It’s springtime! This means that flowers are in bloom and the weather can make your heart sing. Although if you’re me, it also means allergy hell and barely going outside, since every spare minute not working is spent cleaning my house for Passover!
Passover is a major holiday in Judaism, and during the eight days of the festival, we refrain from consuming chametz, five biblical grains in any processed form. Bye-bye oats, wheat, barley, rye, and spelt! Any products containing these “wicked” grains have to be used up by the evening of Passover, so the weeks leading up to the holiday is basically about eating crackers and pasta and baking for friends and trying not to eat half of the batter. Yum.
Passover commemorates the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt a few thousands of years ago. This Exodus led to wandering in the desert for 40 years, and the eventual acceptance of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai and Judaism as a religion we know it, so it’s kind of a big deal. I happen to love Passover because it is basically religiously sanctioned approval of my OCD cleaning organizational issues. We scour the cupboards, scrub the sink, and spiritually prepare for eight days of getting back to basics.
This year, in what feels like a 180° from our usual Passover celebration, my ex-husband and I are taking our moms and our kids to a Jewish family camp for the Seders (which are two nights of festive, religious meals that kick off the holiday). We have never done anything like this before—and we may never do it again depending on how it goes! But it feels good to try something new. I have no idea what the Seders will be like. They know we’re vegan, but that may mean they make us mushrooms every day all day and we hate mushrooms. I know it will be in nature. There will be other families there. And we will be together. That’s kind of all I can be sure of right now.
This holiday is also tremendously complicated because my father z”l died on the seventh night of Passover. This means that any time I think about Passover, his death is on my mind. I think about my dad always, and as we get closer and closer to the holiday, it becomes more and more brain-consuming. I remember his final Seder, which took place at his bedside in my parent’s room. I remember the yarmulke he wore and how giant it looked on his frail head. I remember a lot. Too much, and still, not enough.
My job of nine years on The Big Bang Theory is ending the Tuesday after the Passover Seders. What a way to go out! I’m experiencing my own mini Exodus: from my security, my work family, and my comfort. And as I figure out what’s next, I want to commit to doing things that move me, as well as make me feel like I’m contributing to society in significant ways (rather than just make decisions based on how much money I’ll earn).
This is also my first Passover in five years where I’ll be single. That’s new and not entirely comfortable. But being away—and not in a house full of past memories—might be just what I need right now.
So, that is what I’ll be taking into this year’s holiday—trying something new. That sounds so banal, but I mean it very mindfully. As I cleaned my pantry (yes, already!), I found something new about myself, too. I don’t want to replenish all of the cookies and tea biscuits and chametz that doesn’t make me feel great when I eat it year round. And so, after Passover, I won’t be buying these things again, at least not as regularly.
Passover is more than just eight days of not eating bread. It’s about avoiding and eliminating everything processed and “false” about us. Let’s see what else I can get rid of that removes me from my unprocessed, pure self this Passover.