“In over 20 years of teaching, I’ve never had an interfaith family that didn’t celebrate Christmas. But I’ve had almost no families who hold their own Passover Seder.”
This comment from a 15-year kindergarten Sunday school teacher caught me by surprise. Why, I wondered? Was it a lack of interest? Was putting on a Seder just too time-consuming, too overwhelming?
Soon afterwards, I taught a series of classes to parents of young children about easy ways for busy parents to celebrate the Jewish holidays. And I learned so much from them.
The reasons parents signed up were as varied as they were.
Valuing our differences Sam and Julie were raised in conservative Jewish homes and understood the traditions well. They so bristled against the rigidity of their upbringing that they had opted out of synagogue – and holidays. They now were seeking fun ways to celebrate with their children.
Yolanda’s second husband was Jewish. Although they had decided to raise the children Jewish, the responsibility fell mostly to Yolanda, who had been raised Catholic in another country. She taught me that written material is not enough when the terminology and blessings are foreign to you. That notion led us to develop our CD tutorial – to demystify the pronunciation of holiday terms and blessings.
Debby, raised in a Reform synagogue and married to a Protestant, was struggling with how to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, Passover and Easter. As she shared anecdotes with us about Seders past, she had us roaring with good memories of her grandparents – reminding us that these celebrations have great power to keep the memory of past generations alive.
Everyone had a different story, a different background, a different outlook.
All came in search of ideas and information to make the holidays positive for their families.