Tales of a Cathowish: Passover and Easter Weekend

Growing up, I was primarily raised Jewish. My mother and grandmother have maintained a strong Jewish faith all throughout their lives and my mother wanted both my sister and I to carry on the culture, heritage and religion that make up Judaism. My father was raised Catholic and his parents have also maintained a strong Catholic faith to this day. He is no longer a practicing Catholic, but my immediate family continues to celebrate the important Christian holidays with his side of the family, attending church services with them for certain celebrations, rites of passage within the family, etc.

This past weekend was one of those glorious, best-of-both-world holiday crossover events: Passover and Easter weekend. Passover technically started on Friday evening at sundown, but my family celebrated it on Saturday evening as we were all still traveling home on Friday night. We celebrated Easter on Sunday with our usual family traditions: traveling to Cape Cod to my grandparents, the search for Easter eggs, lots of food and drink, and much quality time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and younger cousins. Holidays on my father’s side, especially with religious affiliations are less about the religion, and more about spending time together.

Passover is probably my favorite Jewish holiday. It is a time of bittersweet remembrance, gratefulness and a time to be together to share a meal. My boyfriend came to Passover this year and it made me really happy to share a piece of my heritage with him.

My immediate family has not had a proper Passover seder in quite some time because my sister and I have been in college. My mother prepared a beautiful spread of salad, matzo ball soup, roast beef, green beans almondine, baby potatoes and matzo chocolate bark. For Passover, Jewish people do not eat leavened bread as a symbol of solidarity with the Israelites who did not have time to let their bread rise before their escape from the Pharaoh in Egypt thousands of years ago. That means for eight days, there is no eating of bread, pasta, pastries, bread crumbs, etc. (ikr, tragic.)

Before we feast, we read from the Haggadah. This is a special prayer book that retells the story of the Jewish people’s emancipation from Egyptian slavery. There are certain foods we eat while we read from the book and different cups of wine we drink to celebrate God’s goodness. Everyone goes around the table reading passages and reciting Hebrew prayers. After we read, we feast and then we close with a prayer that all people of the world will be freed one day soon and to hope that next year we will celebrate in Israel, the holy land for the Jewish people.

I am lucky to have such strong religious ties on both sides of my family. I am thankful my mother raised me Jewish, sending me to Hebrew school, becoming Bat Mitzvahed and attending temple services on Holy Days. I am grateful my father’s family has such strong religious ties to Catholicism because it gives my family more opportunities to spend time together. Both influences have positively affected my life and some of my best memories from growing up are from holidays with my family, both Jewish and Catholic.


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