A Gibraltar girl's special Pessah visitor

There is a tradition in Gibraltar to recite the Haggada in Hebrew on the 1st night, in Ladino on the 2nd.

April 7, 2009 10:37
2 minute read.
A Gibraltar girl's special Pessah visitor

hagaddah 88. (photo credit: )


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Ruth was four years old. She had large eyes and beautiful curly hair, and sensed the importance of the festival of Pessah. So much going on: cleaning the whole house intensively, with the kitchen being the centerpiece. In Gibraltar, in the old days, many moons ago, no wife would feel she had done her Pessah duty until she had white-washed the whole kitchen! Being the youngest, Ruth was selected unanimously by her family to participate actively in the celebration of this fascinating and ancient ritual. She would hold center stage for the first time on Pessah. She couldn't wait! There is a tradition on Pessah in Gibraltar to recite the Haggada in Hebrew on the first night and on the second night in Ladino (Spanish spoken by Jews in the middle ages in Spain). Ruth was to take an active and exciting part on the second night. She rehearsed her lines repeatedly in Ladino. Every now and then she requested to be heard by whoever was at hand to ensure her lines were being correctly read out. She couldn't wait! At last the second night arrived: the stage was set. The whole extended family sat around the beautifully laid out table. The elders gently egged her on: "Come on Ruth darling, we all want to hear you." The apartment, # 5 Castle Steps, was an old one, right in the middle of many steep steps leading to the famous Moorish Castle built in 711 by the moors of North Africa. "Come on darling, go to the front door, open it wide and cry out an invitation to any passer-by to come and join us for the Pessah feast," she was urged. Ruth looked around the family table, seeking reassurance. "Come on sweetie, go to the front door," said a family member. She stood up and walked slowly to the entrance of the house which opened on the famous Castle Steps. In a sweet but barely audible voice she said: "Todo el que tenga hambre……." "Louder darling, we all want to hear you," her family said. "Todo el que tenga hambre, venga y coma, todo el que tenga menester, venga y pascue." ("Anyone who is hungry come and eat; all who have a need, come and celebrate Pessah.") The whole family cried out, "Well done, bravo!" Then all of a sudden, something most unexpected happened. A huge furry but apparently kind dog appeared from nowhere, brushed past Ruth, trotted to the dining room, wagging its large tail, walked around the table, its large, wet tongue dangling and walked out into the star-studded blue sky. Ruth stood wide-eyed and stunned. The family all started laughing and congratulating Ruth for such a feat. It became a family joke, and to this day a silent wish that the dog will appear again on Pessah. The tradition stands and Ruth has never forgotten it.

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