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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Politics of Passover

posted by on January 16 at 11:45 AM

Oops. Looks like the Washington State Democrats scheduled the party’s county conventions for the eve of Passover, sparking a Move the Convention online petition that declares:

The eve of Passover is not an acceptable day for an inclusive party to hold county conventions.

In this relatively un-Jewish state, how many Jews with strong opinions about the county caucuses can there actually be? As of this moment, looks like 259.

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Hasn't there been another case in the last few years where something political has been scheduled on a major Jewish holiday? I can't recall if it was something city, county, or statewide, but it's not like Judaism is some obscure religion whose major holidays are a big mystery. There might not be a huge percentage of Jewish people across the state, but there's certainly a Jewish presence in Seattle.

I'm not religious at all and this scheduling wouldn't affect me at all - but if TPTB would take pains to not schedule the conventions on, say, Good Friday, then this could and should have been avoided.

Posted by genevieve | January 16, 2008 11:56 AM

Having grown up in a kinda-sorta Jewish environment, with lots of Jewish friends, you come to understand that Passover, particularly the first two days, is a major family event. Not unlike Thanksgiving. People fly all over the country to reunite with their families.

Even for the almost completely non-religious, like me, it rankles that they schedule things to overlap Passover.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | January 16, 2008 12:03 PM

yup that antiJewish monorail board got major shit for shceduling a meeting on Yom Kippur or something.

Clearly, no other political bodies like county councils, city councils, ST board, snohomish county bd., or anyone else, has ever committed such a devilish crime. Everyone knows: all political bodies reoutinely respect the rights not only of Jews but also Moslems, Hindus, and every other religion and sect in the world, and avoid scheduling any official business on any religious holidays of anyone.

But: doesn't Passover start at sundown? Thus, no conflict?

Please inform.

Posted by unPC | January 16, 2008 12:06 PM

Oh and this: the prospect of adding religious war to the race and gender war brewing among Democrats is very enticing. But still, thought we'd all like to know about the latest in the Republican corroption and lobbying scandals:

Ex-Lawmaker Charged in Terror Conspiracy
By LARA JAKES JORDAN Associated Press Writer | Jan 16, 2008 | 80 words , 0 images
A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted Wednesday as part of a terrorist fundraising ring that allegedly sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida and Taliban supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.

The former Republican congressman from Michigan, Mark Deli Siljander, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.

Posted by unPC | January 16, 2008 12:08 PM

You know, the 43rd Dems and King County Dems tried to argue this point at the WSDCC, but the problem is the GOP scheduled their caucus for Saturday first.


But, you can register online now, and if you fill out a form (it's on the state dems website (anyone have a link?)) you can then indicate your preference, instructions for what to do if your choice doesn't make it to get a candidate, and even that you want to run as a delegate - if you're disabled, have a religious problem with attending (e.g. Jewish, Muslim, 7thDayAdventist, Pastafarian), or actively serving in military away from your caucus location).

Hope this helps.

But whining won't change anything - the rules were set in stone a month ago.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 16, 2008 12:10 PM

I'm okay with it, just so long as they don't schedule anything during No Ruz, Farvardigan, or Khordad Sal....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 16, 2008 12:11 PM

1. Will in Seattle: "the problem is the GOP scheduled their caucus for Saturday first."

So what?

2. Why is it "whining" to complain about it ?

I can think of lots of reasons for and against on this issue, but do we need to start denigrating folks based on what they think, or profess?

Posted by unPC | January 16, 2008 12:16 PM

those crazy religious folks! well, the state shall make no law respecting... no respect!

Posted by infrequent | January 16, 2008 12:24 PM

I concur with 2- Passover is a big deal, even for us mostly non-religious Jews. It's one of the 3 non-gift holidays that I observe. It's a family gathering holiday. We used to go to New York every year to spend it with my relatives up there. Having the convention scheduled for a holiday that definitely ranks up there is pretty insulting and stupid.

Posted by Abby | January 16, 2008 12:26 PM

also, even if it officially starts at sundown, you can still have plenty planned before then. that's like saying thanksgiving only starts when the turkey's on the table...

Posted by infrequent | January 16, 2008 12:28 PM

well, wedgewood & view ridge will go apeshit. its lubavitcheriffic!

Posted by max solomon | January 16, 2008 12:30 PM

This thread is making me hungry.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 16, 2008 12:30 PM

Is Issur on that list?

Posted by kid icarus | January 16, 2008 12:35 PM

@10: thanks for the explanation. Noted.

But: this means we need to set aside as official non-business days, not only all religious holidays, but a few shoulder days, too.

Question: do we do this for all religions? "Major" religions"? All religions that complain? All religions with over 25,000 people in Washington State? Anybody got a list of the new non-business days this entails? Or, are we all just thinking about getting our own religious holidays to be non business days and the hell with other religions'?

Or this: the hell with all religions that's your oprivate business -- and this means we have public business on Christmas and every Sunday too?

Posted by unPC | January 16, 2008 12:45 PM


Some information: since 2004, caucuses and conventions have been held on Saturday, which is the Sabbath (day of rest) EVERY WEEK for Jews.

Yes, Passover starts at sundown on the 19th, but to presume that there's no conflict demonstrates a lack of understanding for our tradition (see Sabbath, above) and preparations for Passover (clearing every speck of leavened bread and proscribed foods out of the house) and the Seder (matzoh balls take a long time to cook).

You can pick up a full tilt Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at your neighborhood grocery; a Seder not so much.

This is a slap in the face to the Jewish population of Washington, many of whom are activist Democrats.

Posted by Passover | January 16, 2008 12:52 PM

This comment thread has developed a decidedly anti-semitic tone.

It really doesn't surprise me that so many jew haters populate SLOG or Seattle in general.

Never forget

Posted by ecce homo | January 16, 2008 1:24 PM

@7 - look, I didn't create the two-party system, I'm just telling you why.

Now, as to why I'm saying it's whining ... because you didn't raise a fuss last year when you might have actually had a chance to get it changed. You all ignored what was happening and didn't do anything when it mattered.

It's like wondering why the Stormtroopers are at the door when you ignored their creation, funding, and training .... kapiche?

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 16, 2008 1:37 PM

Actually, Will, the problem has been raised numerous times before by active folks in the Party. Funny how we never schedule these things on Sundays, isn't it?

That said, I'm hardly surprised. This keeps happening over and over and over in this town. And what's most disturbing to me is that I usually find the folks who planned some event on a date that conflicts with a Jewish holiday are Jews!

Posted by Mickymse | January 16, 2008 2:07 PM

The thing that makes this particularly insulting, though, that people aren't getting is that Passover is one of the majorly-celebrated holidays even among Jews who aren't particularly observant otherwise. While Shabbat probably isn't celebrated among the more secular Jews, Passover is. It's once a year and something that should probably be taken into account for an event that might have a lot (relatively) of Jews wanting to attend. It's an easily-preventable stupid thing to do.

Posted by Abby | January 16, 2008 2:40 PM

Ehhh....if enough people protest, it'll get changed.

Next year.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 16, 2008 2:55 PM

OK, but here's the deal. A party caucus and convention requires a huge investment of time. If it's scheduled on a weekday, the number of people who will be able to show up will be very low, because people work until 5, then have to commute home, and then usually want to eat dinner. So that leaves Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. Very few believers in Christianity or Judaism completely observe the Sabbath; the usual concern is to avoid scheduling during the typical time of religious services. So early afternoon is the best time, on either Saturday or Sunday. Friday nights might also work, except for Muslims.

Considering all of this, and Saturday afternoon is the least problematic time to schedule political conventions and caucuses. On the other hand, Passover is once a year and should be respected as much as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Posted by Cascadian | January 16, 2008 4:35 PM

Hey Will in Seattle @ 17

I often agree with you, but chew on this: insider Democrats may have known the scheduling thingy and conflicts with Passover, BUT TO MOST MERE MORTALS, who are just tuning into the caucus cycle, THIS IS NEWS.

The Jewish calendar is much older than the secular calendar and is based on the lunar cycle, so holidays don't correspond to the same date in the calendar we use in our everyday lives. Most of us know that Passover usually falls sometime in April. For more specificity, we check the calendar.

That's what this Jew did when I realized that the county convention was scheduled for Passover. I don't care how long ago it was "scheduled," it's was a bad choice then, and (based on 400+ signatures on the petition) a bad choice now.
The State Party would do well to respond and accommodate a change, instead of making those of us who don't keep track of the Jewish holidays a year in advance feel like we're somehow to blame for our negligence.

Posted by Passover | January 16, 2008 8:49 PM

@23: pretty much this is what I'd started writing umpteen times today, when variously interrupted by what my overlords like to call "my work."

It's not like we forgot that Dec 25 is Christmas. Nor did we forget that 1 Nisan is erev Pesach. It's just that many of us have both Jewish calendars and the modern sort, and our datebooks tend to run on the modern sort, and most of us have to check, regularly, to see how our Jewish holidays coincide with the modern dating systems. It changes every year, and sometimes quite significantly. It is not a simple equation. I don't hold the lunar calendar at the front of my thoughts most days. Most days, I run on the modern calendar. In a sense, that's what makes my observance of the Jewish one all the more meaningful.

It was a mistake. Now it's been caught. The State Party should be strongly urged to correct the wrong, now that they have recognized it. This isn't even like scheduling something for Christmas or Thanksgiving.

In many ways Passover is *the* holiday that stands for the creation of modern Judaism: religiously, sure, but also culturally. We don't really have any holidays that predate that of Passover. Passover is when, mytho-historically, "we" moved from the captivity of not being able to observe our faith and culture to the freedom (as it were) to do so.

Passover occurs in Exodus, the second book of the Torah. The only other holiday that occurs this early in our religiomythohistory is that of Shabbat, our highest holiday of all (also a day chosen for the conventions, but what freaking ever). Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Shavuot, Sukkot—these are all predicated upon Passover. It's the holiday that says "Oy, guys: you're Jewish!"

The other holidays tell Jews how to be good Jews. This is the holiday that made Jews.

It's not just a "family meal." It's not the same as Thanksgiving. It's not the same as Christmas (unless I am wrong, it is Easter that is viewed as the holiday that put the Christ in Christmas: it is the Christian view of resurrection that seals the deal for them, right? If it weren't for the resurrection, there would be no Christmas).

As others have noted, finally, Passover is not something you can scoop together at the last minute—but the preparations absolutely require, either for the very observant or the very dilatory—a very great deal of last minute preparation.

The idea that you could go to the conventions for a few hours through mid day and then come home and pull off a 7 course seder for 20 is ludicrous.

That night is not like all other nights. It's not.

Just ask the little kid.

Posted by Abulafia | January 16, 2008 9:43 PM

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