08 April 2009

Passover and the Afikomen

So tonight is the first night of Passover, the first seder. I am not much of a believer, and we rarely go to synagogue (temple, shul, whatever you want to call it). TheHusband and I do not live near extended family. Thus, ThePinkThing has not been exposed to a lot of Jewish ritual. But she does "get" some Jewish stuff, and she is looking forward to tonight. Why, you ask? Because she gets to look for the afikomen. What the devil is an afikomen, you ask? Well, the afikomen is half of the middle piece of matzoh (middle of 3 pieces that are used/eaten during the Seder) that is traditionally hidden for kids to find and everyone to have a piece of for dessert. Searching for the afikomen was always the highlight of the seder when I was a kid. And I will have to admit that I and my cousins (there are a bunch of us) searched for the afikomen even into our 20's and 30's. Although the finder would receive a monetary reward, the search was really the fun part.

One afikomen story come to mind.
My grandfather (Zaydie), for the most part, was the afikomen-hider, and we would keep our beady eyes on him all through dinner, to see if we could catch him at it. I think my cousin Jonathan did once, then Zaydie delegated the hiding task to one of the other adults. We couldn't cover them all...

One time, maybe when I was in my mid-twenties, Zaydie hid the afikomen in the best place ever. He would always hold up a folded napkin and announce "The afikomen is wrapped in a napkin like this one. It is not completely hidden away. You do not have to open a drawer to find it. Some part of it is visible. Now go!" And we'd start to look. So there we were looking and looking and looking for the darned thing and we couldn't find it. We looked high and low, in the living room, kitchen, bedrooms and even the bathroom. He just sat there watching us. Finally after maybe 10 or so minutes, I wandered over to where he was sitting and started looking around. Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head -- I went over and picked up the napkin that he had held up. That was the afikomen. He hadn't hidden it at all. He just wrapped the piece of matzoh in the napkin, showed it to us as he always did and laid it down on the table in plain sight. It was brilliant.

So back to the present day. ThePinkThing is an only child, so there aren't other kids to search with. But we can't let her off the hook that easily. So TheHusband hid it, while ThePinkThing, Auntie Carla, and I all searched. We had all agreed that TPT would get to find it, but she didn't know that. TH hid it under a nice turned wooden vase (thanks, Jim!), and TPT eventually found it.

Here she is with her reward, which was $5 (an enormous amount of money!), and she got to eat the afikomen, too...

Happy Passover to all!

7 comments:

kimby said...

Happy Passover to you and ThePinkThing and TheHusband too!

xinef said...

Thank you for the explanation. By the way, TPT is cute!

Nathan said...

Happy Passover...hope the matzoh ball soup was good.

We never hid the afikomen. It was placed between two pillows on a chair behind my father (or whoever was leading). Then one of the kids had to steal it without getting caught.

I always thought we were actually that sneaky that we were getting away with something.

vince said...

Happy passover to your and your family! That was an interesting story, as I know almost zilch about Jewish customs. The "hidden in plain sight" that your grandfather did was most excellent.

neurondoc said...

Nathan, other people I know had to steal their afikomen without getting caught, like your family did. Maybe we'll try that next year, if TPT is the only kid in attendance. That might be more fun for her...

The matzo balls were good. I don't like them fluffy and soft. I'm more of a "matzo ball like a racquetball" kinda person. And since I was making them, they were racquetball-like. :-)

neurondoc said...

Vince -- come on down next year. We'd love to have you. But we'll make you participate (although we won't expect you read Hebrew, which I suck at, too)... You can even join the search for the afikomen.

allrelated said...

Happy Passover to all at the House of Neurons and Computers!

Great grandfather story, btw!