I had a bagel for breakfast today. Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. Maybe not the wisest choice, given the tagline of my blog– but not such a big deal, either.
Except that I’m Jewish, it’s Passover, and I’m not supposed to be eating bagels. I’m supposed to be eating Matzoh. So I’m feeling a bit guilty. Mind you I don’t feel guilty the rest of the year when I eat cheeseburgers (I’m not “supposed to” mix milk and meat), lobster (no bottom feeders, either), or fry up some bacon on a Saturday morning. (Too many “not supposed to’s” to count.) I’m not a religious person at any time during the year. My husband and I even belong to a Humanistic Synagogue, which celebrates and affirms the cultural and ethnic aspects of Judaism, without all the higher power stuff.
I’m not kosher ; I almost never go to synagogue (even the Humanistic one); and though my family and I do celebrate Shabbat most Friday nights, it’s about a two-minute ceremony, after which I may serve roast loin of pork. Seriously.
I feel guilty for eating a bagel.
In the Haggadah (the book Jews read at the Passover Seder – or dinner) Matzoh is referred to as the bread of affliction. No kidding. Give your kids some Matzoh with peanut butter on top, and you, too, will be afflicted with back pain from stooping to pick up the enormous quantity of crumbs left behind. Eat too much Matzoh yourself, and your own behind will be afflicted. Matzoh is not exactly intestine-friendly.
But not eating Matzoh? That is not supposed to make me feel afflicted.
Maybe it’s because I have kids now. Kids who look to me and my husband for guidance and to set an example for them. Are we setting a bad example by not following the rules of our faith? Can we follow the rules if we don’t really have faith? Can faith in oneself and the power of goodness for goodness sake be enough? And whatever happened to the sitcom “Hope and Faith“? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night. (Well, maybe not the “Hope and Faith” one. I mean, how much can one celebrity do? And Kelly Ripa has an awful lot on her plate right now.)
The reason my husband and I chose to send our kids to a Humanistic Jewish School was because we wanted to raise them Jewish, without feeling like total hypocrites. And I guess that’s what all parents do: we raise our kids according to our own beliefs, and hope that they’re beliefs they can live by.
I want my daughter to grow up knowing the importance of kindness, good deeds, and a good pair of Spanx. I want my son to do the same. (Except for the Spanx part. )
And I do think that I can raise decent, moral, Jewish children without the Matzoh eating, and all that it implies. I do it by taking them on things like the AIDS walk, giving them Tzedakah (charity) money every week, that they decide what to do with. (check out Donors Choose – it’s an amazing way for your kids to give locally to schools in need) And by teaching the them the history of their ancestors: the songs, the literature, the secret recipe for gefilte fish that’s actually good. I’m doing the best I can. And if eating a bagel doesn’t show me at my best, well, is a Flagel a good compromise?