Passover/Leanover By: Galya
Do you ever wonder if your parents are insane? Now, one might say: That is a typical snotty remark from a teenager. But really? Do you ever wonder? I mean I love my mother. She is a wonderful human being, but her logic on many occasions tends to fly over heads of all mankind. This is her story. Well, one of her many stories.
As I was in my junior year of high school, I found myself lost and confused as most children are at my age. I wanted something to belong to. My family on my father's side are Russian Jews. And I had a highly influential chorus teacher who believed in the true message of the Torah. So, I wanted to delve into the mystic world of Judaism as well.
As March approached I felt it was my duty to participate in Passover. Now, I was the only one in our household (which consisted of two women, my mother and me) who was then a practicing Jew. My mother was still searching for her religious calling. But had been raised Catholic and tried to raise me thus. But, she was supportive of my change. Too supportive, I fear. She offered to do an elaborate Passover feast. She would invite friends and family to join. Now we both were new to the state having just moved to California, and our nearest relation lived two hours away. I had no idea who she meant to invite. But, I agreed and was grateful.
We went to the bookstore to gain knowledge on Passover. Both only knowing about one religious holiday in Spring, that being Easter. And our knowledge of that Holiday was; Christ died, came back, and the cute bunny gave the children chocolate. We, well more honestly, my mother read up on Passover. I paid attention the Bible reading Exodus to be prepared for the true meaning of Passover. My mother did invite people. Still to this day I have no idea who. I guess she opened the yellow pages and picked names at random. But, nevertheless she did it. And all for me.
She cleansed the house as instructed by the books and cooked kosher food. Now before this the most kosher thing she made was potato Latkahs when I was five. The ones that anyone can buy in the Menechevitz boxes at the supermarket. But, on that evening we had matzo with our chicken dinner, matzo soup, and backed apples prepared for us. Did I mention that we had matzo? My mother and I sat down to eat with our guests, which in the end was just my cat Dimitri. She informed me with the attitude of an enlightened priestess, what I was supposed to do. She showed me the little glasses we were to drink our Kosher and very sweet wine from. What each thing on the Seder plate meant. Actually the Seder plated was a big porcelain green plate she found in the back of our cupboard. And last but not least, she informed me that in grand tradition of the children of Israel I was supposed to lean to the left during all of it.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because it is what the free men did." She replied. "I read it in one of the books. It is to represent your freedom from Egypt."
I thought fair enough and leaned to my left side. We preformed the ceremony, ate the horseradish, which to this day I still feel burning in my stomach, drank the wine, and stated the story of the exodus from Egypt. Then dinner was served. I began to eat and my mother reminded me to "lean to the left". So, I did. I slurped my interesting tasting matzo soup. I looked over at my mother who was slurping as well. Then I realized it. My mother was left-handed. How in the world she kept that spoon in her hand and was able to eat anything while leaning to her left side is beyond me.
We finished the soup and began on the entrée. It was a wonderful roast chicken she had prepared and yet again I proceeded to lean to the left. My mother was struggling even more now as she tried to cut the chicken while leaning to her side. But, she managed it. I felt sorry for every Jew in the world that night who was left handed to be sure. As we got to the last course, I had had it. I was falling asleep from leaning to my side and my mother was continuously missing her mouth with her fork.
"Are you sure the book said we had to lean to the left?" I asked her.
"Yes, check for yourself." She said pointing to one of the books we had brought.
I went to get the book and quickly flipped through the pages searching for what she read. All the time, my mother struggling to eat her backed apple as she leaned to the left. I found the entry quickly enough and stared at it for a moment, eyes like saucers.
"Um, mom?" I mumbled.
She turned and looked at me.
"It says," I began, "some people put a pillow to their left side to represent the free way people ate back then. And occasionally will lean to the left while drinking the wine during the ceremony. That's it."
My mother's eyes grew wide.
"Say what?" she gasped.
"That's it." I repeated.
An embarrassed smile spread across my mother's face. She immediately screamed out in a giggle fit and ran from the table, jumped into the armchair, and stifled her laughs with a throw pillow. I fell about myself as well in laughter. It rang through the small granny unit we lived in. And my mother's roaring laughter did not end for a good six minutes as I called the rest of our family to inform them of my mother's blunder.
"Tashi?" she chuckled, "Imagine if all those people had come. I would have had them all leaning!"
And believe you and me, yes she would have.