Observing the Holiday
Last night we attended a wonderful Passover seder at the home of friends, an Israeli family whose son is in the same class as Jonah. Most of the guests were Israelis and the seder was the most observant I’ve ever been to. I had helped a little by buying a few things and making the charoset (which was chunky, not pasty, as described in the Wikipedia entry I’ve linked to) and found it quite difficult to find ingredients that were Kosher for Passover. In our family seders, we’ve always cheated a little, not worrying so much if everything was strictly Passover certified, and basically following the spirit, rather than the law, of the holiday. It was mind-opening to realize how difficult it is to strictly adhere to the rules.
My husband is not Jewish, but I call him an honorary Jew because he is so comfortable in these settings, fitting in perfectly and participating as much as possible. (He doesn’t read Hebrew; I barely do.) The child is the one who, after just two years in a Jewish day school, is most familiar with the prayers and songs, and I gazed at him last night with some wonder, as though he were someone else’s child who was incredibly familiar and beloved to me. At the end of the evening, a prayer was sung that we have never sung at family seders. I didn’t recognize it but Jonah joined in sporadically, bouncing in his seat and sometimes singing in a goofy, cartoon-character voice. He was the eldest of seven children (the youngest of whom is an infant) and no one seemed to mind his antics. There was lots of noise and distraction throughout the seder, which is also something I’m not quite used to.
Our friend M, the mom of the hosting family, made all the food, and it was plentiful and delicious, every bit of it. I left feeling so full I didn’t eat today until late in the afternoon. She looked so exhausted by the end of the night (nearly midnight) that I worried about her, but she assured me she would get some rest today.
We were so pleased and grateful to be included. It was a beautiful evening on so many levels.
Observing the World
I can’t get the words together to write about Kansas, about a madman so full of hatred he would seek out Jews to murder on the eve of Passover. I don’t know what to say about Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher, who carries the U.S. flag but says he doesn’t recognize the U.S. government. I don’t know what to say except that these two things are intricately connected, and that there is a whole network, however loosely intertwined, of people in this country who are that angry and that fucked up.
It gives me pause; it should give you pause, too.
Passover celebrates overcoming hatred, oppression, and slavery. When I was a child, we always sang Let My People Go at the seder, a reminder that slavery happened right here, in our country, and afflicted a group of people whose descendants are our neighbors and friends and fellow citizens. I love that President Obama and his family celebrate Passover at the White House, recognizing the universality of the holiday and the beauty of it, and the fact that Jesus celebrated it, too.
Chag Pesach Sameach! (Happy Passover!)