Some Reform Jews and Israelis celebrate Passover for seven days. Even though I grew up Reform (I’m now Egalitarian Conservative.), I’ve always celebrated eight days of Passover. While I may not keep the dietary aspect of Passover as strictly as I did when I was in my early 20’s, I haven’t eaten bread, pasta, or cookies during the holiday. Today was no different. I woke up and ate yogurt and fruit. I found myself out at lunchtime and picked up a protein plate, which contained an egg, fruit, cheese, and bread. I tossed the bread to the side. (In the old days I never would’ve bought this since the bread was in it, but I’ve become less strict over the years.) On my way home this afternoon, I found myself wondering why I tossed the bread to the side. After all, no one was watching. And besides, there were only seven more hours of daylight left before the sun set on this Passover. As I drove, I pondered it. Why do I keep Passover for eight days when I don’t have to? And then it hit me: my grandparents.
My Grandma and Grandpa are the reason I continue keep Passover for eight days and eight nights. I spent a couple of Passovers at their condo in Florida when I was a kid. I understood why they made me eat Kosher for Passover Crispy-O’s (aka: Cheerios that don’t contain oats so they taste less than stellar) and why I couldn’t eat sandwiches. I may not have liked it, but I respected (but didn’t like) the fact they kept Kosher. And while my husband and I do not have a home that is Kosher for Passover, I choose not to eat leavened products out of respect for their memory.
And then I thought about this a little more. A lot of the things I do Jewishly are in the service of making them proud. So often I go through the motions of Jewish life even though no one is watching. But in reality, someone is always watching. If they are looking down on me from heaven, I hope they are proud of the Jewish life my husband and I are cultivating for our daughter. We may not carry out everything the way it’s meant to be done. But what we do, we do with intention.