Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Shep Guide to Passover

I just got back from four days back home for joint Passover-Easter celebrations. It seems to me that these two holidays coincide more and more regularly, which is really annoying if you're partial to ham and Peeps under normal circumstances, but want to try to at least make an appearance of keeping the holiday. Complicating matters is the fact that I'm the only one in the household that tries to go the whole eight days. I'm not a terribly picky eater by nature, so it kinda pains me to be the one who's all "Umm...actually, I can't eat this..." in my own house. Even though the Family Shep is crazy supportive, I still feel a little obnoxious.

Which is not to imply that I'm anyone's role model. I do my best this time of year, but it's rare that I go the full eight days. And something tells me that my code to following Passover may not jibe exactly with even Reform Judaism's handbook. To codify things a bit, this is the Shep Guide to Passover:

  • For the basics, look to the Ashkenazi (Eastern European) rules: no leavened bread, no rice, no corn, no legumes. I know that they didn't have corn in ancient Egypt, but this has been hammered home to me repeatedly, and even though I didn't quite understand my rabbi when she tried to explain it to me, it seems like this be the deal. So no corn syrup. Which pretty much rules out 95 percent of the supermarket, and 98 percent of everything in this world that is delicious. Yes, I know Sephardic Jews are a bit more lenient, but there ain't no way red-headed pasty Mcgee here is passing for Middle Eastern or Spanish, so don't even try.

  • Even though I'm a bacon cheeseburger Jew the rest of the year, that must cease for a while. Put. The pork rinds. Down. And no Easter ham if the holidays' paths cross. You get lamb, which is just as delicious.

  • Some families get rid of all no-no foods from their home. Considering I just devoured a roast I found in the freezer that said "use by Feb 2007" because I couldn't bear to waste it, that's not happening.

  • Diet Coke and McDonald's fries are totally acceptable, mainly because I have yet to hear a valid argument as to why they're not. If you happen to know one, kindly keep it to yourself, as that would really mess with my chi.

  • There are mitigating circumstances to breaking Passover. Namely, if you're on spring break somewhere like Wales or Ireland, just give it up. It ain't happening. They're not exactly flush with Manishewitz there. You can work it out with Yahweh on your own time.

  • Also, if your dad prepares his famous "cherry stuff" dessert for PassEaster dinner, forgetting that the Nilla wafers and Cool Whip therein are verboten, you can have a serving. You don't want to hurt his feelings. And it's awesome.

  • By the same token, if you're meeting your boyfriend's parents for the first time, and they're not hip to the whole thing, you are within your rights to try to educate them, but if a major portion of the meal is out of bounds, eat the damn lasagna. Unless of course you get a premonition that your bf will turn out to be a lying, thieving sack of shit. In that case, you not only should make them feel guilty for putting you in the same room as pasta, but you should really Jew it up way, way more than normal and totally freak 'em out. Then run like hell.

  • If you're catching your friend's gig at Catholic University, and you are accidentally mistaken for his manager or publicist or some damn thing, and they thrust a coupon for a free meal at the student union in your hand, by God you will use that coupon no matter what goyishe fare they have to offer. Free food is free food.

  • The rules on alcohol are a little fuzzy, so it's best to avoid it altogether. Unless someone buys you a drink. Or if it's your turn to buy rounds. Or if you're already so drunk from other people buying you drinks, that you're having trouble keeping track of what city you're in, let alone what the Talmud says. Then rock on.
So that's it, basically. It's not terribly hard. And now, if I wind up going to hell, you'll know exactly why. Hag sameach.

UPDATE And if you do make it all eight days, you get to go to Five Guys, burst in, and scream "I need a Little Bacon Cheeseburger right the hell NOW." And then you win.