Seder night. Very little happened today that wasn’t preparation for the dinner in the evening. Except I had my ceremonial Last Bowl of Pasta – quite an emotional moment.
We had 14 at the table, including the captain and his wife. I think it ended up 50:50 Jews and non-Jews. We did it mostly in English, so that everyone could participate and understand, and we explained bits as we went.
Dinner took three hours from start to finish – although we did cut some bits from the service, in order to make it a little shorter. Not really sure that the non-Jews at the table were particularly interested in the petty word games and arguments between medieval rabbis!
The catering staff were amazingly helpful, and our Seder plate looked very good indeed. We used the wine, grape juice, haroseth, matzah and gluten-free matzah that we bought in San Francisco. And they stuck a lamb shank bone from the night before last’s dinner and an egg under a special grill they call a Salamander, which makes things very hot very fast, so that was impressively perfect.
After the egg and salt water, we had vegetable soup, poached salmon with new potatoes and broccoli, and sliced fruit platters for dessert. Everyone ate and everyone seemed happy. Turns out the captain’s wife is allergic to eggs! The captain said that, in over 40 years at sea, he had never been invited to a Seder.
We ate by the Neptune Pool, with the roof partly open – enough for a breeze, but not enough to let the rain in. Very pleasant, but not quite as private as we might have liked, and definitely a bit too warm. Very odd, having people walk past in their swimsuits while we were eating!
During dinner, I asked some of the Jews what they felt about the change in the kitniot rules last November. They had never heard of a change. So being told that, officially, corn, hummus, rice and several other yummy things, are no longer considered chametz was revelatory to them. I don’t think anyone is planning on changing their habits, mind you.
The oddest thing was that, an article I read recently said that there are only actually five chametz products in the texts: wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. Which, as a coeliac, made me laugh out loud. Because we can’t eat: wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. What puzzled me was that there was no mention whatsoever of yeast. Whether you allow pulses or rice or corn is one thing, but yeast only exists to make things rise, doesn’t it (marmite aside)?! So surely that would be forbidden? As usual, with any clarification in Jewish law, I am now more confused than I was before. Anyone care to clarify this for me?