Rabbi Erica will be eating pizza on what some Jews consider the 8th day of Pesach.
Liberal Judaism is not diet Judaism, Judaism light nor is it Reformed Judaism. In fact, liberal or Reform Judaism has higher standards when it comes to who is a Jew. Whereas, Jews who observe Judaism from a (legal) halachic perspective believe that if a person was born by a Jewish mother they are Jewish even if they do not practice Judaism. The Reform movement recognizes both patrilineal and matrilineal descent but only if the child is raised as a Jew. I have a friend, who was raised Orthodox and now practices Judaism as a liberal Jew. However, she cannot relinquish the notion that individuals with a biological Jewish mother have Jewish blood running through his/her veins.
As liberal Jews, we firmly believe that Judaism is a religion of action. We do not view our Jewish observance as rules given to us by God that we must strictly follow.
Instead, we learn about the 613 (commandments) mitzvot and determine whether these traditions will enhance our lives as Jews. We as liberal Jews are not at liberty to choose to do nothing. For Judaism is a religion of action primarily experienced in a (community) k’hila.
Therefore, it behooves us to participate in the upcoming 2nd Pesach Seder on Saturday at the Bayless-Feldman house. It will not be watered down Judaism. It will be filled with all of the beautiful aspects of our tradition that we cherish. It is also imperative that each of us observe Pesach during the week. That does not mean that we need to take an extreme stance where we make it oppressive to follow our traditions.
I have taught my children that they can’t eat (leavened bread) chametz during Pesach. I love telling them that we get to eat yummy kosher for Passover cakes, cookies and candies that we normally do not eat during the rest of the
year. Usually, they are not eating cakes, cookies and candies on a regular basis. So we remember that we were slaves in (Egypt) Mitzrye’im by eliminating lunch sandwiches and we celebrate our freedom by indulging in Pesach chocolates and cakes.
I encourage you and your family to take on this observance slowly. Whatever you can do to think about others who are enslaved, hungry or are not as blessed as we are as free Jews. I strongly recommend sacrificing eating a regular (leavened) chametz staple while also adding a delicious Pesach treat. I will be very interested in the discussions that occur during this Pesach observance. This tradition inspires us to think about how we can help others and to express our gratitude for our lives.
I personally observe Pesach for seven days, as Israelis do in Israel. I believe in quality not quantity. If you observe 8 days as many Jews outside of Israel do, I completely respect your observance. On Friday, April 10, during our Merkaz Shabbat celebration when you see me eating pizza I hope that you recognize me as a fully practicing Reform Jew.