Monday, April 14, 2014

Rant #1,185: Happy Passover

For Jews around the world, tonight is the first night of Passover, which means tonight is the first seder that we have, the first of two during the eight-day observance.

Passover celebrates the Jews' flight from Egypt in Biblical times, and it also solidifies the fact that the Jewish religion remains a strong one.

It is a family holiday, one where young and old alike gather to go over the traditions of the holiday, first and foremost, and at the center of the celebration, the recitation of "The Four Questions."

Matzoh signifies the most visible link to the holiday.

When the Jews, who were kept in slavery by the Egyptians but were later expelled, fled Egypt, they had to do it quickly. Whatever foodstuffs they brought with them had to be used quickly, and thus, any materials that they used to create bread did not have time to rise, and became a cracker-like food known as matzoh.

So matzoh, rather than bread, is eaten on this holiday, and personally, I love matzoh, and for eight days, that is what I exist on.

Matzoh may be the most visible link to Passover, but the most important link during the holiday is known as "The Four Questions," when the youngest children attending the seder ask the adults "Why is this night different than all other nights?"

Actually, anyone can read "The Four Questions," but the younger people usually do it. It is the real centerpiece of the celebration, and it is something that all participants look forward to.

The first two nights are the seder nights, with families gathering to look at the Jews' flight from Egypt, and the modern seders are real family gatherings, with the traditions reinforced.

Modern influences are also included, and new Kosher for Passover foods are always being created to whet the appetites of all who are present.

And other things permeate the seder, including world events.

I am sure this year, many seders will focus on the horrific incident which happened yesterday, when an anti-Semitic gunmen killed several in Kansas for no other reason than they were on the grounds of Jewish facilities.

Passover is my favorite holiday of the year. The only gifts given on Passover are those of families being together, and that is all that is asked.

The holiday takes lots of preparation, lots of cooking, but it is all well worth it.

For my non-Jewish friends, this is an interesting time of year, as the holidays for Jews and non-Jews kind of run into each other.

Palm Sunday was yesterday, Good Friday is on Friday, and Easter Sunday is coming up this Sunday.

To Jew and non-Jew alike, have great holidays this year. Through the hustle and bustle of everyday life, these holidays ground us, and really bring into focus what is truly important in our lives.

We all need this affirmation of the family as the most important thing in our lives, and these holidays give us the forum to not only celebrate the holiday, but to celebrate the strength of our families.

So when I am all matzohed out, I really don't mind, because I am with my family, and that is the most important thing, isn't it?

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