Easter-Passover Means More to Share for Interfaith Families

Emily Timmel and her two sons, Gabriel, 7, and Elliot, 5, who are being raised Jewish and Catholic, at home Wednesday in Croton-on-Hudson. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)
Emily Timmel and her two sons, Gabriel, 7, and Elliot, 5, who are being raised Jewish and Catholic, at home Wednesday in Croton-on-Hudson.
(Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)

On Friday night, Emily Timmel and her husband, Yariv Alpher, will host a Passover Seder for 15 at their home here.

Timmel, 40, who is Catholic, plans to serve a traditional menu of matzo, brisket, charoset and gefilte fish in honor of her husband, who is Jewish, and the couple’s two young sons, ages 5 and 7, who are growing up in the tradition of both faiths.

On Sunday, they’ll drive to her sister’s house in Stamford, Conn., for an Easter celebration Italian-American style: pasta dishes like lasagna and manicotti alongside leg of lamb and creamed spinach.

“It’s all my kids know at this point,” said Timmel, a museum planner. “Personally speaking, I love it. It’s double the celebration.”

The interfaith family is one of many in the Lower Hudson Valley trying to balance Easter and Passover, which occur within days of each other.

This year, however, the week is especially busy — a balancing act that involves honoring two different traditions and finding room for everything from chocolate eggs to chopped liver.

Friday is both Good Friday and, starting at sundown, the first Passover Seder. For most Christians, the week ends with Easter on Sunday; Passover continues through April 11, with family gatherings and prayers.

“It’s a lot for families to do in such a short time,” said Sheila Gordon, president of Interfaith Community, a New York organization for Jewish-Christian families that has chapters in Westchester and Rockland. “It takes planning beforehand, as well as understanding.”

There is no single formula for fitting Judaism and Christianity into one household, Gordon added.

Many families celebrate both Easter and Passover in an effort to preserve their own religious traditions and pass them on to their children.

Some celebrate Easter while keeping their homes kosher for Passover — serving a braised lamb dish, for example, instead of the traditional pink ham.

Other families go to synagogue on Saturday and Mass on Sunday.

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SOURCE: USA Today / The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News
Alex Taylor

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