The Book of Ruthie

She is there sitting on my shoulder. She is there every Passover scrunched in the folds of a damp dishtowel thrown over my shoulder. She is shrouded in the moist cloth between folds of fabric that hold my memories.

Does she hear my grandsons chopping the nuts? CHOP, CHOP, CHOP….

Can she see me measure the matzoth meal into the beaten egg whites?

Do the airy spheres of fluff that float in the soup resemble the ones she made?

Do the steamy vapors of the chicken soup, the magic elixir of Jewish life rise up to meet her?


She comes to life for me in those steaming vapors of boiling soup. An unassuming, simple woman, small in stature but huge in heart, she follows me around the table. I set down a plate, stand up a goblet; lay down a book for the service at each chair. She will be with me when it is my turn to read. She is only there for me, for no one else knows her. But that is my secret; Ruthie is why I create this event. I like to think she orchestrates it from above….

Does she see my grandchildren build the Seder plate? I sure hope she does. The warmth of her table is woven into the cloth that covers mine. Every Passover she has been in my mind, from the cramped table she filled in a small apartment to the table where I sit  in suburbia five decades later. She blended us all…relatives, neighbors, whole Jews, half Jews.

 She knew the rule in Deuteronomy, “Welcome the stranger to your table.” It was instinct with her, kindness without borders. Water down the soup, always room for one more! She taught me well without knowing it. As I look across my table I see her, an ordinary woman who was extraordinary.

See you next year Ruthie…. Same time, same place

haggadah Section: Introduction