Sunday, April 20, 2008

Passover In Japan

Passover is this week having begun at sundown yesterday. I live in Palm Beach County, which believe it or not, has the largest Jewish population in the United States. I know, y’all are shaking your head and saying, “NO! It’s NYC!”, but according to the statistics last year, which may have changed, it is down here at the end of the peninsula state.

I’ve put on my blog a number of times the GREAT benefit of having such a large population of Jews. I think, personally, the biggest benefit is the opportunity to immerse one’s self in another’s religion. In college when I had decided to become Episcopal, as I went through our night classes to study the religion, our priest used to say to us, “And remember, to be a good Christian, first and foremost, you should be a good Jew.”

Many of my friends are Jewish and I’ve had the wonderful pleasures of attending weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs, Orthodox and not, and every time I attend, I promise you, there is not a person there enjoying themselves more than I.

I remember when my husband’s best friend got married and his family is Orthodox. We attended everything and our friend’s mother and father took me under their wing explaining EVERYTHING to me. An entire weekend, from Friday night until Sunday night, I was immersed and fascinated. As the bride and groom opened some of their gifts there were mezuzahs. I looked at my husband, understanding the meaning as the groom’s father had spent an hour with me giving me some historical lessons, and I said, “Hunhead. We need these for our doors at home. It is a reminder.”

My husband rolled his eyes and said, “Hun. We are not Jewish. I am Catholic. You are Episcopal. It is not part of our heritage.”

Point taken. I understood what he was saying (and to know my husband is to know he is not a jerk or meant any disrespect to anyone), but honestly, one day he will come home and we will have a mezuzah. That conversation may have taken place 16 years ago, but I have not forgotten. The long memory of a woman… and all that. Heh.

I love that my children are starting to fully understand the roots of their religion. I remember sitting at dinner with a friend of my husband’s whose children are grown. He is Conservative Jew, if I recall. Anyway, we were discussing the plight of the schools here as in… they all suck and what are we to do come high school?

He said to us, “When my daughters were of high school age, I went to all the high schools in the area, private and public. I stopped at the local private Catholic high school and I met with the priests. They told me, that they would never push Catholicism upon my children, but I would find, that when they graduated they would be better Jews than when they started. I chose that school and every Jewish holiday, they called my home to talk to my children. They spoke about the meaning. It was the best education my children could have received and I never regretted it. And yes, they are better Jews, having come to truly understand their religion. The priests and nuns saw to that.”

That is where I know my eldest is going to school. Next year you should see a ramp up in my work hours! Gah! It’s not free...

And before I continue, another great thing about having such a large Jewish community is the fantastic food we have! Gah! The delis and the desserts and the… wow. I remember when we thought my middle son had an allergy to dairy and we had to take him off anything with dairy… including dairy protein. Luckily I had a plethora of bread choices as Kosher bread has no dairy. I was definitely doing the happy dance that we lived where we lived.

Anyway, I have been thinking about how Elisson and his daughter spent their seder dinner. My internet research shows there are only about 1000 Japanese Jews. (That could be wrong as it did come from Wikipedia, whose facts I question mostly.) Spread over an island, the probability of Elisson meeting a Japanese of Jewish faith seems somewhat remote.

So I’m excited to see how they passed this first evening of Passover. Elisson always finds interesting things to do, immersing himself in his surroundings and life. I was happy to see that SWMBO did not spend it alone. In my opinion, it is not a holiday to spend alone and SWMBO and Elisson, they are cut from the same cloth in my opinion. They are people who DO. They don’t sit around and wait for life to come to them.

But now, I want to know... what did the other half do?

No comments: