By Jeffrey Wolfish, LCPC
You don’t need a calendar to know that Passover, the “holiday of freedom” celebrating the Jewish Exodus from Egypt following 210 years of slavery, is almost here. Passover is regarded as the “birth” of the Jewish nation, deriving its name from the fact that during the final plague against the Egyptians (i.e., the slaying of the first born), God “passed over” the Jewish homes.
The Torah tells us that this special holiday requires removing leavened foods (chametz) like bread and other related food products from one’s home and property. No matter what the level of observance, this process, along with other parts of the holiday, often brings about significant stressors and anxiety.
People worry how will they get their chametz removed, their house cleaned, their dishes changed and their perfect seder planned in time. Although the date of the holiday is never a secret, it sure seems to sneak up on many people, myself included (as is evidenced by the timing of this blog.)
Here are a few things I would like to suggest in order to decrease some of that pre-Passover anxiety.
1. Make lists. Many people find it easier to tackle tasks when they see them on paper. When you feel like you have so much to do that it simply becomes overwhelming, lists can keep you organized. Consider making as many lists as you can, including menus, “to do” tasks, recipes, shopping lists, etc.
2. Clean what matters. If the thought of cleaning for the holiday seems daunting, try making it easier by determining what “really” needs to be cleaned. Remember, the purpose of cleaning for Passover is to remove traces of chametz. Accomplishing that may not require a full, meticulous top-to-bottom spring cleaning.
3. Ask for help. Do yourself a favor; you don’t have to do it alone. Spouses (you read correctly) want to help. Give yourself a break.
4. Delegate. Assign tasks to your children; get them involved. This is a great opportunity to teach responsibility.
5. Review cookbooks. Rather than scramble last minute, scroll through old recipes, cookbooks and the internet to plan accordingly.
6. Prepare for the seder. Develop games and other interactive activities to have both children and adults involved. Don’t feel like you need to re-invent the wheel. Ask around to see what other people like about their seders and incorporate some of those great ideas.
7. Practice self-care. Dr. David Rosmarin (Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Anxiety in Manhattan) strongly recommends getting sleep, exercise, and a good diet to balance the demands of all the preparation. He notes that even little things like setting a bedtime and getting out for a short walk can make a big difference.
Don’t let the celebration of this special holiday stress you out. Let’s try to plan accordingly so that we can enjoy all the wonderful parts that Passover brings. And if you are like me and happen to be reading this on Friday, March 30, 2018 (or even later) – there’s always next year. I hope some of these tips will prove to be helpful before Friday, April 19, 2019.
Wishing everyone an enjoyable and safe Passover!
Jeffrey Wolfish is a therapist at Jewish Community Services.
JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.