27 April 2009

A Passover Seder to Remember

On Thursday, a woman in our department sent out an email saying she needed to sell her tickets to a Passover Seder feast sponsored by BYU. I am all about new cultural experiences, especially ones that have to do with religion. I think my world religions course from BYU-Idaho really lit a fire in me to understand more about the practices of other religions and how they relate to my own. This sort of opportunity is one that I cannot pass up and tend to drag Scott along to, like India Fest at the Spanish Fork Krishna Temple.

When we arrived at dinner we sat at a table for eight with a family of four and another couple. We quickly bonded with one another over the various traditional celebrations. Each table in the banquet hall was to act as if they were separate families, guided under the direction of an Old Testament professor in the BYU religion faculty. So the oldest man at our table was designated as our patriarch, and his task was to lead our family through the prayers and activities.

One of the first activities we participated in was the blessing of the matzah and eating of the bitter herbs. There are three required foods to be eaten during Passover: the unleavened bread or matzah, bitter herbs (or the harshest horseradish you've ever smelled/tasted), and a sacrifice. We didn't have a sacrifice... we just ate chicken. Sacrifices have not been offered for Passover since the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem. But there was a roasted egg on the table with the roasted shank bone to represent the sacrificial lamb.

Other traditions have crept into the Passover Seder as well, according to this BYU professor. One of these traditions was the other bowled substance included on our table. It was a minced apple, raisin mixture that was to represent the mud used as mortar to build the pyramids of Egypt. We used this mortar as part of eating the bitter herbs. To this day if I smell anything remotely smelling like horseradish I have a burning sensation in my nose!

Probably one of the most memorable experiences during this Seder meal, besides being engulfed by the bitter herbs and the redemption of the afikomen; was when the professor described how this service would have been replicated by Jesus Christ throughout his life.

A most educational and culturally stimulating experience!