Tucking Away Childhood in a Pink Bag

By Sophie Glazer

Published January 10, 2003, issue of January 10, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When our daughters were young my family threw itself zestfully into Jewish observances. We lit candles on Friday nights and said Havdalah. We wrote our own Purim play and made magnificent Esther costumes. We baked Rosh Hashana challah and built a sukkah. The girls went to the temple nursery school, religious school and children’s services. Our holidays were solemnized with the little craft objects they would make; a wooden spice box for Havdalah, cardboard fruit shapes to decorate the sukkah and a pink felt bag, covered with glitter, in which to hide the Passover afikomen.

As our daughters grew older they grew impatient with some Jewish traditions and ruthlessly jettisoned many of their childish creations, but they continued to regard Passover with enormous affection. They still searched for the afikomen, always concealed in its pink felt bag. Over the years the glitter had come unglued, and I had to do some tactful repairs to the border, but in essence it was the same little felt bag that 3-year-old Clara had assembled so proudly at Temple Emanuel Nursery School.

Times change, of course, and so do places and people. The child-oriented Passover Seders of the past gave way to more adult celebrations. Last year Clara’s sister was off at college and Clara, a high school senior, was celebrating her last Passover at home. Clara hated being the only “child” at the table and invited her two best friends to join us. The three girls spent the day chopping apples and walnuts, polishing silver and practicing the Four Questions. Clara’s friends had never attended a Seder before, but they were good sports. Clara, a veteran of years of high school chorus, drilled her guests phonetically in the Hebrew; when the moment came, the three girls rose to their feet and sang in exquisite harmony. Her friends claimed to be the “wise children” of the parable, the children who asked questions. They threw themselves bravely into the unknown, sampling the horseradish, the gefilte fish, the matzo and the charoset. They recited the names of the plagues with gusto, sprinkling their plates with drops of wine, and went as a group to open the door for Elijah and to find the afikomen in its little pink bag.

It was our last “children’s Seder.” Even if she comes home from college for the holiday, Clara’s childhood years are over. She and her friends are 18; too old — they feel — to seek wisdom from their elders.

As we cleared up after the Seder, Clara told me her friends had liked it. “They think you’re cool.” (The ultimate accolade.) Clara packed away the Haggaddot and the Seder plate. She picked up the pink felt bag. “You know, I think we’re too old for this.” (Yes, I know.) “But we should keep it.” (Definitely.) “In case, you know, someday you have children here for a Seder.” (Well, yes. Just in case.)

Sophie Glazer writes from Fort Wayne, Ind.

Do you have a favorite Jewish object, traditional or not very? The Forward is seeking short essays, 500 words or fewer, describing such objects and what they mean to the writer. Send your contribution or suggestion to newsdesk@forward.com.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.