The Last First Night Of Passover Part II
Being a group of Jewish people from all over we all had our own traditions on how to have the Seder. Some of us cooked the foods similar to how mom might have cooked them. Others prepared the Seder plate similar to how our parents and grandparents did it. It was a great experience as we all were bringing a little part of our home to the dinner.
Being the eldest (besides my Samoan brother and his friends who did not want to impose on sitting through the entire dinner) and the host, I was the “father” of the family leading the Seder and was the first one to speak and to lead in the different prayers. It was really nice taking my mother’s role.
We had two Haggadahs and both of them were completely different. One of them I had used previously, as it was the free one from the supermarkets in New York City, and my Staten Island family all agreed it was not the best Haggadah. So we opted for the second one, which was a orthodox children’s Hagaddah. (It had real interesting pictures.)
We took turns reading and learned that this version along with having great pictures told us to do something that we never remembered hearing. Lean to the left. We all remembered the reclining position (although all we had was benches to sit on) but none of us had ever done the leaning. So every time it was mentions we had a great time exaggerating it.
When it came to sing Dayainu, we all realized that although that song is sung year after year, all of us still only know the chorus. It seems to be the only song that everyone thinks they know so well, but after being put in the situation of singing it without the words, or others who are confident with singing it, none of us really do know it.
When it came to dinner we realized something pretty remarkable. With confidence we could say that we were the only ones having a Seder in all of Samoa, and since we are supposed to start the meal based upon the sunset, we can assume that our amazing family was the last one on the world to be having the first night of Passover in 2010.
While we were eating, and my brother and his friends did not hear any reading or prayers going on, they figured they can come in without feeling like they were intruding. We fed them all of the different foods on the table. Some were a hit, the dessert thing that I forget the name of, and some were not, the matzo. They still seemed to be pretty interested in what we were doing and it was great to share the time with them.
Being the header of the night, I hid the Aifikomen, and after dinner all of my guests scavenged the house looking for the elusive piece of matzo. Although Rachel was the one who found it, I decided to do as my parents do and give a prize to all that looked for it. (Thanks Tammy for the delicious Christmas treats package, it made a great Passover prize package as well!)
As the night came to a close, we opened the door for Elijah to drink his glass. We realized opening the door for Elijah was just like leaving treats for Santa Clause. No matter what the treats, or drinks will always be gone by morning, and no one knows who exactly drank or ate the food.
The Hagaddah also had a song for the first night of Passover, which we decided should be a group effort, even though there was only one book. The book was passed along and we all sang the song however we felt it should take a turn, as the rest of us did backup. It was the most amazing song that I ever took part of. If I ever have the opportunity to share this video with you, make sure to ask for it.
The night was coming to a close, and a few people had to leave very early in the morning, so we had a fun sleepover. We put a few mattresses together on the floor, laid out together while watching a movie and went to sleep.
At 1:45 AM the alarm went off for those that needed to head home early for the first boat (and Elisa) so they could catch their bus.
The next group of us left a little after seven while I was heading towards school.
We all agreed it was the most memorable Seder we had been a part of. Partially because if we were at all homesick, it gave us a little piece of home. Also because it gave us the opportunity to share our customs with our new friends and family members. We all learned how Passover is done in each of our households at home, and brought a little piece of it to our group. I think this is something that will stick with us forever.
It is a few days later, and I still feel like I am sharing my beliefs and customs with people all over my village. After offering me bread daily at school, they are beginning to understand that it is not something eaten during this week for me. After eating leftovers of latkes this week, my family is beginning to understand how different pancakes can be made.
Peace Corps is a cultural exchange between myself and the Samoans, and observing Passover in a Samoan household is a great way to do this, as although Samoans are rich in the bible, many of them are unsure of the Jewish religion. Just as I go to church weekly to learn about theirs, they have the opportunity to see mine.
I am very excited to have another Seder in Samoa next year, although in the Hagaddah it says for us to be lucky enough to share it in Israel next year, I am looking forward to it being in Samoa and sharing it with more people.