Yesterday, I attended my son’s grade one school Passover Seder. For those of you who don’t know, a Seder is a Jewish ritual feast /meal that marks the beginning of Passover (our Easter, I guess you could say). Of course I was proud. Of course we were all there, with camera, and video camera, holding onto every word, every song with bated breath. And oh we were proud. The kids were over the top. Incredible. And while sitting in the synagogue, just before their “show,” some of the moms asked me where I was going for my two Seders/dinners next week. The women were talking about how they’d been cooking and preparing all week and how exhausted they are. And when I left the synagogue, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the conversation while on my way to Pilates class. By the way, I love this picture of “The White House Seder.”
Now please stay with me here. Most of us are born into a religion (unless you’re an atheist), with different customs and beliefs. Some are more devout and religious followers of their religion, others more conservative and reform in their traditions. And while we all have different degrees of religiosity, I do understand why some people are devout believers and followers of their religions. In a big and scary world, religious customs and traditions provide a sense of comfort, order and security. It provides answers for many of life’s questions. I get it. With all of life’s hardships, and little children dying of cancer for no reason, for example, we are made to believe this suffering has a purpose, and perhaps a good place awaits our loved one in heaven. With the possibility of assimilation, keeping the tradition in one’s home keeps the continuity of religion alive, and allows it to be passed down from generation to generation. Personally, this is why I choose to follow Judaism. So that I can keep it alive and pass it on to my children.
Here’s where I disconnect from religion though. And not just mine. While all my friends are slaving in the kitchen, I truly don’t have an interest. While all my friends fast on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kipper, I don’t. With all my friends not eating bread this Passover season, I will eat bread. Never in front of my kids, as I would never disrespect them nor impose my breaking of the customs in front of them. Now don’t judge me and accuse me of being a bad person. I may not be the best Jew going, but I’m certainly not a bad person. And that is just my whole point in all of this. I don’t believe in martyrdom, and I can’t stand hypocrisy. So, for all the women who slave over twenty course meals in the kitchen to get all the accolades and then fall on their face, I say, “You’re missing the message.” For me, it’s about connections with family and just being together. I think we’ve lost the message. I’d sooner order a pizza (matzo pizza out of respect) and sit around in sweats with the people I love.
And I’m not for unnecessary suffering either. Call it a cop-out if you must. For me, life is all about being a good person. And what aggravates me about this time of year, Passover, is the hypocrisy of religion. Yes this is a bold statement to make, but it’s true. There are people who would not turn on a light switch on the Sabbath, but have sex with prostitutes. There are priests who head churches, and molest boys. There are pious men who swindle people out of money. So for me, I’d sooner be a good person than a religious person. And for me, I’m all about ONE LOVE. I have friends from many different racial and religious backgrounds. I’ve never been one to entirely stick to my own “tribe.” I’m fascinated with other people’s cultures, and I have a thirst for knowledge.
Growing up, my best friend was catholic. Her family went to church every Sunday and they were God fearing honest people. But why I loved this family was, they respected me and our religious differences. They never put their Christmas tree up without me, and I would join in the songs and even drank eggnog. When I went over for dinner and they were serving pork, there was always a separate meal prepared for me. And when she invited me to visit her church one Sunday mass, I was excited to go and see another house of worship.
So with my Passover holiday just around the corner, I may not be the most religious Jewish woman, and maybe more of a traditional woman, but I hope a good woman. I’m not sure if I believe in God. I believe in what I can touch, see and hear. I believe I have the power to control my own destiny. When I pray, I’m not sure if anyone is listening. And when I think about death, I think after we die, that’s where it all ends. So what do I believe then when it comes to my religion? I believe in the keeping tradition, but I believe even more in being a good person.
Ladies, what are you opinions when it comes to your faith, belief and religion. Do you disagree with me? I’d love to know.
PS – On my way to a funeral now, then to a Fed-Ex depot as my husband left this morning for Philadelphia with a passport and cash. That’s it. He left his entire wallet with ID and credit cards at home. Very typical of my honey!