This past Thursday, as many of you know, was Maundy Thursday, or as some call it, Holy Thursday. Our church, eschewing our three year tradition of a Living Last Supper, with I abandoning my role as Mary Magdalene, decided to host a seder meal instead. I was rather excited about it, having never attended a seder meal. My Baptist college held one, presided over by some of the 'liberal' religion professors, but I could never go, as I was an enthusiastic new Methodist and had my own Maundy Thursday things to attend.
"Hey, you going to the seder meal?" a fellow Koine Greek sufferer would ask.
"No, I have to portray the redeemed 'ho at our Maundy Thursday service, " I would reply.
(I've since learned that tradition, not scripture, casts Mary Magadelene as a prostitute. That is a relief, even though I really identified with the redeemed 'ho scenario. This was also the year that I read The Red Tent and did a paper on Asherah, so I was mesmerized by all things Shekhina and The Goddess.)
My other mother was in charge of the whole seder deal, and I, the ever loving fourth daughter, offered my presence in whatever was needed. So last Thursday I went straight to the church after work, having spent the day trying keep my job-shadower occupied. At that point, I was really ready for a beer, not bitter herbs.
All was merry and bustling, with stacks of matzo bread, tubs of apples and walnuts, all provided by the nearest kosher deli, Kosher Cajun, in New Orleans. I helped set bowls and plates on the sixteen tables in the fellowship hall, five bowls around a center plate. Then I carefully counted out parsley, and spooned horseradish into the appropriate dishes. The whole hall smelled of hard boiled eggs and horseradish.
Yes, the local rabbi was leading our seder meal - something we were all very excited about. Our interfaith community works very hard at good relations between the denominations, or at least, the denominations who will participate. We'd all been warned to treat this dinner with solemnity and reverence, especially due to the rabbi's presence. Methodists enjoy their food, and so we were all ready with our best behavior.
The rabbi arrived, and mingled with several of the staff. It turns out that he's a young guy, with a new baby at home, and full of laughter and good will. He inspected his table, laid with Waterford crystal holding his wine. I was arranging a last minute dish, and said something about how much we liked the matzo bread. Then, I was stricken - what if it was offensive to casually eat matzo bread before the seder meal? Have I stuck my foot in my mouth, damning all of us?
"Blech," he said. "I hate Jewish food."
What could I say? "Well," I answered. "At least you have good Southern food." It was too funny, to encounter a rabbi who didn't like Jewish food. I guess he's not a fan of gelfite, either.
He led a very casual, off the cuff seder meal, condensed from the traditional two hour service. "We have to wrap this up in thirty to forty minutes, " he joked, "because The Apprentice comes on in an hour." So we all dipped our parsley in salty water, chewed on hard boiled eggs, grimaced over horseradish, and crunched our matzo bread, happily in harmony with our very cool Jewish brother.
It was a good night.
*all pictures courtesy of Google Images