Dear Lisa, last night at our seder, I picked up a few haggadot and saw your Grade 3 cursive scrawled first and last name on it. You had diligently marked the book, with underlined phrases such as "all say" and "adina reads:" It was hilarious seeing that again. I remember what a dutiful seder leader you were when you were a kid, and how you used to sing all the songs in that adorable head voice you used when you sang at shul (or when you belted out the rollling stones with head phones on in the living room, your back to the stereo when you thought no one was home).
You know, I remember when you taught me the four questions when we all shared that room in the apartment on Oak Street. You let me sit on your coveted double bed and had me repeat after you. Jackie helped out, too, I think. I was four. My memory is a bit fuzzy, though I do remember being super-nervous and the piece of parsley/carpas that lingered annoyingly in my mouth for the entire recitation.
So the huge, drawn-out seders we used to have are things of the past and the extended family is either on the west coast or else they are in the bad books, and you and Jackie are kind of far, and we didn't have to go to Flora's last night. Which left me and mom. And some friends. Like you, I am not into all the organized religion praise-the-lord thing. And I am not sure why we felt so compelled to have a seder of some sort. But I am glad we did it.
The whole Jewish identity thing is weird these days. Elana's elementary school in Montreal got firebombed last week. There has been antisemitic vandalism here. And with lefty, politically-minded people I respect, the slightest mention of Judiasm can evoke this righteous, knee jerk reaction of "defend the state of israel, and the oppression of the Palestinian people, now!"
Not that I think we should shy away from critical, political dialogue. But sometimes, you get tired of the "Never Again" and the legacy of anti-semitism, and you get tired of The Jewish State and all its tzorres and complexities. You want to say: I am Jewish. This is our holiday, Passover. It talks about freedom from slavery, both literally and figuratively. We eat matzoh and drink four cups of wine. Why four cups, you ask? Well, let me turn that question over to my sister Lisa...