Saturday, April 3, 2010

Crib Note: What's Up with the Matzah?

Jews eat matzah during Passover. Instead of bread. For over a week. That's a long time for a carb-lover. Now I know why Jews are so manic about bagels -- boiled, crunchy on the outside, chewy in the center. They know what it's like to go without.

Matzah is unleavened bread. Basically a big cracker. Or, for St. Louis folks, kind of like Imo's Pizza... without the cheese (product), sauce and meat. Nothing to get excited about. Especially for a week.

During Passover, Jews forgo all foods with hametz -- basically anything leavened. Yes. Sadly this includes beer. Passover commemorates the Israelites Exodus from Egpyt and slavery. The story goes that the Israelites fled so quickly, their bread didn't have time to rise. Hence matzah. Eaten to remember the Exodus.

Shortly after Ben was born I started thinking more seriously about converting. Going from being a Methodist to a Jew is a tough nut to crack. For one thing, most Jewish services include a significant amount of Hebrew. Yikes. A new language. With new characters. Written backwards. Without vowels. And then there is the whole issue of resolving where the New Testament went.

Maybe I'll just stick with what I know.

That was until a running friend of mine told me about the family service at our temple. She has two older boys and encouraged me to start taking Ben to the weekly service. She said it was short and designed for children. Rabbis Susan and Randy would explain the Jewish concepts and rituals in very simple (think 5 year old) terms. Terms that even a 30-something Methodist would get. And I could come in my running clothes. Sold.

We still go. I went this morning -- in my running clothes. And Rabbi Susan explained what was up with the matzah. In 5-year old terms.

She said that matzah is bread without an ego. And that we eat it during Passover to remind ourselves that even if we are bullied we shouldn't bully back.

I get that. Maybe Ben got it too. Definitely easier to explain right now than Exodus, slavery and the plagues. And lot less scary.

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