Monday, April 02, 2007

rolling with moses

Tonight, my family rounded out our Passover Seder with Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On".

Because that's how we know, with Moses.

This weekend, an unfortunate conversation left me reeling about the perception some have of Judaism. To be completely frank about the whole situation, let me first say - I've dealt with prejudices. Growing up attending a private Hebrew school, I watched as swastikas and other Anti Semitic words and symbols had to be professionally washed off our school's building as well as our synagogue's walls. The "Hebrew" on our buses had to be covered during the 1st Gulf War because people felt Israel was responsible for the war to begin with...and they threw rocks at the bus while kids were being taken to school and back.

But I've never been flat out insulted. I've never had someone from another faith stand in front of me and explain to my friends what a Jew is - and that explanation be less than flattering and literally incorrect. I've never had someone judge me for it on an eye level. A 'here I stand, there you are' level. And it pissed me off. And it still pisses me off.

And what really got me - was that I said nothing. To be polite, because I was at my friend's house, I said nothing.

Luckily it was just two days before Passover.

Passover has always been my favorite of the Jewish holidays. Even though I'm forced to go without cereal, pizza, bread and anything else that consists of flour, yeast etc. etc. The ceremonies can be grueling... One year, my older brother and I slept in the back of my parents' station wagon as we drove to New York to celebrate with my Aunt Laraine, who was going according to an Orthodox ceremony. We started mid-afternoon and didn't finish until well after midnight. Somewhere in between, they allowed the children a little break from the cousins sat me in front of the television for a viewing of "Cat's Eye". I'm not a cat person.

There's a lot of ground to cover before you can even think about touching the matzo ball soup. The baby in the river, the ten plagues, the Pharaoh's control issues, the splitting of the sea...

Some of the best Passover moments are when everyone is ready for a good song and nobody cares that we're banging on the table so hard that the wine in Elijah's cup is spilling over the edge and onto the table cloth. Others roll like tonight, when we laugh so hard we can barely get through the Haggadah and fill up on so much food - that we can't even properly finish the Seder.

Unlike Hanukkah - which can be compared with Christmas because they both occur around the same time and involve presents - Passover is just for us. Just for Jews. Regardless of the fact that Easter happens around the same time - there's nothing to really compare between the two. There's something comforting about knowing that while everyone else you know is going about their Monday - Jews are stopping to tell a story so important in Jewish history - and they're partying it up with wine and singing and maybe even Marvin Gaye.

You know, depending on how they roll.

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