There are only around 14,000,000 Jewish people in the world, which makes up about 0.2% of the global human population. It’s not a very significant population. On the other hand, Jews have an extraordinary tendency to excel in many academic and artistic fields to a degree that few (or no) other groups can accomplish. That is something to write home about!
Outside of Israel the Jewish populations are so diluted among the local communities that one might be forgiven for not counting many Jews as their close friends. But then Passover happens and you get the impression that there are way more than 14 million jews in the world. Go to any grocery store in the US the day before Passover, and you’ll find the kosher sections and the Passover displays gutted by a mob of practicing and non-practicing Jews. Where’d they come from?! And what the hell is Passover?
For five years after graduating high school, I dated an Israeli Jew. This precisely meets the definition of irony considering my time living in Beirut and my position that Zionism is one of the true evils left in the world. During my time with this woman I “observed” many Jewish holidays. That is, I took part in them, but merely to experience them, not because they held any meaning in my life or heart. Naturally, Passover was one of the more important holidays in which I reluctantly took part.
Passover is the celebration of (essentially) the Book of Exodus in the Torah, as proscribed by the Book of Leviticus. The holiday lasts about a week, during which time Jews are commanded by god to slaughter a lamb and eat it without removing its guts. Whatever parts of the lamb remain after the sun rises on the first day of Passover must be burned as an offering to god.* The entire holiday is a strange feast of various sweet and bitter foods.
*Only if you live in Jerusalem or one other place I forget right now. So non-Israeli and non-Palestinian Jews don’t have to sacrifice the lamb. Actually, they can’t or god will get mad.
Other strange Passover practices include:
- All leavened bread in the house must be burned before Passover begins.
- The firstborn sons are required to fast during the first day of Passover.
- There is kosher, and then there’s Passover kosher, which are two completely different things. Don’t mix them up or god might smite you!
- Children are required to take part in the seder ceremonies. You’re damned if you don’t have any kids to indoctrinate.
- You must eat certain bitter foods to symbolize the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.
- You must drink four cups of wine during the seder. The Torah doesn’t say anything about whether or not it must be alcoholic wine, but I’m sure most Jews are getting drunk at the family dinner table.
- Once everyone’s had their last glass of wine, everyone drunkenly sings songs to mark the conclusion of the seder.
- On the second night of Passover, Jews begin nightly prayers, during which they begin a countdown to the next major Jewish holiday, Shavuot.
That’s a lot of bizarre behavior, but no stranger than Christians sending children out to collect plastic eggs on the anniversary of the day their god was killed. But that’s not the point of this post.
The point is that even today Jews, even many non-religious Jews, celebrate a holiday with zero historical accuracy. The exodus of Jews out of Egypt never happened. There were no Jewish slaves in Egypt. Ever. Even many Jews in Israel agree. Some say the story is a metaphor. But what for? The premise of the “metaphor” is that Jews are better than Egyptians. That’s called racism. The holiday is literally about hating another people while holding yourself to divine esteem. Despite whether or not you believe that Moses actually led Jewish slaves out of Egypt, why continue to celebrate a holiday with a sole purpose of reminding you how much you hate Egyptians?
And if you do believe the Exodus story without a single shred of evidence, I still find it rather absurd to celebrate god’s racism by going through a list of equally absurd rituals. You can get drunk without being a racist.