Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Please Don't Pass Over Me....

Gefilte Fish:
Gefilte fish (Yiddish: געפֿילטע פֿיש, Are poached fish patties or balls made from a mixture of ground deboned fish, mostly common carp or pike. Finely chopped fish, usually whitefish, pike, or carp, mixed with crumbs, eggs, and seasonings, cooked in a broth in the form of balls or oval-shaped cakes, and usually served chilled.

Don't hate on me because I like this curious fish dish. I admit, it is certainly an acquired taste. May not be for everybody, but during Passover it is served and you damn well better eat it.

So, Passover!!
Of all the Jewish holidays, Pesach is the one most commonly observed, even by otherwise non-observant Jews.

Pesach begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. April 8th 2009! Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel, but little attention is paid to this aspect of the holiday. The primary observances of Pesach are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery.

The name "Pesach" meaning to pass through, to pass over, to exempt or to spare. It refers to the fact that God "passed over" the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt. In English, the holiday is known as Passover.

Probably the most significant observance related to Pesach involves the removal of chametz (leaven) from our homes. This commemorates the fact that the Jews leaving Egypt were in a hurry, and did not have time to let their bread rise. It is also a symbolic way of removing the "puffiness" (arrogance, pride) from our souls.

Chametz includes anything made from the five major grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) that has not been completely cooked within 18 minutes after coming into contact with water.

We may not eat chametz (leavened) during Passover; we may not even own it or derive benefit from it. We may not even feed it to our pets or cattle. All chametz, including utensils used to cook chametz, must either be disposed of or sold to a non-Jew (they can be repurchased after the holiday). Pets' diets must be changed for the holiday, or the pets must be sold to a non-Jew (like the food and utensils, the pets can be repurchased after the holiday ends).

The process of cleaning the home of all chametz in preparation for Passover is an enormous task. To do it right, you must prepare for several weeks and spend several days scrubbing everything down, going over the edges of your stove and fridge with a toothpick and a Q-Tip, covering all surfaces that come in contact with food with foil or shelf-liner, etc., etc., etc. After the cleaning is completed, the morning before the seder, a formal search of the house for chametz is undertaken, and any remaining chametz is burned.

The grain product we eat during Pesach is called matzah. Matzah is unleavened bread, made simply from flour and water and cooked very quickly. This is the bread that the Jews made for their flight from Egypt. We have come up with many inventive ways to use matzah; it is available in a variety of textures for cooking:

On the first night of Pesach (first two nights for traditional Jews outside Israel), we have a special family meal filled with ritual to remind us of the significance of the holiday. This meal is called a seder , from a Hebrew root word meaning "order," because there is a specific set of information that must be discussed in a specific order.

Pesach lasts for seven days (eight days outside of Israel). The first and last days of the holiday (first two and last two outside of Israel) are days on which no work is permitted.

So, this is what I will not be doing. First, I do not clean my stove and fridge with toothpicks and Q-tips. If I clean it at all it would be considered a miracle. Second, I do not sell my chametz to a non-jew and then repurchase it after Passover is done. If I had a pet, I would not sell pet to a non-jew and then repurchase after Passover is done. These "rules" IMHO are ridiculous.

Perhaps, it is because while yes I am Jewish and very proud of that fact, I am far from religious and celebrate holidays more for the family tradition than for following such strict rules. God will think no less of me. My family will think no less of me.

Here is what I will do though:
I will not eat chametz - bread of any kind. Yep, that means I give up my beloved bagels, english muffins, toast, multi grain breads, pita bread...you get the point here. For 8 days starting Thursday and ending next Thursday.

I will attend a seder tomorrow evening at my mother's brother's home. We rarely get together but for holidays such as this we do. More out of tradition than following certain rules. We do the seder our way. And that is fine with me.

From Wikipedia:
The Passover Seder Meal is a Jewish ritual feast held on the first and the second nights of the Jewish holiday of Passover
Families and friends gather around the table on the nights of Passover to read one of the many versions of the Haggadah, the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt. Seder customs include drinking of four cups of wine, eating matza and partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate. With a Haggadah serving as a guide, the Seder is performed in much the same way all over the world.

While many Jewish holidays revolve around the synagogue, the Seder is conducted in the family home. It is customary to invite guests, especially strangers and the needy, though very few non-religious Jews do so. The Seder as family-based ritual is derived from a verse in the Bible: "And you shall tell it to your son on that day, saying, 'Because of this God did for me when He took me out of Egypt'" The words and rituals of the Seder are a primary vehicle for the transmission of the Jewish faith from grandparent to child, and from one generation to the next.

And that is what I truly love about the Seder. How it is indeed passed down from generation to generation. Another cool thing about the Seder is the most famous question which the youngest child asks at the Seder is the Mah Nishtanah - "Why is this night different from all other nights?" After the asking of these questions, the main portion of the Seder, Magid, gives over the answers in the form of a historical review. The youngest child in my family is my sister. And she ain't no child but she is indeed the youngest at the table so the tradition continues.

I would love to wish all of you a very Happy Easter! And if you celebrate Passover, than have a happy and most importantly a healthy Passover. It's all good no matter what you believe and I respect each and every one of you. Spring time is finally upon us and its a time for renewal and all good things. That my friends is a universal belief.

Ha - even Moses couldn't ask for directions. Men huh??

The Universe told me today:
Actually, Michelle, it's not that most people don't have much, and they just want a little.

It's that they have it all, and they just want a little.
You too.

Oh my -
The Universe

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness ... the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.” Dalai Lama

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