Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter, Passover, Spring, and Star Wars

I am a bad Jew.  This is something you should know about me.  It's something I write a lot of essays about because it plagues me.  I'm basically an atheist (there goes half of my readership.  Nice knowing you.), but I still identify as Jewish because I can't quit it.  It's part of my identity.  The struggle I've discovered (and let's be perfectly honest, predicted) as a parent is how to raise my kids with spiritual and cultural integrity.  How do I teach them what being Jewish is or means when we don't practice and fold in so many quasi-Christian/mostly-secular traditions?  Case in point, we do Easter baskets.  This is an endeavor spearheaded by my agnostic husband who was raised nondominationally Christian.  We are a very confused family.  I think my husband just enjoys an excuse to buy crap for the kids, to express his love for them.  Given that Easter was always a very lonely holiday for me because ALL of the kids in my neighborhood growing up were Catholic, and therefore unavailable for play dates on that special April Sunday, I don't mind that we give the kids chocolate, allow them to hunt for eggs.  They are part of the fun.  Also, if you stand still long enough, my husband will tell you how Easter has origins in Paganism, the name Easter, coming from the Saxon goddess Eostre.  (I sat near him as he regaled a trustee at his university with this snappy fact during a luncheon.) 

True story: my Orthodox Jewish bubbie used to buy me milk chocolate Easter bunnies every year.  You remember the ones?  With the yellow candy eyes, hollow in the center.  Yum.  And, my Reform Jewish mother bought me a carton of chocolate eggs every Easter to enjoy with my Passover matzo.  In high school, she would buy me those decadent Cadbury eggs with the gooey innards.  Mixed messages?  Maybe.

But this isn't why I'm a bad Jew.  I'm a bad Jew because I spaced out on Passover completely this year. It began on Tuesday.  I realized this on Good Friday.  I also refuse to give up bread, eat matzo, or have my kids dip their spoons in grape juice to count off plagues (this is part of the Passover Seder service, in case you didn't know).  Fun plagues like "locusts" and "frogs" and "slaying of the first born."  It's brutal.  Last night my daughter asked me how you celebrate Passover, forgetting that she has attended seders in past years.  I felt like a cad, like my late mother was wagging her finger at me for this failure. Bad Jew.  Bad bad Jew.

That said, most Christian traditions have become pretty secular.  This week, my son attended a field trip to the PUBLIC library where they did Easter egg crafts and heard stories about bunnies and eggs; my son told me how his PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER told his class about the resurrection (not in a you should believe this way, I think) and gave her students a sight word egg hunt.  Oh and the Darth Vader eggs we found at Target.  Yeah, I don't think Jesus had those.

At any rate, we are going to have a peaceful Easter Sunday, not attending church, not eating matzo, probably playing Wii and putting away lots of laundry.  Whatever you do, whatever you celebrate or don't, enjoy this peaceful Sunday.  I think spring has finally arrived.

Behold the secular humanist spring basket of The Force

10 comments:

  1. i am a bad, bad christian. growing up, i didn't want to follow jesus, i wanted to be jesus. on a holiday to mexico i photographed young men with "jesus" name badges. i compiled a lovely album called "finding jesus"

    there now, don't you feel better. and to top it off i nominated you for an award. go to my blog and check it out.

    happy easter xxx

    ps. this was a lovely, funny post.

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    1. I would love to see that photo album. Funny stuff. Thanks for the award nom. Can't wait to read your blog. I'm way behind in my reading.

      Happy Easter right back atcha, Bev.

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  2. I kind of love this about you though. Carter and I talked about the mixing of traditions and how that's actually pretty cool for kids. I went to a Seder once in high school and 3 of my cousins were Muslim and my mom's parents are Catholic and my dad's were Methodist and my extended family is apostolic Christian (i.e. basically Amish). And it was pretty awesome, I think. So kudos to your kids and their Star Wars Easter baskets!

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    1. Here's to confused children!!!!

      Thanks, Kate.

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  3. My son is a self proclaimed atheist and is quick to point out that it doesn't mean he can't eat chocolate in the shape of a rabbit or enjoy finding new ways to make a boiled egg look psychodelic. Im with him and you. A good,kind spirit is all that is necessary.Your husband is correct about Paganism but don't Easter eggs have an origin in the Seder? This is a long winded way of saying I enjoyed your post and look forward to following. Thanks, Zoe

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    1. Hi Zoe,
      Thanks for the comment. You have a wise son. Chocolate shaped bunnies are for everyone. I have read many things about the egg tradition. One of the latest things I read was on a blog stating that eggs were given up for Lent so there was an abundance of them when Easter rolled around. You are, however, right; there is definitely an egg on the seder plate. And eggs symbolize fertility, as do bunnies, which ties into spring being a time of rebirth for the Earth. All of that is to say, who knows where all of our religious traditions originate! I doubt Jesus had the opportunity to enjoy a delicious Cadbury egg.

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    2. not to say he wouldnt have enjoyed one!

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  4. I love Easter both for its religious significance for me and for its proximity to Spring-- both bring me hope of warmth and renewal. But I totally get it's not everyone's belief nor do they find it fun. My kids are 23 and 17 and I still do Easter Baskets. ;)

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  5. I appreciate and celebrate your love of Easter. I love spring, seeing all of the daffodils push through the dead leaves left from winter, the warmer weather, pastel printed dresses, all that. I think we can love what we both love, including church for you, staying in jammies all morning for me, and Easter baskets for us both (and our kids big and small).

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Comments for me? Thanks a bunch!