Maintaining and cultivating a Jewish household is important to me. Naturally, everyone has different ideas of what that means, but celebrating Jewish holidays is a cornerstone of what my Jewish household means. We will celebrate other holidays at other people’s houses, much like we celebrate another person’s birthday though it is not our own.
Our foster kiddos, however, are not Jewish and are used to celebrating Easter. I want to accommodate them while still maintaining a tenet of my own belief: a Jewish home. Should they want to go to church, we would take them and drop them off (since they’re old enough to attend church alone). Want to read the Christian bible? Cool. Let’s go check one out. Want to paint crosses as gifts? Awesome. Great craft idea! Did someone give you an Easter basket? What a thoughtful gift! Now, let’s parcel out that candy to avoid a sugar coma… When it comes to holidays, however, the bottom line is that we celebrate Passover, not Easter, in our house.
I am not immune to the central role that religion can play in other people’s lives and the need to honor those other traditions. When I explained Passover to the kiddos, I asked which traditions were important to them about Easter and told them I’d try to incorporate some of their traditions into our Seder. They both said gifts and candy, which makes sense. Many holidays are more secular in nature and about time with family over time with God.
So, I decided to honor their traditions by incorporating gifts and candy into the Passover Seder. I purchased a dress one kiddo had eyed and that she had looked wonderful in, and I purchased a diary and a pajama set that the other kiddo had wanted. I threw a couple of bunny shaped chocolate caramels in each package, and I wrapped each a la my DIY wrapping paper. On the outside, I drew a parrot and wrote “the Pesach Parrot was here.” I chose Parrot due to its alliteration, and the phrase is even more charming in Latin, which always holds sway. Psittacus Paschalis aderat! A kiddo hammed it up by asking how the parrot could possibly have handled such large boxes, and I quipped back that the parrot delivered them unwrapped and that I had to wrap them for him, no opposable thumbs and all. The Pesach Parrot may be no Easter bunny—or exist in any other households—but I’m glad it flew by all the same.
Our first Seder together went pretty well. One kiddo was excited to read the psalms in our haggadah, and the other seemed quite proud of herself for recognizing the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt. Both were confused by how the haggadot were backwards, and both were beside themselves eager to find the afikomen with the promise of a reward. When I sent a kiddo to open the door to welcome the prophet Elijah and downed his small glass of wine behind her back with a wink to the second kiddo, that second kiddo played right along and gasped in shock and disbelief that the prophet had visited our Seder table. They even picked up on the chorus of Dayenu and sang right along, one of them a touch more enthusiastically than the other. Given their ages, backgrounds, and the newness of the experience, I’d say the Seder was a rousing success, perhaps due not only to Elijah’s visit but also to the Pesach Parrot’s.