Depending on your diet, the celebration of Pesach isn’t so simple in Finland. Although here, typical grocery store items are made with fewer additives than we are accustomed to in America, starches and wheat are staples of the Finnish diet. Stores sell foods from around the world, but I’ve noticed that many Finns still eat their puuroa (porridge), ruisleipä (rye bread) and other traditional foods on a regular basis.
If one wanted to eat matzah during Passover, they would have to order it online (which I forgot to do.) But I got my fill of matzah at the community seder the first night, where I was responsible for leading kids’ games during magid, the longest portion of the ceremony. On the second night, I got together with a few of my friends from Finland, Mexico, Israel and Russia. Although it’s hard to find a written copy of the Haggadah outside of the synagogue in Finland, we looked up portions on our phone and did our best explanations for those who hadn’t had a seder before. My friend from Mexico did most of the cooking, so we were treated to latkes with salsa and Sephardic haroset.
Shoshana and I spent the rest of our break traveling in Vienna. We sought out a few gluten-free restaurants, which we thought would be the closest thing to kosher for Passover, and definitely had our fill of schnitzel. We met up with the JDC Fellow in Cologne, who was visiting her friend from the European Center of Jewish Students. So we learned a little about Jewish life in Vienna, but spent most of our time sightseeing and marveling at the seemingly endless stretches of opulent, important neoclassical buildings. On a rainy Easter Monday, we took a day trip to Salzburg, where we visited Mozart’s house and birthplace and a hilltop fortress. Excited about leaving the Nordics, we hadn’t exactly packed for the colder weather, but we made do and I was glad I brought a raincoat.
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