Tonight at sundown begins Passover, perhaps the raddest Jewish holiday of them all.
Sure, Chanukah gets all the attention because of its proximity to Christmas (thus leading to Jewsmas, our creation, but that’s another story). However, we have always been partial to Passover.
Why? So glad you asked.
Passover is a celebration of the Jews escape from slavery in Egypt, throwing off the shackles of oppression and becoming a free people again. And the story isn’t a slow, grinding process of “free” elections orchestrated by a foreign power or emancipation by fiat of an industrial-state federalist president seeking to break the secessionist ambitions of his agrarian sister states.
No, it’s the story of the son of poor slaves, adopted by the daughter of a dictator, slaying an evil overseer, fleeing, returning, and stuttering. It’s the story of blood and frogs raining down from heaven, staffs turning into serpents, writing on the wall, boils and locusts, fire, hail, and gnats!
Yes, gnats. Look, if that doesn’t strike fear into your heart, you obviously haven’t been camping in the Northwest in June.
So anyway, nine plagues were visited on the Egyptians and each time, Pharaoh would agree to let the Jewish people go, and each time, after the plague passed, he’d change his mind. So finally, the Big Plague comes, nastiest of them all: the firstborn male in every family, man and beast, would be slain…except those with lamb’s blood marking the door, those would be “passed over” (thus, “Passover”).
Don’t worry, if that ever goes down again, Wallyhood will be sure to tip you off to the lamb’s blood trick in advance. Read the blog, people!
Anyway, you know the story, we don’t need to go through the whole thing, but seriously: seas parting, armies swallowed in their return, burning bushes, golden idols: they should make a movie out of it!
Oh wait, they did!
And the holiday itself? In Judaism, it’s considered an obligation to tell the story to the next generation, so that it will never be forgotten. So that’s what we do: the Passover Seder has everyone sit around the table and, as a group, tell each other the story of the exodus from Egypt. And as we do so, we re-live it symbolically: we eat matzoh to so that we know what it was like to have to flee before our bread could rise, we eat horseradish so that we can know suffering, and we drink wine because, well, what else would you do if you were just freed from 210 years of slavery?
Really, the only downside of the holiday is that you inevitably end up with a ton of extra matzoh. For this we offer two solutions.
The first is our family recipe for matzoh brie, which is something between scrambled eggs and french toast, but with matzoh:
- 4 pieces of matzoh
- 2 eggs
- Splash of milk
- Dash of salt
Put the matzoh in a mixing bowl and crush it by punching it until it’s in 1/2″ chunks. Fill the bowl with water and then immediately drain of water. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk and salt together. Toss the matzoh in the egg batter. Fry like you would scrambled eggs. Should be slightly crispy but moist. Serve with butter and real maple syrup. Go ahead, you can try it even if you’re not Jewish. Makes a great Easter brunch.
The second solution comes from Michelle Citrin and William Levin: