There’s a lot of cross-cultural activity in our home; we celebrate it all. God is God….the way you celebrate him is man-made, whether you attend a millennium-old religious practice or dance each full moon in the meadow.
My mom was particularly concerned when I told her I was going to be marrying Graham that I would be “lost” to the Jewish people. What has happened has been remarkable and I think she might even have appreciated it all.
It started when the Episcopal priest in Pueblo, Colorado suggested we add a few Jewish symbols into the ceremony blessing our marriage. We made a chuppah of one of my mom’s lace tablecloths and Graham stomped on a glass. The priest explained it all the the crowd and one choir member thanked me after for inviting her because she “had never been to a Jewish wedding before.” After I told her she still had not been to one, Graham and I decided to hold a Passover Seder a few weeks later.
When I was young I had protested the Haggadah we used to my mom twice. Once, after my grandfather died. He had run the Seder in Hebrew for six hours and I have to say as a kid I never got much out of it except for timing how long it took for one of my aunts to get drunk on the wine. I suggested, since Grandpa no longer would be the one to lead it, to find another Haggadah that would make the ceremony more meaningful.
I raised the point again when Dan and Lisa were about 2 and 4 years old. I suggested cutting the Seder to about 20 minutes would be something toddlers could handle. I got the same response.
So, for our first Seder together with Graham, I put together a new Haggadah. I found about 700 versions on the Internet and was able to take some from this and some from that to make something that not only was meaningful to me and our guests that year and in all the years since, but still followed all the guidelines and told the story. We have it down to 4 hours now, including dinner. Each year we invite 12-20 people to share in the experience and have a great time.
This year our Seder will be two days early. No, I don’t expect any lightning striking me. I am leaving on April 13 to fly to New York and on the 14th, the first day of Passover, I will be on a plane with Lisa, heading to India for her Golden Birthday trip. I am sure the Universe has no issue with this, although some people may.
I’ve started preparation. Putting together a Seder takes considerable attention to detail and time.
Buying some ingredients here in the beautiful agricultural lands of Oregon at least an hour from a Jewish congregation is a bit more of a challenge than when I was growing up in New Jersey. I have called a store near the Temple in Salem and will do some shopping when we visit a friend there and eat a meal together this weekend.
One of the most needed foods at this time is matza. Because of the restriction of eating unleavened bread, it becomes an often used ingredient for many meals. While our local store has some matza it is not Kosher for Passover. There are more rules on that so the foods have to be prepared specially for the Passover holiday.
But I got to thinking….matza is only flour and water. I can bake! I read several recipes, learning that the matza must be baked within 18 minutes of mixing the ingredients. This time restriction is based on making sure no leavening takes place.
Not square or round like the commercial brands. The fork holes are not evenly spaced, but I bet it will be the best matzah ever in this house and in this town!