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Sam Pollak

March 31, 2007

Passover memories resonate

Sam Pollak



"Why is this night different from all other nights?"



That's a question that will be asked in millions of Jewish homes Monday night during a Passover seder _ or festive meal _ in which the story is told of the exodus of the Jews from bondage in Egypt.



The "why is this night different" question precedes four others chanted by the youngest child capable of doing so.



Since I was the youngest kid in my family, I was the one who usually got to (or, more accurately, had to) recite The Four Questions in sort of a sing-song Hebrew.



Maybe it's a symptom of my advancing age, but this year I find myself _ like Charles Dickens' Scrooge haunted by The Ghost of Christmas Past _ caught up in bittersweet memories of Passovers Past.



Some are sad because I miss a world that no longer exists ... if indeed it ever truly existed in anything but a child's perspective.



My ghosts include loved ones who no longer reside in this world, laughter that bounced off the walls, and the feeling of security I got from being part of a large, boisterous family.



"These are but shadows of things that have been," said The Ghost of Christmas Past.



It's the early 1960s, and my grandparents Hymie and Dora Brodsky's apartment on Van Sicklen Avenue in Brooklyn is teeming with their three adult children who brought along their many offspring.



Grandpa is at the head of the table, with his Yiddish-accented voice mumbling some Hebrew prayers before the seder. Grandma is in the kitchen brewing chicken soup so good that I can still taste it.



My parents and every other adult in the place are talking at the same time, with the volume rising by the minute. Absolutely no one is doing any listening.

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Sam Pollak

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