Both of my parents are Jewish.
I went to Hebrew School twice per week during many of my pre-teen years.
Twenty-four years ago, I became a man (aka, I became a Bar Mitzvah <– and no, that picture is NOT of me).
That being said …
Not counting a family Bar/Bat Mitzvah, I could not tell you the last time I was in Temple (or is it called Synagogue?). I don’t believe in God (does that make me an Atheist?). I have a tattoo (a no-no for Jews). I married a gentile (non-Jew) and we are most likely not raising our children to be Jewish. Until last night, I had no clue when Passover even started this year (see picture above or this Instagram post – yes, I Googled it!).
Yet, later this evening, I will be hosting a traditional Passover Seder on this, the first night of Passover.
I know. It doesn’t all line up.
5 Reasons Why A Non-Practicing, Atheist Jew is Celebrating Passover This Year
So why am I celebrating Passover this year? Here are 5 reasons:
1. Tradition and Memories. I love traditions. Some of my fondest family memories growing up were around the High Holidays. We never were into the religious aspects of Judaism, but the holidays always brought the (extended) family together. We ate. We drank (Manischewitz Wine as kids). We had a great time. I want to start some traditions with our family of 4. I want to create memories.
2. Challenge and Sacrifice. I believe it’s important to challenge yourself every so often. One of the traditions of Passover – “keeping the Passover” as my mother used to call it – is that you don’t eat chametz (“leaven”):
any food that’s made of grain and water that have been allowed to ferment and “rise.” Bread, cereal, cake, cookies, pizza, pasta, and beer are blatant examples of chametz; but any food that contains grain or grain derivatives can be, and often is, chametz. Practically speaking, any processed food that is not certified “Kosher for Passover” may potentially include chametz ingredients.
So, yes, this means I will “sacrifice” by not eating any of the above “blatant examples of chametz.” No bread. No cereal. No pasta. No … beer. Yikes! Truth be told, giving that stuff up for a week is likely going to make me healthier anyway. I can commit to that for a week, if not longer.
3. Fun and Unique. Eva just turned 3 two days ago. While Cal is a bit too young to appreciate Passover (he’s a week shy of 10 months), I’m pretty sure Eva will have fun with it. After all, she loved lighting the Channukah candles this past year. She even learned the entire prayer … in Hebrew. She’s smart.
4. Matzo and Wine. I actually like Matzo. Matzo with butter. Matzo Brie. In fact, with just a bit of digging, you can easily find 100 recipes using Matzo (Matzo-Palooza!). As someone who likes to cook, I kinda like the challenge and the chance to experiment a bit. Oh, and wine. You drink a lot of wine during Passover Seders (4 cups!).
5. Sharon and Ruth. Sharon is my mother. Ruth was her mother. Even though I’ve been resisting it, my mom continues to send cards for our children during the Jewish holidays. She sends gifts. This year, she sent a glass Seder Plate. It’s about time I used it. I know it will mean a ton to her. My grandmother (Ruth) was born on March 25th (today!). That just has a bit of extra … OOMPH. Know what I mean?
So … what other non-practicing, Atheist Jews will be joining me tonight? Give a shout out in the comments below.
Oh, and in case you are still wondering when Passover is this year … let me Google that for you.