All We Need

The Passover dishes are packed away for next year. Tablecloths and napkins—stains painstakingly removed—wait patiently in their basket until later this afternoon, when they’ll be returned to the table for Shabbat dinner. Sweet memories of our daughter’s whirlwind visit and my school break spent connecting with family and friends coalesce into Our Passover Story 2023, the year we reenacted our 2019 family photograph on the porch before we sat down to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. 

I share this poem…

…in honor of Passover, the holiday prescribed in the Torah that is the most-celebrated by Jews in the United States, and around the world,

…in recognition of National Poetry Month, established in April 1996 by the Academy of American Poets,

…and with gratitude to God, to my spouse and to our children, for filling our home with blessings, laughter, songs and stories at the Seder this year: 


All We Need (after Wendell Berry)

What we need is here, my love.

Our three grown children

sitting around the Sabbath dinner table,

our dogs underfoot 

waiting for someone to slip them a piece of challah,

waiting patiently for falling crumbs of dessert.

How they roll their eyes at our blessings,

at the religious rituals

we imposed on them in childhood,

they now reject in adulthood.


But they are here.


They come for the food, 

for the conversation,

for each other,

not for us.

Still, they lean toward us

and allow us to place our hands on their heads,

each in turn,

and bless them with peace.

And we, my love, are blessed

with all we need.

—Pamela Jay Gottfried (fall 2020)