April 27, 2014

Niece’s First Passover

Posted in Interfaith, Judaism at 6:49 pm by chavalah

Seder plate and hagaddah at my family seder

Seder plate and hagaddahs at my family seder

Passover 5774 is now behind us (in EST time, tonight is the 13th day of the Omer,) so time to assess my thoughts. I believe, or at least this has been my experience, that this holiday is the most awkward one for an interfaith/non-religious family, and I happen to come from both. Most of the rest of the important holidays center around the synagogue, so I can basically ignore what my relatives are doing and be enveloped in my shul. But Passover is a family affair, meant to be commemorated around the dinner table. There’s no getting around celebrating, or not celebrating as a unit.

My family seder was less of a seder and more of a Passover-foodie dinner with a seder plate in the middle. I found, and printed out, a six-page Haggadah filled with a few parody songs; after the meal, we skipped around belting a few lyrics here or there, as led by my sister. That was about it. This is probably a good place to extend thanks to friends who invited me to their house for the second night seder, where I could actually take part in some of the ritualistic aspects of the holiday.

The big attraction of the evening was my niece. At five months old, this was her first Passover. As we cooked and prepared, we regaled in our usual activities with her—holding and playing and feeding and being awed by her presence. We also got to FaceTime with our family in Kansas, just before their own seder, and it was a real treat, as some of them had yet to see the baby. I did check out some holiday books from the library, but unfortunately my niece was too fussy for reading.

All in all, I have to believe that her first Passover was a success. As one of the more religiously and culturally inclined Jews of my family, what I want for my niece is to have a sense of comfort and hereditary acknowledgement of Jewish expression. We may not have done a full seder, but I feel comfortable that she will grow up with an annual meal involving matzah, gefilte fish, and my mother’s set up seder plate. She can take it from there.

In broader world news, the day of our seder meal actually coincided with the attacks at the Jewish Community Center and nursing home in Overland Park, near to where some of my family lives. Antisemitism happens all of the time, but for me this one probably hit closest to home. As part of a personal expression of solidarity, I changed my Facebook image for all of Passover to the JCC logo. More importantly, I kept up with reading essays trying to deal with the tragedy; this one is my favorite. It’s good to know the ways in which hatred can’t win, that we will rise up in friendship and camaraderie, and learn to embrace and celebrate our differences.

Chag sameach, and I hope that all of you who celebrated had meaningful experiences with your loved ones.

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