Thursday, April 21, 2011

Passover and the Modern Agnostic

“How come you celebrate Passover?  I thought you weren’t Jewish.”  It remains one of the dumber questions I’ve ever been asked, a true indicator of the open-mindedness and intelligence of the former co-worker who inquired way back when.  As long as we’re pointing and laughing, I figure I’ll do here what I wouldn’t lower myself to do then and answer it: because it’s a family tradition that comes with my beloved, jackass.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that archaic mythology should never stand in the way of a good celebration.  Really, is celebrating Passover with Rhea’s family any different than the fact that my family celebrates Christmas?  None of us identify as Christian or Catholic, and speaking solely for myself I’m a confirmed agnostic.  I don’t know what the answer to the big puzzle is, but I’m absolutely certain that none of the organized religions (and I’m including atheism in that field) has it.  I’m sure the more religiously myopic out there would say that I’ve no right to participate in any of the above, and I’m also sure that the more religiously myopic out there are exactly what’s wrong with modern spirituality, and to hell with ‘em.  I’m here for the brisket, baby, just as sure as I’ll be around for the ham on Easter Sunday.

I’m also here to learn.  I’m nowhere near an expert, but I certainly know more about the Jewish faith than I could ever have imagined a decade ago.  This is nothing but a good thing: I’m certain that Rhea will want to introduce some of its teachings and traditions to our eventual children, and I certainly don’t want to be the dolt drooling in the corner while that’s going on.  Knowledge, especially in a world that seems to be turning more intolerant by the nanosecond, is a great source of strength.  Does it mean that I’m even remotely considering conversion?  Not in this or any other life, chief; spiritual group-think just won’t ever be my scene, and that’s fine.  What I am considering is conversation, and what I’ve learned about the traditions of Judaism as practiced by Rhea’s family allows me to be a part of it.  All good.

The other thing I’m here for is participation, conversation being a big part of that.  Passover at Rhea’s has never been a daunting proposition.  From the very beginning, I’ve never been made to feel like I need to participate in anything that makes me uncomfortable, nor have I ever been forced to try the gefilte fish.  I’ve simply been allowed to join into a familial celebration that was established long before I frequented their neck of the woods, and the enrichment it has brought to my life has been incalculable.

God, G-d, or whomever, bless it.

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