Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Yiddeshe Easter Bunny

So, another Passover is nearly upon us.  This year I must say I have been rather organized this year.  Straight after Purim I started cleaning and each week have done a little more and 2 days before Passover my house is in good shape.  Of course I have had lots of help in the form of our au pair who has really done a number on the house and has done a lot of work.  She is definitely Kosher for Passover!

This year I am doing second Seder.  I nearly always do first Seder and to be honest ever since I lived in Israel I always see second Seder as pretty superfluous.  As a kid we always did Passover at my grandparents but second Seder was either with my mom's family or friends of the family and while both were fun, I always looked forward to second Seder because it was lighter somehow, I didn't come from a religious family so it is not like our Seder lasted hours anyhow, but on the second night we dispensed with most of the rituals and just ate and relaxed.

And most years here in the Netherlands we don't do second Seder.  I am always so exhausted from the first night that I can't bear to do the whole thing over again.  In our family I do all the cooking and even though Leo helps with the cleaning it is a ton of work.  Usually on the second night it us just Leo, Maya and me and we really take the eating while reclining bit seriously and we eat matzo balls and gefilte fish around the coffee table with pillows all around.

But this year we have decided to do first Seder at our Shul who is holding their annual Seder.  We've never done it at the Shul.  For years in our old building,  the Shul was way too small and now that we have our new beautiful building, miracle of miracles I was  able to convince Leo to do it.  I am not quite sure why I wanted to do it.  We are not religious at all and I know the Shul will be nice but we don't know a lot of people there because we hardly ever go.  As much as Maya does enjoy it there, after a long week at school, working and the rush involved in getting home on time from work in order to hurry and eat dinner and get there, the time is too much pressure for us.  Plus, Maya is so tired on Friday evenings after school and therapy, then to have her have to behave and conform on Fridays is often is too much for her.

Maya is starting to have more awareness about the holidays.  Although unfortunately a lot of the awareness is about Christian holidays because she gets exposed to it at school, sees it on tv, etc.  In the Netherlands even the Christian holidays are secular but the other day she told me about the Easter Bunny and she asked me if she was going to get an Easter Basket.  They color eggs at school and tonight in the middle of Pesach cleaning central, I made egg salad wraps for Maya's Easter lunch at school.

How's that for irony?

The other day Maya was watching a Charlie Brown Christmas dvd and she asked me if maybe we could get a Christmas tree next year.  I tried to softly explain to her that we celebrate Hanukkah and not Christmas which is why we don't have a tree.  She loves Hanukkah and the other Jewish holidays but I could see she has absolutely no clue what the meaning is and that it is two separate things.  To her they are just fun days, filled with fun symbols and company and festive meals.

Often I feel that I should be doing more for her regarding getting her to understand her Judaism and getting her to understand our traditions and festivals and do more for her religious education,  but how do you explain to a little girl who has no concept of what religion is that these festivals are connected to your religious beliefs?  As much as I would like to I just can't see my way clear to enroll her in religious education right now.  School is hard enough for her and I don't want to subject her to another environment where she has to work so hard.

I've researched the topic on the net ad nauseum but no possibly approach or explanation seems to work for me.  And I can't bear to talk to her about something which I feel she is not capable right now of understanding.

I want my daughter to grow up and learn to love Jewish tradition and I want her to develop faith as I think the Jewish community could provide her with a lot of comfort and support in her life.  It could be an anchor for her.  But at this time in her life, it is just too hard a concept to get around.

And I feel like giving her more exposure to it would make things more rather than less confusing for her.

She does like going to shul but she makes no connection at all between the synagogue and the religious holidays and what we do at home.  When we took her for Purim she thought, because the kids were in costume that it was Halloween or Carnival.

So, I do let her dye eggs at school, I hang up the Christmas ornaments and Easter bunnies she makes next to our Hanukkah and Passover stuff.    She'll get her chocolate bunny but she will also get her matzoh, charoseth and look for the afikomen.

Maybe the Rabbi's wouldn't see it as Kosher, but I am sure that G-d will.

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