~Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Chosen People

"Did you know giraffes are kosher?"

"What?" Abraham asked.

"Yeah, they meet the requirements: hooves and herbivores. But it says here that giraffes are difficult to restrain." We chuckled. I turned away from my phone and rolled over in bed and looked at him. "Did you know it is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole in the city? It's one of those weird laws that was never taken off the books."

***

Abraham and I have been invited to several events in April: opening day at the baseball field, a 5k that finishes at the bar, etc. He meets my eyes and quickly and subtly shakes his head no. It takes me a moment to realize why. It's Passover.

What I know about Passover, I learned in a comment from heisschic:

during my second passover with the boy (he's jewish, i am not), he was studying for finals so i made dinner. oh i went all. out. portabella mushrooms with fancy shmancy toppings, blah blah blah. completely kosher for passover. i also made drinks. he was on a gin kick, so i made a lemonade gin mix, but wouldnt tell him what was in it until he tasted it. gin is a grain alcohol. can't have anything made of or distilled from grains during passover. he wasn't upset- explained it to me simply and put the drink aside. i went into the bathroom and cried.

***

As the Jewish holidays occur, Abraham explains them to me in a simple sentence or two. "Passover is when the first borns were passed over in Egypt."

"Oh, one of the ten plagues? With the blood on the front door?"

"Exactly."

I scrunched my face. I thought we already talked about the ten plagues? I remember sitting in my bathtub and trying to recount them with him. We could only remember three: locusts, frogs and the first born.

"I thought the ten plagues was Hanukkah?" I asked. We were sitting in my bathtub because it was cold out. It had to have been December/Hanukkah.

"No Hanukkah is a happy holiday."

It strikes me as weird that a religion has both happy and somber holidays. As I thought about it, I guess Christianity does too: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

I remember I had to be the acolyte one year for the Good Friday service. As the pastor read the Bible and described Jesus' Crucifixion, I was the one who had to walk to the stage and snuff out each of the four candles that symbolized his life. It was supposed to be an honor, but I felt so guilty as I extinguished the final candle that left the church in darkness. It was like I killed Jesus myself. So yes, Christianity has somber moments too.

***

Passover is approaching and Abraham will have stricter dietary requirements. All I know is to not feed him gin.

"We eat lots of matzo," he tells me.

"Until a couple of years ago, I thought matzo ball soup was mozzarella ball soup. Like with a big hunk of mozzarella in it and broth. Because fresh mozzarella comes as a ball."

He laughed at me. Really laughed. I swatted him.

"There aren't any Jews in the South!" I half yelled at him.

"Matzo is unleavened bread. It's crunchy like a cracker and it's gross. It's what the Jews ate as they fled Egypt. They couldn't wait for the bread to rise."

Tired of being so ignorant when it comes to this stuff, I picked up my phone and looked up Passover meals. As if this wasn't confusing enough, it turns out there are different types of Jews with different dietary restrictions during Passover.

"This type of Jew eats rice."

"That's not me. I'm Ashkenazi."

"You make up 80% of the world's Jewish population," I read. "'During the 20th century in the United States, Ashkenazi Jews represented approximately 3% of the population, but won 27% of the U.S. Nobel prizes.'" I turned and looked at him, "Is that why you're the Chosen People?"

"Yep," he chuckled.

That's how I flipped through pages and ending up learning that giraffes are kosher. They have the right kind of hooves, they don't eat other animals and their milk curdles, if you can manage to milk a giraffe.

Rabbits aren't kosher because they don't have hooves. Horses have hooves and don't eat other animals, but they don't have the right kind of hooves. Pigs aren't kosher, not because of their feet like I originally thought, but because they will eat meat and have stomachs to process the meat like dogs and humans.

***

"I like that you are interested in this," he says to me quietly as he kisses my shoulder.

He's pleased. Like I said, there aren't many Jews in the South. His friends tease him pretty mercilessly. He's used to shrugging it off, not teaching others like he is to me.

10 comments:

Dawn said...

Worst Jewish holiday: Yom Kippur, when you can't eat from sundown to sundown (24 hours).

Second-worst Jewish holiday: Passover, when this bread lover can't eat bread for more than a week. Actually, this may be the worst holiday. At least you can sleep through Yom Kippur. UGH! Wake me when Passover is (pass)OVER!

The Singleship said...

Chocolate-covered matzo and those kosher macaroons they make for Passover are SOOOOOOO good. I also like matzo pizza even though I do agree that generally matzo is gross (you just have to cover it with delicious things!!)

B.o.b said...

Recently started reading your blog , and i find it riveting thank you for sharing.

Dawn said...

Oh, Singleship, you're right -- chocolate-covered matzoh is amaaaaazing.

(Here's some irony for you: For the entire week AFTER Passover, I crave matzoh. Stupid.)

heisschic said...

anyone else have the (what i've come to think of as) standard dinner conversation at the beginning of passover? how matzoh *ahem* stops you up if you over-indulge? or is that just the bf's family?



(thanks for the mention- that's one of my favorite passover stories ;) )

laniebelluz said...

Hey, I nominated you for the TMI award. Here’s the link: http://laniebelluz.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/tmi-friday/

propertyofj said...

Sigh, you two are so sweet. It makes my heart happy.

The Mad Inscriber said...

Feel free to ask me Passover related questions. God knows my yeshiva education shouldn't go completely to waste...

ames said...

I came across your blog and laughed because I'm doing the SAME EXACT THING with my jewish boyfriend. I haven't a clue about a lot of the jewish culture. I once almost poured red wine into his buddy's kosher wine glasses. Apparently, some conservative jews would throw said glasses out! Mazel Tov.

Red Shoes said...

LMAO!!! Found this through Bathwater... This is great!

~shoes~

 

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