Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

‘My mother and I went grocery shopping holding hands.’

The author.

The author. Image by Courtesy of Pearl Richman

This year the question of ‘Why is this night different than all other nights?’ left me in silence. We all knew the answer to that question.

I feel dumb founded and at loose ends! I am living housebound because of this deadly virus. I have been ordered to wash my hands, to keep six feet apart from my family, friends and neighbors. PHOOEY!

On the night of our first Seder, I was alone…just me, myself and I. But I had two white-painted, oak kitchen chairs from my childhood home to keep me company and remind me of my mother. I remember my Passover Seders when I was a wide-eyed, happy little 8 year old girl, surrounded by my family.

As Passover approached each year, my mother became a wound-up whirling top. She was a one woman show getting her home ready for Passover! The windows were opened enabling the fragrance of spring lilacs to waft through the air. All the bedding was put out on the clothesline for the fresh spring air to dry beautifully. The kitchen was painted white along with our wooden kitchen chairs. The icebox and cupboards were scrubbed to an inch of their lives, new oil cloth adorned our kitchen table, the gas stove was polished and all of our Passover dishes, pots, pans, cutlery and glasses were brought out from our summer kitchen that had been stored from the year before.

My mother and I went grocery shopping holding hands.

First, she placed her Passover order at Mandel’s Creamery. Next stop was Grupshtein’s Fish Market where live fish swam in tanks of water. This was my mother’s favorite place, and when we walked in, she would exclaim to the server, “I only want the best!!” She would only use white fish, pickerel, and salmon for her prize winning gefilte fish. No carp for her!

Next was Mordechai, the chicken man. He had live chickens in cages in the backyard of his home, which we bought for the Seder.

College Bakery was next, where they served coconut macaroons baked on paper in order to preserve their kosher status. This was my favorite part because I not only peeled and ate the macaroon off the paper, but ended up eating some of the paper too! Somehow all these products got delivered to our door, though I don’t remember how. What I do remember is that our fruits and vegetables were delivered by Yakabovich with a horse and wagon!

My mother and I also went shopping every Pesach for a new dress and a brand new pair of patent-leather Mary Jane shoes. It was like magic for me.

My father, Nathan (known as Noosha), conducted our Seders in the kitchen, with the four of us on the newly painted kitchen chairs.

My mother, Sara, served each dish that she prepared herself with pride, dignity and her love for her family.

My beloved father recited the Haggadah in both Yiddish and Hebrew and my mother bragged, “No one will ever prepare gefilte fish like me!”

And, no one ever has…

The rabbis write that in times of anxiety, stress, sadness, and worry, that we should recall happy memories that will bring back a time when the world was at peace! I have brought back for you a favorite memory of my mother.

Lil is a lifelong learner and a voracious reader. She went back to school at the age of 50 with a grade 8 education and over the course of 25 years earned a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Work, Masters of Social Work, and an Honors Fine Arts Degree. Now 91, she is now pursuing her love of writing by recording memories of her life when she was a little girl.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.