Passover：A Jewish Tradition
One of my favorite holidays is Passover. Passover is one of the most important Jewish Holidays. Passover is held in the spring in but the exact date changes from year to year. Passover celebrates Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt. In ancient times, the Jews were slaves in Egypt. The Egyptian pharaoh did not want to free the Jewish slaves. According to the story, God sent 10 plagues to Egypt to force the pharaoh to let the Jews go.
Passover is celebrated with a big family dinner. During the dinner the family reads the Passover story while eating different dishes. Each dish has a meaning related to the story. For example, we eat bitter herbs dipped in salt water to represent the bitterness and tears of slavery.
One important food for Passover is Matzo(マッツァー). Matzo is like a cracker. A special piece of matzo is called the “afikoman”(アフィコーメン). The afikoman is the last dish of the meal and the meal cannot end until everybody has eaten a piece of the afikoman. During the meal, children will steal and hide the afikoman, and so parents must pay their children money to get it back so that the meal can end. When a Jewish child turns 13 they are no longer considered children so I was sad that I could no longer get money from stealing the afikoman.
My favorite Passover dish is Matzo ball soup. It is a chicken soup with a ball made from crushed matzo, egg, water, and oil. It is difficult to find Jewish food in Tokyo but I found a restaurant, “Wise Son’s Deli”, which serves Matzo ball soup. The restaurant is in the Marunouchi Building near Tokyo Station. The soup at the deli is ok but the soup my family makes is better.
A dish I never liked was gefilta (ゲフィルテ) fish. It is pickled white fish. When I was a child I hated the smell and I still find it disgusting. I always skip eating gefilta during the meal. My mother, on the other hand, loves it and eats it with sauerkraut all year long, not just for Passover.
An important part of Jewish culture is drinking wine. Wine is a symbol of a good harvest and of wealth. During Passover we drink three glasses of wine. When I was a child we had some tiny wine glasses, smaller than shot glasses, and I drank three “glasses” of wine.
The youngest child in the family must memorize 4 questions to ask the adults. The difficult part is that the four questions are not in English; they are in Hebrew (the ancient Jewish language). When I was a child I had to repeat the questions many times before I could ask the questions. I still remember the first question in Hebrew but I have forgotten the rest.
Towards the end of the night we eat sweets and sing songs. My favorite Passover sweets are an orange flavored jelly in chocolate and meringue cookies. After the afikoman was eaten everybody would go home and the meal would end. I was always very full at the end of the night from eating so much delicious food.
slave (n) – someone who is owned by someone else and has to work for them for free
plague (n) – a large number of something unpleasant that causes a lot of damage
bitter (adj.) – having a strong and often unpleasant flavor that is the opposite of sweet
crush (v) – to press something so hard that it is made flat or broken into pieces
pickled (adj.) – put into vinegar or salt water for a long time so that it has a sour taste