First Person | Local

Memories of childhood Passovers inspire classes at Tucson J

Jennifer Selco

On the day of the first seder, the smell of onions from my childhood home was noticeable from halfway down the block. Inside, you could hear the songs of Cindy Paley’s “Singing Seder” cassette, the pounding of walnuts, and laughter from a funny story just shared. My parents, grandparents, brother, and I each had specific jobs to help get ready for the seder — making the coffee and marble cakes, chopping vegetables for the soup, rolling matzah balls, setting the tables, mixing the salt water, and so on. Passover is my favorite holiday — it was a meaningful time when I was growing up, and it still is today. Pesach is an opportunity to celebrate our freedom from slavery, and to consider what still enslaves us. The holiday is a time for family and friends to gather together. And Pesach is an opportunity to look past the staleness of the matzah, and to think about how food helps to tell our story. It is my personal memories of preparing for Passover, participating in seder experiences, and celebrating the holiday that have shaped who I am as a Jewish educator.

I hope to bring a part of the memories and experiences I had while growing up to the Tucson Jewish community. New at the Tucson Jewish Community Center this year are experiences to help you prepare for and celebrate Passover. On Sunday, March 18, from 1-3 p.m. (or by private appointment), the Tucson J will host a seder plate making workshop. Come learn about the items on the seder plate and explore the meaning of each according to tradition and to you personally. After the workshop, the plate will be glazed, and available for pick up by March 25. The cost is $30 per plate or make an entire set (Seder plate, matzah plate, and Kiddush cup) for $55; advanced registration is requested.

The J will offer a family-friendly Passover Cooking Class on Wednesday, March 25 from 1-3 p.m., designed to give children and their adult companions an opportunity to practice preparing some Passover foods. The cost is $10 per child for members, and $12 for non-members. Children are required to have an adult present and there is no charge for one accompanying adult. The ingredients used will be kosher for Passover, although the Spivak Demonstration Kitchen will not be kashered for Passover.

On Thursday, March 19, there are two opportunities to engage in Passover-themed learning. The first is a free noontime lunch and learn about Passover food traditions. As part of the program, we will watch “Gefilte Fish,” Karen Silverstein’s documentary film that compares three generations of gefilte fish makers. At 6 p.m., local artist Lynn Rae Lowe will lead a workshop on the Shekinah, the Creator’s feminine helpmate. We will also consider Miriam’s role in the Passover story. This workshop aims to ignite within each participant their true spark of creativity. The cost is $30 for members and $35 for nonmembers, and includes a reflection journal workbook and coupon for the Café at The J.

Chag v’kasher sameach. Wishing you and your family a meaningful Passover holiday.

Jennifer Selco is director of Jewish life and learning at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Contact her at 299-3000, ext. 106 or