Pesach is just around the corner, and preparations were in full flow when I took to the streets of Golders Green to get some thoughts and feelings about the Chag. For many, Pesach requires a lot of time. Whether it is time to go shopping, make lists, and more lists of things to do and buy, yet still forgetting something, or cooking recipes that sound so easy on paper, but are not in practice or cleaning down the side of the sofa or unearthing things at the back of your cupboard, it all takes time. Something that many people in today’s busy world, don’t have that much of.
Whilst it may feel that most people have already got their houses spick and span, and are now smugly posting pictures on Facebook of all the food they are cooking, the majority have not. When it came to the question of cleaning, most people admitted that they were not as organised as they would have hoped this year, and even though they had planned to start cleaning weeks before, in reality they knew they were going to have just a crazy few days to get things done.
Some, it seemed had the right idea, and around 20% of the people I spoke to had opted to go away for Pesach rather than stay behind and clean up like the rest of us. In our family, whilst we may not be the most tuneful, the songs we sing at the Seder are a big part of the evening. Of course, we sing the traditional numbers, but we also have fun Pesach songs set to popular tunes, which we all join in with. For many, the singing is the best part of the evening and a chance to have some fun. It seems that the most popular Pesach song from the pop-pickers of Golders Green was Chad Gadya, closely followed by my personal favourite, Who Knows One (Echad mi Yodea) which is usually accompanied by actions and a lot of excitement. For many, Ma Nishtana (3rd favourite in our poll) had more of a sentimental appeal and they were looking forward to younger members of the family taking centre stage to sing at the Seder this year. To me, Ma Nishtana shows how families develop and change, and how the one time babies of the family are now listening to their own babies sing the same words (and probably stumble on the same ones too) – the Circle of Life if you will (cue more singing!) Dayenu whilst whipping each other with spring onions was the favourite part of the evening for some I spoke to, but I assume not so much for the recipient of the whipping!
When I asked what Pesach meant to the people I spoke to, the overwhelming response was family. Many would be spending time with their nearest and dearest who they may not see so often, but at this time of year all make a special effort to come together. A chance for renewal was also another view of the chag, seeing it as a time to mentally spring clean, at the same time as physically doing so. Hopefully all the preparation and stress involved in getting ready for Pesach, will soon be forgotten and when you are sitting around the table with your nearest and dearest , it will all be worth it.
Chag Sameach everyone