So I woke up this morning and naturally thought I was hallucinating when I looked out the window. White? Could it be the sands of the desert blowing in to mark the eve of Passover? Did Moses ever see snow?
I really doubt that he and his people slipped on their snow boots before rushing off with their unleavened bread. Doubtfully part of the tradition. However, this fine Jewish holiday is rich with other traditions as we look forward to the sunset, the eve of Passover, and the inability to eat any bread for a week.
My fellow Jews know that we probably won’t be able to eat anything else for a week as not only is this holiday rich with tradition, it is rich with well, rich food. When we begin our fast on Yom Kippur it may do some of us some good to continue that fast until Passover.
Growing up in a Jewish household, our house smelled amazing for at least a week before the holiday. My mother, who typically cooked enough to feed an army on any given day, felt it necessary to begin early to make sure the 97 flourless desserts were baked. She also needed time to set the table days in advance, with the finest china and crystal that we were usually not allowed anywhere near.
She always invited a few gentile friends so they could experience a seder. In other words, if we had to sit and read a Hagaddah (the Passover prayer book) for at least an hour before we got to touch any of the mouth watering food, they would have to as well. It was always necessary to show the gentiles the origins of Jewish guilt. “Oy vey, I’ve been cooking for a week and I can’t even touch this food! Let my people go already so I can eat!”
For anyone not familiar with the story of Passover I highly recommend watching the movie “Ten Commandments”. What could possibly be nominated as the campiest film in history, we do learn about how Moses was sent off in a basket down the Nile, rescued by and raised as an Egyptian and then discovered he was a Hebrew.
He chats with a burning bush, brings down the Ten Commandments, threatens Ramses to let his people go and brings along some pretty nasty plagues to prove that he is serious. Blood, vermin, locusts, frogs and the ultimate, the slaying of the first born. They put lamb’s blood over the doors of all Hebrew families so the green smoke aka the angel of death will “PASSOVER” their homes. See? What a lesson!
So when we gather tonight around the table, we will review the story again for what will be for me, the 53rd time. I’m pretty sure I know it by now but nonetheless we will go over it again. We will all be staring at my father to hurry things along. I will use “checking on the food” as my perfect excuse to bow out every now and then. Once the service is over, we will all dig in.
We will feast on what is referred to as the “the festive meal”. We will gorge on butter and egg laden kugels and casseroles. We will stuff ourselves with candied sweet potatoes and beef brisket. We will have already had matza with apples and nuts (haroseth as it’s called), gefilte fish and matza ball soup. Then after all that we will indulge in the endless array of flourless (but far from calorieless) desserts. We will have a paramedic on stand by for any heart attacks just in case.
All in all, we will live up to the age old tradition of a Jewish holiday: “They came, we kicked their asses, now let’s eat”. Happy Passover.
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