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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 5/15/09

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Dear Rachel,

Thanks to my in-laws, we had a wonderful Pesach. My husband and I and our children, who range in age from nine to under a year, moved in with them for the yom tov and stayed through the Shabbos that followed. So what might I be griping about, you must wonder?

I felt very uncomfortable when my husband suggested we conduct our own Seder[in their home]. To be fair, we ran the idea by my father-in-law who was in perfect accord (he insisted he had absolutely no problem with it) since he davens at a distant shul and arrives home much later than my husband does from the local one he attends. Besides the late hour, our minhagim vary and my husband wanted to have concentrated interaction with our children.

My in-laws eventually joined us (at the same table) and there was interaction all around at some point, but I still felt somewhat awkward – since we were invited to join them for the holiday, I believe we should have at least reciprocated by sharing in the festivities. There were no issues with noontime meals, which we had together. And, in fact, since the children were more rested on the second night, I prevailed upon my husband to wait for my in-laws and we were able to conduct the second Seder together.

I realize that this is all water under the bridge by now, but I still would like to set my conscience at ease. If you don’t mind my asking, how would you, as the mother-in-law, have felt in this situation? Both my husband and I have a high regard for your opinion.

Need to know for next time

Dear Need,

To set the record straight, a Seder is a family affair and a zeida’s greatest pleasure is to have his grandchildren at his Seder table. In fact, a Seder is geared for children and is set up so as to enhance their curiosity and to imbue them with a love and appreciation for their heritage.

It would have been out of place for you to conduct and conclude a separate Seder completely on your own. But from your description, this was far from the case. You simply had a head start for the first night, after which grandparents became very much a part of the picture, and the second Seder included the whole clan.

There is nothing for you to fret over. Since your in-laws were probably more fatigued than any of you, even before the Seder got under way, your earlier start played to everyone’s advantage – as children are prone to fidget and kvetch at a seemingly endless wait. Your husband got to enjoy his personal time with his children; and your father-in-law, most likely spared some tediousness on an exhausting day, was able to proceed at a quicker pace for at least the first half of the Seder.

Your mother-in-law was surely able to enjoy observing the goings-on and to reap nachas while your father-in-law was in shul. (That’s certainly what I would have done!)

And since everyone got some rest during the following afternoon, waiting for the family patriarch was the right thing to do on the second night of Pesach.

Consider yourself fortunate to have such a loving and close relationship with your in-laws!

Others readers are welcome to write of their own suggestions and solutions to similar dilemmas they have encountered.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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