The First Matzoh

Caleb’s first-grade class went to the Museum at Eldridge Street last week and Caleb had a great time.  I asked him what kind of museum it was because–embarrassingly–I hadn’t known that there even was a museum on Eldridge Street.

“It’s a matzoh museum, mommy,” he said, in a tone that dripped condescension.

“A whole museum about matzoh?”

“Of course. We even learned a story about the First Matzoh.”

Never occurred to me that there might be a First Matzoh, either.  I was raised vaguely Protestant; I suppose somewhere in our culture there’s a story about the First Martini, but no one I know can remember it.

“What’s the story?”

Well.” Deep breath. Apparently I’m in for a saga. “So. There was this guy, right? Moses. He was the good guy.” Looks at me expectantly. I nod.

Satisfied, the Bard of the First Matzoh continues. “In the time of the pharaohs, you know, Egypt. The Pharaoh is totally the bad guy. And he keeps these people as his slaves.”

“Jewish people?”

Shrugs. “I think so. Maybe. Yeah, Jews. Anyway. Moses asks the Pharaoh over and over if he will let the people go and be free. But the Pharaoh likes to have all the slaves to do his work so he says no all the time. Moses gets mad but then Pharoah gets even angrier and so he’s the oldest, right?”

“Moses? Or Pharoah?”

Puzzled. Thinks a minute. “No. Wait. Pharoah says he’s going to kill the oldest ones in every family because I think the new ruler who was going to take over from him was going to be the oldest. So Moses gets all the people and they escape!”

The Bard begins to play with his Lego figures. I wait for the denouement of the story or at very least the mention of matzoh but none is forthcoming.

“What about the matzoh? Did the people get away?’

The Lego figures get arranged in a complex battle formation across the rug.  The Bard looks up. “The people are running and the army is chasing them and they get to the sea, and it looks like they’re going to be captured but then someone goes into the sea and makes a command or magic and the sea opens up, like with the bad guys chasing Frodo in “Lord of the Rings,” you know? And so they go through this like hallway of water but then the army comes and WHOOSH!” The Legos get knocked down. “The water washes them away!”

“What about the matzoh?”

“They get out of the ocean and they’re lost in the desert and all they have is flour stuff and some water so they mix that together and that was matzoh.”

The Legos get set up across the rug again, apparently ready to march across the desert with Moses.

“And that’s it?”

“Yup. That’s matzoh.”

Thus endeth the lesson.

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4 Responses to The First Matzoh

  1. Stasha April 9, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Kid is a natural! Great story teller. He had me in suspense the whole time. Now I need to consult Google to see what exactly we were talking about here. Wish I paid attention in school more!

  2. Ruth Sternglantz April 10, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Oddly canonical, except for the smiting the firstborn thing.

    Have you seen this?

    I love your blog, Deborah.

    a voice from the past,
    Ruth Sternglantz

  3. Poor Princess April 10, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    OMG. We definitely have to pull our kids out of Jewschool. LL came home, not with a clear story of “the first matza,” but yelling–I mean YELLING–“ONE IS HASHEM! ONE IS HASHEM!!” Followed by dancing and arm-waving and “lalalalalala!” “Hashem” is the way kids are taught to say the name of god (in fact hashem translates to “the name”) in jewschools. This “One is Hashem!” is apparently part of the Passover song they learned, but I didn’t realize that at first, and I just kept trying to quiet him, whispering “Your atheist dad is going to pull you right out of that school if you don’t HUSH!”

    I like Caleb’s Passover much better! I think The Scientist would, too! Also, Eldridge is a fabulous old synagogue/monument of the LES ghetto–cool place to visit! (sigh–to live in the City . . .).

  4. Suzie April 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    @Ruth, that’s the greatest link and I’m totally stealing it. Happy Passover

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