Jewish Journal

Searching for Passover Hobbits

by Susan Esther Barnes

April 16, 2014 | 1:30 am

Photo by Susan Esther Barnes

“Ray is annoyed by the search for hobbits,” my husband said, referring to his friend who, like my husband, is not Jewish but is married to someone who is.

“Hobbits?” I asked.

“Yes,” he confirmed.

“Why is he looking for hobbits?” I inquired, I thought, quite reasonably.

“You know, for Passover,” he explained, which wasn’t an explanation at all. After a pause, he added, “…or something that sounds like hobbits.”

After a few moments casting around in my head for anything which might make sense out of this proclamation, I suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, chametz!” He was annoyed by having to search the house for breadcrumbs and anything else that may have leavening in it.

The conversation was indicative of what my three day Passover holiday weekend would be like, namely, functional but disjointed.

What I had hoped would be an orderly progression from Shabbat to a day off to a relaxed day of cooking culminating in a Passover seder turned, instead, into all that plus a series of unexpected events sprinkled in, calling for an extra measure of coordination and improvisation.

Rather than a time to relax, Saturday evening and Sunday morning turned into a flurry of activity as we strove to schedule a taharah at a mortuary we haven’t used before in between Shabbat on Saturday and the commencement of Passover cooking on Monday.

Then, my plans for cooking on Monday were delayed as I hosted a nice young man who tore up my downstairs bathroom tile and wall in order to remove the damage from a leak. He left behind a stripped and soaked wooden floor, a hole in the carpet in the adjoining room, as well as a collection of blowers that will, we hope, dry everything out before repairs begin.

Plus there was the very nice inspector from the insurance company, who looked over the mess and shocked the workman by declaring the damage (thank goodness) will likely be covered. She also warned me it will likely be five or six weeks before everything is put back together.

So, cooking started late and I was tense. And then the seder started. And between the familiar rituals and the delightful conversation with my husband, I was finally able to relax.

Then, toward the end, we opened the door, as we traditionally do, for the hobbit. Because, you see, in our home, we are fully aware that Frodo was played in the Lord of the Rings movies by Elijah Wood. And we always open the door for Elijah.

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Susan Esther Barnes is a religious Reform Jew who can regularly be seen greeting people at her synagogue before services. She is a founding member of her synagogue’s chevra...

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