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The DiNozzos celebrate Passover with a traditional Seder. April 2025.

Tony finished the blessing to start the celebration and poured the wine into the cup. Each of them sipped the wine while leaning to the left to symbolize reclining. Ziva performed the ritual for washing of hands for the vegetable and dipped the karpas into the salt water twice.

She then removed the middle matzah from the pile and broke it into two pieces, placing one half back in the middle of the stack of three, and putting the other half on a plate and covering it with a cloth for later. She raised the tray of matzot and said the blessing; then put it to the side.

Three and one half year old LJ began the four questions after his Abba nodded for him to start. This was his first year reciting the questions all by himself and he wanted to get it correct. He wanted to make Ima, Abba, and Grandpa proud of him.

"Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot? How is this night different from all other nights?"

After a short pause, he continued, "Sheb'chol haleilot anu ochlin chametz umatzah, halailah hazeh, kuloh matzah. On all other nights, we eat chameitz and matzah. Why on this night, only matzah?"

He glanced over at Ima; she gave him a quick thumbs' up; "Sheb'chol haleilot anu ochlin sh'ar y'rakot, halailah hazeh, maror. On all other nights, we eat all vegetables. Why, on this night, maror?"

Abba smiled as LJ looked over at him. "Sheb'chol haleilot ein anu matbilin afilu pa'am echat; halailah hazeh, sh'tei f'amim. On all other nights, we don't dip even once. Why on this night do we dip twice?"

One more and he nailed it perfectly; "Sheb'chol haleilot anu ochlin bein yoshvin uvein m'subin; halailah hazeh, kulanu m'subin. On all other nights, we eat either sitting upright or reclining. Why on this night do we all recline?"

Tony and Ziva took turns telling the Passover story from the Haggadah, as the rest of the family listened. This year they were telling it in both Hebrew and English since the McGees and Gibbs were at the Seder as guests. They recited the rituals and blessings and explained the various parts of the Seder plate.

Z'roa: A lamb shank represents a symbolic offering to the temple. Beitzah: The egg is a symbol of rebirth. Maror: Bitter herbs such as horseradish signify the bitterness of enslavement. Karpas: A non-bitter vegetable, here parsley, is dipped in salted water to symbolize tears. Charoset: A mixture of apple, nuts and wine that represents the mortar and bricks used by the enslaved Jews. Chazeret: Another bitter herb, such as romaine lettuce.

After the final part, the entire family recited "Next year in Jerusalem."

Ziva, Tali, Rivka, and Beth rose to bring the meal in for serving. The roast chickens, roasted potatoes, steamed baby carrots, and asparagus were placed on the table. Ziva said a blessing for the meal and all dug in. As the family ate, Ziva told stories about celebrating Pesach when she was a child.

"Excellent meal, Ziver," Gibbs smiled. "Thanks for all the work you put into it."

"Al lo davar."

The dessert was the matzot with chocolate, caramel, sea salt, and fruits for dipping. The first year that Ziva had invited the McGees, the twins had balked at eating the thin crackers and dips. When they had seen their cousins enjoying the food, first John and then Katie had tried the matzah dipped in chocolate. Soon they were scarfing up as much as the DiNozzo kids.

Both Tim and Delilah looked forward to the annual meal with their family of the heart, and after the first two years, the twins had specifically asked if they would be at the DiNozzo house for the Seder. Ziva loved that her adopted family of the heart had embraced the heritage of her (and her children's) people for the holiday.

After the meal, the kids went into the family room as the adults cleared the table and Delilah helped Tony put away leftovers. Ziva and Tim loaded the dishwasher as Gibbs made coffee for the adults.

"Thanks for inviting us again this year," Dee hugged Ziva.

"I am glad you could come," Ziva replied as she returned the hug.

Tony hugged Dee, "I like to think of it as our contribution to international peace and understanding." Ziva nodded; she couldn't think of a better way to have all cultures understand and accept each other than sharing their celebrations and traditions.

"Thank you, Ziva," Tim hugged his sister. "I for one am a better person for knowing about your heritage."

"Toda, Tim." Ziva returned the hug with her brother. "Chag Pesach sameach!"

The adults moved into the family room with the children. Gibbs sat in Tony's recliner and LJ climbed up into his lap. Tim and Delilah sat on the sofa with the DiNozzo twins on either side of their aunt and uncle. Tali, Anthony, and the McGee twins sat on the floor pillows and bean bag chairs. Ziva took her usual seat on the loveseat as Tony put the disc for the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments, the family's standard Passover movie, into the Blu-Ray player.

All of the kids knew the movie well, and they also knew a lot of the fun facts and history of the movie.

"Uncle Tony, is this the movie that uses the backwards footage of Niagara Falls?" John asked.

"Bingo, kiddo!" Tony grinned as Tim rolled his eyes at Dee. He sat down next to Ziva wrapping an arm around his wife. She leaned back against him as he placed a kiss on her head.

About half way through the movie, Tony paused the Blu-Ray player. "Time for ice cream!" he announced. LJ was the first one into the kitchen for his sweet dessert. The rest of the family lined up behind LJ as Tony and Ziva dished out the bowls of ice cream.

"Abba, I want a cone," Beth complained about her bowl of ice cream.

"Sorry, yaldati, ice cream cones are chametz! You'll have to wait another week," Tony empathized with his youngest daughter. He would rather have a cone as well, but the Laws of Pesach were some of the dietary restrictions the family did follow. "We are bending the laws of Halacha to eat the ice cream three hours after the chicken. I'd suggest taking what you have and being happy you got it." He bent down to her level and chucked her under the chin. "Okay?"

Beth sighed, "I guess, Abba…" At the glare from Ima, she thanked her father for the bowl of ice cream and retreated into the family room. She knew better than to continue any complaints once she got the 'Ima glare!'

After serving the others, Ziva scooped out her own and Tony's ice cream. He put the remainder of the ice cream back in the freezer and grabbed his dish and a spoon. Ziva was standing next to him and he brushed his lips on hers. "Mmm, sure hope you are kosher for Passover, Mrs. DiNozzo," he grinned. "I like the taste of you…"

"Kosher pareve," Ziva quipped as she returned the kiss. They moved back into the family room with the others and Tony pressed play to continue the movie. At three hours and twenty minutes long, they would be all staying up late to watch the entire movie.

As the closing credits rolled, Gibbs helped Tim carry the McGee kids out to their van; both were nearly asleep. Tony carried LJ to his room and tucked him into bed as Ziva herded the twins into their room. Tali and Anthony headed to bed as well, yawning as they hugged their parents good night.

Ten minutes later, the parents headed to their room, turning off lights as they passed through the rooms. Tony pulled Ziva to him in their room and kissed her. "My favorite dessert…"