40 people? Wow! The most we've ever hosted for a seder (or for Thanksgiving) was about 22. We once attended a seder by minyan friends where the extended family alternates between seders and Rosh Hashanah meals in the Chicago area or the Philly area and they have over 30 family members, which when they added guests like us brought it to about 40. But the relatives are used to doing those huge meals and all work together so that it is not an overly big burden on the hosts.
This past fall, it was a little sad that instead of gathering for Rosh Hashanah, they gathered for a shiva for the grandfather of the family. But he lived to 98 and had a remarkable life that the family reminisced about. He had been an American Jewish soldier who had liberated one of the Nazi death camps, for example. I think it was good that the family were all able to gather together to give each other emotional support.
Did you cook all the food for your seder, Simcha? I hope you had some people to help you with the huge clean-up. I was very appreciative of the dish washing help I had this year from my sister-in-law and we had only 15 people at our seder.
This is the seder of our local Jewish community - about half 'us' and about half guests. We had it this year and last at a member's home - a BIG home! We - that is, the group - get together ahead of time and plan a menu, and volunteer for certain items. Mira (the homeowner) did ninety percent of the prep and some of the cooking - and probably most of the cleaning up as well, along with her daughter and husband and a few volunteers!
I made a green salad, and a brisket with vegetables, and some charoset and I brought some folding chairs.
I used to be the person who brought all the seder plate items as well, and the haggadot, but last year I dumped all that on Mira - she has a nice big house, and can easily store that stuff now, and I don't have to haul it all back and forth!
Mira's KITCHEN is bigger than my kitchen, dining room AND living room combined - her PANTRY is as big as my kitchen - it's a great place to host a large group, and Mira's a fine cook and likes doing it (so far!).
We sat all 40 in the dining room, but it was a LITTLE bit tight - if we have more, we'll move into the great room instead, which is next door to the kitchen, instead of right across the hall - it will be fine.
Oldest there was 97, and the youngest were 1 year old twins - really cute!
Here is a photo before our first night seder in 1997. My sister-in-law, me (looking pretty good for a mother who gave birth to her second child just two weeks before!), and my husband (much skinnier than now).
My daughter setting the seder table in 2006. My sister-in-law in the background.
These are photos from our visit to Israel for Pesach in 2002. We helped our Yemenite "dati" (Orthodox) friends to make real kosher matzah by hand: supervised by the father of the wife---an Orthodox rabbi. So the matzah was truly kosher.
My daughter pokes the holes in a rolled out matzah with a new plastic hair brush. Note the pristinely clean stainless steel surface the matzah is on. The stainless steel surface is scraped down between rounds so that the crumbs can also be baked before they become "chametz" by being wet longer than the allowed 18 minutes.
This photo shows the matzah being slid into a super hot oven for baking.
This matzah is interesting because when it is fresh it is soft, like a tortilla, not crumbly like a cracker. The family stuffed the matzah quickly into plastic bags so that it would stay softer for the seder that night.
The dining room adjoins the living room in both our old apartment and our current house, so we can just extend into the next room when we have a lot of people. It's a very flexible design. It is a feature we also had in the first home we bought in California two years after we were married. That's what allowed us to host a seder for 22: we used a lot of folding tables and chairs, but had everyone seated at one very long "table".
We had our dining room set custom made by Amish craftsmen. We ordered six table leaves so that the table can be doubly as long as when it has no leaves in it at all. The table has a moveable fifth table leg under the middle of the table to support the long expanse when fully extended. At maximum length, it seats 14 comfortably and 16 a little more tightly. It fits best in the dining room with one leaf in for seating for eight.
The kiddush cup you can see in both seder photos was given to us by the Yemenite family. We don't use it for Passover now that we keep separate Passover dishes, but we do use it every week for Havdalah.
Welcome back to Passover! It isn't too early to start preparing - which in our case, means stop buying rice, pasta, etc and start 'eating down the pantry' so there's less to dispose of or sell when Passover is imminent.
Yikes. At least wait until after Purim to start reminding us about Passover. If my family started seriously "eating down" our chometz now, we'd be adding a month of not having a full freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. That's almost as bad as the people who kasher their homes way in advance and have way more than just a week that is chometz free.
Can we talk about Purim costumes and shpiels instead? You got my heart rate up just thinking about the changing all my cookware and dishes and pouring boiling water all over my counters.
I don't cover the counters even though most of my observant friends cover theirs (in part because they have older non-kasherable counter surfaces) because most covers tend to rip and tear. It is actually going a bit against general minyan minhag that I don't cover my counters. I do cover my kitchen table with plastic "table cloth covers" sold at our local kosher supermarket, and inevitably one or more tiny holes form even though we use cloth place mats. I bought a thicker vinyl table cloth to use for Pesach this year.
And I do tape more than half of my cabinets closed, but I like having my Pesach dishes and pots and pans easily accessible in kitchen cabinets. I have friends who have a convenient "Pesach" closet next to their kitchen which makes things much easier since they are not shlepping cookware up from basements like the rest of us. That family does kasher their granite countertops with boiling water and doesn't cover them. Other friends set up a metal shelving unit in a room near the kitchen which is where they keep at least some of their Pesach cookware for the holiday. But they host seders for up to 40 people on alternate years (the other years they go to relatives homes in Philly), so they have a lot of BIG Pesach cookware. I was just talking to a minyan friend over kiddush this past Shabbat who knows someone who didn't host a seder for most of her adult life because her extended family would just all go to a hotel in Florida for the holiday. To me, Pesach should be a home celebration though.
Anyway, it is good to get my refrigerator really cleaned out once a year. I have quartz-halogen burners, so it doesn't really take that long to boil up several big pots of water. It is the clearing off of the counters and regular cleaning that takes the most time.
So I whine, but I actually like Pesach. I even like that all the preparations make the time and place special for the holiday.
We just live with a kitchen full of plates and pots on the counters for a week! My first kitchen was so tiny, that once I got two sets of dishes stowed away, there was only one single tiny cabinet left to hold FOOD.
I cleaned the fridge last week - I'll have to do it again 'right before' Passover, but the heavy lifting has been done - so to speak.