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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The Passover Parallels

This week, we celebrate everything. First in the lineup is Passover and I am amazed every year at the holiday’s relevance to our children adopted from Russia. It’s not that Russia itself represents the “bondage of Egypt”, but their entire life situation there does—abusive and neglectful birth families, leading to fending for themselves, and ending in incarceration in an institution.

Their pre-teen and teen voices reading together, “Once we were slaves and now we are free” just chokes me up.

“I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians… I will free you from being slaves… I will redeem you with an outstretched arm… I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God….”

“Mama’s crying again,” one comments quietly.

“It’s okay, Mama, don’t cry….” another whispers to encourage me.

“Mama only cries at special times like this,” a third says sotto-voce.

Usually, Mama could shed some tears about having to tear apart the house and do the required Passover “spring cleaning”. Every speck of leaven must be removed, some use new Passover-only plates, and change everything for the holiday. It can be exhausting. But while I was recently in Jerusalem, my kids rose to the occasion and cleaned for us. I think that they were threatened or something….

So now that their pillar of strength has dissolved into a mush-mama, we proceed with the seder readings, each more meaningful than the next. Our oldest son rises to ask the four questions in Hebrew, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” (Mah nistanah halailah hazeh mikol haleylot?)

Some would reply, “Because we have to wait so long to eat!”

Of course, tradition dictates that the youngest son of the family needs to ask the questions, but since we’re not welcoming in a new son each year, we’ve had to ask the boys to take turns. Our second son did it last year, disaster that it was: “Mah, mah zeh, mah nishteh, mah nishtah, nishtaneh, nishtaNAH….”

I envisioned my matzah ball soup growing cold.

I’m sure I have an audio file somewhere that I could post should you not believe me. Remember, the meal part of the seder does not come until 30 minutes or so into the readings, if you go at a fast clip (believe me, I’ve clocked it, while children moan about being hungry…). Now we’ve taken to feeding them a snack before the seder, just to ensure happy and non-hungry campers. So it’s in everyone’s best interests to keep the readings flowing, and our oldest can accommodate that. I realize that it’s only a matter of time until the girls ask to play this role.

We read about the cup of ten plagues, another parallel with which they can identify only too well. Rather than “Blood! Frogs! Lice!”, I’m sure ours could list many more of their own: “Abuse! Neglect! Beatings! Starvation! Tooth Decay! No Education! Addictions!” etc. And I guess we could make a case for lice, as well.

Every year, the story of redemption rings true. They taste bitter herbs (horseradish) and then it is mixed with maror (sweet apple, nut, and honey mixure), signifying the sweet replacing the bitter of the past. They have been brought out of suffering for His purposes. A new life is theirs.

Benedetto holds up the middle of three matzahs (unleavened bread), striped and pierced, stacked on the plate, and breaks it.

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

We have discovered our Passover Lamb throughout the evening. This is the One who sees and hears the suffering of His people and does not leave them alone in trouble. Our deliverer, our redeemer, the One who can somehow right and transform even the worst experiences of life.

We lift the fourth cup of wine (grape juice for our family): the cup of redemption, and read, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm… Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save… So his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.” (Isaiah 59:1, 16)

This is the “Haggadah”, the story that we retell from generation to generation. Even as God has redeemed and delivered our people in the past, He is available today to all who call upon Him. Doesn’t mean you never have a problem, never experience a challenge, never have to wait 30 minutes for a holiday meal to be served…. But whatever you may be facing today, He is greater, and He can help you.

Hag Sameach!


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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Penny Diamond says:

    The story of Passover and how it parallels to all of our Russian adopted children was amazing and one I hadn’t seen until you put it together despite how many other parallels I see so much of the time in other things.
    My Russian daughter is home over 13 years now and is 18 years old and graduating high school and on to college. She writes in such depth and beauty that it brings tears to my eyes and I know so much of it is based out of her “plagues” as a small child.
    Just as a sideline to you, when she was Bat Mitzvah (the date chosen was totally random) her Torah portion was about Jacob. The parallels she found were nothing short of amazing.
    Our best to all of your family,

    • avatar admin says:

      Congratulations, Sybil, on your daughter’s upcoming graduation and all of her accomplishments over the years! One of our son’s Torah portions was about Jacob wrestling with the angel, and he has indeed had to fight over the years. But these kids will prevail. The dark aspects of their lives are regrettable, yet provide a certain depth that otherwise would not have been there. May they have empathy and compassion and understanding, advocating for those who are helpless or hopeless. They have so much to offer. Thank you for sharing your family with us!

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