Even a non-practising Jew who is determined that she is absolutely agnostic celebrates Pesach (although it is partly because she must).
Every year, her parents gather friends and sometimes a new addition or two for an evening of one of the most important telling of tales in the Jewish culture – the story of the exodus. It is always accompanied by slightly drunken singing which never fails to be sung in different tunes, loudly (because there are different versions for Ashkenazi and Sepharadi Jews, and then there are the Moroccan and all the rest…all with a different tune, singing at the same time), and explanations for the passages said in Hebrew, and explanations for the passages recited in English,even though everyone understands those.
It is always at least three hours before food gets eaten.
But that isn’t the worst of it – the worst of it is the knowledge that she is getting off lightly – that this is the quick’n’easy version of Pesach – that over in Israel, her poor, starving cousins are being held at bay for a further two hours at least, while the entire Haggada is recited, along with mournful songs that are keened in the orthodox way.
The purpose of Pesach is a very important one, if slightly skewed. It is to tell a story. This is a good thing, a vital thing; to pass on the knowledge and the details of the story onto the next generation, who have a crucial role in the telling of the Haggada. However, the story that is being told…well, essentially, it is all about the Jewish suffering throughout the ages. And each generation is, at the end, meant to discuss more contemporary sufferings.
Which, when you think about it, is not an especially good way to celebrate an event, and is slightly masochistic in that it reminds us mostly of negative things.
But the food is always good. (So maybe things even out a bit, because in the Jewish culture, everything is about food too)
If you celebrated Easter, or Pesach, whether a ‘real’ one with lengthy food deprivation or not,
I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, and on the festival itself.
Let’s call me Lily
btw, did you know that Easter is based on the lunar calendar, which is also the traditional Israeli calendar (that is still used among the orthodox community and others, rather than the Gregarian one that most Western countries use), which is why they are usually at the same time?