IFF in New York Times


I was going to write about some other things today–namely, a new JTA article on the conversion of patrilineal Jews–but when your organization gets mentioned in the New York Times, everything else becomes a second priority.

Sam Freedman, author of Jew vs. Jew, wrote a column about an interfaith couple where both partners are committed to their religion, and the difficulties they face during Passover and Easter. Freedman argues, not entirely convincingly, that for religious couples, the Passover-Easter conflict is greater than the “December Dilemma”:

The religious aspects of Christmas and Hanukkah were long ago buried under commercialism and seasonal festivity. Passover and Easter remain deeply theological in ways that underscore both the nearness and distance between Judaism and Christianity.

On the one hand, Jesus came into Jerusalem for Passover, and the Last Supper with the disciples was a seder; the wafer in communion harks back to the Jewish holiday’s matzo. On the other hand, beyond celebrating Jesus’ divinity, Easter has historically been the occasion for anti-Semitic passion plays and pogroms, motivated by the belief that the Jews killed Jesus.

It’s a good theory, but I have a hard time imagining any more than a few interfaith couples find the Passover-Easter conflict more significant than the Christmas-Hanukkah conflict. Easter may be more religiously significant than Christmas, but Christmas is still the second most important day on the Christian calendar. Hanukkah may not be a major Jewish holiday, but religious Jews celebrate it just as much as secular Jews. Moreover, religious Jews are more acutely aware of the real message of Hanukkah, which celebrates a small band of ideologues who rejected the assimilation of their Jewish countrymen. Passover, at least, provides a more welcoming space for the non-Jewish guest. And religious or not, no couple can get around the month-long onslaught of Christmas-related media that comes out in December. There is no comparable “season” surrounding Passover and Easter. Nonetheless, Passover and Easter can prove a time for conflict and negotiation, as our recent survey revealed.

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