Our family went around the table to discuss our favorite Jewish holiday. My husband is rare in naming Yom Kippur. I love Sukkot. Our older children gave solid explanations for Channukah and Passover. And finally, with a serious expression, our youngest proclaimed, “My favorite holiday is Taco Tuesday.”
Through our laughter, my husband and I can’t decide if we failed or succeeded in our passing down of Jewish knowledge. But we optimistically concluded that in our home, ritual reigns. Our youngest craves repetition. And it has been the Jewish calendar that helps regulate the tenor of the home: what we eat, when we light candles, how we sing and which mitzvot we observe. The waning and waxing of the moon remind us when the new month has arrived, if it is almost time to celebrate a major holiday and when it looks like Shabbat might be over. It is our Jewish tradition that brings rhythm into a home in which the outside world feels more than bumpy. A world in which the roller coaster continues in its upside-down motions, the ride long from being over.
Knowing that we will weekly, smell the sweet aromas of challah brings us comfort. Seeing the yizkor candles flicker establishes the creation of a home in which memory presides. Relying on the image of a brightly lit Channukiah offers optimism and promise of a better tomorrow. Our rituals nudge us forward, even when we may feel frustrated, stuck and alone.
So, our 4-year-old may think Taco Tuesday is one of our Jewish traditions. And while we corrected him, we also know that he appreciates the regularity of ritual. A lesson that he learns from living a Jewish life.
The regularity of Jewish tradition was introduced into the world thousands of years ago. And it is that Jewish tradition that continues to bring us steadiness, reassurance, connection, and hope.