In years past I’ve had a whole-hearted go at keeping kosher for Passover. I did it because Rob did, and I liked the idea of Jews all around the world doing the exact same thing together, just as they have for thousands of years. I’m not a fan of religion or symbolism, but I viewed this as more of a traditional thing, you know I love tradition*.
After thinking, though, and researching, I now see it more as a symbol of a religious commitment, and that changes things. It’s just taken so SERIOUSLY, and with a fervor that makes this decidedly un-religious lady really uncomfortable. I can get behind the spirit of keeping kosher for Passover for the sake of tradition (which for me would mean no bread, no cookies or cakes, etc.) but when the actual practice comes into play: inspecting labels for corn or peanuts, not eating peas or rice, making sure things with yeast don’t touch things that are k4P (even wrapped things), and a whole host of complicated, mind-numbing rules to remember**, and all in the name of keeping the big guy in the sky happy… that? I can’t get behind that.
In the Protestant branch of Christianity I was raised in, the concept of “the spirit of things” is a huge theme. In other words, if you felt that what you are doing in the eyes of God was alright, you were fine, even if other Christians didn’t agree. Protestant Christians are generally discouraged from looking down on one another for having different levels of observance, particularly in smaller matters. This is not true in what I’ve seen of Judaism, which bypasses the heart of the believer in favor of rules made up by an outside source.
All religions do this to some extent of course, and, of course, there are Jews who DO bend the rules to suit them and still consider themselves faithful. But this is not generally so (for instance, there is an enormous amount of criticism on President Obama’s White House Seder, which is being picked apart by several Jewish blogs I read).
Many find freedom in the bounds of religion. When I was told growing up I would “find freedom in Jesus”, though I never got how, exactly; the opposite always seemed so much truer. I am stunned when I see a Muslim woman wrapped head to toe as she walks about, with a peace in her eyes (the only part of her anyone can see) and a great deal of obvious affection for her husband. I just don’t get it. I respect it, I understand it intellectually, but I don’t get it.
The bottom line is, I’ve decided to skip keeping Kosher for Passover this year. I’m making k4P meals and treats for Rob, who feels differently than I do. As his wife and dearest friend, I want to help him do what he feels is important to the best of his ability, but I can’t participate anymore myself.
*I still love the Seder and festive meal (and hunting for the Afikoman)
**I can fully admit that, having been raised non-Jewish it is probably particularly difficult for me to do these things.
My in-laws keep kosher, and kosher = no butter near the turkey, and by “near” I mean “in the same meal, anywhere”. So everywhere you’d normally put butter at Thanksgiving: on potatoes and veggies and so forth, there was none. Just lots of margarine. Both Rob and I forgot about this and stuffed ourselves at Thanksgiving, and then again last night, with leftovers.
It’s not pretty around here. Scientists are going to discover a hole in the ozone over Brooklyn and pinpoint it right above our apartment. Universe, I apologize.
Rob is worse than just gassy, he’s full-on sick. All he’s been able to accomplish since last night is sweating, moaning, and sleeping. In between, he’s making this house almost uninhabitable. The dogs have started to run out of the room after catching a whiff. That’s bad; I once had to physically restrain them from rolling around on a dead frog.