There are three boxes of Streit’s Passover 100% Whole Wheat Matzos on my kitchen counter. I don’t eat bread during Passover. I don’t eat any chametz (wheat, barley, spelt, oats or rye) for the eight days of the holiday. I’m not particularly observant, but eating matzo and creating a queer/feminist seder help me feel connected to my heritage and to other people who are struggling to be free.
The rule to “eat matzoh but nothing else made from flour” makes sense to me. My parents explained that we made matzo because we (the ancient Jews) were fleeing persecution and didn’t have the luxury of letting the bread dough rise and baking it in an oven. Once Moses set foot in the Red Sea there was no turning back. I understood it symbolically, but I wished that matzo tasted like a pancake instead of a burnt cracker. Continue reading →
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. The first night of Passover is next Monday. Donna and I are having eight friends over for seder. It is a feminist seder with an alternative Haggadah. I’m sorting through my recipes to decide what to cook. I’m sorting through how I am going to relate to being a transgender butch reading a lesbian-feminist Haggadah.
Second night seder is at BC and Ruth’s. It is a queer seder, with a lot of people I know from AIDS activism. I am more relaxed at it because I am not cooking. I bring one dish, home brined pickled salmon. It is easy to make; I just have to remember to start it five days in advance.
The Sinai Desert – Wikipedia
The Haggadah includes the retelling of the story of the Exodus. The story of Moses leading the Jews out of slavery, out of Egypt. It about their hesitation to leave, their doubts, and their impatience while wandering in the desert in search of the promised land. The rituals of Passover require us to experience Passover as if we personally went out of Egypt. It reminds us that liberation and transformation are possible. It reminds us that we are in the diaspora; we are still in the desert.
I am still searching for a place for myself within the Jewish tradition. I don’t want to make Aliyah to Israel or claim a birthright. I hated the gender rigidity of my synagogue and the language in the prayer-book. Yet I continue to experience myself as Jewish (cultural and culinary) despite distancing myself from mainstream Judaism and the state of Israel.
A few years ago, at second night seder, Richard challenged us to think about leaving our own Egypt. To whom, or to what, am I a slave? What does it mean to be free? From whom am I fleeing? Where am I trying to go? These are questions I’ve struggled with all year. My Egypt is not the Egypt of my ancestors; my Jerusalem is not an occupied city in contemporary Israel. Continue reading →