Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S: Seder (A-Z Blog Challenge: Evocative words)

As I write this, Passover has just begun (though it will already be over when I post it).

Although I identify strongly with my Jewish heritage, I wasn't raised in the traditions of the faith. Observations of holy days and traditions . . . well, it's something I'm putting together as I go, trying to figure out what parts are important to me and which are not.

I've struggled in particular with the Passover Seder. It's one of the more specific and prescriptive holy days, with rules and expectations about what will be done. While I've found my own way to observe other holy days like Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Hannukah, I haven't found my way through this one.

In part, it's a problem with my work-life. Living a Jewish life is difficult when you work on a Christian calender.  I can only take so many unpaid days without failing in my financial responsibility to my family. This time of year is high pressure at school, our last chance to make a difference for our students before they face the trials of state testing. It's not a good time to miss school and hand my students to a substitute (not that there ever really is a good time for that). This makes it hard to prepare properly.

A Passover Seder is like a Thanksgiving dinner in a way. You can really build up a lot of pressure (even if it's all in your own mind) to do it "right." Because I don't feel I can do it right, I often don't do anything at all, even though that also feels wrong.

It's a great narrative, and the wonderful, deep and resonant stories are part of what draw me to this part of my heritage in the first place.It's a celebration of survival and freedom, and a lesson in our responsibilities to the world. It's a parable and a history all at once.

This year I am still the simple son. Maybe next year I will find my way.
This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.


  1. I don't know anything about Seder. So I've put it on my to do list and will hopefully do some searching this evening when I get back to AtoZ posts. Thanks for posting your difficulties in maneuvering a non-Christian holiday in our culture. I'm not religious, so I think employers should be accommodating to all religious holidays. Although I commend you for thinking of the kids' education first.
    Marlene at On Writing and Riding

  2. We are masters of planning, you and I. With enough lead time, we can do a Seder without the last-minute stress. Start planning for next year's?

  3. I didn't realize you were also doing the A to Z challenge - awesome to know another participant. Hope the month has been as fun for you as it has for me :-)

    And great choice for the day.

  4. It's not the traditions of the holiday that are a measure of your "Jewishness", but your awareness that they exist. They are meant to remind us of who we are and where we've come from. I'm not particularly Jewish, and I don't follow the dietary laws, yet every time I break them I'm reminded of who and what I am. You don't have to get the Seder right. You just have to have one to unite you with Jews past, present, and future.

    1. Thanks, Jason. That's an excellent way to look at it.