Passover - the heart of our Jewish identity

By Leon A Smith
April 21, 2011

One of the most creative inventors of recent times has to be James Dyson. He has created a number of imaginative, functional yet well designed electrical products. The most famous of these of course is the Dyson vacuum cleaner. Not only do these machines enjoy a sophisticated and sleek design, they are also highly practical both in terms of their basic functionality and the wide variety of accessories/tools that accompany them – my favourite has to be the “crevice” tool which is useful is numerous domestic situations.

It is surprising, however, to note that Mr Dyson for all of his entrepreneurial skills and design talent has never created a matzo crumb tool! Matzo crumbs have the ability to reach areas of the home that no other crumb can reach. Indeed, if such a thing as a “matzo crumb tool” were to be invented, this would save the inevitability of finding matzo crumbs throughout the year in unlikely and hard-to-find places.
Such is the sophistication of technology today that it may even be possible that different appliances could be used for regular matzo, egg matzo or I would be so bold as to say, even Shemura matzo!

The above thoughts may lead my readers to believe that at this holiday time of year I have run out of subject matter and that these ramblings are merely intended to fill a few web column inches. But of course nothing can be further from the truth!

For me, Passover, is at the very heart of my Jewish identity and I believe the same to be so for many people. Passover like no other Festival appears to resonate with all members of the community including those who are not actively associated with the community – simply because it is something we have all grown up with. How wonderful it is in this day and age to see that the art of storytelling is still alive and well.

In amongst assimilated and agnostic people there remains a link with Jewish identity through the Passover meal – the Seder. How remarkable it is that this story continues to be told with vigour and enthusiasm at Seder tables across the world thousands of years after the events on which the subject matter of the story is based.

Nightingale, the largest and the best care home in the country, as I have indicated previously accommodates adherents of the faith at many varying levels. These range from the traditional orthodox through the spectrum to the completely agnostic. And even for those who have no belief, our residents appear to find comfort in the familiar environment of a Jewish home simply being with other Jewish people. This important time of year does seem to have a memory for so many.

At Nightingale this year we have welcomed a number of visitors from across the community for Seder. You may have read in the columns of the JC last week of the enormous quantities of food which had to be prepared for our 200 residents during this time. Indeed it may well be that Pesach at Nightingale would warrant its own section in the Guinness Book of Records!

Whilst not wishing to repeat all of the impressive statistics here, I must say that I would be surprised if there were more coconut pyramids at any one time in any other building in the UK.

This ambience of this wonderful spring Festival is both uplifting and encouraging and the enormous amount of work and efforts by all of our staff, virtually all of whom are non-Jewish, at Nightingale has had an inspiring and positive effect on all of our residents at this time of year


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