posted Sun, 24 Apr 2005
Passover started last night at sundown. It never used to be a big part of my life. I knew it just because the last supper on Holy Thursday was a Passover meal. But now it does affect my daily life – my gym is the Jewish Community Center, which, as one would expect, closes for the big Jewish holidays. Now Passover is God’s way of telling me to sleep late instead of swimming before work tomorrow.
OK. It might be God’s way of telling me to talk a walk instead of swimming. You have to be very careful when interpreting these signs, you know. The Mormons weren’t careful and they ended up with funny underwear.
All week, things have been slow at the JCC. Most of the ladies I usually see there in the morning or at lunch have been busy giving their homes the pre-Passover cleaning, which apparently is like spring cleaning, only taken to an exponential level. You have to get rid of anything leavened – anything made with yeast or baking soda or powder. Remember that when the Jews fled Egypt, they didn’t have time to let the bread rise before they left.
Here’s a description of Passover housecleaning from Judaism 101. (“Chametz” means stuff that isn’t allowed for Passover.):
“The process of cleaning the home of all chametz in preparation for Pesach 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.”
They clean the JCC, too. They empty the vending machines, which are regular kosher the rest of the year. Regular kosher means no snacks made with lard (lard makes things taste good – that is a sad omission, but those are the rules) or gelatin (no chewy candies like Skittles). I didn’t go to the gym at lunch on Friday, so I didn’t see them cleaning, but when I go on Tuesday, I will see dark Coke and candy machines.
For the past two weeks, a seder table has been set up in the JCC foyer with the Passover foods – the bitter herbs and the sweet foods (apple, honey and walnuts). The table is decorated and looks quite festive. I have never been to a seder, but it looks like it would be a lot of fun.
Really, what’s not to celebrate? God had to get really tough with the Egyptians, who were not listening to reason. They ignored the frogs, the lice, the flies, the boils, the hail, the locusts, the river turned to blood, the darkness, the death of all the livestock.
These people were stubborn. It wasn’t until all their firstborn sons were slaughtered that they finally realized that holding the Jews as slaves was not a good idea. It would be bad enough to be a slave, but to be a slave to stupid people would be the worst.