By Sanford Pinsker
My grandson gazes at the seder plate from his position
far down the table, waves his little hands in my direction,
And says, on cue and as he had practiced, "Ma zot?"
Hebrew for "What is all this?" Next year he might know
the Four Questions but for now, Ma zot is sufficient,
and we set about answering him.
True, we took a few liberties with the seder's order,
Gabriel opened the door for Elijah before the meal
In case he got cranky and his mother had to put him down.
For the record, Elijah didn't come this year,
Nor did he drink from the glass near Gabriel's plate.
But I swear I felt the prophet's presence
in the angelic face of my grandson. Both are harbingers
of that better world all of us so desperately need.
From the April 2008 edition of Jewish Magazine.
We spent Sunday in Ellicott City with Paul's parents and youngest brother, Jon, who is in town for a conference for work. We walked across the bridge over the Tiber and met them at The Rumor Mill, a fusion restaurant with lots of tapas and small plates including plenty of vegetarian choices -- I had pear & ginger salad and tofu tempura with plum sauce, both of which were absolutely delicious. From there we walked to Ellicott City's branch of the B&O Railroad Museum, which resides primarily in the former freight house and station, plus the freight shed and what's left of the old roundhouse. The museum is a history of the town of Ellicott's Mills and how the railroad grew up with it and vice versa; at present it also has an exhibit on the election of 1860, including the chance to cast a sample ballot, though more of our group could not vote (on account of being female or underage) than could.
After going to see the historic caboose and the model train layout of the city leading to Baltimore in the old freight shed -- there were workers on the freight tracks outside, but no trains were running due to a derailment last week -- we walked to The Forget-Me-Not Factory, a fabulous emporium of fantasy art, fairies, pirates, holiday villages, and lots of bubble-blowing devices (including a man dressed as the White Rabbit blowing bubbles out front). They have Josephine Wall and Nemesis Now items -- two designers I love but whose decorations are much more expensive here than the U.K. -- and lots and lots of wizard and Renfaire garb. After that, we walked a bit around the town, which is famous for its antique stores and art galleries, though we spent more time in the wonderful chocolate shop Sweet Cascades, which has such awesome items as crab chocolates (milk chocolate with Old Bay seasoning) and chocolate-covered jalapenos (which Adam ate).
Clair and Cinda had brought birthday cake for Paul since they weren't here for his actual birthday, so we ate that in the back of their truck which was parked near the train museum. Then we took Jon to the Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor, where his business meetings take place -- we'll pick him up Monday before the seder -- and drove home through a section of I-95 in Virginia where every mile of the road is under construction. Tonight we've been watching Biblical Mysteries Explained on the Science Channel -- first "Lost Gospels" (one of my favorite subjects, how a diverse and wildly varying set of documents were codified into early Catholicism) and now "Exodus" (which has theories on how the Ten Plagues could have happened naturally -- we haven't gotten to the Red Sea parting yet).
Paul and his family on the first floor of the train museum in Ellicott City.
Clair at the ticket office with a museum staffer in period costume.
Adam sitting in the 1927 caboose.
The Rumor Mill Restaurant, where we had lunch...
...and Sweet Cascades, where we had chocolate (though I only had a bite of chocolate-covered brownie, not jalapeno).
Paul modeling mystical glasses in the Forget-Me-Not Factory...
...which is quite possibly my favorite store in the U.S., perhaps tied with Next Millennium in Omaha.
Everyone gathered around the back of the truck for birthday cake.