Friday, April 22, 2011


Passover is the story of how the Jews fled Egypt to escape the tyranny of the pharaoh in 1312 BC.  They had to leave so quickly after the tenth plague that they didn't have time to let their bread rise.  So they baked it unleavened, resulting in matzo. The first fast food...who knew?

Pesach, as the holiday is in known in Hebrew, has arrived and with it has come the bright boxes of giant crackers.  If you have never had matzo, it is almost like a huge saltine that takes forever to go stale.  I love crackers, in fact as a decendant of a Florida Pioneer family I have even been told that I am "of cracker stock." Crackers are a common snack for our family and matzo is one of our favorites.  Its only downside is that like a saltine it is very fragile, making it terribly crummy.

Chef is a member of the Tribe, as we attempted to read the Haggadah with our two year old, following the rituals that accompany the text.  The matzo is an essential aspect of the Seder meal, the three sheets of bread are usually wrapped in fabric and placed centrally in the table.  The middle piece, called the aifkomen is broken and then hidden for the children to go find it.  The child that finds it receives a reward. We hid our afikomen for Lil' Bit to hunt, but this little doe-eyed rascal sniffed it out first.

The Haggadah is a long text with many rituals, and while it goes into detail about most rituals, the hiding of the matzo is never specified.  It turns out that it is hidden solely for the purpose of waking kids out of their daze from having to sit at the table in prayer for so long.   I have to say it worked for Lil' Bit.

As we celebrated our Seder this year, our first at our home,  just our little tribe of four, I began to think about the story of Egypt. Three thousand years ago its people stood up against totalitarianism, and with its recent revolution the cycle of history continues.  Then it was the Jews, and this year it was Egyptian Christians and the Muslims together planting a slap on face of tyranny.

Matzo, like all feast foods, brings people together.  Biblical scholars see Moses, Muhammad, and Jesus as three of God's most powerful prophets on Earth.  I think if the three men were here today, they would agree that it would do all of humanity some good to break bread together.

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