When I think about what I love so much about being Jewish, the answer always comes back to rituals and traditions. My favorite holiday, Passover, which millions of Jews will begin observing on Friday, is arguably the most ritual – laden of them all. The centerpiece of the holiday is the meal known as the seder, a word that literally means order. We eat certain foods, recite specific blessings and follow a routine laid out by a book called a “haggadah.”
Some may find performing the same tasks year after year somewhat mundane. I, for one, find pleasure in the fact that people were doing the very same thing for years before and will be doing them long after I am gone.
But, rituals don’t begin and end with Passover. As a mother, I learned to appreciate the beauty in performing the same activities everyday to ensure stability in my son’s life. Bedtime, especially, has become an important ritual in our home. Our nighttime ritual usually includes me bathing my son followed by my husband putting him to bed. When he visits my mother, the bedtime ritual includes reading stories and looking at a special night light together.
At just two years old, my son has already established some rituals of his own. The first thing he wants to do in the morning is play with his train set. When he eats, he likes to sit at the table and enjoys using adult utensils. There are times when his particular desires can be frustrating. However, I know that this is how my son is finding a sense of control and stability in an often uncertain world.
As our family grows, I look forward to adding more rituals to our lives, whether they are eating certain foods on holidays, or just talking about our day after dinner. I hope they will become the memories that shape our lives.