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By: Chaya Sara Ceitlin, Camp Pendleton, California

Last year, 2021, was the first time my husband and I hosted a Pesach seder for service members at our home. As it got closer and closer to Pesach, we tried to finalize our numbers for the seder. I wanted to make sure we would have enough food. Two days before Pesach we had four people RSVP fo  the first night of Pesach and two for the second night. By Thursday evening our number for the first seder had jumped from four guests to six. At this point we had completed most of our shopping and were well underway in the preparation and cooking stage. I put up my lone big pot of chicken soup to cook and breathed a sigh of relief that all would be well.

Then came Friday. As the day wore on, our numbers continued to jump. In the span of a few hours we went from six people to ten people! My husband ran to the local Trader Joe’s to pick up more wine. When he called to ask if he should “only buy three bottles,” I told him to buy six bottles of wine for the seder. Three hours before Shabbat started—the eve of Passover—our numbers jumped again, this time to 15 people! I started to panic. Would we have enough food? I knew that we were good on matzah, but what about regular food? At this point I turned to my fellow Chaplain wives and asked them what I should do. One responded that I should make an extra pot of chicken soup, which is exactly what I did. I threw another pack of frozen chicken into my instant pot, filled it up with water, and let it cook. It was ready right before Shabbat. On Saturday night, at the Pesach seder, it was amazing to see our patio deck fill up with people.

In the end we had the right amount of wine and matzah, and just enough chicken soup that everyone was able to enjoy a nice delicious helping. I now know that for next year’s Pesach (and all future Pesach meals) I should always have extra soup on hand. You never know how many people will join your seder at the last minute!

Originally published in the Pesach 2022 issue of The Jewish American Warrior.