food as history

Tonight I attended my first ever Passover Seder meal, hosted by one of the staff at the Farm, who is herself Jewish--I say this last part because the only Seder meals I ever knew of (before coming to NE) were hosted at my church, which is Catholic. So, I feel like this meal was particularly meaningful.

We gathered. We heard the story of why the Passover meal happens and is still relevant today. Passages from the Haggadah were read, with stops between to eat or drink. Food is central to this celebration, as each thing consumed represents part of the story; reminders of the history of the Jew's flight from slavery. Traditionally consumed are:
  • "Matzoh: Three unleavened matzohs are placed within the folds of a napkin as a reminder of the haste with which the Israelites fled Egypt, leaving no time for dough to rise. Two are consumed during the service, and one (the Aftkomen), is spirited away and hidden during the ceremony to be later found as a prize
  • Charoses: a mixture of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon, as a reminder of the mortar used by the Jews in the construction of buildings as slaves
  • Beitzah: a roasted egg, as a symbol of life and the perpetuation of existence
  • Karpas: a vegetable, preferably parsley or celery, representing hope and redemption; served with a bowl of salted water to represent the tears shed
  • Zeroah: traditionally a piece of roasted lamb shankbone, symbolizing the paschal sacrificial offering
  • Wine: four glasses of wine are consumed during the service to represent the four-fold promise of redemption, with a special glass left"
**The bullet point information came from here.

After the traditional foods were consumed, we were served a meal including chicken, coconut stew and roasted potatoes.

I think what was most interesting to me is, that in sharing the Seder meal, I was able to see how our two faiths overlap; this week is equally important to Christians as we prepare for the death and resurrection of Christ. A night well spent. If you ever get the chance, go.


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