By Ivor Joffe
I really appreciate quality time with my family, friends and community as we participate together in the Seder through story and song.
Our traditions and particular rituals during Pesach are unique and I look forward to eight days out of the normal routine each year. It all starts a few months before when I start rehearsals with my Shul Choir for our Pesach Shul Services. At the same time I also prepare my pupils at Herzlia for their School Seders and. I am always so proud when my congregants tell me that their grandchildren led their family Seders in the traditional way. That is the ultimate in bringing many generations together. I participate in the Fast of the first Born on the morning of Erev Pesach and this is followed by a series of pre-Pesach rituals which usher in Yomtov that same evening.
We pray for Tal (Dew) in Israel in a special prayer which I lead on the first Day of Pesach in Shul and we recite Hallel. The Shul services even have a different nusach (cantorial mode) over Pesach and I really enjoy all these experiences which enhance my observance of the Pesach Festival. And then it is time for the Seder. My favourite part is when we all sing songs together at the end. I remember one particular year a (previous) rebbetzin at my Shul was bitten by a dog just a few days before Pesach, so we added a verse that year as follows: “…Then came a stick and beat the dog, that bit the rebbetzin, that ate the goat, that Father bought for two zuzim, Chad gadya Chad gadya!…”
I also lead our Communal Seder at Shul on Second Night and I always start by welcoming the many guests from around the world who have chosen Marais Road Shul as their Pesach destination. I then proceed to tell them that this Seder will be in the style of Jackie Mason: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!” Of course we then proceed through the entire Haggadah… I am also very fortunate to share a special traditional gathering for Isru Chag at the end of Pesach each year with family and friends from Israel. As Pesach ends we wish each other the traditional greeting “Santak Chadra” (May you have a green and blossoming year).
And then once again it is time to eat!