This year, while celebrating Good Friday and the weekend leading up to Easter, I also took part in a different kind of holiday tradition. A tradition, that as a Methodist, I have never taken part of.
Friday evening at work we held a Passover Seder for the Jewish residents. Kyle and I were both invited by the residents to participate in this special meal. This was our first time partaking in a Jewish holiday dinner.
The dinner started off by one of the residents reading the story of how Jewish people were slaves during ancient Egypt. During the telling of the story, we drank a lot of wine and ate matzo. This was the first year that I have had matzo. For those that do not know, it is basically a giant cracker that goes really well with butter.
During the telling of the story, we were to follow along in a book. The book, some of it in Hebrew, goes from back to front. As this is not the normal way that I read books, I kept getting confused. Fortunately, Kyle was controlling the book, so I did not cause a scene by fumbling for pages. I just kept thinking he was turning the page wrong.
After the telling of the story, we were shown a Seder plate. The Seder Plate featured six items. Since I am not Jewish, and do not want to get the customs wrong, according to Wikipedia, the six items were:
- Maror and Chazeret: Two types of bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Ancient Egypt. For maror, many people use freshly grated horseradish or whole horseradish root. Chazeret is typically romaine lettuce, whose roots are bitter-tasting. Either the horseradish or romaine lettuce may be eaten in fulfillment of the mitzvah of eating bitter herbs during the Seder.
- Charoset: A sweet, brown, pebbly paste of fruits and nuts, representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt.
- Karpas: A vegetable other than bitter herbs, usually parsley but sometimes something such as celery or cooked potato, which is dipped into salt water (Ashkenazi custom), vinegar (Sephardi custom), or charoset (older custom, still common amongst Yemenite Jews) at the beginning of the Seder.
- Zeroa: A roasted lamb bone, symbolizing the korban Pesach (Pesach sacrifice), which was a lamb offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and was then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night.
- Beitzah: A hard boiled egg, symbolizing the korban chagigah (festival sacrifice) that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and was then eaten as part of the meal on Seder night.
The dinner followed, and was very enjoyable. Many courses were served and both Kyle and I left more than stuffed full.
It was interesting to watch people of a different faith celebrate their own beliefs. It was an honor to be included in what was obviously a big holiday for those participating.
Though I consider myself pretty open minded, I was never completely sure what a Seder really was.
Now that I have participated in a regular Seder, and researched Seders more, I hope to one day participate in an LGBT Seder. I would be interested in getting the LGBT side of their struggle through the gay rights movement. Maybe next year I will find one to attend.
Until then, Happy Easter and Happy Passover to everyone!