I don’t know about all of you, but for me all of the days have started to blur together. In the mornings I find myself thinking: what activity could I do today so that today is different from yesterday (and the day before that, and the day before that…)? Luckily for me, yesterday night I didn’t have to try as hard. What made last night different from all other nights you might ask? Yesterday my family and I celebrated Passover with a bit of a social distancing twist! For those not in the know, Passover is the most important cultural holiday for Jewish people. A key part of passover is to invite guests to your seder dinner, in particular non-Jewish friends or family who have never experienced a Passover seder before. So this year I invite you all to a small look into what Passover is, and how it is celebrated in my family.
Normally we celebrate passover at my Aunt Wendy’s house becuase she is the head of the family, (Jewish families are matriarchies). This year we celebrated over Zoom. There were about 16 of us, and a lot of the old folks had never used a video chat service before so it was a bit wild.
What is Passover? Passover is a Jewish holiday that is based on the story of the Exodus, where Moses helped free the enslaved Hebrew people in Egypt. This is the story of the ten plagues, and Moses parting the sea. The ten plagues were: water to blood, frogs (LOTS of frogs), gnats, flies, cow disease, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the killing of the first born child, (coronavirus got a shout out this year). The last plague is how Passover got its name. In the story the Jewish people sacrificed a lamb and painted its blood on their doorway so that the curse would know to ‘passover’ their homes. A part of the seder is expressing remorse over the Egyptian lives lost in the plagues.
To celebrate Passover you have a special dinner called the Passover seder, and read from the Haggadah which is the collection of stories and prayers particular to Passover, and is also a guide on when to present the different ceremonial foods and why.
The most famous of the passover seder foods is matzo (or matzah it is spelled a lot of different ways). The story is that when the Jewish people fled Egypt they had so little time to prepare that they didn’t have time to wait for their bread dough to rise. As they escaped in the desert, the sun baked the dough they carried into matzo. (Maybe a potential cooking experiment to try in the Tucson summer?) We eat matzo on passover to remember their flight from Eygpt.
Also featured in the seder:
- Bitter herbs (horseradish): to remember the bitterness of slavery.
- Lamb shank: to remember the sacrificial lambs in the last plague.
- Roasted (hard boiled) egg: symbolic of the free-will festival that accompanied the lamb sacrifice.
- Haroset: (the most delicious of the seder food. It’s a bunch of chopped apples, nuts, raisins and dried fruits mixed with cinnamon and wine) . How it looks is supposed to symbolize the mortar the hewbrews had to work with in their tasks under slavery. The taste symbolizes the sweetness of freedom.
- Parsley: for gratitude of the products of the Earth (like fresh produce I guess…)
- Salt water: you dip the parsley in it and eat them together. The salt water symbolizes the tears of the enslaved people.
After you tell the story of the exodus, and go through the special seder food, Passover wraps up with a reflection on why it is important to celebrate the holiday. The leader of the seder (usually my Uncle) picks four of the young family members to read the parts of four different types of children who are asking the question of why passover is important. Three of the four are normal (the wise child, the innocent child, the child too young to ask), but the last child is a chance for the leader to throw shade at the punk kid of the family by assigning them the role of the wicked child. This year it was my brother (hehehehe). I was the innocent child 0:)
Once the seder wraps up you have a nice family dinner. Usually this is the time my Aunt busts out her famous Matzo ball soup, but sadly this year we decided it would be too much chaos to try to eat together over zoom. Shout out to Joseph and Logan for zooming with me so I didn’t have to eat my fancy dinner by myself.
Here is some wholesome content of my cat hunting for Easter eggs (kinda she was bad at it).
Hope all of you had a Happy Easter and Passover 🙂
Song of the day: Since I was talking about a lot of mythos today, I thought I would share my favorite song based on the myth of Medusa.