Pesach Blues?

By: Morah Esther Markel


Pesach.  Instantly the heart is warmed by the thought of loved ones arriving from far, children and grandchildren singing around the table as the traditions of the past are passed down to the next generation.  What a beautiful holiday!

But wait, what about all those preparations?  This week I commiserated with a colleague about the huge amount of work that goes into making the house ready for the holiday.  She described to me how as she scrubs and cleans she thinks to herself, “This is the part I hate the most.”  Then she get to the kitchen and once again she  hears that same thought in her head “No, this is the part I hate the most.”  Finally the house is clean and the counters and surfaces need to be lined and Pesach utensils brought in.  Once again that same thought runs through her head.  And finally the wonderful Yom Tov arrives.  The house is filled with the aromas and tastes of this wonderful holiday.  And all too quickly the week draws to a close and once again pots and pans need to be scrubbed and cleaned and put away and the Chometzdik kitchen restored.  And alas, there comes that familiar refrain.  This is the part I hate the most.  Boy did I empathize with her feelings. Pesach requires a complete investment of every facet of our being from morning until night.

I shared that story with one of the mothers in our school.  I thought she would empathize as well.  But no, she took a different stance.  “I love Pesach cleaning” she told me.  “I love that the house gets so clean and we all work together”.  I tried to process the thought of loving the drudgery of cleaning and then she continued “Maybe ,it’s because my mother used to sing as she cleaned for Pesach”.

Later that day I had a meeting with the fourth and fifth grade girls in school.  The focus of my meeting was to encourage the girls to make the right choices even though they weren’t feeling like it.  As an example, I brought up Pesach cleaning.  “Yes, it’s hard work”, I said. “But we do it and we do it wholeheartedly.”  One girl challenged me on my statement.  “I love Pesach cleaning” she said.  “My entire family works together and it’s fun!”  I wouldn’t have believed her if it wasn’t her mother who had told me the same thing earlier in the day.  Boy did I learn something new this year.

We have the ability to transmit to our children (and in turn to their children) the values that we live and really believe.  The key here isn’t that we need to mouth the words.  Our children are so astutely tuned to what we’re really feeling.  Want the next generation to develop a love of Pesach cleaning?  Model that love and joy.  Create a feeling of teamwork in the home.  Sing while you work.  Show them how proud you are to be a part of this process.  Likewise with anything that we value in life.  Live it, model it, cherish it and your children will learn from your actions.


Morah Esther Markel is an educator par excellence. Over the past 35 years of her teaching career she has taught the full educational gamut. She has served as an educator on all levels—beginning as a nursery school teacher and director, after which she continued on to teach every single grade of elementary school, from pre-K to eighth grade. She currently serves as the Judaic principal of the Conejo Jewish Day School (CJDS).Greatly loved by all who know her, she is affectionately referred to as “Morah Esther” by her thousands of students.  She is passionate about instilling strong Jewish values and a love for Torah in all her “children.”

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