Category: Jewish

The Belated Passover Seder Run-Down

Passover was about two weeks ago, and I suggested to my parents and sister and grandmother that they all come up to North Carolina, where my uncles and I live, and we all do Passover up here together.  I’ll do one night, I naively suggested, and my uncles would do another.  Somehow everyone agreed to this idea, and that’s how I found myself with the task of cooking the first night of Seder on a Friday night in early April.

I’m not going to bother explaining the terms Passover and Seder.  Other people have done it better than I can.  Just Google it.  I’m hoping that most of you know what these things are anyways, but I’m always surprised by how many people have never met a Jewish person, or how many people know nothing about Jewish culture.  What can I say, I grew up in Florida.

Anyways, doing Passover Seder is sort of like doing any other dinner party (which I have done), except not really.  Because you have to time the multiple courses of food to the end of the saying of various prayers and the reciting of various stories and the hopefully having of various discussions.  So you never exactly know when that food that is warming in the oven and hopefully not drying out at all will be served, because a Seder doesn’t really have a set end time.  Also, did I mention the multiple courses?

Anyways, I was doing just fine in my cooking of the food, and then my sink garbage disposal broke, and my sink started clogging, and that’s when my family arrived.  So that was fun!  Regardless all the food turned out just fine, and everyone seemed happy.  From what I could tell.

So here are some pictures of my family (maternal side only) assembled at my small-ish apartment for the first night of Seder.

An here are some pictures of my mother and uncles misbehaving themselves during the Seder.

That green thing my uncle is holding is one of our 10 Plagues, we’re all about fun representations of serious happenings.

And here is my dad, being exasperated by our relative’s antics.  That white thing he is wearing is a kittel, you probably remember me talking about it back in my post about Raffi and Rachel’s wedding.

Anyways, onto the food.


Marry Durham One Year Anniversary

On March 19th, 2011, a mass of Durhamites gathered on Rigsbee near Motorco and Fullsteam to marry Durham–to pledge to live a conscious, sustainable, community-focused, Durham-loving lifestyle.  I was not at Marry Durham because I was in D.C., visiting some friends.  Luckily, Marry Durham held its one-year anniversary this past Saturday, and I was able to attend.  Since Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day, the anniversary celebration had a green tinge to it, but for those of us think St. Patrick’s Day is dumb (truly, it is the frattiest and bro-iest “holiday” ever) the event thankfully had more of a Durham feeling than a frat-boy Irish feeling.

We arrived a little late, and so missed the parade and the brief vow renewal service.  However, we got there in time to grab a pretzel from Cafe Prost (a new-ish food truck that does good, fresh soft pretzels) to see the klezmer band Freylach Time play at Fullsteam.  Klezmer is the music you associate with traditional Jewish celebrations–Hava nagilah etc.  I was all over that, lord knows I love my people’s music.  They were awesome.  People danced, I danced too!

There was a lot of anti-Amendment 1 protesting going on at the event, which was positive; Amendment 1 is this horrible thing that is maybe happening in North Carolina that not only will write a statement defining marriage as ONLY between a man and a woman into the state constitution, but will also do a bunch of other awful things that you can read about here.   Anyways, I’m all about anti-Amendment 1, but all the lovely people–including this woman and her awesome cake hat–were basically preaching to the choir.  The Marry Durham celebration wasn’t really a place where pro-Amendment 1 people would hang out, I’d love to take the message to them. Regardless, VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 1 FOR REALSIES Y’ALL.

Anyways, enough politics, here are more dancing photos.

A lot of people were dressed up, either in St. Patrick’s Day themed garb or in wedding garb, like the very committed woman above and this awesome lady in her awesome dress and awesome mask.


My Awesome Birthday Parties

I had some incredibly elaborate, themed birthday parties growing up, thanks to my parents, in particular my mother.  Here are a few of the ones that stand out in my mind:

When I turned five my mother had a ballet-themed birthday party (I was doing the obligatory one-two years of dance and ballet that all little girls do between the ages of four and seven).  We’d rented a room at the JCC to have plenty of space.  All the girls were asked to come to the party wearing little leotards, and everyone received a tutu, a feather boa, and a tiara upon arrival.  My mother had a dance teacher friend, who taught us all a little dance to what I think was a Paula Abdul song, but I might be wrong.  Toward the party’s end, all the parents came back, and we performed our hastily-learned dance routine for them.  Afterwards cake and ice cream happened.  The cake had a ballerina on it.

I was totally over the ballerina thing a year later, and I was starting to settle into my adult likes and dislikes, so for my sixth birthday I had a ghost-themed party with ghost-themed games.  This would have been a better Halloween party, but I didn’t care; my birthday was in March, and I wanted a ghost party.  Everyone had to come dressed up as ghosts.  Most people came in sheets, myself included, but I remember this one girl–we’ll call her Sarah K.–who was always beautiful and put together (she grew up to be beautiful and put together, and i think she might have gone to Harvard?  That bitch).  She showed up to my party in this elaborate, beautiful ghostly flower-girl and makeup costume and I was so jealous of her and also sort of hated her for looking better than I did at my party (I had some intense emotions for a six year old).  Anyways, this party was awesome.  We had a mummy-wrap toilet paper game, and this game where my mother strung our playroom with yarn, and we had to navigate it as a “spider’s web” maze.  The cake was a ghost, of course.  This was probably the best birthday party I ever had ever.

This is the most effort I put into a costume EVER!
(Photo credit: abbynormy)


Rachel Getting Married

This past weekend I went to Cleveland for my cousin Rachel’s wedding.  Rachel married her boyfriend of seven years, Raffi, in a 500 person, black-tie, Jewish Orthodox wedding.  Rachel and Raffi have been dating since high school, but they decided to become Orthodox Jews (the rest of my family, including Rachel’s parents, are Conservative) while spending a year in Israel before starting college.  This was my first Orthodox wedding experience, and I experienced a lot of different traditions and learned a lot about a different kind of Judaism than the type I practice.  The wedding was a gorgeous, energetic spectacle, and I want to share some of my photos and some of what I learned with you.

Orthodox brides and grooms do not see each other for at least a week before the wedding.  Before the wedding ceremony, the bride (kallah) and groom (chattan) have separate receptions where they greet their guests.  The groom’s reception was men only (you will notice a lot of gender separation in my explanations), but the bride’s reception was mixed gender.  We had awhile to mingle before Rachel arrived–the reception was essentially an elaborate cocktail party with a live band, an open bar, a sushi station with sushi makers, a carving station, hummus, pasta, crudite, cut fruit, and salads.

Before heading into the reception--this is the only time all night my shoulders were uncovered, modesty was definitely in style this evening!
My sister and me, before heading into the reception.
The men of the family, enacting a pose often favored by some of our late patriarchs.
One of the food tables at the reception.
The bridal "throne," surrounded by seats for the female relatives of the bride and groom.

After about half an hour, Rachel was led into the reception by her mother (my dad’s sister) and Raffi’s mother.  She was followed by her sister (my cousin Sarah) and the grandmothers of the bride and groom.

Rachel, being led into the reception by her mother and the groom's mother.