Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bring the Custom of "Kimcha d'Pischa" to Your Seder Table

This week I'm going to put fun Passover customs to the side and focus on a more serious tradition --  Kimcha d'Pischa.

This ancient custom is traced to the Jerusalem Talmud. Its literal meaning is "flour for Passover", which is exactly what the Rabbis instructed fellow Jews to give the poor who had no means of baking their own matzot.

Today, Kimcha d'Pischa has evolved into food packages for the needy. Certainly, this is an admirable form of charity and a wonderful way to get children involved in helping the poor. Yet, you don't have to be penniless to be poor. Assistance to the needy does not begin and end with food or money. My late father began a custom in our family, which I continue to this day. At the end of synagogue services on the first and second nights of Passover, he rounded up the lonely and brought them home to sit around our Seder table. My hat goes off to my late mother who never made a fuss. Equal credit goes to my entire family, including aunts, uncles and cousins who warmly welcomed the strangers sitting next to them.

My family was not alone in this generous act. While researching Kimcha d'Pischa I found a family in Poland who did the exact same thing. I'm sure that if I made the effort, I would find others as well. Tying this tradition to the actual Seder night is easy.  You are told to pass down the story about the birth of our nation to your children. The hagaddah reminds us that we were strangers in Egypt. Connect the dots, bring strangers to your table and pass down an expanded Kimcha d'Pischa custom that will give added meaning to your seder nights and the lives of your guests.

Flour photo credit

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