Saturday is Passover, or what we lapsed Catholics call, Jewish Easter.
My friend Max, is preparing for her Seder (Passover ceremonial dinner), like nobody’s business starting with matzoh, the Jimmy Cagney of breads, tart but tasty from an old world, orthodox Brooklyn bakery…gilfilte fish pate, leek and potato soup, roasted chicken with rosemary in a honey glaze, balsamic mixed vegetable pie, wild mushrooms (kinda like Max) and almonds in a simmering veal sauce, apple kugel and homemade macaroons, sponge cake with fresh strawberries topped with vanilla ice-cream for dessert, with a wine list that would curl your hair.
I told her she should sell tickets.
She kindly invited me, but did her the favor by saying no. Would you want Helen Keller at your table? What…what…WHAT??? Trust me, you would not. But I did say I was open for leftovers.
I don’t only long to be Jewish because of the food, though Max is very Italian the way she cooks, just with a mezuzah outside her door, but for their passionate commitment. You see it in families as they stroll in their Saturday best up the avenue. Shabbats, celebrated on Saturday, is their Sunday they relish as a true day of reverence and rest. Christians, on the other hand, approach all Sundays and holidays like a job, attending mass because they should. Cooking for others because it’s expected. I know, I used to be one.
Jews appear to have more genetic joy, and that’s what I’m after.
Could it be their history that makes them so? I know what you’re thinking…what could trump the crucifixion? Not sure, but every time I see the script at the top of Park Avenue Synagogue that reads:
IN MEMORY OF THE ONE MILLION CHILDREN WHO PERISHED IN THE HOLOCAUST…
I fold my holy cards.
I was in love with a Jewish man who, despite his guitar and tattoos, observed all rituals. Not what you’d expect from a rock in roller, but this is what I’ve learned. To be born Jewish is to be as they say, one of God’s chosen people.
As he’d say the prayers, his head bowed, I too wanted to be chosen, by him mostly…
but alas, I was only the designated Shiksa sitting at the table.