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