Sephardic Traditions Make My Brain Hurt

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Being home for Passover has brought back a couple of memories from my past life. For one, Canada is cold. Like really cold. But people here aren’t fazed by it. I was walking on the street this morning and, because it was sunny outside, some guy was walking around with shorts on (I’m pretty sure if we could hear his thoughts, you would here on repeat, “I’m such an idiot. I’m such an idiot. I hate myself.”).

Another thing that I had, well, not forgotten about, but hadn’t thought about in a while, was the vibrancy of the Moroccan Jewish community in Montreal. People outside of Canada, for the most part, aren’t aware of how large the Moroccan community here is, but when you think about it, it makes sense. When you come from a French speaking country, it would make sense for you to move to a place (Montreal) where they already speak your language.

So it has been a bit of a transition for me to get used to all of the French and the Moroccan dominance. For one, yesterday, I was referred to as a “Pollack” for the first time since high school, where it was a regular occurrence. Never mind the fact that I’m not Polish, but I digress.

But perhaps the craziest tradition that Moroccan Jews have is the Maimouna (check the MJL article about it here). To put it shortly, Maimouna is a massive dessert party to end Passover. It’s a pretty big deal. It is supposed to be an open house type event, where anyone can walk in. On any given Maimouna evening, people go to five or six different houses. But there are some upper class events as well. I heard about an invitation only Maimouna yesterday that attracts the richest and most powerful Jews in the city as well as the Premier (the Canadian equivalent of a governor) of Quebec.

But what always confuses is me is where this food comes from. I always thought that you are supposed to sell all of your hametz. So, how is it possible that these homes, literally an hour after Passover ends, have enough hametz food to feed over 100 people?

I guess I’ll never know. After all, I’m just a Pollack.

Posted on April 13, 2009

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