Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Last year’s Gaza war was a wrenching experience in our family. Our
youngest daughter was in Israel at the time, on a summer trip to learn
about her heritage. My family is descended from Holocaust survivors,
one of whom made is to Israel after WWII. So in addition to learning
about cultural and political history she also got to meet a great uncle
and many cousins whom none of us had ever met. We were terrified
for her the whole time, but none of our family was hurt. Ironically, she
returned not dyed white/blue and wrapped in the Israeli flag, but
convinced that the current government is responsible for creating a
situation of permanent war in the region. My wife and I think of
ourselves as pretty liberal, but some of her statements have gotten us
thinking we may not be as liberal as we thought we were. Passover
has always been a very important tradition in our family (about thirty
local relatives). Eliana has said that in addition to doing the regular
Haggadah readings, she wants to have a dialogue about politics. My
wife thinks it is highly inappropriate. I am torn. I suspect many of the
relatives would be horrified. What do you think?


Dear Traditionalist:

I think your daughter got more out of her trip than anyone could have
expected. She is to be commended for her engagement in the messy
world of Middle Eastern politics, even at the now safe distance of
observer and commentator. I’d opt for a compromise. It may, like the
Solomonic offer to slice the baby in half, satisfy no one, but at least
you will have tried.

Tell your daughter that you want her to respect family traditions and
not to disrupt the Seder. Explain that not only is it a requirement for
Jews to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt, but it is a very
important family tradition of togetherness. Tell her that after most of
the official readings are concluded, during the meal, you as the host
will give her the floor to invite people to a second night discussion of
what she learned about Israel and Palestine. Coach her to make it
sound invitational, not confrontational, or no one will appear. Tell her
to invite any of the various generations to come to a listening session,
where each person will be able to share their complex feelings of grief,
fear, confusion, anger, and yes even strident militancy. Explain that
the point of the listening session is for everyone to feel heard, not to
convert people to a particular way of thinking. Explain that only when
all people, kids to adults, learn to have constructive dialogue around
difficult subjects, will the world improve.