Because I moved to Lakewood Ranch in December, I had the opportunity to revel in the amazing holiday lights that adorned the University Parkway shops. I remember seeing palm trees covered in yellow and green and enormous Christmas trees decorated to the hilt. The lights I did not expect were the large dreidels and menorah that welcomed shoppers at the entrance near the Pei Wei. I wasn’t in Virginia anymore.
For 22 years, my kids and I have become rather used to being in the Jewish minority (I believe there were about 5 Jewish families at their previous school). It’s a different ball game here. In fact, at my beloved local Target, I noticed just as many blue end caps in the shopping aisles in December as I did red and green. It made my Hanukkah a little brighter and got my kids jazzed up for the 8 nights. Now, it’s spring time…enter Passover.
Passover is a Tough One.
Passover is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish faith. It is also one I could never get my kids as crazy about. To them, a Seder, which is a ritual dinner usually performed on the first night of Passover, seemed long and featured a large plate of odd foods they knew they would be forced to sample. To me, it is a ceremony to commemorate the escape of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. It is about how far we’ve come and inspires me to believe in how far we’ll go. Also, it was a time we can all get together and share a meal and a story as a family. That is enough for me.
Eggs, Ok… but Rabbits?
I was told that the egg on the Seder Plate was a symbol of new life. Because of this, I felt it was acceptable to attend egg hunts and paint eggs with my kids. I could always relate the story of the egg back to Passover because the symbols were the same. Besides, an egg is just an egg…isn’t it?
Every family celebrates differently and there are no proper guidelines. This could leave you questioning your every move. The Easter Bunny dilemma is difficult. I didn’t believe it was right to have my Jewish kids sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap, so we did not. But, maybe a bunny is just a bunny, too? I wish the malls would have the same Easter Bunny display on one side and some other Passover display on the other with another fun character. This way, it wouldn’t be such a hard walk through the mall this time of year. I feel a Passover Parrot may take off. Maybe not in Virginia, but certainly in this area.
I have been a part of many Seders throughout my life. I enjoyed seeing the different ways they were done from family to family, and being with people we knew well made it comfortable and intimate. My advice: try attending your temple Seder at least once. There was something neat about seeing people you don’t know celebrate the holiday too. We felt we belonged to something bigger when we saw the whole room filled with other Jewish families. Instead of being one of a few people we knew, we were one of many.
Make the Holiday Sweeter.
Since risen bread (and anything that causes bread to rise) is a no-no this time of year, finding great desserts for the Seder that taste as good as they look used to be challenging. Now, thanks to good ole Pinterest, there are a slew of goodies out there that fit the bill. Here’s one I found that I tried myself that I can recommend as an addition to your Passover spread: Matzoh S’mores.
Though some of my children are grown, I have one straggler who is 5 years old this year. Even after 19 years of Passovers, I am always looking for new ways to make such a monumental (yet much less commercialized) holiday engaging for him.
Please share your own recommendations, if you’ve got some Passover Pointers for me and other Jewish moms out there!
As a newcomer, I’m excited to join the Sarasota community (Jewish and non-Jewish) and look forward to the spring holidays upon us.