Holy weekend — EasterPass is fast approaching!
What is EasterPass, you might ask? It’s a weekend when both Easter and Passover are celebrated — and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers connected by intermarriage run around like maniacs commuting between their Jewish and Christian relatives.
Friday and Saturday are the first two nights of Passover, celebrating Jews’ freedom from bondage in Egypt. For Christians, Easter Sunday commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If you are among the legion of EasterPassers, you already have your weekend battle plan mapped out. For me, this means matzo balls on Friday evening in Brooklyn and Saturday evening in Manhattan. Sunday afternoon on Long Island? Baked ham. Yes, my grandmother is spinning in her grave. But should she be? After all, wasn’t the Last Supper a seder?
There’s something enriching about both celebrating and learning about the traditions of religions other than one’s own, including the core beliefs that bind us. Following the golden rule and believing in something greater than ourselves is soul-enriching, as is learning to respect the beliefs of others.
The holidays have a number of commonalities. For example, while Jews hide a piece of matzo (the afikomen) during the seder for the children to find afterward in exchange for a small gift (basically to keep them awake through what can be a long evening), many Christian churches host Easter egg hunts, also to entertain and engage young children.
Meanwhile, the differences in how the holidays are celebrated also can prove a blessing. For example, while the Jews eat only unleavened bread (matzo) and dump all of their flour, the Christians often bake like crazy, which works out well for the EasterPassers craving real cake by Sunday.
With the growth of intermarriage combined with the decline of religious belief in the United States in general, do these steadily more secular celebrations signal a diminishment of the spiritual aspect of the holidays? I’m not sure.
What I do know is that by Sunday night, we EasterPassers will have to take stock, check the mirror and face one undeniable, unifying truth.
We’ve all gained five pounds.
Follow playwright Mike Vogel at @mikewrite7.