Mrs. Moses jokes aside, Passover has several redeeming qualities. For example, it provides a legitimate excuse for those of us deprived of our daily baked goods to over indulge in the finest Manischewitz macaroons New York has to offer.
And with the increase in global demand, the Manischewitz family has become increasingly more creative in their flavor selection. In place of the standard chocolate, coconut, or almond, we now have Rocky Road, Chocolate Nut Brownie, and my personal favorite– White Chocolate Raspberry.
Inevitably my overindulgence in the Manischewitz establishment is greeted by ominous glares from my grandmother who warns, “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips!” This is Jewish code for “If you have any prayer of finding a husband, you will back away from the macaroons immediately. And then perhaps go for a jog or two.”
My response, which I have provided since I was a seven year old caught red handed with her hand in the macaroon jar, has consistently been, “But this is the holiday of freedom! I am free to eat whatever Kosher for Passover baked goods I so desire.”
This, of course, raises the larger issue– what is freedom? And what freedom are we celebrating during Passover? My high school rabbis would argue that much of secular society is enslaved, and that only by leading an Orthodox lifestyle can we truly bask in the glory of freedom.
It seems like a contradiction: the people with the greatest numbers of restrictions are, in fact, the most liberated. However, in preparing for a seder I’ll never forget (and look forward to eagerly reporting on), I was given the task of bringing an item to which I am enslaved.
My first thought: my Starbucks card. I am a slave to the coffee gods that be. And through rain, sleet, or two foot Boston blizzard, I am willing to make the treacherous trek to Starbucks to be reunited with my favorite morning/afternoon/evening beverage.
There is no other individual, item, inanimate object for which I would risk compromising my health. And my justification for my dedication– I need Starbucks to survive, to carry out the daily tasks necessary in climbing my metaphorical mountains. Without Starbucks, I would be a C student without ambition, preparing to move back into my mom’s basement after graduation.
This, as Rabbi Francis, said to me in 10th grade is “complete and utter nonsense.” The mountain-climbing excuse is nothing but a pretext– a signal of a larger problem: my addiction to a costly (material) beverage.
And since Starbucks lattes are not Kosher for Passover, he added, I would have eight days to consider the depth of my addiction, or enslavement. After a week of “spiritual” detox, I would be relieved of my physical enslavement.
Well, for the last seven years I have engaged in the aforementioned detox, and within an hour of Passover concluding, I am in the corner of a dimly lit Starbucks devouring a venti latte.
My Starbucks freedom is merely temporary, but as I argued at fifteen, at least it’s legal. And it could always be worse; I could be a heroin addict like one of my favorite characters on “The Wire.”
I leave you with one last Jewish parody of what my mother refers to as “that ghetto music.” Yes, even Diddy can be Jewified: