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Easter vs. Passover

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"But won't your children be confused?"

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.

Let me 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.

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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.

I 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.

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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?

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