I like being a Jew, and one of the biggest reasons is because I can choose which traditions I want to follow.
I observe Judaism through family gatherings, cultural identity, anxiety and neuroses.
I was in a Jewish fraternity, I married a Jew under a chuppah, and we have a mezuzah on our door more because it’s quite decorative and less because of what the prayer printed on the tiny scroll inside says. In fact, I’m not sure what the prayer says. The Hebrew might translate to “I hate Jews” for all I know.
I’m not God-fearing, nor do I give all glory to God. I believe in God only when I really want something.
I do nothing for Tu Bishvat, the tree holiday, I’m afraid of Sukkahs because I know they’re just waiting to collapse on me, and while I find Yom Kippur significant, I don’t fast because I have a double chin and FUPA to maintain.
But I love Passover mainly because of the traditional foods, and in our house, we celebrate Passover by eating what we want, even if it means eating as a family, as I’ve so tenderly written about.
I’m not saying we host rogue Seders with pulled pork and loaves of sourdough bread. While those are delicious ingredients, harroset, matzoh ball soup, brisket and turkey need no help from their goyish cousins-through-marriage.
What I am saying is that we don’t need to follow all the rules because you kind of resent the holiday then, which defeats the purpose. Outside of the Seder we grant ourselves the freedom to eat cereal for breakfast, pizza for lunch or gefilte fish with horseradish and wheat germ sprinkled on top.
My kids can enjoy matzoh, “the bread of affliction” and also afflict their health by eating cupcakes.
“Muah mattah!” The baby salivates.
“You want more matzoh?” I ask, loving his pronunciation.
“Dah. Muah mattah.”
Quite honestly, I think it’s the Passover Keepers who ruin it for everyone else because they like to rub our faces in it.
They epitomize the humble bragger, lamenting what everyday ingredients they’ve been sacrificing while simultaneously patting themselves on the back.
“I ate another turkey sandwich on matzoh today,” they sigh to me, though I don’t give a shit. “Can’t believe I’ve been keeping Passover all week.”
They also badly want us to know how creative keeping Passover makes them.
“We had kosher-for-Passover ice cream last night, but instead of regular cones, my kids and I made matzoh cones!”
Far out. I hope you and your kids have constipation for life.
I truly believe that now that we’re thousands of years removed from events that probably didn’t really happen (I’m sure Moses parted the Red Sea. Uh huh), that you Passover Keepers do it only to feel self-righteous.
Your woe is me approach sounds like financial professionals in their late 30’s–staunch democrats in college who’ve converted to republicans because of taxes–who love discussing how many hours they work.
“You were at the office till 2 a.m.? Yeah, I was sound asleep. HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
However, each Passover Keeper I know carves out small exceptions that causes me to pounce.
“I’ve been keeping it, except for beer.”
“Wait, you say you keep Passover, but you drink beer?” I say.
“Yeah but nothing. You are completing Pharaoh’s work, you slave master of the Jews. You fucking asshole! When Elijah comes to your house, he’s gonna rob you.”
Passover Keepers do themselves a great disservice by overeating matzoh. If you eat too much of any one thing during the course of a week, you will quickly grow to hate it. It’s a shame because matzoh in matzohration (get it?) is pretty awesome.
In the NPR story A Love Letter To Matzo: Why The Holey Cracker Is A Crunch Above Maanvi Singh interviews culinarians, noting what gives matzoh its awesomeness.
“Matzo is the best of both worlds — plain in flavor, wonderfully crunchy,” she says. “…you can load it up with any number of toppings…One of the things that make matzo special is the way it is charred.”
But by matzoh binging, you just won’t appreciate these wonderful characteristics.
And that’s fine because there’s more of the leavened stuff left on the grocery shelves for me and my family.
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