Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Passover Dilemma

Yesterday I realized Passover was upon me and I was unprepared. To be honest, I’m always unprepared for Passover. My husband is Jewish. I am not, so when it comes to the Jewish holidays I’m always playing catch up.

When I dragged my husband away from the gritty streets of NYC to the rainy streets of PDX I probably should have given more thought to my general unpreparedness to host Jewish holidays but I didn’t. No longer would we be able to be guests at the Passovers of people who actually knew what they were doing. Mrs. Garbin, remember how you told me to pay attention so someday I could host my own? I really should have listened to you.

It wasn’t until our first Passover in Portland that I realized (gasp) the holiday was near and we had nowhere to go. I thought of Mrs. Garbin and decided to host my first Seder dinner. The first order of business was to purchase the Haggadah which gives specific instructions on the religious part of the dinner. I read it, highlighted it and handed it to my husband.

“What’s this?” he asked. I should have known I was in trouble but I persevered.

The highlights of that first Portland Seder were as follows:

-My husband’s observation he was the only Jew in attendance;
-the afikomen hunt (“honey, why are there Matzoh crackers scattered all over the dining room?”); and
-Child #1’s repeated assertions that “Daddy’s not Jewish, he’s black”. We’re not sure why but Child #1 has long been convinced that her father is African American which would be fine if he was, but, you know, he’s not.

Anyway, it turns out that I spent the first night of Passover 2011 watching Glee with my husband. I’ll be hosting an Easter brunch this Sunday but I’m considering serving brisket and matzoh ball soup.


Hart Johnson said...


You asked me yesterday if my book was in Portland, and yes--that is Portland, circa 1988 (needs to be before the fall of the wall in Europe for reasons of the stolent art), but that is the year I moved there, soo--I was there from 1988-2000 and then we moved east for reasons that sometimes seem irrational now, but many of my friends and all my husband's family are still in PDX.

AND, my college boyfriend was Jewish, so I spent a couple Seders as the Shiksa at the table. These Seder's were usually held at said boyfriend's fraternity, all of the Jews (well, most) at UO from California. That is not to say there aren't any in Portland, but there aren't MANY. Now if there was a holiday for Vegans...

I hope you had fun with it! You child thinking your husband is black is pretty funny. (that may also be a Portland anomoly--I remember walking into a McDonald's when my daughter was 2 and barely talking and she pointed out the 'basketball man' (we apparently didn't have any tall black men in our daily lives...)

Johanna Garth said...

Hi Hart,

Good to see you here and hear you still have a Portland connection.

I think someone told me recently that their synagogue had a class specifically for people like me although I'm pretty sure it wasn't called Shiksa Education. I think if it had been called that I would have made the time to drag myself over to the west side!

Unknown said...

...well, I'm not married to a Jewish man, but half my family (truly, I just counted) is Jewish and the other half is Catholic. AND the best advice I ever got for making a dinner came from my jewish grandmother named Sadie (who renamed herself Sydney-the same name as her husband).
"I have the best recipe for any dinner.....reservations!"
(new follower sent over by your cousin Chris!)

Johanna Garth said...

Thanks Lizy and welcome! Your Jewish grandmother sounds exactly like my Catholic grandmother (the one I share with Chris). At 91, she still knows all the restaurants in town and which ones are closed on Mondays ;)