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April 02, 2010

Margie's Story Time: Passover

Margie's Story Time: Passover

By Me, Margie

Blog passover tableJust because I'm not Jewish doesn't mean I don't know from Passover.  For starters, Passover is the closest you can get to a big Italian family dinner without going to Mass and having The Aunts ask you personal questions about where your people are from. The wine, the storytelling, the eating, the wine, the talking, the singing, the wine - all very familiar. Jewish and Italian customs are both based on several constants: guilt, wine, and food that takes all day to make God forbid you should buy it in a jar or from a deli (now you have to spit to make sure that takes.)  They even make really good kosher wine that I would be proud to take to my Nonni's house.  Don't try bringing Mogen David or Manischewitz up in there.  A shanda is a shanda in every language - oy!

Second, all you really need to know about Jewish holidays is this - and it is a direct quote from the neighborhood Rabbi, so I'm not being disrespectful (just saying I don't like the locusts) "They tried to kill us. We survived.  Let's eat!"

Blog passover haggadahThe Haggadah - that's the playbook for Passover Seder - tells the story of how the Jews were finally liberated from Egypt. As you should probably already know, the Jews, like many people, were slaves.  Slavery is a bad and nasty business, precious.  Nobody owns anybody and it seems stupid to think they ever did, but then you hear about some rat bastards who are still buying and selling people and you think maybe this evolution thing is a premature finding, but whatever.  

Egypt had a ruling class called the Pharaohs.  In our story, Pharaoh will still be played by Yul Brynner because he is still the total shit and nobody can carry off the bald head like Y.Bry.  Playing the part of Moses will be Liam Neeson, with the Clash of the Titans Beard, but not the glowing robes.  He really is perfect for the role because, you know, he's not Jewish but the list is everything and so forth.  Moses was in tight with Pharaoh and the various Pharoettes, but he got the big call from God telling him to lead the Jews to the promised land.  I'll bet Moses wished he had let that one go to voicemail, because the job ended up lasting, like forever and he screwed up a couple of times, so he never even got to see the promised land.  Which sucks, because I think we all know what it is like to climb that mountain and not get over, usually because someone else is selfish. Which is a good life lesson, all the way around.

Blog passover pharoahMoses kept telling Pharaoh to free the Chosen People but Pharaoh was like: "Duh?!  Who do you think does all the work around here?  You think these pyramids build themselves? I can't trust these Egyptian kids to do a damn thing, the lazy bums.  But you - you are a hard worker just like the rest of Your People.  So, uh, no.  I will keep all you right where you are."  Moses told Pharaoh he was making a career-ending mistake there. There is even a song about it and the best version ever was sung by Cameron Frye: "Let My People Go." (note: Cameron was not kosher because everyone knows he had lunch with the Sausage King of Chicago just saying.) But Pharaoh was cruel and selfish and didn't take Moses seriously anyway because what kind of God would choose people who were enslaved.  Am I right?

God told Moses some bad, bad hell was going to be unleashed if Pharaoh didn't change his tune and Moses said: "Yeah. I keep telling him that.  He thinks it's a joke because nothing bad ever really happens."  This was like a triple dog dare and so naturally, God gave the Egyptians a taste of the big hammer.  Actually, they got quite a few rounds of warnings, starting with a snake trick that blew the royal magicians right off the stage at the Pyramid Lounge and Orgyotorium, which had the velvet ropes and only the cool 'gypts got in and everything.  

The first nine plagues were your basic variations on the classics: bugs, frogs. water turned to blood, dead animals, more bugs, boils, major thunderage and lightening, total darkness, dogs and cats living together: mass hysteria.

You would think that Pharaoh would have gotten a clue that this God was not messin'.  I'll tell you who knew it - the women.  They tried to tell Pharaoh to check it before he wrecked it, but no way, he didn't listen, even to that really hot chick who had a thing for Moses.  Why?  Because power makes people dumb as a box of rocks.

Finally, God told Moses to brace himself, because the last of the plagues was going to be huge.  HUGE.  God told Moses to spread the word to the Chosen People to kill a lamb and put the blood over their doors.   Some of the people were confused, but at that point, after the, y'know lice and the lightening, what the heck - they figured better safe than sorry.  Good call.

So God sent the Angel of Death, played in this version by the smoke monster from "Lost".  It swooped in, with its black suction of death, and killed all the first born sons of man and beast.  But lo and behold (that is story code for miracle comin') it passed over the houses marked with blood, saving the Jewish families from such an awful tragedy.  This may seem pretty harsh, but you gotta remember that this move was one of Pharaoh's own personal faves, and how Moses ended up in a basket and at Pharaoh's palace to begin with; Pharaoh and the other Egyptians had been warned; and most importantly, the OT God is a strict and vengeful God.  Just ask Lewis Black.

Blog passover liamPharaoh and all his pals were taken completely by surprise, and while they were still trying to figure out what in hell happened, Liam Neeson/Moses stood up and said, in that big booming voice: "Release the Jews!"  Which was better than the Kraken for Pharaoh because he would have ended up looking like swiss cheese after he took a ride on those Kraken teeth.  For real.

Pharaoh was like: "Yeah, whatever, take your smoke monster and get the hell out." Which the Jews did, and they went so fast they didn't even have time to let the bread rise and they got stuck with motzah which is like Italian flatbread but with no spices or even olive oil.  Not that they were complaining at that point.  (As always with humans, the complaining started after the shock wore off but that is a different story).

So the Jews hustled and got out of dodge.  They were approaching the Red Sea (which has nothing to do with communism by the way, which is back in case you didn't know) when they learned Pharaoh had changed his mind.  Uh oh.

Blog passover red seaNo worries - Moses raised his staff (easy - it's a long walking stick) and lo and behold, he parted the sea, allowing the Jews to cross safely.  Then, when they were all on the other side, Moses boomed out again: "Release the Water!"  and all the Egyptian soldiers drowned. I would have preferred the Kraken in this scene, but there was no CGI back then.

So we celebrate the Passover because not only were the Jewish families passed over by the smoke monster of death, but they also got to pass over the land of Egypt and out of slavery.  I just made that last part up but it makes total sense and I am telling Rabbi Jamie.  

The end.

Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Chocolate Candy Day or whatever you're celebrating this week!


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Does this mean that Liam Neeson will now deal with a planet full of monkeys, leap from one jet to another in mid-air, and be the last human alive on a planet full of blood-sucking mutants?

Yo, Margie, I been forgetting to tell you. My sailor friend likes to say, "Release the Kraken!" at the magical moment. It's a total giggle.

Oops, is that bad to say on Good Friday? Don't tell Nonny.

You had to bring up Yul? Now you know Rocco will come on and start talking about his sexy head.

Oops, is it bad to talk about sexy on Good Friday?

I should probably go now. Oh, nice story. I understood all of it this time. I told you little words work best.

Cousin Rita

Ya gotta love Uncle Yul, and the escape from Egypt, as told by Her, Margie, by way of Hollywood.

Happy Spring to all, whatever other religious or non-religious events you observe.

No one does history, Biblical or otherwise, than Margie :o) I still say you need to put these in a book...Me Margie's True True Herstory of Great and Terrible Events. Bestseller lists for sure! Yul and Liam on the same piece of ground? Magic!
Have a wonderful weekend, however you celebrate. It's all good when you think about it :o)

Geez...that should be no one does...better than...I need more green tea for my little gray cells.

Margie, I like a good adventure story with a happy ending, which this is, unless you happen to be an Egyptian.
Have a happy holiday, however you celebrate it.

Liam Neeson over Charlton Heston. Good call.

I may substitute this for the Haggadah next year. I think you covered everything.


My mother says the four cups of wine is how the family secretes came out.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all friends on TLC!

Thanks so much, Margie. I LOVE your stories!

You leave me speechless!
Back to making the matzo lasagna----a family favorite.

Mary Alice, that dish almost sounds like an April Fool's joke!

...all you really need to know about Jewish holidays is this - and it is a direct quote from the neighborhood Rabbi, so I'm not being disrespectful (just saying I don't like the locusts) "They tried to kill us. We survived. Let's eat!"

Totally true. And try these for the updated version of the Hagaddah: http://www.cdelkin.com/haggadah/5769.htm

and http://www.cdelkin.com/haggadah/5770.htm

Margie tells such wonderful stories of the Jewish holidays. Thank you for the humorous history.

Margie your stories are wonderful.
I am so appreciative of my closest Jewish friends. Being Catholic we formed a seamless relationship with our friends for over forty years. ]
Have shared many holidays with the kids who are now raising their own kids.
My friend has had many brain tumor operations and I know that her spirit has pulled her through many a tough time.
Her laughter and love of family has so impacted my life.
When we attribute faith to living I feel we must celebrate our own unique gift for sharing.

Just wonderful, the best version I've heard so far, and I'm old...Definitely, Liam Neeson over Charlton Heston, and happy spring days to everyone.

Yul. Happy sigh . . . hmmmmmmm . . . maybe it's time to rent The Ten Commandments again.

I got this off last night's Rachel Maddow show; it's originally from a tweet sent by the awesome mayor of Newark, NJ. (I say awesome only because of what I saw on her interview. But he was awesome!).

Anyway . . . What do you call someone who loves the bread of affliction?

A matzochist.

Ba dum dum

Happy Easter, Passover, Spring, Chocolate, Peeps, etc. etc. etc.

Hi. It's Me, Margie.

Thanks for liking my story.

Happy Easter and/or Passover and/or whatever and have a great weekend. Which means I hope you get lucky. And not, like, Bingo. Unless that's what you call it.

You, Margie! Good stuff! Wish you'd taught my Sunday School class when I was trying to learn all this (except maybe bring your Uncle Sal along if you ever do teach Sunday School--no offense--just a little guide as to what to say to small children who don't know about Steves in general just yet).
Happy celebrating the resurgence of life and hope and sun, in whatever way/tradition you choose!
Peeps. I want Peeps. Wonder if the local market still has any . . . . Wandering away to find out. Thanks, Tarts, ReaderTarts and ReaderGents, for a fabulous week.

So interesting it is, I like it !

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