Monday, March 22, 2010

Save Passover!

Those annual "Keep the Christ in Christmas" campaigns are intriguing. The Christians have a point that their holiday has become much more than that--one celebrated by Christians, non-Christians and (misguided) Jews. Now we see attempts to celebrate Passover with unheard-of levels of non-kosher food. These attempts attest to the holiday's popularity.

I just received an emailed "Spring Event" Jewish singles party invitation at a River North nightspot. It's scheduled for next Thursday night, an intermediate day on the Passover week. If the bar were kosher-for-Passover and the appetizers were limited to kosher-for-Passover catering, this party would be a nice complement to the holiday. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The invitation acknowledges as much by noting "Passover style" appetizers (or "treif," as I would put it) and lists the cocktails available, including rum. I pointed out to the host the only kosher-for-Passover alcohol I can think of is potato vodka--not very exciting.

Before I noticed the warning attached to the end of the invitation (reprinted below), I fired off a response to the host expressing my extreme disappointment with his decision to arrange a party over Passover. I suggested that next year he host a Shavuous-themed party (but not on Shavuous), with kosher wine, cheese and cheesecake.

What disappoints me so much is that this is the one Abrahamic faith in which we see so many examples of Jewish groups and institutions playing fast and loose with the rules. Think of other faiths and try to imagine:

1. A Christian singles group or website hosting a singles event during Holy Week.
2. A Christian singles group or website hosting a singles event on Christmas Eve, after sunset.
3. A Muslim singles group or website hosting a daytime event with food during Ramadan.
4. A mosque or Muslim group hosting an event at which alcohol is served.
5. A Latter-Day Saints singles group or website hosting a dance event at which alcohol and Coca-Cola are served.

These suggestions are absurd and ridiculous because they would never happen. Christians consider their holy dates holy. So do Muslims, and they take their fast month (and alcohol abstention) seriously. I think the Mormon bans on mixed dancing, alcohol and caffeine are silly, but that's their business, not mine. Yet over Passover, we are invited to attend:

1. A Jewish singles event that advertises it will be serving food and drink that is not kosher-for-Passover.
2. Synagogues all over town hosting seders that are not kosher-for-Passover and indicated as such.
3. Non-kosher restaurants hosting seders that, surprise, are not kosher-for-Passover.

Am I missing something? Why are people (most of whom, I suspect, are well-meaning) trying to take Passover away from us? Do your part: take back Passover! There's a reason for the season! Keep kosher for Passover! Avoid non-kosher seders! Stay away from kosher restaurants--just for this week! Avoid events that serve non-kosher food and drink!

Most people don't keep strict kosher. But everyone can do his or her part to maintain the integrity of the holiday. More than any other, this holiday defines the Jewish people. Let's keep it that way.


________________________
The text of the singles event invitation disclaimer:

"If you have any questions or concerns please email us at info@----------.com. If you have concerns regarding a strict adherence to the laws of Pesach and Kashrut, please contact us for more information."

The disclaimer shouldn't say, "[P]lease contact us for more information" if you have concerns. It should say, "We recommend you join us another time." But that would run counter to the hosts' goal, which is to pack the nightclub with as many Jews as they can fit.

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