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This is the
question I often receive when I mention to family and friends that my husband
and I are raising our two young sons Jewish, with a healthy dose of Christian
holidays mixed in. Picture it like this: Judaism is the fro-yo, and the berries
on top are decorating eggs and hanging lights on the 2-foot-tall shrub in front
of our house.
start at the beginning: I am the product of a Jew and a Catholic, now married
to a Catholic. I was raised Jewish and enjoyed years of kibitzing (Yiddish for
complaining) about Hebrew school, and a bat mitzvah where I wore a hideous black dress with marshmallow sleeves, and did not study nearly enough for. All of my
Jewish friends were jealous, because I was lucky enough to celebrate Catholic
holidays with my maternal side.
I'm aware I've just painted an
idyllic childhood scene for you, which is mostly true. I felt very lucky that as a
child that I got to celebrate both religions. But honestly, it caused friction
between my parents, and they'd have
long, drawn-out battles. Everyone would breathe a big sigh of relief when Thanksgiving rolled around
as if it were Denmark: neutral. For every other occasion there were a lot of
slammed doors and dirty looks between my parents about whether dad should have
to attend mass on Christmas Day, or if mom should have to perform the Passover Urchatz—the washing of the hands, which
women are usually assigned—as she found it sexist (which it kind of is). I'd like to find a way to avoid a constant vigilance of ensuring the religious scales are even in my own house.
understand people might feel a natural curiosity about whether my sons might
get confused, but my answer is simple: I
wasn't confused. Neither was my brother. We knew we were Jewish religiously,
spiritually and historically. That's why my kids will get one present for both
Hannukah and Christmas, but attend Hebrew nursery school. And it's why I gave them a
Jewish baby naming but also godparents—a mainly Catholic tradition—because I
wanted them to be loved and looked after if my husband and I should die.
In my first and fumbling attempt at incorporating both
religions in our home with a toddler and a newborn this year, I discovered that a Christmas tree looks
lovely decorated with blue and white lights, and gold spray-painted Jewish
stars make the perfect ornament. However, I did have a near-nervous breakdown
trying to decide if I should put on my first seder (we have one chair in the
living room and no dining room, and my Hebrew sounds like Paula Abdul slurring her words on American Idol), but I lucked out. My parents are putting
on Passover and we are going to my aunt's for Easter.
On the website Interfaithfamily.com, they have wonderful articles such
as "Five Interfaith Passover Readings You Can Add to your Hagaddah," and yummy kosher-friendly Easter dinner suggestions like lamb chops paired with sweet
potato soup, and chocolate eggs for dessert for families that celebrate both
holidays on one day. Hopefully next year I'll be ready to implement both
holidays into my house, but while my kids are so little, I'm grateful other
family members are doing the holidays.
Do you celebrate both Passover and Easter in your house?