I went on a shopping list for my friend, the student rabbi, on my way to her temporary parish. (Is it a parish if you're Jewish? Oh, God, I don't know. Add that to the list.)
I grew up in a Methodist church. Oh, well, that's not at all correct. I probably attended church fewer times than I have fingers. I preferred to go with Mom to the Big Church, as they got to sing some of the best songs I've ever heard. The church for little kids was full of nasty boys wearing suits that didn't fit. And the instructors kept trying to teach us stuff. Boring.
So I found myself in Safeway last Tuesday afternoon, looking for salt, peppercorns, bread crumbs, and matzoh. I couldn't find the matzoh. I called the rabbi on my cell phone (God bless 'em), found her preparing her sermon, and asked, "Okay, what is matzoh?" I felt pretty stupid about it, assumed it was bread but couldn't find it among the raisin and wheat breads. "It's crackers, but you might try the kosher section." The young man in Safeway led me to an unmarked section between "Hispanic" and "Asian", and there I found matzoh balls, matzoh crumbs....ah, crackers!
I had no idea how she was going to use all of this, but I found out soon enough at the temporary synagogue her congregation used, funnily enough, a small room in the Methodist church in this small town in central California.
One bright sunny afternoon we all traipsed down to the river and threw in to the rushing water parts of our past life, in the guise of salt, pepper, bread crumbs and matzoh bits. A way to start over in the Jewish New Year. It was very vivid, very colorful, a wonderful way to symbolize starting anew, to rid ourselves of the bitter, the sweet-but-deadly behaviors and habits, the things we brought from Egypt.
Egypt? I hope to catch up on that bit of history in the near future. I'm learning. I now know what matzoh is, how to employ it, and soon I'm hoping to learn about Egypt and the escape from slavery. Pretty cool.