Tuesday, April 03, 2007


"Where are you gonna be for the Seder"? asked my brother, who has never invited me or my family to his seder in the 11 years we've been here (and he won't come to my place outside Jerusalem because he likes to invite his 1,875,082 friends over to his).

"By friends"

"Which friends?"

Now he's sounding like my nosy sister. It's none of his business "which friends" because he has no idea who my friends are. He probably thought I'm going to hang out at a Moslem seder. Even though Moslems don't make a seder, he is totally sure that if there was ever gonna be one Moslem family making one, I was sure to find it.

But I couldn't tell him "which friends" because I wasn't sure he'd understand. He'd already made peace with the fact that his nutty baby sister has Moslem and Christian friends. But he still hasn't got a clue that I have a bunch of Messianic Jewish friends as well. That fact is a bit harder for me to "let out of the closet" than anything else. It's akin to bringing home to your Ku Klux Klan papa in the 1960s deep south - a black boyfriend. It's just not done. And I think I'm gonna have alot of 'splaining to do when I have my housewarming party in a few weeks and invite everyone over.

So rather than have a seder with my family alone - which can be fun and depressing all at the same time - I opted to go to our messianic Jewish friends' seder because well

1. I enjoy their company
2. Hubby likes them (an even bigger and rarer feat)
3. The food will be delicious
4. I won't have to do all the cooking and shopping
5. A new experience for me to write about

I didn't have a problem telling all my friends at work where I'm going, though it did cause a lot of raised eyebrows. Messianic Jews are a puzzlement to other "normal" Jews. "Are they Christians?" the co-workers ask. "No, they believe in Jesus as the Messiah, but they are traditional and very spiritual people" I explained. The spiritual aspect is what attracted me to them. Most Jews steer clear of them, fearing their missionary-type agendas - but I look at these people as displaced Jews, not fitting in anywhere in the spectrum, and knowing that the main difference between them and most Jews is only on the identity of who the messiah is. But our commonality is that we both would really like a messiah to come and redeem us. Who wouldn't. Hubby thinks the messianic age is full of fun - like sex and drugs and rock-n-roll. I'm thinking "wow, there'll be no impurity in the world, and I'll be able to have my bacon and eggs again together with spaghetti and clam sauce and fried shrimps." (this based on the chassidic belief that when the messiah comes and there'll be no impurity in the world, animals which were once considered impure will become pure and we can enjoy eating them).

Although I tend to now to find it difficult to believe that any one person can be the messiah and save the world from itself and from its politicians, because how will people accept as a messiah someone who is different from them? Let's say Jesus comes back tomorrow and wanders around Jerusalem, he'd be put straight into Herzog Hospital in the Jerusalem Syndrome department. Think about it. So I have come to the conclusion that I'll have to just wait and see. I've also been thinking that although I would love a messiah to come and save us from our politicians and global warming and nuclear wars, and high taxes, I don't think one person can do it. It would take a real miracle. I tend to think we have to bring that kind of messianic age ourselves, by putting down our weapons, being good and righteous to each other and all the rest of that shit. Then we can usher in a wonderful messianic age all by ourselves and wouldn't have to kill each other over who is the real messiah...

Packing up for the seder, I brought my share of food, wine, grapejuice, hand-made matzot that looked like the kind of matzot the Israelites baked when they ran out of Egypt 4700 years ago, which brought alot of "ooohs and ahhhs" from my hosts because they never saw anything like it before and I grated real white root horseradish for the bitter herbs instead of having the one in the jars. They did go according to the Haggadah for the most part and only added in a few messianic things a couple of times - like instead of "by sanctifying us with your commandments" it was "by sanctifying us with your messiah". I looked through my own haggadah "The Holistic Haggadah" and circled the commonalities about the messiah that I could contribute -like the afikoman representing the redemption, etc. The leader of the seder was joyful that I brought it up and explained that the 3 matzot and the hiding and subsequent finding of the broken middle piece (the afikoman) - where the finder, usually a child - gets a prize - was a sign of the messiah's coming. The seder and explanations were all done in Hebrew, and there was acoustic guitar accompaniment for the Hallel part of the seder. During the mention of the 10 plagues, their teen kids threw plastic plagues on all of us - frogs, bugs,spiders, etc. and for the hail part, (real) pink and white marshmallows. It was a lively and fun seder and lasted for 6 hours. It was already 1:30 a.m. and I smirked at Hubby who said beforehand that he was only gonna stay until 10:00 p.m. We shared all the leftovers and I ended up with three times as much to take home than what I brought.

Next morning my son and I woke up around 10:00 a.m - the rest of the clan were still fast asleep.

"They did it differently than others didn't they?" asked my son.

I braced myself for alot of explaining to do.

"Why do YOU think it was so different?"

"Because they didn't say all of the parts of the haggadah"

"Oh. And I breathed a sigh of relief as I bit into a slice of the ancient-looking hand-made matzah smothered in butter.

1 comment:

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