As every Jewish holiday approaches, I find myself wondering what other Jewish women are feeling and thinking about—what feelings are stirred in their hearts and what thoughts are in their minds.
Along with all the things we have to “do” for the holidays, they’re also an emotional experience. These round-ups with the global female Jewish community is my way of “checking in” with how women are feeling.
It’s not that I necessarily need or want to make every holiday into a huge production (quite the opposite), but instead that the very act of fantasizing about my holiday dreams—the atmosphere, the people, the ambience, the table, the food, the activities—satisfies my essential creativity.
So this year I wanted to ask a mix of women from around the world who have different levels of observance their Passover fantasies, and what they dream of while maintaining their current level of observance.
Women responded with a mix of fantasies to be reunited with deceased and living family members they long for, fantasies that would lighten their workload for Passover, and fantasies of inviting inspiring guests to their Passover table.
Enjoy these heartfelt responses!
If you could do anything (and maintain your current level of observance), what would you do to make your Passover feel more special this year?
“Since we’re fantasizing, how about Pesach in one of Israel’s beautiful hotels, with three meals a day, a pool with water slides, free snacks, hikes, activities, and lectures? I’ll just close up my house AS IS and go away for the whole week to enjoy some beautiful weather (there’s no bad weather in this fantasy) in our gorgeous Holy Land. Oh, and my kids will behave like perfect angels the entire time.” —Hadassah Levy, Israel
My grandparents have already passed away, and I wish I could host them and show them my cooking and baking skills. It would also be wonderful if they could tell my children (the grandchildren they have never met) about their past and the meaning of being free to live your life and practice your beliefs without being judged.” —Merav Scheiner Danchenko, Patissier, Israel
“I would love to be surrounded by my whole family, including my beloved ones who passed away, on Clifton Beach in Cape Town, my favorite place in the world. Of course, the whole meal would be catered and so delicious. Everyone would pray and laugh with the sea and we’d see the most beautiful sunset you only can watch in this place. This is what I would call bliss.” —Isabelle Farrugia, France
“When my father passed away in Ukraine, I was studying at UC Berkeley. The illness—sarcoma of the brain—was swift and took his ability to move, walk, and write, and eventually he became fully immobile. Just before he realized he would lose his ability to speak, he asked a friend to help him to write down his last words to me in a letter. She did, and he died a week later. My dream for Seder is to have my father join me and read that last letter. I want to hear his voice, see his face, know his last words, and hug him.” —Yulia Khouri, Founder & CEO of INNOV8 Group, Cambodia
“I would replicate a recent Passover where we invited friends of all faith traditions to join us for Texas BBQ, and to come armed with a personal story that embodied the spirit or story of Passover. Brittany shared a humorous tale of their home being infested with flies (there was a total blackout because inside it was so thick) and Dafi shared a story of ‘Landsgemeinde,’ one of the oldest forms democracy that is expressed in the canton of Glarus, Switzerland. However, pushing beyond reality, how great would it be add artist and designer El Lissizsky, the Russian avant garde pioneer, to the mix and have him present to read and explain the inspiration (and politics) behind his Haggadah.” —Jennifer Elsner, United States
“Working with top chefs who have years of experience developing flavours, recipes and thinking outside the box, my Passover fantasy would have to be to have one of the talented chefs I work with come and live with me for the week and supply me with all my Passover meals.” —Rebecca Belson, Senior Event Planner at Food Story, United Kingdom
“In my fantasy seder, the whole family is together. Our family is spread around the world and it would mean everything to gather them all around my table. I would like to have all of my kids around our table, although three will be there only in my fantasy, as I had three miscarriages. I’ve always wondered how these children of mine would have looked or spoken, and it would be wonderful to have them with us at the table.” —Sara Streese, Germany
“Pesach has always been the one holiday that my entire family gets together. All of my siblings and cousins come together from all over the world: Brazil, Israel and different parts of the U.S. It would be so nice for us all to meet by the beach and have all of the food and cleaning taken care of!” —Elisheva Golani, United States
“If only this year I could use my kitchenaid and my oven! In my fantasy I would probably make a strawberry pistachio mousse cake with pistachio dacquoise and fresh strawberries. Pesach at my in-laws in the Parisian countryside is great: the whole family is reunited around the big table, fighting off the tiredness of the week to be together on this special night… and expecting a tasty final course to end the meal!” —Lara Gauthier, Italy
“I would love to create a Tex Mex-inspired Passover Seder this year. TexMex is my favorite type of food and I think it would be so interesting to spice things up a little bit: to make a haroset salsa, brisket enchiladas, chicken and tortilla matzoh ball soup, chicken mole, potato kugel with a queso drizzle on top, and even coconut flan macaroons. You could do so much with the decor – from colorful and fun plates and pillows to unique centerpieces… a TexMex-inspired Passover would just be so unique (and ever so Texan!).” —Amanda, Founder of Glitter and Spice, United States
“I would take my family and extended family on a Kosher Le Pesach cruise–without having to give a demonstration on board! (I hope cruise companies read this blog!). ” —Sharon Lurie, Author and Founder of The Kosher Butcher’s Wife, South Africa
“My grandmother was a great chef; she cooked amazing Moroccan food specially from Fez, where her parents were from. She moved to the Amazon, in Brazil, in a time where kosher food was not yet sold here, so she could only cook with fish, and unfortunately we didn’t have an oven at home at the time, so she befriended a local bakery owner and he would let her use the fire oven from the bakery to cook every Shabbat. Every family gathering we have I hear many stories of this fish dish from my mom and uncles, and how it would still smell a little like freshly baked bread and it would melt in your mouth from the slow cooking process. So if I could do anything for this Pesach, it would be to find a nice bakery to remake this special recipe for my family and relive some great moments we had with my dearly missed grandmother.” —Esther Weyl, Brazil
Your turn: What would you do to make your Passover feel more special this year? Tell me in the comments.