Religion & Beliefs

Becoming Jewish: Post-Passover Thoughts

This wasn’t my first Passover, but now that I’m converting, it’s a different ballgame. Read More

By / May 2, 2011
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

Before I celebrated Passover this year, I didn’t know much about the holiday. I knew there were some plagues, that the Egyptians sent the Jews into exile for 40 years, the Red Sea was parted, and that Tommy Pickles was Moses. Thanks, Nickelodeon! Man, Rugrats was probably the only mainstream cartoon to even mention Judaism, let alone dedicate a few episodes to it. If it wasn’t for that show, I’d be completely ignorant about Passover and Chanukah (“You gotta spit when you say it!”).

This wasn’t the first time I partook in the Passover celebration, however. I went to a Seder back in 2005 with my boyfriend of the time, where I learned that I didn’t like gefilte fish and that there was a Jewish wine called Manischewitz. Since I didn’t believe in all that religious stuff, my mind surely wondered during the meal, because I don’t recall any of it. 16-year-olds aren’t very good at paying attention, anyway.

This time around, I have to admit, I spaced out a bit when the Haggadah was spoken in Hebrew. I always feel connected to Judaism, but this holiday was so Hebrew-heavy that it was a bit more difficult. When you’re trying to go from a lifestyle of no G-d, spirituality, or religion to one that heavily revolves around these things, it makes it even tougher when you don’t entirely understand what you’re supposed to be learning about. I just know two things: I’ll have to learn some Hebrew and start asking a lot more questions.

I spent my two Seders on Long Island with my boyfriend Danny and his family’s friends. My favorite part of the holiday, like all holidays, is seeing familiar faces, meeting new people, and taking a break from the ordinary. Luckily, the beginning of Passover fell on a Monday, and I hate Mondays as much as the next fat orange cat. I respect that Jews have a mandatory rest every Shabbat and that a big part of the Passover holiday was also to abstain from work. Unfortunately, I’m not so good at relaxing. I’m a wound up New Yorker; always worrying, always stressed, never failing to kvetch about something new! I’ve got to work on my relaxation techniques.

I also failed at my first chametz fast, accidentally breaking it on day four when I ate peanut butter. After that, I tried to eat as little of the “forbidden food” as possible, but by Saturday I couldn’t take it anymore. At least I tried, right? I hope that counts for something. Next year I think I can do it on Matzah pizza alone, mmm-mmm-mmm!

While the Haggadah is a bit dry, with a little personal touch it really spices up the story. Danny was cracking jokes and talking in a James Earl Jones-type voice while reading his passages. He rapped the song about the dog and the cat and the goat (“Chad Guya”) while an elderly gentleman raised the roof. An old lady at the first Seder was giving her input about a feminist portion of it, saying, “Wow, the Haggadah is dirty!” My comedic idol, Andy Kaufman, used to enter his Seder dressed up as Elijah and drink all the wine from the cup.

Since I couldn’t make it to shul, broke my Chametz fast, couldn’t rest, and elected to go back to work on Wednesday, I didn’t feel like I got the full Passover experience. It’s the same way I feel every Friday when I have nowhere to go for Shabbos or have something else to do that night. It’s a mixture of sadness and guilt and knowing that I should be more fully immersed but can’t because I’m wrapped up in my problems of the day. Overtime, I think it’ll become easier to just try and relinquish control, look at the big picture, and know that everything will be fine and taken care of. But, that’s part of Judaism, and a fact you learn as you grow older. I’m not that wise child yet, but, as Samuel L. Jackson would say, “I’m tryin, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the Shepherd.” Let’s just pretend he said “awesome Jew” and call it a day.