Just A Mother, Not a Rabbi

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m turning into a curmudgeon about the holidays. In this case,
Passover. I raised my two kids in a typical middle-class, middle of the
road, Reform Jewish environment. We went to services maybe once a
month, and were each B’nai Mitzvah. Now they’re in their twenties,
done with college, and starting lives as adults. Neither lives at home,
but they have gone in totally opposite directions. My son is a vegan,
non-gluten- eating, hippie come lately, though he does make a good
living in high tech. My daughter went to Israel, and came back almost
Orthodox. She says she hasn’t decided about moving there
permanently, but whenever I question her (which she takes as a
challenge) on any aspect of the change, she mutters about moving
“back to her people.” I’m her mother. How much “more people” can
someone be?!? How am I supposed to make a Seder with someone
who won’t sit at the same table as someone who will only eat “gluten
free matzo style crackers, not kosher for Passover ????”

Just A Mother, Not a Rabbi

Dear Mother:

You make the Seder you would normally have at your house. And you
invite both of your children, and tell each they can bring a
friend/date/support person if they think they need to. You could
compromise by doing a family second night Seder, but frankly I think
that’s backing down to emotional blackmail. You should set the table
as you want, with the foods and accoutrements you have likely used
for decades. If you sweep every crumb from every cupboard, and get
rid of all the leavened things, then do so. If you do not, then don’t. If
your son wants to have his matzo-style crackers on a small plate near
him, then that’s fine. If your daughter is so frum she will not attend,
you have bigger issues than one last family holiday can solve.


This is your home and your family, which, though it may seem to be
diverging in opposite directions, will come together again over time.
There’s hope that each of them will evolve onto a more moderate
path. But you should take your daughter’s word that she might move
away, and stress that this may be the last time you are together for a
while, so your children should respect their parents enough to live
through one last Seder together, your way, and then talk about the
politics of religion after the holiday is over.