Shalom! Happy Passover!

1 Shalom 108289_pcThe story of growing up with dear Jewish neighbors is presented here to celebrate this beautiful Jewish Holiday! What loving memories come back from my childhood. Looking back we were fortunate to grow up learning how to love our neighbors no matter how different they were from us…

Once Mom and Dad were fully moved in to the house, all their efforts crystallized and they knew that every second spent scraping, painting, and papering was worthwhile. They were a young couple in love, with two children and their own home. So many people in their situation could not afford a private house. My parents realized how fortunate they were to be able to live on their own after having spent so much time in a communal environment. They decided early on that their children would get their own places once they married, even if it meant being crammed into an efficiency apartment. Birds need to leave the nest and learn to fly on their own.

2 fence imagesThat keep-in-the-kids fencing played a major role in introducing them to their first neighbor. Mrs. Z. lived across the street. She needed an extra piece of fencing for her yard, so she welcomed my parents to the neighborhood and asked them if she could buy whatever Dad didn’t need. My parents and the Zs quickly developed a friendship that lasted their whole lives. They watched over each other’s kids and chatted on each other’s front porches during the pleasant summer nights.

2 love your neighbor colmussocThe Zs were the first Jewish people my parents ever knew. Mr. and Mrs. Z. shared their religious traditions with my parents, who returned the favor by teaching the Zs about Catholicism. Holidays became very special occasions for the families. They exchanged traditional baked goods and spent time together. Every time Mom came home from the hospital after having a baby, Mrs. Z. would be over with a bottle of red wine to build up my mother’s blood cell count. In fact, Mrs. Z. became so dear to my family that once my maternal grandmother passed away, Mrs. Z. filled the role of surrogate grandmother for my siblings and me. She lived to be over 100. When she passed, everyone in my family felt as if we’d lost our grandmother all over again…

More on Passover from Wikipedia…

4 Israel's_Escape_from_EgyptPassover or Pesach, is an important, biblically derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. According to standard biblical chronology, this event would have taken place at about 1300 BCE. (AM 2450).

Passover is a spring festival which during the existence of the Jerusalem Temple was connected to the offering of the “first-fruits of the barley”, barley being the first grain to ripen and to be harvested in the Land of Israel.

It is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays.

In the narrative of the Exodus, the Bible tells that God helped the Children of Israel escape from their slavery in Egypt by inflicting ten plagues upon the ancient Egyptians before the Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves; the tenth and worst of the plagues was the death of the Egyptian first-born.

5 breadThe Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes, hence the English name of the holiday.

When the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). In commemoration, for the duration of Passover no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason Passover was called the feast of unleavened bread in the Torah or Old Testament. Thus Matzo (flat unleavened bread) is eaten during Passover and it is a tradition of the holiday.

Shalom! Happy Passover!

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