Thursday, April 24, 2008

2nd Night of Passover Storahtelling Seder

By Daliya Karnovsky

Storah On The Road

I did not want to go to the Storahtelling Seder. I had had an early afternoon Passover Seder with my mother, was full, tired, and sad, and all I wanted to do was lie on my brother’s couch and watch TV.

But blast it all, leave it to me to sign up for gefilte fish. Now, if I opted to stay on the couch, I would be tortured by the thought of a gefilte-less Seder just a few blocks away, and in addition to the guilt I was feeling regarding other circumstances in my life, I would have to live with that as well. Not good. Maybe I can just drop off the gefilte and go, I thought. I even attempted to con my brother into taking it there without me and explaining that I wasn’t feeling well. He declined.

So I had no choice. Miserable as I was, I would have to lug the four glass jars fifteen blocks and then MAYBE I’d be able to sneak out at the appropriate moment.

The Seder started at seven; I left my brother’s apartment at 7:30 and dragged my feet all the way. Much to my chagrin, I found David Wolkin’s apartment. I waited for the elevator to take me up one flight just to kill time. I entered the apartment and was immediately assaulted by warm, smiling faces. I had arrived just in time to introduce myself and share a Passover memory, which I oh so charmingly skirted around by muttering, “I don’t remember my last Passover”. It had actually been that afternoon, but who was going to call me on that? I didn’t feel like sharing.

Time wore on, and I felt my mood lifting slightly. I don’t know if I really felt happy for that first half hour, but there was the distinct sensation of this circle of people physically lifting some of the burden off of me and allowing me to settle in for the night.

Each person had something to share; Annie Levy with her battle for the Wicked Child, Melissa Shaw with the bitter herbs and along with it encouragement to share something difficult with the person sitting next to you. Even Elijah was there, looking surprisingly like David Wolkin and dropping profound morsels like “the one you’ve been waiting for is you”. It was beautiful.

What I remember best, and I wish I could remember exactly who said it, I’m pretty sure it was our fearless and radiant leader Naomi, was someone saying “remember to celebrate every time you free yourself from a narrow place. Otherwise you are just going directly to another narrow place. We must remember to celebrate our freedom.” This simple revelation freed me almost entirely from the weight I was feeling (not to mention the fact that enough time had passed that Seder #1 was finally starting to digest).

It had been a difficult emotional week for me. The timing of this wisdom was perfect; I had freed myself from a struggle I had been experiencing for a long time, and now I caught myself moving directly to the next narrow place, wondering if I had done the right thing and what did the future hold. But that kind of thinking was just putting me in another narrow place, and I hadn’t taken the opportunity to really celebrate and feel what it was to be free; to have freed myself. I owed that to myself, and these beautiful, loud, accepting people were encouraging me to do it.

I smiled big and sang, shared with my neighbors and enjoyed listening to Shoshana’s drum and Jonathan Goldberg’s “Chad Gad YO”. I no longer felt full and heavy, and quickly amended that with several helpings of vegetarian stew, matzah pizza, beet salad, and unbelievable melt-in-your-mouth homemade caramel and chocolate chip macaroons.

Before I knew it, it was midnight and the night was ending. I left reluctantly, and skipped lightly in the cool dark streets, having been liberated from both myself and four jars of gefilte fish. Dayeinu.

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