You gotta love Jews, but you’ve especially gotta love Jews on festivals – and Pesach just takes the biscuit (albeit a dry one.)
I pride myself on being a traditional Jew. I’m not shomer Shabbat and I don’t profess to be anything I’m not. I’d like to think that I live Judaism by its essence. Some may call this a cop out. As my kids say – “whatever.”
I’m lucky enough to work in Golders Green. It’s a great place for a Yiddische lass to work – last week on Purim it was colourful and vibrant. Lots of people were dressed up and kids were stopping cars so that the motorists could put money in their zedaka buckets. The only downside to working in Golders Green is that it’s not great for my figure. Gone are the days of kosher restaurants only selling salf beef sandwiches – now you can get anything. I speak from experience. I have always felt it is my duty as a Jew to patronise kosher establishments. It’s not been great for my figure, but one has to stick to one’s principles. And if an uncertainty has arisen during a meal and I have felt it necessary to return on another day, then so be it.
It’s still nearly a month until Pesach but of course the build up has begun. Supermarkets are advertising their cheap matza in an attempt to lure us in. As if we’re going to do our whole Pesach shop in a supermarket. Of course not , this would be far too simple. We’re Jews, we have to drive ourselves mad -contrasting and comparing and kvetching and schmetzing (I made up that last word, I kinda like it.)
You can get Kosher Le Pesach anything now… water, toothpaste, washing up liquid. I really do wonder what G-d is thinking of it all. I just hope he has a sense of humour.
I’ve made a start at home. As soon as I see the matza print ties in the shops in Golders Green, I know it’s time to start the clearout at home. So now for the next 3 weeks or so we have to eat chometz at every meal. This entails consuming all the contents of the freezer bought over the last year ‘to try’. You know the sort of things: “oh spring rolls with onion bhaji fillings, they sound nice.” They weren’t , and there’s three quarters of a packet left. Veggie burgers, schnitzels, rice stuffed with pasta – it’s all got to go before seder night. “No you can’t have a baked potato with cheese, you’ll be eating enough of that on Pesach. Have a cous cous waffle and baked beans.”
Other areas have to be cleared out apart from the kitchen – the bedrooms. It’s hard for me to take the moral highground on the state of my kids’ bedrooms as one phone call to Grandma will tell them that I was even worse. However, I keep my room very tidy now and have done ever since I started sharing it 18 years ago. The particular area of discontent is under my son’s bed. He is 11, a teenager in every way but age. If one can bear to go into the room (the haze of deodorant and hair ‘product’ is thick) one would see what I mean. The underbed area comes right across the floor. “Stuff” can no longer be stuffed under there. I have tried on many occasions to get him to tidy it up but obviously he has SOOO much homework to do and besides he still hasn’t decided which way to do his hair for tonight’s Bat Mitzvah party. (One Saturday he was texting me to negotiate a sleepover at his friend’s. The snow was already falling and we wanted to get him home early. “PLEEEEASE” he implored, “I’ll do anything, I’ll tidy under my bed.” Must find that text and check out my legal rights.)
So we stick to the basics of Pesach. We don’t eat bread, cereals, rice etc and we buy that yummy chocolate. One thing I do do (that reminds me of a Police song) is bake. There is even video evidence of me baking with my kids when they were really young. What a mum! (The film often cuts out inexplicably – maybe tempers were frayed more than I remember.) Out come the recipes for those childhood favourites of coconut pyramids and almond macaroons. Once again, a great opportunity to lose weight as there’s no pasta or rice (and restricted alcohol as you can’t get a bottle of Kosher Le Pesach wine for under a fiver) but no, I stuff my face with biscuits for eight days.
The kids will moan, I know they will…”why do we have to?” “if we do this why don’t we do this?”. The answer is always the same as the one given to me: “when you have your own home, you can do what you want.”
Chag Sameach, enjoy your cinnamon balls.