Liberation

Apr. 25th, 2017 08:50 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
I made the classic mistake with Passover this year, of getting worked up and stressed about the practicalities of it instead of preparing spiritually. Actually it all went completely fine, but it wasn't until the last day of the festival, when all the organization was over, that I actually remembered to feel joy and celebration for being free.

I was stressed because I didn't have time to do a thorough Pesach clean of my flat (which in fact I was only in for one day of the festival anyway), or find a way to kasher the kitchen in the house where I live part time with my non-Jewish husband. In the event it was fine, I didn't keep the mitzvah of having no chametz (leaven) in my home, but I was still able to eat suitable food and keep other aspects of the festival.

And I got nervous about bringing my partners and their family to my parents' seder for the first time, which in hindsight was completely unnecessary; my parents were just as welcoming and accepting as they always have been! My brother Screwy invited partners' youngest, Andreas, to come and play with just him the day before Pesach so that Andreas wouldn't have to deal with the whole crowd of 15 unfamiliar adults and an unfamiliar religious ceremony all at once. So I cycled out to Shelford with [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait, a long by my standards journey I've been meaning to try for ages. In fact it was easily within my capabilities, and I think I would have been fine cycling home too except we stayed later than intended and didn't have good bike lights, so we had to walk the last few miles.

The day itself was really quite companionable and relatively low stress, as preparing a Seder meal goes. My family have really got it down to a fine art now and we were able to catch up with eachother alongside doing all the cooking and washing up. And the ceremony was entirely wonderful, particularly because for the first time in years we had actual children present. I was unnecessarily nervous about that too, in case we had forgotten how to pitch a seder at 8yos, but of course it was entirely fine. Both Judith and my little cousin A were really interested and wanted to join in and ask all the questions. Screwy did a magnificent job of leading the service and making it interesting for both children and adults, old hands and new guests who had little or no experience of seder celebrations. Including an actual Syrian; I had worried he might be offended by a Syrian tried to kill my father or indeed by the tenor of a bunch of comfortably settled people talking about being refugees when he really is one, but instead he made jokes about how Laban's name sounds like the modern Arabic word for yoghurt. (Not actually a coincidence, both words are related to white.) Screwy's theme was about how human's relationship to God is very deeply a private relationship; there is obviously no higher authority to appeal to as with a public, legal relationship, we have to rely on God's mercy. There was, as always, masses of excellent food to keep us going through the theological debate, and the tradition was upheld of carrying on discussing even after the formal ceremony was over.

I was anxious about leading the community seder on second night too, because I felt I'd not had enough time to prepare. But again, it went really well and was appreciated by all present. I was sat next to one of our traditional non-Jewish guests, a Christian priest who asked a lot of questions based on his assumptions of how religion should work, but then didn't really listen to the answers that would have corrected his assumptions. For example, he didn't understand why an ordained rabbi among the guests, [personal profile] adam_in_rabbinical_school, would ask questions of me, a lay person. And I thought, this is a great opportunity to explain how ordination works, how a seder works etc, but he kept saying, well, since a rabbi is like a priest... On the positive side he did clearly acknowledge that what I do for the community is work, and to some extent seemed to treat me as a colleague in a way I rarely get from Christian ministers.

I absolutely crashed out as soon as the ceremony was over, though, I really quite suddenly felt not just tired, but ill. I spent the rest of the week with what felt like the latter part of a vicious cold, though I skipped the normal beginning stages. Which also got in the way of feeling celebratory and joyful. I had to work Wednesday and Thursday, and was really too ill to think clearly. Plus travelling home, I was so tired that I managed to leave my overnight bag on the train, and lost some things I really could have done without losing, including the remainder of my afikoman presents.

But anyway, the last bit of Pesach coincided with the Easter weekend, so I was able to take Friday more or less for recuperating, and [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait came over on Saturday to help me sort out preparation for our last night seder. Which I was also nervous about, though not as badly as last year when it was the first time I'd hosted a seder for my partners and I got into a state worrying about whether it would be perfect. In fact, this year just ran really smoothly. I gave up on trying to get identical copies of the hagaddah, partly because the only edition I have 6 copies of is a bit awkward to use because it's so badly typeset. In fact the old Roth haggadah was very popular indeed, in spite of its ridiculously old-fashioned language and bizarre midrash about how St Peter was a secret double agent who infiltrated Christianity to make it definitively incompatible with Judaism. Judith asked even more good questions than on the first night, and wasn't bored by attending two seders in the same week. And Andreas was really sensible about joining in with what he could cope with, and playing by himself when it dragged on too much. Also [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait made a scene of crossing the Red / Reed Sea out of jelly (the jelly, you see, was both red in colour and made out of carageenan from reeds) and matzah, and she and [personal profile] cjwatson sang a really lovely setting of the Song at the Sea to go with it. And nobody was too sad at being given chocolate instead of more original gifts. Really, the only thing that went wrong was that I didn't sufficiently explain when blessings were complete and it was time to drink each cup of wine.

Monday was just wonderful, though. That was when it really started to sink in that not only was I actually happy at being redeemed from slavery, but I am incredibly joyful and grateful to have such an excellent family. Both the ones I grew up with who are so great to celebrate Pesach with, and my family of choice who are incredibly supportive about joining in with my festivals and including me in theirs in a really respectful and non-pressurey way. We played D&D with [personal profile] jack GMing, something we've been meaning to do for ages and just not had time for, and it was really fun and relaxing.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-27 10:26 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
Apropos of nothing, my father sent me this article just now and I was wondering if you were planning to see it and/or had any thoughts: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/apr/26/medieval-jewish-genizah-papers-tell-vivid-stories-in-cambridge-exhibition

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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