Fish Heads Fish Heads. Eat Them Yom Tov.

by Roselyn Allen, April 1, 2021

When I was 22, I spent a year on Kibbutz and got to experience my first Passover Seder in Israel, but more importantly, my first Passover Seder away from my family. Somehow, I had made it through a couple of decades with only my family’s traditions to rely on: the spring cleaning in our house and the changing over of dishes, setting 3 tables for 28 people and hoping that I would have graduated away from the kid’s table, my mother’s frantic last minute anxiety attack that everything couldn’t possibly be done, my bubby’s awful Pesach baking that we tried to pass under the table to the dog who wouldn’t eat it either, and my great grandmother’s gefilte fish.

As some of you may know, my great-grandparents had a fish plant in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, perhaps a by-product of their rum running days, which had the freshest the Atlantic had to offer. This was reflected in my Double-Bubby’s gefilte fish – made the traditional way, with fillets going through the grinder to make the balls, then heads, tails and everything in between making up the stock. Her house had a permanent smell of fish, I thought, since she was asked to make her gefilte fish for almost every Jewish occasion.

On kibbutz, when I was sitting down for the Seder in the Chadar Ochel with 700 of my closest friends I was looking forward to the Israeli versions of some of my favourite traditions. And then came the gefilte (?) fish. This wasn’t a fish ball. This was a whole fish. A freshwater fish from a nearby farm. I was sitting with my adoptive kibbutz family and I was offered the head as a treat.

Spring is a time for renewal. A time for newness. Eating the fish head was too new for me. That belonged in stock to be thrown away before the eating started as far as I was concerned. I politely declined, but my piece from the middle was delicious.

This spring, I feel the renewal at Solel. The first stage of the renovations of our lobby and bathrooms is awaiting city inspection. Our security work funded through the SIP grant is complete with updated lighting, cameras, bollards, window film, locks and alarms. Updates have been made to our video streaming services. Our volunteers have been busy trimming our shrubbery and cleaning the rubbish from our gardens that winter blew through our property.
Yasher Kochachem to Robbin Botnick, John Lewsen, Pam Yudcovitch, Joel Brown, Brad Bass, Jocelyn Webber and their teams.

Thank you to all our committees for continuing your good work despite our absence from our building and our inability to gather in person. Education, Finance, Religion, House, Mitzvah, Membership, Nominations, Sisterhood, not to mention Torah committee, and other committees of the Board. Thank you to our superlative staff, Rita, Nillon, Carol, Arliene and Rabbi Pollack, for continuing our work in strange circumstances.

Soon, we’ll all be able to come back to Solel’s building, renewed. Vaccines are happening and hopefully we’ll have herd immunity which the public health authorities deem sufficient to return to our houses of worship in practical numbers.

Besides the physical changes you’ll see around our building, there will be changes to process we never would have imagined a year ago: Last year we postponed our AGM as we couldn’t imagine getting a quorum and managing a meeting through Zoom! Since it’s not likely we’ll be back in the building in 5 weeks for our 2021 AGM, we’ll meet online again and for most of us, it will simply be one of a hundred virtual meetings. Maybe in the future, people who couldn’t make it to meetings or services before will feel free to join committees knowing they don’t have to jump in a car to beat traffic every time there’s an event.

We’ve had to make a lot of adjustments this past year. And we’re continuing as spring moves forward and our new fiscal and board year comes in. Maybe we’ve been served whole fish when we hoped for gefilte fish balls. But you know, I think I’m finally willing to try the head!

Filed under: President's Message

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