Just the other day I was logged on to Facebook, and I saw a photo that my friend Naomi had uploaded that caught my attention. It was the “Cup of Elijah” her daughter Ella had made at Charlotte Jewish Preschool that day. This tiny colorful cup stopped me in my tracks and reminded me, that in fact, Passover is quickly approaching. Living in a city with so many Christians, it is easy to not notice the other holiday celebrations taking place. So I wanted to introduce a woman who is preparing for Passover and having a ton of fun doing it. While I am preparing a ham, purchasing smocked dresses and making the cross out of palm frans, Naomi has her own traditions. What is that celebration like and how do our Jewish friends celebrate on Monday? Meet Naomi McGinnis and she’ll tell you how it’s done. And after this blog, you will call up your Jewish friends and invite yourself to Sedar. Because like so many traditions, food and family are at the center of the celebration!
What is your family tradition related to Passover?
The name, Passover, refers to the fact that God passed over Jews homes when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt. For this holiday, we do not eat anything leavened which commemorates the fact that the Jews leaving Egypt were in a hurry, and didn’t have time to let their bread rise. In place of flour, we’ll use Matzo Meal or potato starch, but even so, the food is fantastic—it’s a feast, really! To celebrate, my mom will have friends and family to her home for the first night of Passover and we’ll have a Sedar. We’ll read from the Haggada (prayer book that describes the story of the Exodus from Egypt), we’ll sing songs and hide the Afikoman (a half piece of Matzo we’ll hide for the little ones to find and then they’ll receive a present). For dinner, we’ll have a roasted chicken, brisket, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup (my personal fave), carrot soufflé, potato kugel, just to name few dishes. For dessert we’ll have a flourless cake, Passover brownies, macaroons and a Passover sponge cake w/ strawberries. I didn’t use the term “feast” lightly!
How do you get Ella involved in the holiday?
Ella goes to a Jewish Preschool so they are taught about Passover there. In class she made “Elijah’s Cup” and a Sedar plate placemat (they improvised—during the Sedar we use a Sedar plate, not a placemat), which we’ll use for the Sedar on Monday night. She learned the song “Let My People Go” which she’s been singing non-stop, as well as the song “Dayenu,” which she’s absolutely obsessed with singing. My mom learned how to play it on the piano so Ella will be thrilled to sing along on Monday!
How does your husband participate in your Jewish traditions?
My husband, Jeff, isn’t Jewish but he loves all of our Jewish traditions and participates in everything, just as he would if he were a “real” Jew! He is dying to learn how to blow the Shofar for Rosh Hashana. I can only imagine how joyous it will be to listen to him practice—wink, wink.
How do you practice Judaism in your home?
We are raising Ella Jewish so it’s important for my husband and I to show and teach her what it means to be Jewish. We currently sing Jewish songs and talk about holidays and what they mean. Ella can sing “Happy Birthday” and count to 5 in Hebrew (thanks to her amazing preschool). We try to attend “Tot Shabbat” on Saturday mornings when we can and I think we’re going to start having Shabbat dinner on Friday nights this summer. Ella would love that!
What is your favorite family activity?
One of my favorites is our Bedtime routine with Ella. After her “Princess Barbie Bubble Bath”—not sure why we call it that, but hey, it gets her excited about having to bathe—we all pile on our bed with our two dogs and Ella jumps on the bed and sings “No More Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed”, over and over again, laughing hysterically the entire time. It’s a great way to end a hectic day.
Favorite “mommy time” activity?
On the rare occasion that I can lay in the bed on a Sunday morning, I love to turn it on Food Network and watch a cooking show or two.
Favorite place to meet girlfriends for lunch?
I love going to Dean and Deluca and sitting outside!
Favorite girls night out spot?
I really don’t partake in girls night out as often as I should but, I love Bonefish for their “Bang Bang Shrimp”—Wednesdays they offer it for $5! That with a glass of wine and I’m a happy camper. I am totally lame, I know.
Best place to eat out with the whole family?
We enjoy going places where we can eat outside. Usually we go to Blakeney and eat and then let Ella run around and play. For the most part though, we enjoy going to Friends houses’ who have kids and have either “taco night” or “pizza night”. It saves money by dining in and is really more fun and relaxed than going out to dinner!
Favorite weekend escape?
Unfortunately, we don’t typically do weekend trips because our weekends are so busy. The last family trip we took (in October), we went to Colorado and had a fantastic time. Our goal for the summer is to slow down and take some weekend trips to the Beach.
Favorite place to buy clothes for girls?
We are totally spoiled as my sister and her husband go to Europe around twice a year (my brother-in-law is from England) so a lot of Ella’s clothes come from across the pond. This is the first season we’ve had to buy her an entirely new wardrobe and I’ve gotten a ton from GAP and Old Navy—when I’m visiting a larger city I love H&M and Zara for her!
We really enjoy Davie Park off 51. There are always tons of kids that Ella can play with and most importantly, there are plenty of slides!
Favorite place to get birthday cake/treat?
For my birthday, I love, love, love Harris Teeter cake!
Mini-van or SUV?
Best book you’ve read lately?
I recently finished the third book of the Steig Larson series.
Favorite CSP blog to date?
You are by far my favorite blogger on the site. You’re so honest about being a working mom and don’t sugar coat things—it’s a very refreshing viewpoint–kind of like a cold margarita on a hot day!
I could not live without my (mom or kids related…)
The DVD player in my car. It saved my life when Ella and I drove to Atlanta!
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
A lot of our Family lives here. When they say “It takes a village to raise a child”, they aren’t kidding. I don’t know how we would do it without the support of all our family.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
We just joined Absolute Organics (www.absoluteorganics.com) who delivers organic produce to your door on a weekly basis. It’s been fantastic. We pay $30 a week for tons of organic produce. This week we received 2 tomatoes, 6 kiwi, swiss chard, bananas, lettuce, carrots, purple potatoes, apples and oranges! Try getting all that at Harris Teeter or Earthfare for $30…
Thank you, Naomi for sharing your Saturday with us! Do you have a Smarty Mom, Dad, or Tween/Teen you’d like to nominate for doing great things in our community? We’d love to hear from you!
She seems to be wise beyond her years. A good sense of balance.
thanks for focusing on diversity and celebrating those who celebrate Passover! good post!
Great seeing a piece on Passover. And I really like the woman's perspective. I too am raising my children Jewish in an inter-faith household. Great article!