My family’s been fractured for years now, and the youngest of us still on speaking terms have been grown-ups for even longer, so like many empty-nested Jewish families, our holiday gatherings of late have had a certain post-observant, Diasporic ennui about them. We did our time in temple, in Hebrew School, and reclined our way through interminable Seders with gasbag uncles and diva sisters who couldn’t let the “Four Questions” solo gig go to the rightful singer without a fight. (Full disclosure: the diva sister was me, but mine was not the hogging that triggered the infamous inter-familial Seder fist-fight.)
Then our family had kids. Okay, my brother and sister-in-law had them, technically, but they’re ours in the all-important spoiling and non-diaper-changing senses. Suddenly, holiday dinners felt different. Someone was looking. An impressionable someone. And we started wondering what kind of crazy mispachah we looked like.
For my parents, the focus was on the Judaism. Their grandchildren wouldn’t be getting a formal religious education of any kind, just whatever stereo in-house Chanukah/Christmas, Passover/Easter celebrations their parents and their parents’ respective families of origin could cobble together. I was interested in the Judaism, too, but my Judaism has been inseparable from my feminism since the day I learned my temple didn’t let Bat Mitzvah girls face the ark like the boys did.
So last week when my mother said she was studying up on ways to make the Seder more accessible and child-friendly, I was supportive. [Read more...]