Why is this bite different from all other bites?…asks Tami Sussman

April 16, 2014 by J-Wire
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If the thought of giving up bread, pasta, muesli and Tim Tams for a bit over a week makes you want to pluck your eyebrows off, then have no fear – you are experiencing a normal response to an anticipatory thought of Passover.

Tami Sussman

Tami Sussman

However, if the aforementioned situation excites that part of your brain that says “think about all those KGs you’re going to drop in the next 8 days”, then you’re probably one of the 99.9%* of Jews who has disordered eating habits and food thoughts.

If, like me, you’ve spent countless years and thousands of dollars in therapy to pacify those voices, then you’re probably readying yourself for a Sephardiesque Passover that includes rice and chametz. Not because you think the traditional obligations of Passover are out-dated and unnecessary, but because you don’t want to rekindle unhelpful feelings and behaviours related to restrictive eating patterns. Confused?

Notice how recovering alcoholics tend to never have a drink? That’s because, quite often, it’s the first drink that opens the field for a second drink and then a third. A few years ago, when I discussed the possibility of abiding by Pesach’s dietary requirements with my (Jewish) psychologist and Dietician, I was warned of the potential for relapse in my recovery process; because the personal sense of power and achievement associated with restricting one’s eating – even for 1 day – is addictive and therefore dangerous. “So will I ever be ready to keep Passover again?” I asked them. “When you can honestly say that you won’t be obsessing over the food you’re missing” … Hrmm … That’s when “schnitz got real” and I realised that I wanted to curb my carbohydrate intake for all the wrong reasons. I was doing it … for the challenge. Sound familiar?

Potential adversaries take note: I mean no disrespect to my foreparents who did not have time to wait for their bread to rise during their exodus from slavery in Egypt. In fact, Passover is the most meaningful Jewish holiday to me. That’s why I’ve come up with a list of ways that I show gratitude by remembering the plight of the Hebrews who paved the way for Jewish freedom. Feel free to adopt any of these customs, as some might apply to you:

  1. Move House

I’ll be packing up my flat in Bondi and moving to the “other side” of Randwick over Pesach this year. While at first this idea saddened me deeply, I’ve now come to realise that I am, in some ways, displaying an act of defiance against slavery. No longer will I be bound to the shackles that are the foot straps in Double Bay Pilates group reformer classes, the handcuffs that are the UV gel light manicure dryers at USA nails Bondi Junction, behind the bars of over-priced Bondi dwellings seeping Oceanside mould and the voices of loud backpacking neighbours. That’s right. As the floodgates open on Avoca St (nearest cross st, Frenchmans Rd) I’ll think of my ancestors who stood before the red sea and marvelled at the thought of cheaper real estate and the freedom to shop at the no-brand spice markets without judgement.

  • Be gluten-free-free

Yes, gluten gives me gas too. All the more reason to eat Matzah (which, ironically, contains wheat). The pain associated with the flatulence that you experience won’t even come close to the discomfort the Hebrews endured under the whips of the ancient Egyptians, but the least we can do, is feel distress. Out of respect to our ancestors (coz I’m pretty sure that most of us aren’t thinking about mortar when we halish over charoset) If you’re the kind of Jew who has self-diagnosed yourself with gluten intolerance but can be seen sneaking mouthfuls of challah in their mouth by the dishwashing station on a Friday night, then this point definitely applies to you. Consume the matzo, enjoy the novelty and move on. Nobody cares that you “probably shouldn’t be eating this”.

  • Leave the house in a rush.

Nothing says, “I respect that you had to leave in a rush” better than leaving your home in a rush too. That’s why I’ll be setting my alarm 20 minutes later than usual during the 8 days of Passover. This might mean that I’ll have to run out of the door without brushing my teeth and/or wearing pants. So if work colleagues ask me why my breath smells particularly bad (or why I’m not wearing any pants) I’ll have to explain the Passover story to them. Spreading the word + remembrance = respect.

  • Stand up to a bully

I honoured Moses and Aaron (who stood up to one of history’s biggest bullies) this morning, when I stood up to an oppressor who dared to cross my path while I was performing administrative duties at my family’s business office. If you’d like, you can use my email as a template. Be sure to insert appropriate names where necessary and invent your own qualification to enhance credibility.

  • Stare down a mummy

If your local museum has an “Ancient Egypt” exhibition open over Passover, why not attend and stare down a mummy? You never know, he/she/it could have been a close relative to the Pharaoh mentioned in the Passover story. I don’t condone throwing rotten food stuffs into the cordoned off area though – let’s be mature here – simply folding your eyes and staring out the mummy (gangsta style) and mumbling phrases like “nobody f—s with my people” is effective enough and you won’t be ushered out by security.

An on that note, from everyone here at Sussmania, wishing you all a joyous Passover and happy eyebrow plucking.

*Anecdotal evidence only. Obviously.

 

Tami is a writer and performer based in Sydney who shatters cultural and social taboos. Often she makes people laugh. Sometimes they cry. She’s ok with that. 

 

Follow her on twitter @SussmaniaSydney or like her facebook page “Sussmania” 

 

website: sussmania.wordpress.com

 

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