Friday, April 18, 2008

A little cultural sharing: Passover

As a lay Roman Catholic, I can still recite parts of the mass from memory, I can tell you about the sacraments and I can explain why certain things are as they are. As the husband of a Jewish woman, I cannot tell you a whole lot because I am still a student of the religion (and I use religion loosely as it certainly is in essence much more an identity than a religion, but that is for another post). My first seder experience was in high school in a well-intended but very poorly executed experiment during religion class where real wine was served to a naughty bunch of teenagers. Oy! Suffice it to say that it was the first and the last time it was attempted, there was many a reprimand handed out, the cleanup was long and the teacher was devastated. Fast forward to my first seder with my in-laws and the atmosphere was much more serious in nature but only so much so as to recognize that it was an important time. My in-laws are not orthodox or conservative but more laid-back reform. They do not keep kosher or adhere strictly to a number of the rules that typically Jewish people identify themselves with. That said, as I intoned earlier, the "identity" of being Jewish is very strong in this family and I fully respect that.

During that first meal, which was my wife's immediate family plus one of our favourite cousin's (RC), I had my brother-in-law cracking jokes in my ear that no one else could hear except for me, RC, DW and the odd time, the older brother who is a bit more serious than the other two. My BIL would say after a passage that described how God did something for the people, "Because we are the chosen people and just better than everyone else" and other silly things. It wasn't done in a malicious or self-righteous way but rather in a self-mocking playful way that had me, him and our cousin snickering so much we were often reprimanded by my other BIL, my MIL and my wife. All in all, like many a celebration in any other religion, Passover brings friends and family together again during the year to share in each other's lives. There can never be enough of those times.


Passover 101: What you need to know - TODAY: Food & Wine -

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