Jewish Fun - My Story about Passover

Birthdays and Passover

OK, I don't usually blog about religion. I'm not very religious at this point in my life. But this time of year always brings out the angst in me. I'm Jewish and was brought up in a conservative Jewish household. We went to Friday night services and high holidays but we didn't keep kosher at all. My family is cohein and was one of five or six such families in my temple. I have stories about that too - but for another time.

This quick story relates to being a kid, with a birthday during Passover. If you are Jewish, you know how "wonderful" Passover food is. For thiose of you that aren't, imagine not having any bread products at all, for a week. Even in New York, where there are a lot of Jewish people, kids go to school throughout Passover and have to bring Matzah "sandwiches" to school. It's NOT fun.

I am no fan of Matzah. It's essentially a shingle. It isn't fun to eat unless you've covered it in dark chocolate. It's fairly tasteless (though they now make them with flavors) and it's just not what you want to eat as a kid - which was sort of the point. All of this was to remind us of the hardships of the Jews who were forced to leave Egypt. Nevertheless, when your friends are eating Pizza and you can't - it's no fun.

That being said, my birthday happens to fall on April 23. In my youth, my birthday fell in the middle of Passover many, many times. As such, we couldn't buy a cake. We couldn't make a traditional cake. We had to buy the special birthday cake for Passover which consisted of matzah meal and carob.

I truly believe this is where the term "Sh%#t on a shingle" came from....

Matzah meal is no substitute for flour and yeast. Carob is not a substitute for chocolate. It's not even close. I don't know who thought it was but man, were they wrong. After being treated to the special cake for a few years, a very young version of me, maybe 10 or 11 years old, finally pleaded with my parents to forget the Passover cake. I didn't mind waiting until Passover was completed to go get a "real" cake. Anything would be better than the Passover cake nobody looked forward to eating.

Give me chumatz or give me death!!!! At least that's what I thought back then....

Just a quick snippet from my youth. For everone who reads this, have a Happy Passover and/or a Happy Easter (since I celebrate both in my house)...

And for Jews who will be reading the Hagaddah at the end of the week, can anyone explain Rabbi Jose the Galilean? We always wondered how a Hispanic Jew got to Ancient Egypt... Rabbi Jose?? Most names look right and proper for ancient Hebrew but Rabbi Jose? What's next, Rabbi Shaquille?? At least he hasn't tried that yet....


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Comments 6 comments

Brainy Bunny profile image

Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

Ha! My daughter's birthday is also on Passover most years. Last year I made her a 7-layer matzah cake, and she rolled her eyes so far back in her head I'm sure she could see her own brain. She also chooses to wait to celebrate her birthday now, and I don't blame her one bit. In fact, if I could go back to her birth and hang on just a few more days, I wouldn't have had to eat hard-boiled eggs and matzah in the hospital after giving birth. Bleh.

As for Rabbi Jose, my family always cracked up at that, too. for real, though, it has to do with the J/Y transliteration choice. In other haggadahs (not Maxwell House!) he's called Rabbi Yossi, which makes a lot more sense (but is nowhere near as funny).


livelonger profile image

livelonger 4 years ago from San Francisco

I can understand the matzoh meal, but why the carob? Chocolate is kosher for Passover. At any rate, tons of innovations nowadays have improved the quality of chametz-free cakes, good for kids like you who were born around the time. I agree with Brainy Bunny that I think it's Yose except for Central European transliterations into Jose. Very funny Hub!


dblyn profile image

dblyn 4 years ago from Staten Island, NY Author

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Rabbi Yossi would make lots more sense but every hagaddah I've seen calls him Rabbi Jose and it gets us every year. We know it's coming and we still laugh about it. Everything about Jewish life has changed since I was a kid - I'll be 39 later this month. The food choices got markedly better for sure but still, nothing beats these old funny stories. Good question on the Carob substitute - I have no idea why ANYONE would think it was a good substitute..


Steven Jay profile image

Steven Jay 4 years ago from Goose Creek South Carolina

As I have said since I was a little boy in Brooklyn - "Matzoh gives cardboard something to taste better than."


dblyn profile image

dblyn 4 years ago from Staten Island, NY Author

Steven - I couldn't agree more. The only way I like Matzah is in Matzah Brie. Of course, once you've soaked it in water and egg and fried it, matzah comes across MUCH better....


dblyn profile image

dblyn 9 months ago from Staten Island, NY Author

So, it's been 3 years since I wrote this and I just saw a question somewhere online from a person who has a 5-year old with a birthday on Passover. He was asking where he might be able to find a Passover approved birthday cake in NY or upper NJ and while there were some responses to the request, many comments went along the same track as this hub. I'm not surprised but seriously, flourless cake just doesn't taste right. Oddly enough nobody ever mentions carob so maybe that was just something my mother came up with - that's no excuse though - carob is awful...

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