The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009


A Jewey Jew Celebrates Passover HER Way

Tonight we had the funky California Seder. We gathered two other families for a very abridged reading of the story of Passover: one mean Pharaoh, some plagues, and then a walk through the desert. We played “Let My People Go,” the board game.

It had small plastic accessories that captured the mood. My favorite: a man cut out of bubble wrap represented boils. We lit one aromatherapy candle. My daughter enjoyed the little party and dutifully took a bite of horseradish in remembrance of people who have been enslaved. But 

I still think she does not know that she is Jewish.

I worry that our holidays as fun facsimile of religion is so ultra-light it seems like another version of Halloween. A gimmick, some funny food and a costume if we’re lucky. Once again, bad mommy has reared her head. My lack of resolve with my very Orthodox background has shown up in my consistent forgetting to teach my children that they are Jewish.

Now, I am an East Coast Jewish girl, daughter of a mom from Flatbush Avenue through and through. I am neurotic, talk too much and consider any headache fair warning of an imminent aneurysm. But it is a culture, rich and old and idiosyncratic that I feel a part of, not the group of holidays and face it, odd laws.

Old ladies from Miami arriving at my Bat Mitzvah in bright red lipstick, smelling like Chanel No.5 and hugging me with crushing love and Yiddish expressions, that is the true religion I feel in my bones.

The Old Testament God? I’ve had a hard relationship with him from the start. And Passover is a great example of my rather embarrassed feelings about this Jewish God that I can’t quite see selling my daughters on.

Look no further than those plagues. An escalating level of rage and bloodthirstiness to creepy proportions? Turning water to blood, covering people with boils and lice? This is not my definition of divine design! When people treat you poorly, stand back and watch the vengeful bloodbath roar down the street, sweetheart. Don’t worry, if life is hard, at least you’re backed by a moody, wrathful capricious force you can count on to help you… or not.

I will keep up my attempt to pass on Judaism to my kids. I am a card-carrying member of people who fight to the end for the freedom to be who they are, who can make a life out of a barren desert and a holiday around forgiving yourself once a year for falling short. But I wish for my kids to know a life without revenge, without having to feel better than somebody to know who you are, and without violence.

Amen and Happy Passover!

By Avvy Mar

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This is a wonderful essay. So funny and poignant, and capturing the ambivalence so well.

You have a terrific distinct voice. I knew this was you as soon as I read the first paragraph. Keep writing,

marianne lonsdale
Wonderful blog. This discussion could lead to a symposium. " How to direct your children in religion." "Trusting them to choose their own beliefs."
I believe religions are changing and evolving as the human species change and involve. Others want traditions to stay the same.
I enjoy your writing.
Ruth Scott
as long as your children are experiencing the religion in some way, they'll eventually know they are jewish. i think of my friend who is raising her children with NOTHING. even though, by birth, they are jewish. and they LONG for that identity. they have actually been begging her to send them to hebrew school...can you believe??
anyway...this post...i love it. i have so much to say on this subject but...i gotta get the matzo balls ready. and the kugel needs to be started.
so have a very happy passover!
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