Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Seder with our Young Women

I help out with our church's youth group --with the girls 12-13 years old. We do an activity every Tuesday night. In the beginning of the year, we sit down with them and plan what we are going to do with them for 12 months, and one of the ideas we had was to do a "Jewish cultural night" with my friend in our congregation who was raised Jewish. We thought passover time was appropriate, and decided to do a Seder. My friend's son agreed to host, and did a terrific job, giving a rich historical background for our girls first so they'd understand what a lot of the symbolism meant. I don't think anyone on earth knows all the depths of the symbolism as this is a tradition with layers and layers of meaning. Along with performing the script, providing some of the food, and giving explanations, our hosts also brought an array of objects from the Holy Land including a Menorah, Hanukkiyah, Dreidel, and a small clay oil lamp (like in those paintings of the parable of the 10 virgins). The Seder plate for each girl contains an egg (representing new life), sprig of parsley (representing the sweet and bitter time), Charoset (a fruit and nut compote representing the mortar used by Hebrew slaves), and horseradish (again representing the bitter). There were bowls of salt water in the middle of the table representing the tears of the slaves, and then the matzo.
The Seder feast centers around the matzo --the unleavened bread. This is supposed to be made of special "matzo meal" which is flour supervised by a rabbi from the time it is harvested until packaged to ensure no moisture or leaven has come in contact with it. Once the water has touched the flour, it must be completely cooked within 18 minutes. They have decided in the tradition that after that time, the flour will start to ferment, and will be in a sense "leavened" which is against the seder (or law for the passover feast). I went all over town looking for matzo or even matzo meal and couldn't find it. I finally went ahead and made it with regular flour, doing my best to stay within the 18 minute thing, working in small batches. Yeah, it was a little stressful.
I also made some macaroons for dessert --a traditional Jewish treat. I was worried about the whole not mixing meat and dairy thing, so used a recipe that didn't include condensed milk, but it turns out chicken's eggs are "pareve" or neutral, so I needn't have worried. I guess the big deal is to again not use flour, which macaroons don't --or at least my recipe didn't.

Here are our girls down the table, with our host, and his mother -my friend at the head of the table. We ended up having a big group with some classes joining us at the last minute, which made it really fun.

Here's one of the leader's sons wearing the Yarmulke. He looked so cute I had to snap a picture.

It's also traditional for the girls and women to wear head coverings as a sign of modesty and respect. Our hosts told us that the Jewish girls in Israel get really good at twisting up their hair inside of a fabric scarve so it doesn't move or come undone as they go about their daily business. Here is one of our girls modeling the technique. I thought she looked beautiful with it. But then this girl always looks beautiful.

I thought I'd throw in a couple of pictures from our Young Womens group's trip to Temple Square to hear the broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word. This is a radio broadcast with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that's been going on for over 80YEARS! Can you believe that?

The girls were all excited because David Archuleta was there --he's in the picture somewhere down there. The prophet and president of our church Thomas S. Monson was also there, but guess which one the girls told their parents about?


Lee said...

I have always wanted to do that. Maybe if my sister does it sometime she will invite me...oh wait :(

belann said...

What a wonderful idea. There are so many cultural similarities. Good experience for everyone.