International TravelThings I Love

CRASHING A SEDER IN CAPE TOWN

 

Question of the moment:  Is one technically crashing a seder (or any other gathering) if one asks to be invited?  In other words, if one solicits an invitation to something, is that considered crashing? You be the judge, but that is how we ended up at the Cape Town home of phenomenal hosts and brand-new acquaintances Adele & Raymond Klitzner.
From the moment our dates were set for this our African journey, I became somewhat of a pest by asking everyone I thought could be of help:  Can you help me find a home in Cape Town where we can have first seder? Going to a synagogue would not be the same; it is hardly an intimate experience when one KNOWS the community, so walking in as strangers was not appealing. Plus the opportunity to interact with a small group to experience our Jewish traditions half a world away was something we knew we would savor.
With our amazing hosts
Ever since I took over the reins of my family’s Seder, I have always included “strays” — people who want to observe but have no where to go, plus many non-Jews interested in the holiday (they always ask to come back). The fact that Passover is our most widely-observed holiday might come as a surprise to some.  Suffice it to say, a good guess would be Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), or certainly Hanukkah. But it is Passover where more people come together to celebrate the Jews’ liberation out of Eqypt into freedom.
The path that led us to this home was the result of Jewish geography at its best:  our clergy’s wife/wonderful friend connected us with an LA resident/Cape Town transplant (their sons are great friends and schoolmates) who connected us with her dear Cape Town friend/now host.  We immediately began emailing.  She:  “Take a cab or Uber from your hotel (15 minutes away) and my sister will give you a ride back!”  At that point we hadn’t even met …
My biggest concern was the fact that we were arriving the morning of the Seder after 36 hours of travel.  What if I fell asleep at the table or, worse yet, the hubby did and started snoring?  Turns out he wasn’t the only one prone to occasional head nodding during the four-hour evening. Nevertheless, after arriving, unwinding, cleaning up and armed with See’s Candies packed from home (what else does one bring??), we were off to the Camps Bay area of Cape Town.
One of the family doggies — just a love!

The evening exceeded all expectations.  Yes, four hours is about twice the length of our own seder, including the time it takes us to eat.  But this experience was so much fun, complete with wonderful table decorations:  frogs (everywhere), masks, sunglasses and a variety of the traditional Haggadah — the prayer booked used for this occasion.  Since I was not able to be with my own sisters, I was happy that Adele’s were there plus her beautiful mom with whom our daughter Hannah shares the same name (and spelling). This was among the many reasons to feel at home. We were warmly welcomed into this very lively group of 22 and host Raymond did a phenomenal job of leading the seder. If I could import him one time to LA, it would be an honor. Neither the hubby nor I read or speak Hebrew, but we were able to follow along and participate quite well. I especially appreciated their allowing me to take photos to be able to remember it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional chicken soup with matzoh balls; flattened and fried matzoh balls (above); dinner is served at left, including chicken, brisket, potatoes and atypical (for our home) — roasted pumpkin and the meat at front is tongue.

Our takeaway can simply be put this way:  it is a remarkable thing to be so very far away from home and yet feel a kinship and common thread by virtue of traditions observed and passed along through the generations.  Thank you to the Klitzners from the bottom of our respective hearts for sharing their home, friends and family with a couple of wandering Jews.