Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Even if you're not Jewish, I'm sure you know at least one Jewish person, and if you're close friends, you may receive an invitation to a Passover Seder, and I suggest you accept it! Passover tells the story of the Jews fleeing from Egypt; this is from the Old Testament of the Bible, so therefore Christians can understand what's going on, too. Of course there's a lot of rituals and the like concerning Passover, but the only part I have ever celebrated (and let's be honest, the best part) is the Seder dinner. For most of my life, I have spent Seder with my Jewish grandmother, my immediate family, and my grandma's closest friends. For the last couple of years my parents have hosted, so they bring their friends instead. And last night I celebrated at my grandma's synagogue with her and my father.
I at first was dreading this celebration. First of all, my grandmother's cooking is DELICIOUS. She even makes gefilte fish taste good (homemade, NOT from a jar, and the fish is fresh from the market). So when I heard we would not be eating at home I was disappointed. But it really wouldn't make sense for her to make all that food just for three people, so I agreed to the idea. I was still worried about the company we would be sharing at Seder. Of the few events I had gone to at the temple, all I could remember was that everyone was over 60 (more like 80) except for me, and all they would talk about were their ailments (which I really don't look forward to having myself in fifty years). Lastly, when you grow up celebrating Passover, your family has its own way of doing things, and that's how you like it. I know my family doesn't read through the entire Hagaddah (the book of stories and songs from which you read during Seder), and I feared sitting for HOURS before actually getting to eat.
BUT the Seder last night was much better than I expected! First of all, we were seated at a table where there was another young person! Amazing! He was just about to finish his first year in law school, so we had plenty to talk about (youth really come together when there are so few of you in the room!). Then the Rabbi actually starting skipping part of the Hagaddah, which I greatly appreciated since I was really only there for the food. Speaking of food, it was pretty good! The knoedlach (or matzoh balls) where a little squishy (and tasted like scrambled eggs), and the gefilte fish was just no (I fear once my grandma passes I will never eat good gefilte fish again). But the desserts were amazing (petit fours are my favorite!), and I had who knows how many glasses of kosher wine (very sweet red wine; the first glass is a little hard to swallow, but by the end of the night you keep pouring yourself more and more of the "juice"). So while we were there for four hours, the company, food, and rituals themselves were all satisfactory, and I wasn't even tired when I got home!
P.S. I forgot to mention my worst Passover experience. It was my freshman year of college, and Passover didn't overlap with my spring break, so I had to celebrate at school. First of all, I had to pay $25 (which makes sense, but when you're used to eating for free, you don't relish the idea of paying for this celebratory dinner). Then when I got there, I knew no one, so I just sat down next to these ladies, only to find out they were "special" and were bussed in every year from a group home to celebrate; I'm not good around people like this (I never have been; I just feel very uncomfortable), so I was awkwardly sitting there with these strangers. THEN, instead of reading from the Hagaddah, students from the Jewish Center started reenacting the story of the Jews. If you're at a Seder, you should at least already know the gist of the story, so I didn't see why I had to watch a bunch of fools act like they're in first grade putting on a play for their classmates. The experience was so bad that I left after the first course (matzoh ball soup, which I can't even remember if it was any good or not). So a word of advice: if you're going to a new Seder, at the very least go with someone you know. Even if it's horrible, at least you have each other. Misery loves company.