Why Lord, Why?
My culture is one of food.
We all know this.
It ain’t news.
The way we relate to others?
The way we celebrate festivals?
The way people of other cultures relate to us?
Many of my tribal friends and family refer to themselves as Jew-ish, due to the ways in which they think they’re not good Jews. Namely, the degree with which they LOOOOVE bacon. Or lobster. Or other forbidden things.
Whether or not this makes them good or bad is a whole other discussion that is faaaaar too serious for me to engage in here. We all know that it doesn’t actually matter what anyone else (fictional, omnipotent or otherwise) thinks of the way you feel/the things you believe/the foods you eat – so long as they don’t hurt others.
But, having said that, I am one of those freaks who opts not to eat the pigs. Or the shellfish.
I have my reasons. I guess, they started with the excuse of being “because my religion says so”, but I came to realise that actually it was less about that and more about an enforcement of self-discipline.
But I digress – this is merely background for future reference. (Got it? Note it for future. There’ll be a test. When we go for dinner…)
If we take this conversation back to the Jew food – I have some bones to pick with my people. And not the ones they accidentally left in the gefilte fish…
Jewish snack made of ground fish (carp, mullet, whitefish, pike), egg whites, matzoh meal (wheat flour and water), onions and salt. Usually served chilled, sometimes with horseradish.
The first of these issues is getting closer and closer… Passover. Pesach to us kids in the know.
Pesach is a time when we celebrate the fact that we escaped bondage in Egypt (not the S&M kinda bondage – some of us may have opted to stay for that, I’m sure) and got to wander around the desert for a good 40 years or so (we ARE the chosen people, after all – it’s the glamorous life for us!).
In order to celebrate this wonderful time in our history, we have a few traditions.
Guess what they revolve around…
Can you guess?
Now, I’m aware, as I’m sure are all of you intelligent folk, that Jewish traditions are as varied as the colours of our skin. We have settled in countries all around the globe for hundreds and thousands (mmm… fairy bread… – sorry, Aussie reference, not Jew related… back to the point -) of years and so, obviously, things are done differently between us.
For the purposes of this post, I am referring to the ways in which my peasant-stock, bog-standard Eastern European family taught me to practice.
Pesach starts well.
Well… Well is a strong word.
But it starts with a big feast. Good sign, right? Of course right!
(Yes that is a “Fiddler on the Roof” reference for all you nerds playing along at home!)
You do have to sit through an ETERNITY of reading and praying and people trying to sing (I’m looking at you, Big Al!) and reading and debates about whose traditions are right before you get to the food. And along the way you’re teased with a number of cups of wine you’re not really supposed to drink much of.
But finally you get to the food! Yesssss! DINNER!
“I could eat for 40 years!” you’re thinking, “that’s how I’ll best honour my people!”
Until the sad, hard, cardboard truth hits.
And then you remember the matzah-enduced constipation that’s looking to haunt you for the next seven days of this damned festival if you observe it as you’re supposed to.
Welcome to the Shul of Tash, where I have new ways to observe ancient traditions!
NB None of these practices are officially Rabbinically approved – YET. If you are a Rabbi wishing to approve any Shul of Tash practicing theories, please contact me below!
For our other festivals, we get to eat fun things!
- Jewish New Year We celebrate the sweet, round new year by dipping apples in honey or eating toffee apples or round shaped honey cakes or ANY OTHER NUMBER OF SWEET AND ROUND THINGS!
- Hannukah We celebrate the miracle of oil lasting a week longer than anticipated (in possibly the first documented case of a Jewish mother getting bang for her buck) by eating oily, greasy foods – jam donuts, potato latkes, all the OILY AND FRIED THINGS!
- Purim One of our minor festivals, when we celebrate how the Jews of Persia survived attempted genocide from some dickhead in a triangular hat by eating TASTY triangular biscuits named for him (hamantashen – rubbing sugar on that wound since the megillah!)
And the list goes on…
So instead of asking the traditional questions of the evening, that I, as the youngest, have spent my LIFE reciting, I’m asking this:
Why, on this night, do we eat only unleavened bread to remember a sad time and relive it and go on about how sad it was we had to leave our houses before the bread had risen and blah blah blah… when we could be eating FOUR TIMES THE AMOUNT OF BREAD AND PASTA WE USUALLY EAT in order to commemorate the survival of our people and think of happy times instead?!
Tash. Loving bread and all carb-heavy, Pesach-banned foods since 1985.
The Shul of Tash. Asking the hard questions since last week.