Like a good many Jews worldwide, this evening I will sit down with my family to a festive meal to commemorate our freedom from bondage. This year I will celebrate liberation differently. This year I free myself of obsession over whether my matzo is shmura or machine. I renounce my Ashkenazi heritage and declare myself Sephardic for the sole purpose of eating rice and beans on Passover. And I haven’t followed that gebrochs nonsense since my childhood when I was traumatized eating cake made from potato starch that tasted like sandpaper so I won’t even be thinking about that.
I will no longer compete with my friends as to who finished their Seder later and I will be doing the abridged version of the Hagadah, likely sitting on my den couch rather than sitting on high backed dining room chairs or fold a ways. I have not decided if I will attend synagogue or worship at all on this holiday. I am freeing myself of religion – or at least the strictures of my religion, freedom from observance if still freedom. In a holiday ubiquitous in symbolism I am giving a nod to the notion liberty by choosing to chill out. No counter covering or car vacuuming for me, this is no frills Pesach, call it Dati – Ultra Lite.
If prices stay where they are, next year I just may liberate myself from thousand dollar holiday kosher grocery bills and skip the whole thing altogether. I will have four glasses of wine because this night is not so different from other nights. I might break into a few songs for tradition’s sake, what’s Passover without Dayeinu right? But I’d like to have the whole thing wrapped up by 9:30 – 10.
I love this holiday but more so now because I’ve freed myself of the anxiety I usually experience for the month before it and the paranoia of being in it. God did not take us out of bondage to turn us all into obsessive-compulsive nitwits and at this point if you gave me a free week at one of those hotels with a program I’d pass, I simply do not own enough outfits to wear something different to the tea room everyday and I refuse to reserve lounges at the pool at 6:30 AM before breakfast. I’m perfectly content appreciating that this year the holiday falls out on a weekend and I can just relax with the family at home.
For those of you worried about my soul consider this a temporary moment of sanity. I look forward to putting on the whole s*** show for my granddaughter when that opportunity presents itself. But this year we were forced to stay home, my son is running a fever and so at the very last minute we are forced to prepare a small scaled-down chag and unfortunately will not be able to join our extended family as usual. And you know what? I’m kind of happy about it. It’s not a knock on my extended family; I love them and was looking forward to another dysfunctional couple of days together. This just presents an opportunity for me to put my own stamp on a tradition I have mixed emotions and a whole lot of confusion about.
When we read that part in the Haggadah that mentions us all feeling as if we left Egypt, I will feel my own exodus, a personal one, one where Passover is celebrated rather than observed. I will be relaxed and leave my anxiety at the door. Instead of inviting Elijah in when I open the front door, I will cast out obsession with matzo portion size or opening a new mayonnaise and just fall free at last to be…me.