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Keeping Passover in College: A Reflection

A few weekends ago I went home for the weekend to join my family in a Sedar for the holiday Passover. If you do not know, Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the fact that Jews escaped enslavement in Egypt. To celebrate the holiday, families have Sedars, which are dinners in which the story of Passover is retold and then for eight days you do not eat food with yeast (and in some traditions beans, corn, and rice) in order to remember and relive the fact that Jews had to escape so quickly from Egypt they did not have time to let the bread rise, which formed Matzah, a yeastless bread.

When I came back to school I could have easily started to eat bread and given up on keeping Passover. It would have been really easy: my mom was no longer cooking Kosher for Passover meals and the options at Peirce were limited (although the Kosher section was very appreciated!), so why did I decide to do it?

I’m going to start with why I decided to go home. I got a lot of questions about this the week leading up because I was only going home for a weekend, which is not a very long time to go along way. And for just a dinner? That may seem silly, but to me it was really important. One of the most special things about this holiday is that it is a time for family to gather. With the exception of Thanksgiving, I rarely get together with my whole extended family and it is a nice time to do that. Sedar for me is not just about the retelling of story, it has more to do with being able to spend quality time with my family during a holiday that is important to us.

But, the importance of the holiday means more to me than just the Sedar dinners. I would not consider myself a religious person by any means and I don’t even really believe in God, but not eating bread was important to me. There were times when I complained about hunger and wanting pizza and my friends looked at me like I should just quit, but the reason behind not eating bread kept me going. Not eating bread reminds me that my people were once slaves and it reminds me of my heritage. When I keep Passover, I think about how my great-grandparents, just arriving to America, kept Passover. When I keep Passover, I think about how Jews in Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany attempted to keep Passover, despite a lack of food already. When I keep Passover, I think about how there are still oppressed people today and how there are still people who are hungry daily.

Post-Passover feels

In the grand scheme of things changing my diet for eight days is not hard, it was something that was doable and made me really reconsider my heritage and my privilege. I’m privileged that after eight days I was able to eat as much food as I wanted again—a privilege I recognize others do not have. Overall, the holiday meant less to me in the religious aspect and more in the cultural aspect. I think tradition is a really beautiful thing, and to know that my ancestors and my ancestor’s ancestors have kept this tradition that I participated in this year makes me really proud.

 

Image Credit: The JC, Elite Daily

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