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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Passover: The alpha and omega of holidays

    Most of you are probably Christian. And that’s cool, except for the fact that you miss out on easily the greatest holiday any God or Hallmark ever created: Passover.

    Many of you may not be familiar with the Jewish holiday that occurred Monday and Tuesday. I don’t blame you. Jews are barely 2 percent of the entire population of the United States, so it’s certainly understandable that one of the religion’s non-marketed holidays would fly under the radar.

    (This may or may not be an appropriate time to address the fact that people call this institution “”Jew of A.”” I haven’t checked with Hillel on this one, but I would be really surprised if any more than 5 percent of the UA population is Jewish. That might seem large by national standards, but I hardly think we’re dealing with a mass Judaic exodus to Tucson here. But back to the point.)

    Lots of people may have no idea what Passover is. It’s OK. I’m the same way with other people’s religions too. There isn’t a “”Peanuts”” special on Candlemas (that’s a real Christian holiday), and certainly nobody gives gifts, so I admit I’ve no idea what goes on.

    But what is unfortunate about not knowing anything about Passover is that, if you don’t know, you probably won’t be inclined to invite yourself to a Jewish friend’s house for the Seder (the name of the actual Passover ceremony), and then you could end up missing out on quite a holiday.

    The Passover Seder is really a neat tradition wherein a bunch of friends and family gather together and regale each other with stories of the hardships Jews faced when they were slaves under the Pharaoh some three to four thousand years ago or so (remember, we’re talking biblical dates, so it’s pretty much a free-for-all when it comes to accuracy) and the biblical exodus from Egypt.

    Theoretically, there is a service that lasts a couple of hours, during which all of the participants in the Seder take turns reading passages about the exodus, Judaism and the 10 plagues God wrought on the Egyptians on behalf of their slaves.

    (For a more scholarly interpretation of said plagues, see Hilary Swank’s new flick – she gave us such an accurate portrayal of ghetto education in her last film, I’m sure this one will be just as precise. Am I the only one who thinks Swank hasn’t made a decent movie since “”The Next Karate Kid””?)

    Now, in my experience the service rarely lasts as long as it ought to, because everyone is, of course, most excited about the food. Actually, this seems to be true across cultures. Rarely have I been to an Easter celebration that didn’t start with chocolate, and Catholics even go so far as to interrupt their mass to eat little crackers.

    By the way, I feel completely justified in making fun of both Jews and Catholics alike. My mother is Catholic and my father is a Jew. That’s right – I am a Cashew.

    And the food is incredible. If you’ve never had matzoh covered in charoset (a kind of apple/walnut/cinnamon salad), you are truly missing out.

    In addition to good eats, we are actually biblically commanded to drink four full glasses of wine. And unless you’ve spent the last two weeks straight at a frat convention, that’ll do you in.

    This, by the way, is, in my mind, the single most compelling reason to be religious. Your parents have no grounds for reproach when, as a 13-year-old, you end up drunkenly rapping traditional Jewish hymns with your little brother beat-boxing a Beastie Boys tune in the background (because the Beasties are, after all, Jewish).

    And the real beauty of Passover is that no two families’ Seders are ever alike. It’s like any traditional, religious gathering – nobody does it the exact same way. My Seder usually ends in gunfire after my Jewish grandmother makes snide remarks about Jews who are from different historical “”tribes”” than us. (Which is understandable – this is the same woman who repeatedly tried to convince my Spanish Catholic mother that her family was probably Jewish before the Inquisition to make herself feel better about her son marrying a non-Jew).

    But the idiosyncrasies of infinitely unique Seders, combined with the deep sense of tradition and cultural value that saturate Passover, make the holiday both incredibly rewarding and vastly entertaining. It is truly a remarkable holiday.

    For those of you who have yet to experience an authentic Passover Seder, I definitely recommend making a Jewish friend before next April.

    Stan Molever is a philosophy senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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