As seen on Oprah

One of my favorite holidays is coming up. In fact, by the time you read this, it will only be two days away. That holiday is of course National Pancake Day. Well, actually no, that was last month; the holiday I am talking about is Passover. Since there are only approximately 68 Jews at Guilford, I bet a good number of you have little or no knowledge about the holiday. (This is, of course, not to say that people who are not Jewish know nothing about the holiday, but I mean, can you name the ten plagues? Neither can I and I should know.)Passover is the celebration of the Israelites and their exodus from the oppressive pharoah in Egypt (the whole story can be found in the section of the Torah called “Leviticus”). The Israelites escaped from the Egyptians after Moses parted the Red Sea, letting the Jewish people go through and drowning the enemies. Passover gets its name from the tenth plague, where the angel of death passed over any house with lamb’s blood on its doorway, sparing the first-born son.

Every year, Jewish people around the world have Sede’s that celebrate the holiday of Passover. I really love going to my family Seder back home in New Jersey. However this year I will not be able to go, for obvious reasons. So I thought I would tell you a bit about my family and its Passover Seder.

The Seder has always been held at my Aunt Dot and Uncle Joe’s house. Some things are different every year, but some things never really change. Some things that never change are the same vegetable soup that needs about three dozen tablespoons of salt and the extra table that is needed. This table is never balanced because the top is bigger than the actual table, and wobbles from side to another. Of course, this is where all the wine and relatives wearing white clothes sit.

My Uncle Joe has always led the service at the table before we eat. One of the most common things you will hear from the table is heckling. See, my family is rather impatient during the service because the service, for us, is something that stands in the way of eating. Common things heard around the table during the service are such comments as, “We don’t need to do that, skip it,” and, “What do you mean we do that every year? We never do that!” And of course, “The (really bad word) wine just fell on me.”

The dinner itself is always the highlight of the night for the family. There are always anywhere between 14–18 people at the Seder and, you would think, after all these years of having dinner, we would have passing food around the table down to an art form. Sadly, it never fails that every year, somebody seems to have a full plate and somebody else has only the asparagus. Of course everyone gets all the food they want and then some.

There is definitely no shortage of food; there is always plenty to go around. Dinner, as opposed to the service, is always really quiet for about the first ten minutes. I remember one year, at one point everyone appeared to be chewing in unison. The sound was something similar to what you hear on those National Geographic programs. (“Today a cheetah is let loose in a chicken coop.”)

Six hours later when dinner is over, it is time to find the Afikoman. The Afikoman is the piece of matzah that is hidden somewhere in the house. In a couple of years, my little cousins will start hunting for it, but for right now, the hunting involves just my sister and me. When I say hunting, I really do mean hunting; the search for the Afikoman is often the equivalent of Iwo Jima. Of course, I find it first and, of course, my sister is upset because I found it first and that I cheated. As I untie her from her chair, I calmly inform her that she is a big “poopy head” and that I won fair and square.

After that, it is normally the time to go home and drop my sister off at the hospital, because when she was searching for the matzah, she “accidentally” tripped. You say your good-byes and thank Aunt Dot for the great meal and the two pounds of salt in your stomach. Uncle Joe tells you to stay out of trouble, and you find Cousin Lee passed out in the corner after drinking too much Manischewitz wine, so you skip saying good-bye to him. You leave and plan on doing the same thing next year. Only this year, I will be here, so I will be doing something different. I certainly will miss the Seder back home; it’s one of a kind. I can almost hear it now; “This (colorful word often referring to the act of copulation) wine is never going to come out!”

(Shameless Plug: On April 8th, the Guilford College Hillel will be having a Passover Seder at 6:30 in the Walnut Room. It will be fun.)