of a wedding gift my husband and I received many years ago. We truly have a multinational seder with the items from throughout the world.

Even setting out kippot has a meaning. As we place the colorful kippot at the table, we read the names inside. Someone’s bar or bat mitzvah is remembered as well as weddings we attended. I always provide my husband the white kippah he wore at our wedding.

The napkins I use for seder are also special.  A friend made them years ago.  Twenty napkins, two sets of plagues.  Each napkin has a number, a design and a plague.

Setting the seder table is an act of love. Each dish, each ritual object carries memories.

When I put them away each year, the process reverses. I stand back on my stepstool and someone else hands me the dishes as I request.   We are done for another year. Except for one addition: I add one thing, a piece of the afikomen to keep us secure for the year until the next seder. This piece replaces the piece that I put away a year ago.

 

 

 

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/watching-antiques-roadshow-inspired-me-to-donate-my-great-grandmothers-matzah-cover/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression_glass

A Traditional Jewish Wedding Created A Family’s Magical Wedding Ring

16 Apr

In traditional Jewish weddings, the marriage ring has to be completely round, made of gold with no embellishments. No diamonds or stones; just a plain gold ring.

When my maternal grandparents were married in 1925, they used such a plain white gold ring to ensure a blissful life. Both from Europe, they had no parents to be with them when they married. But they followed the traditions. First they got permission from my great grandfather. Then they married. My grandfather said the traditional words, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel,” when he placed the ring on my grandmother’s forefinger.

The ring adorned my grandmother’s hand for the first 26 years they were married. But in 1951 my mother and father married. My Dad was in the army and was being sent to Korea. My grandparents were not exactly happy about my Mom getting married while Dad was on leave. They were worried. Would he survive? Would everything be okay?

My parents got married while my Dad was on a two-week leave. They did not have time to find and buy a ring. So my grandparents decided that my Mom would get married using their ring. My father paid my grandmother for the ring, as it cannot be borrowed. It must belong to the groom. Thus my parents were married using my grandmother’s wedding band. Once again the traditional marriage words were said, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” My parents were now bound together.

My grandparents were married for over 60 years. My parents were married 59 years before my Mom passed away.

Mom made sure that the tradition continued. She felt that since the ring had been a vital part of two wonderful weddings and marriages, then it would bring mazel to others as well. She decided that her daughters would also have to be married using this ring.

Notice the two gold rings by my engagement ring, several hours after my husband and I were married.

Notice the two gold rings by my engagement ring, several hours after my husband and I were married.

When I married in 1980, I also was married in this special ring. My husband paid my mother one dollar for it. And even though I had another plain gold ring to wear, during the service it was my grandmother’s and mother’s ring that was placed on my right forefinger, and later moved to my ring finger.

My husband recited the same words to me, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” And I, being a more modern bride, wanted to say something as I placed a ring on my husband’s finger. So I said, “My beloved is mine and I am my beloved. Ani le’dodi v’dodi li.” I wore the family ring, along with my gold ring, for several years until my sister was to be married. And then, as my mother wished, my sister’s groom purchased the ring for one dollar from my husband and me. Once again the ring was placed on the forefinger of a family bride.

As grandchildren were born into the family, my mother asked that the ring be used for each granddaughter’s wedding. And of course we agreed. My sister and I also feel that the ring should be used for the grandsons’ weddings as well, if they want to use it.

Ring/Dollars

My grandmother’s ring and the dollar bills each groom paid for the ring: my Dad, my husband, my brother-in-law.

The ring is now in my sister’s safety deposit box waiting for the next family wedding. With the ring are the dollar bills that my Dad, my husband and my brother-in-law all used to pay for the ring. Each dollar bill has the name of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding written on it. They are part of the tradition of the ring.

Soon the ring will come out of its resting place. It will be time to adorn the finger of another bride. I am happy that it will be my daughter’s wedding. The oldest grandchild, my daughter and her boyfriend recently announced their engagement. They plan to wed next summer, in 2016.   I hope that her groom will want to buy this ring to use for their marriage ceremony.  So that for the fourth generation, 91 years after my grandparent’s wedding, this magical ring will be used again.

I cannot wait to see my daughter and her groom stand under the huppah together.  I hope that they will use my father’s tallit for this special day. I cannot wait to see my grandmother’s white gold wedding ring slide onto the forefinger of my daughter. I cannot wait to hear the traditional words spoken by the groom. I wonder if my daughter will respond as I did, or in the way more modern brides do repeating the same words that the groom says to his bride.

I only hope that the magic of the ring continues and that my daughter and her groom celebrate throughout their married life with the joy of marriage that went through the lives of all the brides who have worn it.