What’s Matzah, Anyway?

Being Jewish during Passover at EHS.

At sundown on Monday, you can bet that all the Jewish people in Edina were sitting down to begin the long celebration of Passover. One of the most important holidays in the Jewish religion, Passover recounts the exodus from slavery of the Jewish peoples from Egypt and the Pharaoh’s harsh rule. There are many symbolic traditions that Jewish people do during the week of Passover including having friends and family over, retelling the story of the escape from Egypt in full detail, and lastly and most well-known, renouncing all foods with wheat and that are leavened from our diets.

Unfortunately, this April holiday can fall on any week based on the lunar calendar, so Passover isn’t always over spring break, which makes the holiday a bit harder to observe.

Setting aside time to see family and friends and having a nice sit-down meal is a great opportunity”

First, during the first two nights of Passover, families and friends gather together to tell the story of the holiday, say multiple prayers and blessings, and finally, have a long and elaborate meal. Usually starting at around 7:30-8:00 p.m., these gatherings can last anywhere from two to five hours. On a busy school night, celebrating to the fullest is not always doable if one wishes to also sleep. While it is considered an excused absence due to religious purposes, missing school two nights in a row is extremely difficult, so many, myself included, decide to tough it out and trudge through the halls the next morning.

The most frustrating part of celebrating Passover at school, however, is keeping with the dietary restrictions. Eating lunch in the cafeteria across from your friend who is enjoying delicious pasta is the most difficult. Especially when your lunch tray consists of a dry salad without croutons and a carton of milk. Almost everything in the lunch room contains prohibited ingredients, even some salads with breaded chicken. To avoid the lack of Passover-approved food from the cafeteria, you can bring your own lunch. Do you want to try some dry, unleavened bread? Matzah is the staple of the week during passover and is mixed in with just about everything. A week doesn’t seem long until you’ve spent that week consuming nothing but cardboard flavored matzah.

Don’t get me wrong though, I really do enjoy Passover. Setting aside time to see family and friends and having a nice sit-down meal is a great opportunity to slow down and appreciate each other and celebrate our shared culture. One thing that Jews do exceptionally well is to make sure that our story, the story of the Jewish people, doesn’t fade. I look forward to the warm feeling I get sitting around the table and recounting old Passover memories…even if I do have a Chemistry test the next morning.