Ancient Stories, Modern Passover

Everyone probably knows the basic story of Passover starting with how Moses asked Pharoah to let his enslaved people leave Egypt, and how Moses’ god punished Pharaoh. Sometimes I wonder how much literal truth there is in these stories. I do know at this time of year our favorite thing is to gather around the table, eat some traditional ethnic foods, tell the ancient stories and share conversations about what it all means.

Not even going as far back as ancient times, there have been lots of changes in our Passover. As a child, for instance, we celebrated with blood family only. Starting with my great grandfather, Abie, who conducted a three hour long Seder complete with handwashing at the table and only in Hebrew.  Now, as adults, we celebrate with our family of choice which includes Jews (me and my blood family), husband (Catholic), friends (Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Jews, Atheists). Back in the day, we ate ONLY traditional foods – cue the gefilte fish, matzoh balls, and brisket with some Manishevitz wine. This year we celebrate with a multi-ethnic meal of, yes, Jewish Brisket alongside a Lamb Curry and Calabrian Chicken dish all accompanied by some superior red wine (helps to have friends in the business).

Just in case any of us need some refreshing on the finer points of the Passover holiday history, this year my Italian Catholic husband put together a quiz to spark conversation around our what promises to be ancient telling of an increasingly modern story.

Email us here if you get stumped on the answers~ we don’t want to give away the secrets BEFORE our dinner tonight!

Cheers and Happy Passover!

The First (and Last) Exodus Quiz

1.  The name “Moses” means:

  • To breathe
  • To bear
  • To draw up
  • To lead

2.  Moses suffered from what alleged “disability?”

  • He walked with a limp
  • He was slow of speech
  • He was blind
  • He was left-handed

3.  The name of Moses’ father-in-law was:

  • Jacob
  • Jeremiah
  • Joshua
  • Jethro

4.   Which of the following was the first plague to be visited on the Egyptians?

  • Water turned to blood
  • Lice
  • Frogs
  • Diseased livestock

5.   The Israelites built which city for pharaoh:

  • Memphis
  • Alexandria
  • Thebes
  • Pithom

6.   Name the composer of the opera “Moses und Aron:”

  • Alban Berg
  • Richard Strauss
  • Arnold Schoenberg
  • Igor Stravinsky

7.   What happened to Moses after he came down the mountain?

  • His face was radiant
  • His hair turned white
  • He began speaking in tongues
  • He levitated

8.   What Verdi opera has a chorus of Jewish slaves singing, “Va, Pensiero”?

  • Aida
  • Il Trovatore
  • Nabucco
  • Simon Boccanegra

9.   Who wrote the opera “La Juive”?

  • Jacques Halevy
  • Giacomo Meyerbeer
  • Jacques Offenbach
  • Erik Satie

10.   What composer wrote an opera in 1937 (The Eternal Road) to call attention to the Jewish situation in Nazi Germany?

  • Leonard Bernstein
  • Aaron Copeland
  • Erich Korngold
  • Kurt Weill

12.  The author of the novel “Exodus” is:

  • Norman Mailer
  • James Michener
  • Leon Uris
  • Herman Wouk

13.   Which of the following did not attend the University of Chicago?

  • Susan Sontag
  • Bernie Sanders
  • David Foster Wallace
  • Philip Roth

14.   Which of the following persons has not been influenced by noted Russian atheist and alleged philosopher, Ayn Rand?

  • Ben Bernacke
  • Alan Greenspan
  • Milton Friedman
  • Paul Ryan

15.   Ben Bernacke’s middle name is:

  • Howard
  • Alan
  • Nathan
  • Shalom

Extra Credit:

The Hebrew bible has how many books?

  • 5
  • 9
  • 23
  • 24