How Do You Keep, and Break, Passover?

In the past few years, I’ve struggled to reconcile being a non-believer with my love of Jewish culture and traditions. So I’ve wavered back and forth on keeping Passover and fasting on Yom Kippur, the two most intrinsic rituals of self-deprivation for the sake of enlightenment on the Jewish calendar. This year, after a few years of nonobservance after the first two days, I went back to trying a sort of Passover lite — I stayed away from bread, pasta and cereal for the full eight days, with the exception of one emergency thin-crust pizza lapse. Basically, I stayed away from leavening but I didn’t obsessively check the ingredients or the label on packaged food. I really enjoyed keeping the holiday in a less-than stringent way. It led me to be more conscious of how I eat and try new additions to my diet (note to self: I am a total bread addict). On a spiritual and cultural level, this loose observance kept the meaning of the holiday fresh in my mind without making me feel as though I were engaging in the holier-than-thou “corn syrup is evil” one-upmanship contests I remember from my time at a Jewish day school.

The best part of observing this way is yet to come. Because keeping Passover means indulging in the most delightful ritual of all — the post-Pesach carb binge. Growing up on the Upper West Side, I always joined my family in celebrating one way: a trip to H&H bagels for a dozen hot bagels, the first of which we would break off and share, followed by a big Italian dinner. Mmm. When I lived in Boston, my favored practice was to head to Cambridge’s beloved Pinocchio’s pizza, home of the tastiest Sicilian slices in the world. My roommate Sarah and I said the motzi over a fresh mozzarella and tomato slice. I’m not sure what my plans are this year, but the packaged challah rolls I usually keep in the house are tempting me so much right now (bread addiction again) that they may be reward enough.

It’s a Jewish tradition to invent your own mini-traditions for the holidays. So Forward readers, how did you observe Passover this year — super strictly, not-so-strictly or in between? And most importantly, do you and your family have a special tradition for that first bite of leavened goodness? Please share in the comments.

Recommend this article

How Do You Keep, and Break, Passover?

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close
Close