And this day shall become a memorial for you, and you shall observe it as a festival for the L-RD, for your generations, as an eternal decree shall you observe it. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove the leaven from your homes ... you shall guard the unleavened bread, because on this very day I will take you out of the land of Egypt; you shall observe this day for your generations as an eternal decree. - Exodus 12:14-17Every year our family gathers to celebrate Passover. I spent the better part of this past weekend cleaning out my kitchen from top to bottom. I went through ALL of my cabinets and got rid of the forgotten stuff hidden way in the back and wiped down all the insides. I cleaned my oven and all the counters and appliances. I emptied out the entire refrigerator and cleaned that out as well. I banished the bread machine and toaster from the kitchen because we won't be needing them for the next week. I set aside one whole cabinet just for the foods permitted to be eaten during this holiday, and the other cabinets will not be touched.
We are not Orthodox Jewish, but we do our best in the spirit of the holiday. So for the duration of the holiday we will only eat those foods that are permitted. That means nothing with leavening, and no beans, no rice, no grains, no corn, no pasta. I will instead use special flour made from matzah - which is an unleavened bread. I'll also use lots of potatoes and yams. There will be lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and wonderful family recipes handed down from my mother and her mother and her mother, as well as those from my mother-in-law and her family.
Aside from the religious aspect of getting rid of "chometz" (that is anything with forbidden ingredients for Passover) it is for me a ritual of Spring cleaning. It's a lot of work but I actually look forward to having this time to go through everything in my kitchen and clean and rearrange. I feel a real sense of accomplishment when it is done. Besides the kitchen, the whole house gets cleaned and for me there is such a sense of renewal and beginning a new season.
Monday I spent the entire day cooking ... which I really enjoyed. All of the holiday foods are yummy and spur memories of years past. We read through the Haggadah and relived the Exodus from Egypt. We laughed, we sang and we conversed. It is always a wonderful family observance. The above picture was our Seder plate which has all of the symbols of the meal. The holiday table always looks so beautiful. More beautiful though, are the family members who sit around it, and those who could not be with us because of long distance or because they are no longer with us were certainly there in spirit.
For more information about the holiday of Passover - please do visit the Capitalist League.
If you observe this holiday I wish you a Happy Passover.
For everyone else who calls this "Holy Week", may you also share the joy of family and good food, and a chance to renew the spirit and to take the time to thank our Creator for bringing us all to this season in our lives.
After all, this is what it is really about isn't it?