I have a surprisingly bad attitude about Passover. I say surprisingly because I’m that enthusiastic kind of Jewish friend who is always inviting people to join us for Shabbat. I invite people to challah making sessions or to interesting Jewish book events and Torah studies. I generally tend to see the best in our holidays and traditions. In fact, my aunt once told me that even as far back as high school I was known in the family for trying to sell Judaism to anyone who would listen. She didn’t mean it as a compliment.
If the glass-half-full “being Jewish is fun” side of me annoys some of my friends and family, then they will absolutely love me during Passover when I’m something of a pill. I have a problem with Passover. Actually, I have four very specific problems.
1. I am burnt out by Passover.
Speaking in terms of the Jewish year and the school year, I’ve had enough by Passover. I’ve made roughly 28 kosher Shabbat dinners. I’ve served High Holiday meals, decorated a Sukkah and served meals in there, too. I’ve made Hanukkah as festive as possible for all eight nights. And for Purim I’ve put together dozens of mishloach manot for friends. I’m not proud to say it, but by Passover I’m feeling a bit Jewed out. And of course Passover requires the most work of all.
2. It’s the Most Self-Righteous Time of the Year. (Said in my head to the tune of that Christmas song.)
Some Jews who do nothing particularly Jewish during the rest of the year are suddenly aghast when you tell them that no, you don’t buy special kosher-for-Passover ketchup, salad dressing, and Diet Coke. Jewish educators should find out what motivates so many Jews to observe Passover with such zeal and see if they can sprinkle some of that excitement to, say, Shavout, which is a mere seven weeks later and gets so little love.
3. The Entire Enterprise of Kosher for Passover Food Feels Bizarre.
I’m willing to go along with some fences around the Torah. We all agree to treat chicken like beef even though boiling a calf in its mother’s milk has nothing whatsoever to do with a chicken. There are many more examples that I won’t go into here. But when I walk through the Passover aisle at the grocery store I can’t help but find it all a tad over the top. Kosher for Passover hearts of palm? Kosher-for-Passover frozen green beans? I’m not willing to go that far.
4. The Second Seder Feels Completely Redundant.
I actually really like the Passover seder. The symbolism of it all speaks to me. I love the opportunity for conversation with our extended family about the gratitude we feel for our freedom and our gratitude to live as Jews at this particular time in history. And I’m happy to have a use for the constantly growing collection of kid-made seder plates in my house. However, about ten minutes into the second seder I always think, “Hey, didn’t we just hear this story?” I also find it hard to truly appreciate the meaning and importance of the first seder when I know we’re doing it all again 24 hours later.
Now, there are some things I like about Passover. Believe it or not, I like the excuse to clean out the house even if the concept at the end with the feather and the burning of the last crumbs of chametz feels strange. I love being with our extended family. I could eat charoset, matzah ball soup, meringue cookies, and good macaroons all year long, but save them for Passover so those foods stay special for this time. But I know I can do better in the spirit with which I approach this important holiday.
Any ideas for me? How can I have a better attitude about Passover?