One of the most known Jewish holidays is Hanukkah, but for some people the most popular Jewish holiday is actually Passover.
According to scripture, when Moses was freeing the Jews from Egypt, they had to leave at night. As a result, their bread didn’t have time to rise. In honor of this, during the week of Passover, in addition to traditional kosher laws, many Jewish people omit bread or leavened foods from their diet.
This year, I decided to celebrate Passover with Jon and his family. Rather than just show up at the end for the big Seder celebration dinner, I actually managed to stay away from leavened foods all week too! Trust me, that was a lot harder than just avoiding bread! So many foods have leavening in it. Pretzels, Girl Scout Cookies, and even some soups. But we avoided it, and h ad a lot of good conversations about why we were omitting it from our diets, and using the fasting as a form of worship. It was really interesting, because for the first time I was aware of what I ate and tied it back to my relationship with religion. I had to skip some of my favorite meals, and sometimes went longer without eating because a grain free alternative wasn’t available. It really opened my eyes in a spiritual manner.
Thankfully, there is a loveley Jewish “bread” known as Matzah. It is bread from heaven, and I have integrated it into my diet even after Passover. (Some strict Jews believe Matzah to be a holy bread and only consume it during Passover. Jon’s family is more liberal about that, and since I was observing it with them I accept their stance that we can consume it even when not observing Passover. Plus, there was a mighty fine sale at the end of the week.)
At the end of the week, after the completion of the Juggling Club Spring Showcase, Jon and I made the trip down to Long Island for the Seder dinner with his family. We had agreed to pick up his sister from the airport, as she was flying in from Arizona. Although expected to be slightly late, we left later than planned and warned her that we would be moderately late. However after waiting at the terminal, flapping our arms, and describing landmarks with no succes we realized by fluke that we had been given the wrong information. Their mother had told him that she would be flying into LaGuardia Airport, however she ha actually landed at JFK. Only a 20 minute difference, but needless to say everyone was very glad when the whole family was at their house. (By whole family I mean two sons and their fiances, a daughter and her husband, and 5 dogs including one ultra adorable puppy–Gracie. A few of the other brothers were not there; they were spending the holiday with the females in their lives.)
The Seder dinner was a wonderful experience. His mother had literally started cooking the day before, and spent all of Saturday in the kitchen with puppies of all ages by her feet. We all sat around the table as the kids read the Haggadah, chanted, and followed the same traditional service that the Jewish people have been doing for thousands of years. It was incredibly enlightening. Plus, the food was great too.
During one point in the haggadah, the leader of the household hides a piece of matzah (refered to as afikoman) somewhere in the house. The kids, or in this case the young adults, scurried around frantically looking for it. I swear, I looked in a giant planted pot and did not find it. A short moment after, Judy- Jon’s future sister in law– found it actually between the leaves of the plant. Drat. No good luck for me!
The next day, Jon and I went on his first official double date with his brother Matthew and future sister-in law Judy. We had an incredible good time playing mini golf. Matthew is essentially a pro, but Jon and I only lost by 2 strokes! Considering Jon’s ball flew off the course once and my ball bounced out of the hole once, I think it was an even game.
Passover is celebrated from sundown to sundown, and I can’t imagine a more beautiful sundown and end a weekend like that.