Passover as a Reformed Jew

I joke a lot about my Jewish heritage. I like to tell people that I am Jew-“ish” [insert air quotes here]. What I really mean by this is that I am a reformed Jew. I did not make my bat-mitzvah (although I had the option to do it.) I did not go to temple growing up and I do not now. I also did not marry a Jewish man (GASP). But I take pride in my Jewish heritage and although we may not go to temple or celebrate things in the same way as more religious/practicing Jews, our own way of observing/celebrating is good enough for me.


Right now it is Passover, which is a festival of freedom (like most Jewish holidays haha.) It commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, and their transition from slavery to freedom. We celebrate with a seder the first two nights of the eight-night holiday.

A seder is generally peppered with prayers and song and different rites and traditions that make up the meal (along with the food.) For our family, we use the holiday as a means to get together and celebrate being together and united as a family. We generally have two Seders (dinners), but more so to accommodate both sides of the family versus any religious reason. We don’t go to temple and we don’t keep kosher for Passover. (You aren’t supposed to eat anything leavened during Passover, hence Matzoh)

When my cousins were younger and getting ready for their bar/bat mitzvahs we would have them read from the Haggadah (is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder) and ask the four questions, but last night, we went with this two-minute Haggadah:

On Monday night at sundown, Jews everywhere will begin celebrating the first night of Passover. Before they can eat their unleavened meal, though, they’ll have to complete the Seder, a religious service conducted on the first and sometimes second nights of the eight-day holiday that can often seem interminable. In 2006, Michael Rubiner drafted a plan for a shorter, sweeter Seder. His proposal is printed below.

Opening prayers:

Thanks, God, for creating wine. (Drink wine.)

Thanks for creating produce. (Eat parsley.)

Overview: Once we were slaves in Egypt. Now we’re free. That’s why we’re doing this.

Four questions:
1. What’s up with the matzoh?
2. What’s the deal with horseradish?
3. What’s with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What’s this whole slouching at the table business?

1. When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
2. Life was bitter, like horseradish.
3. It’s called symbolism.
4. Free people get to slouch.

A funny story: Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning. (Heat soup now.)

The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
Wise child—explain Passover.
Simple child—explain Passover slowly.
Silent child—explain Passover loudly.
Wicked child—browbeat in front of the relatives.

Speaking of children: We hid some matzoh. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.

The story of Passover: It’s a long time ago. We’re slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren’t so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)

The 10 Plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice—you name it.

The singing of “Dayenu”:
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would’ve been enough. If he’d punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, it would’ve been enough.

If he’d parted the Red Sea—(Remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.)

Eat matzoh. Drink more wine. Slouch.

Thanks again, God, for everything.


So all in all, I refer to myself as a cultural Jew. One who doesn’t necessarily celebrate the holidays of my people for the religious reasons, but to celebrate the culture. Sadie gets to learn about both sides of her heritage by celebrating both holidays!! Seriously – we played Hide the Matzoh (or Afikoman) and when Sadie found it, she got a prize – an Easter basket! 😉

How do you celebrate holidays of your religion? More culturally or religious?


  1. I love that you’re making this your own. I regret not embracing the Korean side of my culture more as a kid. While religion and culture are somewhat different, they’re both a part of your identity and so important!
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  2. Loved reading about the traditions and customs of your culture!
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  3. I always love learning about different religions and cultures! It’s so interesting. I am Catholic and went to a Catholic school growing up. I remember one of my favorite things EVER was in 7th grade when we were learning about different religions. We had a traditional Seder meal complete with authentic food, prayers, the whole bit! We even had to memorize one of your blessings for a grade. I enjoyed it SO much and it’s one of the few things that really stick out in my mind when I think of junior high. I still remember most of the prayer!
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  4. My dad sent me the 2 minute Haggaddah and I thought it was pretty funny! I read that 70% of Jews participate in a seder of some kind!
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  5. I love this Haggadah! As a recovering Catholic who subscribes to the notion of “be a good person and do good things” who has been to her fair share of Seders, I appreciate this one.

    When I was about 17, I had a conversation with a priest about the hypocrisy in the Catholic church and why I couldn’t in good consciousness attend Mass with a clear and clean heart. He basically parroted the words of Bishop Hubbard the year before with, “You be you and do what your heart says is right day in and day out and you will be fine. G-d would rather you do that than be someone who only practices her faith on Sundays for 90 minutes.”

    I’ve made religion my own for some time now. From what I’ve read here and heard about you from others (mutual bloggy friends), you’ve embraced the good things and made it your own “practice”. And I love it. (Not that my opinion counts one little bit, but for what it’s worth, there you go.)


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