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Apr 15

the perils of interfaith

Not that we’re interfaith, technically.  I did convert to Judaism – we’re all of the same faith.  BUT – and it’s a big but, in my opinion, we are different.  Marc is very devout, especially around keeping kosher for Passover.  And I am not.  At best, I really enjoy the seders (when I can actually participate, which is rare, because I always seem to have a fussy child demanding attention), and I’d be great if we were just incorporating a lot more matzoh into everyone’s diet) but following rules is hard for me.  Especially when the rules don’t make sense to me.

I’m not a rule breaker by nature.  I’m not a rebel in most regards, but I don’t like doing something just because. And having to keep kosher for Passover isn’t something I’d ever choose to do on my own.  Marc does, but I don’t mind that.  Marc’s an adult, and I respect his spiritual beliefs.  As I know he respects mine.  The hard part comes with the kids.

There are certainly ways in which my childhood differs dramatically from that of my children.  And some of those ways are wonderful – I love that my kids have two loving committed parents.  And they have a much stronger religious identity than I did at that age.  I was always sort of spiritually inclined, but we were haphazardly Catholic, with a lot of pagan, new age stuff mixed in.  I belonged to the Church of Melissa – and it worked for me.  My mother is very spiritual, but I always felt as though my spiritual beliefs were mine – they were self-directed.  She encouraged me to ask questions, to think and read and make up my own mind. My kids are growing up Jewish – and that’s completely, completely different.

For some, converting to Judaism is like coming home.  It’s a framework for belief, it’s a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.  For me, it was different.  I already had a belief system, I had already kind of figured out for myself how I thought the universe worked, and I’m good with it.  Judaism is a good fit for me, the belief in one deity, the immediate connection to the Divine, the obligation to make the world a better place, the sense of wanting to elevate common, every day things to a sacred level.  I love Judaism – but I don’t follow all of the 613 commandments.  I don’t even think I’m supposed to – I think that blind adherence to the rules is not admirable.

So what do I do with two (and soon to be three) kids who want to keep kosher for Passover?  How do I honor that, and not cry with sadness and frustration because they are growing up with this vastly different way of looking at things?  How do I not feel alienated and different from my children, and how do I reconcile that in such a way that I can give them what they want and need from me – which is approval and respect and admiration for their own fiercely held beliefs, even when I don’t agree with them?

I do it – and I think I do it well.  I say the right things, and because I’m with them all the time, it’s really me doing it.   Marc approved hugely of it, and is thrilled that his kids want to do this, and thinks it’s vital that we support them – but it’s me doing all the meal prep and planning, and packing lunches and dealing with snack requests.  And this was a LONG Passover week for me.  Because Jessie is getting older and more definite about things, and Sam is old enough now to understand and want to do it too.

I’ll keep doing it, because they need that.  They need my support and approval – but I’m profoundly grateful that Passover is over.

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