’I feel guilty talking about freedom this Pesach’

Noa Mevorach Zussman speaks to the JC about how she is feeling as Pesach approaches


Noa Mevorach Zussman and her family (Photo: Noa Mevorach Zussman)

Noa Mevorach Zussman should be preparing the family home for Pesach, but this year is different. This year, she has been putting it off.

“I haven’t thought much about it yet because I was really hoping that by the time it comes there will be a good development in the situation,” says the consultant obstetrician.

“I really believed that the kidnapped would be back home by then. I even thought about not celebrating at all because it feels weird to sit and talk about freedom and liberation when people are in captivity. There is a sense of guilt.”

However, she decided that celebrating Pesach is particularly important for her young children who are aged 18 months to 13 years old.

“Already it’s being celebrated in the nursery and school of my children,” she says. “I can’t ignore it. We will be celebrating but obviously it’s going to be different this year. Even now when I’m telling my children the story, it brings so many tears and emotions because everything is suddenly very relevant again. I feel like we’re also in great need of a leader to rescue us from this situation which we are in – a leader like Moses. So, it’s really hard.”

Noa, her husband and four children live in north-west London, but with her parents and brother and his family based near Tel Aviv, and her nephew serving in the IDF, she is closely focused on the news. Usually her family would fly over to celebrate Pesach with them, but their flights have been cancelled due to the Iran attacks.“We are not sure who will be sitting with us at the table.”

The Zussmans already do the Seder differently to most because they are vegan. In place of a lamb shank on the plate, they use a root vegetable such as a carrot or parsnip that can symbolise strength. And for the egg, to symbolise the circle of life and wholeness, they will use anything that is round, such as a potato.

In place of chopped liver, Noa blends lentils, tofu and onions to have with matzah, and her children love avocado on matzah. “We have so many options as vegans,” she says. “It’s springtime so everything is fresh and colourful.”

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