Having a kid has made me a better Jew.
For example: Passover (which I now feel compelled to only call “Pesach” because apparently “Passover” is really just an English substitution for the actual name for the holiday.) We always “kept” Passover as a kid. My recollection is that we had lots of matzoh, missed bread intensely, and had a big family meal on the first night. I also recall the looooong seder at my grandparents’, trying to contain explosive giggles shared with my brother and cousins while my grandfather rambled in Hebrew, telling the story, which I never learned (or at least never fully committed to memory.)
I ate bread during Passover once I was an adult on my own. I think maybe for a few years, I tried to keep it, but with no one looking over my shoulder, no belief in God, and no one else to feed, I always lapsed. (Also, my birthday often falls during Passover and having suffered through many horrible excuses for a birthday cake as a kid, I have always felt justified in my enjoyment of a totally trayf birthday cake, regardless of whether it fell during Passover or not. This is true this year. My birthday is tomorrow and the plan has been to have my favorite cake from my favorite bakery tomorrow night.)
The Who, as I might have mentioned before, goes to a Jewish daycare/preschool and has since he was 13 months old. He has “Jewish Instruction” and knows more about some of the Jewish holidays than I do. Last week, a rabbi came to his class with his “Matzoh Bakery” and they made their own matzoh. He came home telling me that “we don’t eat bread during Passover.”
How am I supposed to have birthday cake in the middle of Passover when my 3-year-old knows better because of his fine Jewish education? (To my credit, I had already switched our weekly menu so that we weren’t making pizza on the first night of Passover. But, I had only moved it ahead a day, so, well…)
At some point during the day yesterday, m* and I looked at each other and both realized at almost the same time that we needed to rethink it all. We couldn’t have pizza on Saturday. And we couldn’t have birthday cake on Sunday. In fact, we really couldn’t eat bread all week. And, well, damn. We had better get some matzoh in the house. I came home and started googling kid-appropriate Passover stories and, finding nothing I really liked that was available immediately, I just opted to write my own. I bought a Seder plate, made a shopping list, and we picked up my favorite birthday cake yesterday. (Since we eat dinner well before sundown, we decided it would be ok to eat it last night, which we did, freezing the rest of it to be thawed after the holiday.)
All of a sudden, I’m a pretty good Jew. I know the whole story of Passover and I have already eaten two sheets of matzoh** (with the requisite shmear of whipped cream cheese.) It’ll be fun to hide the afikomen tonight and who knows; maybe next fall we’ll even build our own sukkah! (Or, y’know, maybe not.)
**I am only a “pretty good Jew” because I bought the “not for Passover” matzoh. It’s totally made with flour.*** The real stuff tastes like packing material. Baby steps.
***ETA: Based on the first comment to this post, I did a little search and saw that it’s not the flour that makes it chametz. It’s the egg. And the possibility that there are both egg and water in the dough. I still feel ok with eating it. But I’ll get the “right” kind for out Seder tonight.