Last night was the first night of the Jewish Passover which is celebrated for 7 to 8 days. It commemorates the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. The holiday is also the inspiration for the Christian holiday of Holy Thursday.
Whilst researching Passover for my work on Anzia Yezierka’s novels, I came across an interesting piece about a man who, determined to go to a Bruce Springsteen concert even though it clashed with Passover, decided to organises a Seder at the concert venue. There was even a song composed for the occasion.
The reference to Springsteen prompted me to think about the representation of religion in Yezierska’s writing. Springsteen was raised as a Roman Catholic, and makes clear referenecs to this influence in many of the songs he wrote or performs: Jesus Was an Only Son, Adam Raised a Cain, We Are Alive, The Rising, and of course the often mentions “promised land”.
His frequent references to a religion which he does not actively practice, made me consider the absence of such in the writings of Yezierska. Although Sara Smolinsky’s father is a rabbi in Bread Givers, there are no mentions of religious holidays or celebrations in the novel. The clearest reference to Judaism is in the funeral scene towards the end. This is surprising, as Yezierska makes it clear in both Bread Givers and Salome of the Tenements that being a practising Jew is anathema to her characters, and yet there are never true dichotomies created.
Links for those interested:
Matzah/ Matzo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matzah
The New York Times piece- “At the Garden, Spending Passover With Springsteen”:
Bruce Springsteen’s song Wrecking Ball