Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote to you in March, 1945) Aunt Miriam’s in-laws invited us to a Seder at their home. Bepa didn’t want to go. Mimi said, “We’re all attending, Sam.” I was excited to ask the Four Questions until Mimi said I wouldn’t be the youngest. But Cousin Harvey is only 3, I said. “You are not the youngest,” she repeated. “You’d better be on your best behavior and keep your mouth shut.

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We are going to an Orthodox Seder.” What’s that? I asked. No answer. I remember when you conducted the Seder, Daddy, and I read the Four Questions. I don’t remember not being allowed to search for the hidden Afikoman. Cousin Harvey was prompted to say the Four Questions.


I could have helped him because I memorized them, but they said no. The dinner lasted forever. I drank grape juice instead of wine. I think there was wine in the charoset because I got sleepy. The best part was opening the door for Elijah and praying that you would walk in. I knew it a wish, but Pesach is a holiday about miracles.

When it was time to find the hidden matzo, the boys got up from the table to search. I was told to stay in my chair. Cousin Harvey was given some coins for finding the Afikoman. When it was passed around, only the men and boys reclined while they ate their little pieces of matzo. The women and girls had to sit up straight and not lean.

I don’t understand what was so special about the matzo except to remember what the Jews ate when they fled Egypt. It was dry and didn’t taste good, unless you chewed and chewed. Next year in Jerusalem, or wherever we are, I hope you will be in charge of the Seder and allow me to read the Four Questions and search for the Afikoman. I am glad we live in the United States of America where we are free.

I can’t imagine being a slave, having to work hard and not go to school. Girls and boys are equal at my school. We take turns and no one gets left out. Cousin Harvey has two grandfathers who don’t like girls. Bepa says, “What good are girls?” His other grandfather also favors boys over girls as he did at the Seder.

I hope you don’t feel that way, Daddy, since you have two girls and no boys. I know that you love me and have always treated me in a very kind way, even more than Mommy. She has been unhappy since you were declared Missing in Action and now that we know you are a Prisoner of War, she doesn’t talk anymore.

Mimi is a good grandmother and takes care of me. Mimi prepares delicious foods for Pesach, even though we do not have a Seder at our home. We don’t eat bread and our tuna sandwiches are on matzo, which is very hard to eat. I make a mess. I like Mimi’s matzo ball soup with carrots that we have almost every night. She makes delicious kugel with potatoes, raisins and apples.

I don’t like gefilte fish, but I love the candy fruit slices from the store. I wonder what kind of food you are getting while a Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany. I hope you aren’t working too hard on the slave labor work detail, although the Red Cross lady said you are probably better off getting good exercise instead of being cramped in the POW camp.

I remember you used to go to work wearing a white shirt and tie. In the morning you ate a bowl of corn flakes with slices of bananas and the cream that floated to the top of the milk bottle. You liked your coffee very hot and your orange juice very cold. You were happy and well fed eating Mommy’s meat and potatoes every night.

When you come home from the war, we will give you good food to eat and urge you to perform whatever work makes you happy. I hope it’s soon.

Love,
Maxine
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