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Working out the little Passover problems


Dear Ella,
I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve been very tired lately, but that doesn’t stop Passover from having to be prepared. I always make the first seder, but this year the thought of it is overwhelming.
It wouldn’t be so bad if I had a little help. I have two sons who married lovely women, but I have yet to see either one of them offer their help. Even when it comes to bringing out the food or clearing the table, it’s like they’re glued to their chairs.
The boys don’t say a word. They all continue their conversations while I say, “Excuse me,” as I reach in to pick up their empty plates. How do I get the message to them without seeming like the shrew mother-in-law?
Get Off Your Tuchis

Dear Get Off Your Tuchis,
Preparing for a Passover seder takes a lot of work, not only the night of the seder, but for  weeks before. Planning, shopping, preparing, freezing, organizing, arranging, cleaning and set-up are all part of creating what should be a special time for family and friends to come together.
You mention your daughters-in-law not helping, but it sounds like your sons do not help either. Were they brought up to believe cooking, serving and clearing is women’s work? If so, it’s time for a big wake-up call – maybe for you, too. Before committing to making the seder, call a family meeting with the boys and their wives. Because a precedent has already been set that you do it all, you’ll need to ask for the help you need. Don’t be shy.
Give them a list of what you need done – anything from shopping and setting the table to preparing some of the dishes. You have to be willing to accept the help and be open to change without being critical if it’s not done exactly your way..
On the night of the seder, make sure everyone understands what you expect. If they choose, they can pool their money and hire a waitress who can serve, clear and clean, so that everyone – including you – can stay glued to their seats and enjoy family conversation.
You’ve raised your family. They are not little boys anymore. However, they still may need a little guidance to do the right thing. You probably make it look easy, so it doesn’t occur to them that you may need help. Don’t let the logistics of making a seder ruin a beautiful holiday with family.

Dear Ella,
I’m a newlywed, and this is our first Passover together in our new home. Josh and I are a modern Orthodox couple. We keep a kosher home and are shomer Shabbat.
This is our first Passover together and we have been having a disagreement about what to feed our puppy, Charlie, our beautiful goldendoodle. I don’t think we should change his food, or it will make him sick, but Josh says he’s not comfortable feeding Charlie chametz dog food. Is there even such a thing as kosher-for-Passover dog food? What do most people do?
Even the Dog is Kosher

Dear Even the Dog is Kosher,
This is not worth having an argument over. It’s not that difficult to keep Charlie happy and healthy on Passover, though it may take a little extra creativity on your part. Here are some suggestions to keep Charlie well nourished over the eight days of Passover. For starters, change his bowls to new ones, then store them for the future with your other Passover dishes. As for his food, you can confirm this with your rabbi and veterinarian, but maybe now would be a good time to give Charlie a treat – a little home cooking, like boiled chicken, beef or fish, and sweet potato, carrot, green beans and even rice. You are permitted to feed your dog kitniyot. Freeze in portions. Alternatively, you can find a grain-free dog food, although you don’t have the same control. Introduce the new diet slowly, and mix it with his current food, so he won’t have an upset stomach. I have a feeling that Charlie’s really going to like Passover.

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