british columbiaMaia and I came to Vancouver to surprise Ilana for her birthday this week. We joined a number of her close friends for a wonderful dinner and memorable evening.

I hate to brag about my kids ( ha-ha ) but Ilana was recently designated by the Mayor’s office this month as one of the “Remarkable Vancouver Women of 2013” ( not bad for a non-Canadian ). So we were able to see her poster along with the other designates in various public buildings throughout Vancouver. Pretty cool.

Remarkable Women

I found two nice minyans during my short stay in Vancouver. The first was at Pacific Torah Institute, a Yeshiva in Downtown Vancouver.
Pacific Torah Institute
What a treat, davening along with the Yeshiva bochers and gazing out the surrounding windows at the beautiful snow capped mountains. There was a slim minyan when I was there as most of the students had taken off on a pre-Pesach ski trip. Nice to be studying Mishna and Gemara in the Canadian Rockies, no ??!!
Yeshiva students  PTI Vancouver
Small world….the Rosh Yeshiva, Noam Abramchik, is Joey Abramchik’s son from Chicago.
I also davened at Congregation Schara Tzedeck, the oldest synagogue in Vancouver founded in 1907. Their exciting and friendly Rabbi Rosenblatt comes from Baltimore and is a fellow serious Terp fan.
Congregation Shaaray zedek
Congregatoin Shaary Zedek 2
We davened in the small Beis Midrash. Yet what makes the shul really stand out are the amazing stained glass windows inside the main sanctuary. Truly breathtaking to see in person.
Stained glass 1Stained glass 2Stained glass 3Stained Glass 4Stained glass 5Stained glass 5Stained glass 6Stained glass 6Stained glass 7Stained glass 8
The 11 panels of stained glass windows with their appropriate symbols represent significant dates in the Jewish calendar. These include Chanuka, Purim, Tish’a B’av and Yom Ha’atzmaut, events which represent critical turning points in Jewish experience – tragic and joyous. The other major Jewish Holidays represented include Shabbat, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the three Festivals of Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Pesach and Shavuot.

Some thoughts about Pesach this year…..

This will be a very difficult week for me. Of all the memories I have of my mother, Pesach stands out as the one time of the year that focus has always been on my mother. I have clear and vivid memories of growing up in our Skokie home with my mother being a “neat freak” as they say….and with every Pesach she was relentless with our house being absolutely spotless. Larry Cohen’s Chametz Inspector would have surely awarded her his highest medal.

My mother was also, by far, one of the greatest pesadik cooks ever. Jackie’s pesadik delacies were world-renowned. My mother would buy cases of eggs, and boxes and boxes of matzos, matzo farfel, cake meal and potato starch for her Pesach cooking and baking. She made homemade gefilte fish ( never from a frozen roll, G-d forbid ), matzo balls that were puffy as clouds, farfel kigelach, mashed potato kugel, matzo meal rolls for sandwiches, her famous pesadik brownies ( whose secret recipe has since been shared with countless friends and family ) and light as a feather sponge cake ( which probably used over a dozen eggs by itself ). This incredible leftover sponge cake would be sliced, dipped in egg and transformed into French toast for breakfast along with her beyond belief fried matzo ( which included her secret ingredients of a touch of vanilla and cinnamon ).

Although it will be painful, I will nonetheless relish these wonderful memories of my mother during the coming days of Pesach.