Reflections on Easter and Passover

last_supper.jpg As a secular Jew married to a Catholic, I guess you could say that religion for me has always been a spectator sport. I do know that Easter is upon us,  so my catholic friends (yes, I mean those who embrace all things) celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with a holiday, whose name is derived from the name of a goddess associated with spring, hence all the chocolate fertility symbols (a patriarchal holiday with something for everyone). And this Christian holiday normally coincides with Passover because the Last Supper was a Passover meal, and we all know how that went.

Da Vinci Code aside, were it not for the 13 men gathered at that meal, no one would suffer from triskaidekaphobia and we could all buy 13th floor real estate (this despite the fact that 13 is a lucky number in China--hmmm). But when is Passover this year? And why is it Purim instead? These
questions are hard to navigate for someone who was taken out of Jewish day school the minute after she asked her parents whether there were only Jews in the world.

So, given my distance from all the ritualized fun, I have a few questions. Do they suck the egg out of the egg? How? And who has a steady enough hand to paint these fragile canvases? Or are these eggs all hardboiled? Or worse, are they plastic? Well, I suppose that's not worse, if these are filled with sugary, gummy, or chocolate treats. And for Passover enthusiasts, why aren't there five questions, the last one being, Why is this Seder taking so long?

kosherwine-w.jpg The last Seder to which I was invited (and given the questions I ask, you can see why I am not on more guest lists) sat 25 people. Because I am a NY transplant with no Seder-providing family out here, a student invited me. I brought my husband Mike, who is no slouch when it comes to handling alcohol (all that altar boy training, he tells me); and he perked up when I told him that the meal was preceded by a group recital of the Passover story with each part punctuated with little bowls of wine.

So there we were, many many gulps of wine later, the last to read at this huge table. Just as the prompts were headed our way, Mike leans into me like a tree falling (he's not a tiny guy) and tells me he's "hu-hu-hammered." Naturally, all that sugary sweet wine was not what he was expecting. Later, after the hangover dissapated, he said, That's why Jesus' first miracle was making wine because clearly the Jews had no idea about wine – only cough syrup should be cherry flavored!"

For me these holidays are magic, the way putting a glass to a wall and hearing the sounds next door are magic. They delight us by breaking up the daily sounds, smells, tastes, routines, and they both remind us and reassure us that time is passing.


Pamela Felcher is the English Department Chair at Hamilton High School's Music and Arts Magnet.