Peaches Prattlings

{April 3, 2015}   A Zissen Pesach

A sweet Passover to you.

Now, I know I have talked about Passover with you before, but that was a year ago and I don’t remember what I said, so I’m going to tell you again, and you’re going to like it. [so bossy!]

Tonight was the first night of Pesach, or Passover, and it is the first of eight nights. Some families will celebrate the first an second night and the last or last two nights. In my family, traditionally, we celebrated the first night. A few years ago, my sister started hosting first and second night because there were so many families to celebrate and some would do first night with us, second with their families and vice versa, it’s been a great tradition was started and enjoyed.

Now, growing up, the Passover Seder would take us a few hours, because of all the food, talking and fun. Today, because we have so many wee tots, and I mean soooo many, the Seder takes about thirty minutes, tops, because the little ones can’t really sit still that long and it’s ok, we do the important stuff and more importantly, we are all together.

The Passover Seder is the telling of the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and Pharaoh’s evil reign. It includes the killing of the first born, Moses’ mother putting him in a basket and sending him down river, his sister saying she would watch over him, Moses being found and brought up in the palace and eventually leading his people out of the land of Egypt. There is the parting of the Red Sea, the ten plagues, from boils, to locusts, to the killing of the first born, pretty harsh, I know.

There is a saying “Jews and Catholics are the same, just different foods” and that is pretty true, we like to tell stories through food and there is so much symbolism in the food we eat at different holidays. I don’t know if you’ve heard of matzoh, but it’s unleavened bread that we eat for the eight days and the reason is that when the Jews fled Egypt, they didn’t get a chance to bake their breads in the oven so they baked it on flat rock and matzoh was born, therefore, we do not eat anything that rises, nothing containing flour, things like that.

Matzoh, or the idea of eating matzoh, is entertaining at first, a piece with butter or margarine, I prefer egg matzoh, it’s a little sweeter, then you are coming up with new and exciting ways to eat matzoh, for example, tomorrow is EJS’ birthday party, they are having matzoh pizzas, creative, huh?

We dip our greens in salt water to symbolize our tears, we eat matzoh with maror, or horseradish, to symbolize the harshness and bitterness of being slaves, we make a sandwich with matzoh and charoset, which is a sweet brown mixture, a lot of times made with apples, cinnamon and sweet wine, to symbolize the mortar that held the bricks together that formed the pyramids. See how much symbolism there is!

And that was just the beginning! The Seder plate holds all the symbolic items that we will partake in and talk about, imperative to the Seder. My sister and I crack ourselves up because every year, we try to remember everything that’s on the Seder plate, it’s right there in Hebrew and English and we still can’t figure it out! We write it down, take pictures, doesn’t matter! We are very smart women, but sometimes…forget about it!

We go through the Seder, reading, holding up foods, eating at particular times. Now, the food I’ve talked about is just a touch of what is served, and those are things that are symbolic! Then there is the spread of food that we eat because it’s tradition! The turkey, matzoh apple kuegel, carrot soufflé, brisket, chicken and matzoh ball soup. Hungry?

But wait, there’s more! There’s dessert! Candies special for Passover and so much more!

The Seder is participatory, everyone reads something and then there are the Four Questions, those are supposed to be asked by the youngest at the Seder, the kids take turns asking them, unless the youngest has practiced them in Hebrew, then it’s all eyes on them! After the four questions, we sing, Mah Nishtana HaLeila HaZeh, which means “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

Then there is the hunting for the afikomen, or matzoh. Someone, traditionally my dad, will hide half of a piece of matzoh somewhere and all the kids will hunt for it, there doesn’t seem to be an age limit on the kids who can hunt for the afikomen, yours truly still hunts every once in a while. You would too if there was a cash prize to the winner! The hiding and searching creates interest , aside from the cash, and the kids of all ages love it and get in on the action “you’re getting warmer” “brrr, so cold”! When the piece is found, you join the two pieces together to symbolize the reunification.

If all that didn’t get you, how about the four glasses of wine? There are different times during the Seder that you drink a glass of wine and then there is the glass of wine for Elijah, always have a place for him at the table, as well as anyone who is hungry could come and sit and eat with us, the Seder is rich with symbolism and tradition.

Now, I think you can probably imagine why it takes us so long to get through the Passover Seder. Maybe next year you will join us and get to experience it for yourself, you are most welcome.


seder plate



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