For Jon and I, the value in religion lies less in the spirituality and more in the tradition and culture. Both of us have a strong connection with our families and our cultural history and it is important to us to maintain the traditions of our ancestors. Passover is the annual holiday that most strongly illuminates this concept. For the last 4,000 years Jewish families around the world gather every spring to celebrate the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. It is the most festive of the Jewish holidays. It also has the best food.
Passover is one of those rowdy holidays where there is a lot of wine drinking, singing, banter-type arguing and yelling. It is a true celebration of freedom, and also a celebration of hope and faith. It is an adaptable holiday, one that is still relevant in today’s world despite its strong roots in the past. The Seder is led by the host who reads from the Passover Hagaddah, which tells the story of why we celebrate the Jews’ exodus from Egypt and liberation from slavery.
Every Seder meal is different, but there is one constant – the traditional Seder plate. The plate sits prominently at the table and contains six items that symbolize the struggles of the Jewish slaves in Egypt. There is a lamb shank (Z’roa), that represents the lamb’s blood that the Jew’s used to mark their doors to prevent the angel of death from killing their first born child, one of the plagues that God set upon the Egyptians for enslaving the Jews. There is horseradish (Maror, the bitter herb) which is meant to represent the bitterness of the Jews’ years of slavery in Egypt. The Charosset (apples, dates, nuts, honey, cinnamon) symbolizes the mortar with which they constructed endless building projects for the Pharaoh while enslaved. The green parsley, (Karpas) when dipped in salt water, symbolizes the tears of the Jews. The roasted egg (Beitzah) represents rebirth and renewal of life. This week I asked Jon to put down the camera to help me cook, so we only have the one image to share, our Bite Sized version of the Seder Plate.
Passover has always been a meaningful family holiday for Jon and I, and spending it at my mom’s house with my family was so much fun and full of a very eclectic group of hilariously opinionated, feisty personalities. As much as my mother and our extended family follow tradition, we also break from it in many ways. Our Haggaddah is very liberal and modernized, and we argue every year about whether the kids or the leader of the Seder hide the Afikomen (a very important piece of Matzah wrapped in cloth). I wouldn’t trade our non-traditional traditions for anything.