Beitzah and Ham Buns

Last night we went to a Passover Seder at the home of our friends David and Lisa Burchi. Lisa, who is Jewish, prepared the food and led us in the ritual feast. Is there anything that woman can’t do?! Seriously! In addition to all of her full-time lawyering and mothering, she managed to cook up this beautiful meal, and even had collated, stapled copies of the Seder service for our crew of unruly Christians. I felt so honored.

There was one item on the Seder plate that sent me to the web later looking for clarification: the beitzah, or hardboiled egg. Lisa’s Seder handout said that the egg is both a symbol of new life—a no-brainer—and of mourning—how so? The explanation I found on Wikipedia struck me as cyclical and hilarious: the egg is a symbol of mourning in Jewish religious culture because it is the first thing served to mourners after a funeral. (There must be more to it, and I’m going to ask Lisa next time I see her.)

And that sent my mind to memories of the first food served to mourners after a funeral in the Protestant denomination I grew up in, the Christian Reformed Church: ham buns. The Dutch church ladies would serve up platters of these awful little sandwiches, comprised of bland pink ham on those powdery little buns, without the benefit of any interesting condiments like mustard. I’d much rather eat an egg.

the egg and the ham bun
are sad little fraternal twins,
resigned to being
edible ovoid symbols of mourning,
eaten after funerals
though no one remembers why