Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Passing Over, Celts Askew

Picture: Menfolk in Seder Recovery

Now that Passover has, well, passed over, I find myself turning back to thoughts of this year's seder dinner again and again. It's not just a matter of savoring the memories of a good, hot and sweet charoset and horseradish sandwich. Although I have to tell you that you haven't lived until you've eaten my godson's homemade sweet potato latkes. It's not the bottles of excellent wine -- or the ritualized excuse to drink so much of it! It's more than all those small things or their blessings.

What sends me back to Passover is the spirit it brings into my house every year. Maybe it's really this spirit that the rules of the haggadah, the book that guides seder participants through the rituals of the meal, sets out to capture. Maybe it's this spirit that we are trying to embody in the name of Elijah, the prophet who Jews set a place for at every seder table and for whom they leave their doors ajar. I'm not Torah expert, and couldn't say. I'm not even Jewish. But I do know that, for me, the family and friends who walk through my door bring Passover right in with them like a comforting elixir. And there is a lot of room at the table for this embracing libation.

And it's also the open acceptance that we, as a family of relatives and friends, bring to the table that has me musing. Over the years, we have stitched together our own holiday traditions. It's a mixture of my Catholic background, my inlaw's strong Jewish identity, my godson's African heritage, and our dear friends' Irish customs -- all rolled together into one enjoyable and memorable calendar of holidays. I don't think one of us could possibly give up the other's traditions anymore -- or even think of them as other.

For some it might be heresy, for others just a natural progression, but I wouldn't be surprised if Elijah was joined by St. Padraic one of these days. I can almost picture them pulling up some chairs, having a couple "scoops." I bet they'd have a lot to talk about. And then there are those sweet potato latkes that even saints and prophets must surely covet.


Blue Lass said...

Anyone would covet those latkes. Is he sharing the recipe?

Anne Custis Kenealy said...

I'll ask him. They are incredibly delicious, one of those dishes that is immediately adopted as traditional family fare. He went through a few batches before he perfected his recipe. Earlier ones were too soggy, because sweet potatoes don't have the starch content that regular ol' ones do.

Now, if I can just convince him to perfect a good sweet potato kugel....