Passover came first this year and Andy was able to find a temple (traveling temple!) through a man that we met during movie night in the beginning of our stay in Montpellier. They have no permanent synagogue here so apparently, make due with various locations.
For Passover, the Jewish congregation was holding a Sedar meal in the Corum which is a very large, beautiful convention center where shows, meetings, and cultural activities are held. On the very top floor of the building, there is a meeting room with a kitchen area - the room where the Sedar was to be held.
On the night of the Sedar, we all got in our "fancy clothes", walked to the tram, and got off at the Corum stop. From there, we were supposed to find an elevator and go up to the top floor. Well, being us, we assumed that the elevator would be around the public area of the building so we headed up some stairs, then further up more stairs (all outside). We ended up on the roof of the Corum and asked some College aged kids if they knew where the room was - "no, but maybe down a floor" - so, we headed down only to confirm that the room wasn't there and neither was the elevator! Andrew pulled out the cell phone and called his contact person (a lady from the congregation) who said that she would meet us at the tram stop - down we went to meet her, which we did and then followed her about 100 feet to an elevator door tucked in a part of the building that we didn't see initially!
Since it was a very small elevator - we sent Emma and Adam with a gentleman who had met us with the lady, up and planned to follow. When the elevator came back down, the rest of us climbed aboard, pushed the button, and didn't go anywhere - the elevator was suddenly broken. So - we got to hoof it back up all of the steps, and back onto the roof where, tucked back into and around a corner, was the door to the room we had been looking for all along - ugh!
The service had already begun when we walked in, but the kids in the room were very relaxed and goofing off so we didn't seem to be disturbing anyone by coming in late. There were about 50 people in attendance. We handed over our contribution to the "Pot-Luck Sedar" (strawberries, matzo and wine) and found some seats (which we were eventually moved from because they were reserved for the president of the temple).
Most of the service was in French, until the person leading the service got to a certain prayer and only knew how to say it in....Arabic! Needless to say, it was a very interesting, culturally diverse, evening. We were lucky enough to sit by an english speaking couple - she from New York, he from Turkey who had three boys around Adam's age (they, however were sitting with all of their friends). The food was good and again, culturally diverse - 2 different matzo ball soups, some meatballs and other various dishes. After a couple of hours, we were all ready to head for home and thanked the english speakers for taking us under their "wing".
For Easter, I went out in search of a traditional Easter ham, only to discover that there are none! I called Marie to ask what people in France eat for Easter and was informed that Leg of Lamb is the tradional dinner of choice, I however, was not about to attempt my first leg of lamb here so, we resorted to our tradional passover dinner from home - Bourbon Chicken, which everyone loves!
We decided to go to the Easter Vigil service at The Cathedral of St. Pierre for mass on Saturday night. The weekend had been rainy but we made it to the church dry by tram. When we entered, we picked up Easter candles for a 50 cent donation and were told that there would be a procession into the church at 9:00 pm. We found a seat up in the front and waited. Andrew went for a walk outside to pass the time and found a group of people standing around a very large TV screen watching the Montpellier Handball match! He was back in time to join in the procession and was very excited to tell Adam what he had found.
The Bishop, along with numerous priests and deacons, lead the church service, beginning with a fire outside the front of the church, the lighting of the big easter candle and the procession into the church - it was a beautiful event - the music/singing, candlelight and ambiance of the Cathedral all together for Easter, was very moving. The service was looong as all Easter Vigils are, and we stayed for the whole thing!
On Easter morning, we were suprised to find that the Bunny had visited us in France! Much Chocolate was found and enjoyed :) The day was spent going to the Zoo to visit the animals and relaxing at home. Our dinner of Bourbon Chicken, mashed potatoes and whatever veggie we had, was good. The kids had colored their Easter Eggs the day before thanks to Grandma and Grandpa's care package. I didn't see any egg coloring kits here in France. The new tie-died style eggs were beautiful and I know I took pictures of them but am afraid that I deleted the pix at some point since I can't find them on the computer :(
Overall, the holidays here were very nice and enjoyed by all of us!