Thursday, April 21, 2011

Passover 2011

Passover 2011
My alarm went off before 3 in the morning and I thought to myself, “Why did I agree to do this?” Nevertheless, I grabbed my cooking supplies that I had hanging in a bag on my wall to avoid the ants or rats finding and eating. I took my phone as a flashlight and headed to the kitchen.
The water was off, of course. I took my electric frying pan and my bowl outside to wash with my phone flashlight in my mouth. At the water tank, I scrubbed those dishes clean so I could begin the magic of cooking.
I headed back to the kitchen with a smile on my face. I began to mix the dough to make matzo. I then looked around for a rolling pin substitute. There was an old Fanta bottle on the floor that worked perfectly. I began rolling out my dough and then stabbing it in several places with a fork to make sure it would not rise in the tradition of matzo. The matzo was then put on the electric frying pan where I cooked it. Unlike last year, where it looked like actual matzo (sometimes with different phrases carved in from our having fun with a fork) it looked like a tortilla. At least it was unleavened bread, so it would have to do. I continued the process making about 40 matzo tortillas.
My family began waking up during the time I was cooking, confused as to what I was doing. I just explained that I was cooking the bread for our to’ogani for our lotu (church) that night.
After all of the matzo was cooked, I got to work on making latkes (potato pancakes). Latkes is not a traditional Passover food, since flour is used in the cooking of it, but it was still a Jewish food that most of us really enjoyed and decided it would be nice to have.
During the preparations of latkes I suffered my only cooking injury, I grated my fingernail. I managed to keep the blood from entering food, so it was okay. I cooked about 6 dozen latkes so I would have enough for our meal, and for my family to try.
By the time I was almost done cooking, my sister was done getting ready for school, and I gave her a potato pancake for breakfast. Since it was flat, she doesn’t associate it with being a pancake and it didn’t taste like a normal pancake that the sell in the villages. It was “interesting”.
I finished cooking my food and cleaned up so I could get ready for work. My four hours of cooking that morning had finally finished and I was ready for the long day to start.

After school, I waited for the bus for an hour under the breadfruit tree. I had my gigantic bag of food (which made dogs follow me) with me. Finally the bus came and an hour and a half later I was at Matt’s house ready to finish getting ready for the evening.
Several of us were attending, and everyone had something to bring to the Seder. I had Dana’s apples for her apple sauce, and we had a great time cooking that together and enjoying hot apple cider with the leftover liquid.
Soon everyone started arriving with their food. Elisa and her vegetable soup, Rachel and her charoses (nuts with honey and a splash of wine) and matzo, and Mike and his lamb stew. Matt made a salad, and his roommate, Di, a volunteer from Japan, made salad dressing.
We set up our Sedar plate, and at sa, right before sunset began reading from the Hagaddah to tell the story.
We read through it, reciting the different prayers and telling the story of Exodus. When it came time to recite the plagues, Elisa lead us in an amazing jazz chant. As we passed around our book taking turns reading by candlelight, I felt so honored to be a part of this Seder. It was so nice to be with a family and share all the traditions that we have at home, and combine them together to make our own.
At the end of the meal, we all gathered around with a guitar and sang the traditional song Di-anu. The Hagaddah we had, was an Orthadox childrens Haggadah, and also had a different song in it, “It happened at Midnight”. Last year we rapped that sing, this year we sang it to the tune of “Savalivali”, the first song we learned in Samoa. Then as an added treat, Rachel prepared a song entitled “Freedom”. It told the story of Exodus in the tune of Akon’s “Freedom.”
After the songs, we feasted, and enjoyed such a nice big meal. In the tradition of Samoa, there was more food than we could eat. And we ate a lot.
Just as tradition goes, I hid the Afikomen, and when it was found, Rachel gave out a treat as a prize. The Afikomen is a piece of matzo that will be your last thing to eat for the night.
Then, we all grabbed a mat, and fell asleep on the floor. It had been a long, but enjoyable day. We all slept with smiles on our faces as we were happy to be where we were with such a unique dynamic family.
It was nice also because all of us Jewish volunteers were able to share our traditions with one another. We were also able to bring it to an international level, sharing it with Di, a volunteer from Japan, and sharing the food with different Samoans. I hope everyone else appreciated the day as much as me.

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