It happened over twenty years ago and I still remember my feelings. I was in Jerusalem, waiting at the bus stop and hoping for a ride home. Another woman from Shilo, a casual acquaintance, arrived and we began visiting. Pesach was just a couple of weeks away so naturally that was our topic of conversation.
“So, who’s coming to you for Seder?” she asked.
“We’re just our family.”
“Just the family?” She made no attempt to hide her surprise.
“That seems to be what we need this year,” I explained somewhat sheepishly.
“You’re not even having any relatives?” A native-born Israeli she couldn’t quite grasp that the only relatives we had in Israel were third or fourth cousins who wouldn’t be interested in coming to our Seder.
“There’re organizations who match lonely people with families for Seder.” The woman wasn’t letting up on me.
“I know that,” I answered. “And we have a lot of single people for Shabbat meals but right now we need a family only Seder.”
“Why not invite some of the Russian immigrants? They need to learn so much about Judaism.”
“We do our Seder in English,” I tried to explain patiently. “They need to learn Hebrew, not English.”
“Some of them do know English and it would be such an act of kindness.”
“I’ll think about it.” I had no intention of considering it but I knew that was the only way to stop her pressuring me. “And who’s coming to you for Seder?” I asked brightly.
“My sister, we take turns every year, once by me, once by her.”
“That’s nice.” I bit my tongue to refrain from asking her why she wasn’t having any lonely people or Russians.
Fortunately a ride came and that was the end of the uncomfortable conversation. Having several generations of relatives in Israel there was no way she could relate to my feelings of envy every time I saw grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins coming to spend one of the holidays in Shilo. The synagogue would be packed with overflow crowds but none of those relatives were there for me. My husband understood my desire for an extended family and had some wise words.
“We’re building our own extended family. You’ll see.”
I don’t think I believed him at the time. When our children turned twenty-two, twenty-three and there were no weddings I really doubted his prophecy. As the kids passed twenty-four, twenty-five, and twenty-six my friends began hosting, not just grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but daughters and sons-in-law and grandchildren. Finally, when the oldest was twenty-seven we had our first wedding and within the year married off two more. In a blink of the eye the rest married and we, too, became in-laws and grandparents. Now when anyone asks who’s coming for Seder I can smile and give a respectable answer. HaShem puts bumps in the road for everyone but sooner or later most of them are smoothed out.
|taken from Jewish Journal|