But Not Against Tradition

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Every year we go to my sister’s for Passover. There’s lots of good
reasons: My husband and I live in a small condo; she has a big house
in the burbs. I am not a good cook; she is a great one. The parking in
my neighborhood is lousy; she has a driveway that can handle
everyone. Our kids are scattered; hers come home for the holiday. I
could go on but you get the idea. We do things this way “because this
is how we’ve always done them,” at least since our mother died. In
olden days we went to her place (until she went into a home). In case
it isn’t obvious, most of the recipes are hers, though even my sister
admits that no one makes them as good as she did. I’d like to have
some greater say in what goes on in the future than I have had in the
past. Do you have any ideas about how to get even a little closer to

But Not Against Tradition

Dear Not Against Tradition:

Many families have Seder traditions they keep every year. They can
involve place, food, haggadah, even down to table settings and people
placement. The youngest generally stays the youngest, but other than
that at least some things should be up for grabs. Your letter suggests
you have been bearing the second sister role patiently for a long time.
If you start in with your sister right before the event, she’ll feel
ambushed. But now’s as good a time as any to begin the conversation
Tell her you understand why she hosts, but don’t want her to bear all
the burden ask if she would consider a co-hosting event in her home,
so that you can have the joy of planning together. That at least begins
the conversation.

Propose some new traditions, whether that’s new menu
items or different recipes to prepare them. How about a
couple kinds of charoset, Sephardic and Ashkenazi. There’s
lots of great recipes on the web. Consider using a different
haggadah, which you could offer to supply There are many
beautiful new ones you can find by googling. They reflect not
only Judaism’s ancient values, but recast some of the
season’s greatest themes into contemporary terms or
through the eyes of ancient teachers. You may not want to
change your matzo ball recipe. But you might find that folks
are more open than you think. One can only hope.