I sit on the edge of the fine line between apprehension and excitement. Around me sit a motley crew, some friends, some strangers. My dad, my mom, a family friend who teaches at a local seminary, his wife, and a random gathering of the friend’s best Hebrew students.
We sit at the table and go through the seder, (“Why is tonight different than any other night?”) eating the charoset, bland matzo, and then the bitter horseradish, wishing I could still taste the apple sweetness of the charoset.
A meal is served, and the rabbi, delivers a Passover-themed spiel. Finally, he announces that he had hidden the afikomen, and that it is time for all the kids to look for it. The adults at my table shoot me a prolonged, expectant look, as I am the only table member under twenty. I shoot back a sheepish half-smile. I’m too old, I think, to be doing this for the first time.
And so, I am adrift in a sea of in-between. This is my teenage rebellion, if you will. Judaism. This choice of religion, of lifestyle, is different than the Catholic/Episcopalian childhood my parents grew up in. I choose Judaism. I believe in God, but not the Jesus my father talks about so much. However, to compromise, this year we are attending a Messianic Jewish seder with our friends, who are good friends with the rabbi. I am not wholly Jewish, yet not a Christian. Too old to search for the afikomen, but too young to look at the younger kids who get to without envy.
In a way, my adolescence, maybe the adolescent experience in general, is encapsulated in this moment. Too old to be a child, too young to be an adult. Unsure of where I fit in, and yet knowing surely where I do not belong. My parents are supportive of my choice, but still at times confused and apprehensive.
I have spent much time in the past year since that last seder finding out who I am, all about myself. I have had to learn about and assert my separateness from my parents. Next year in Jerusalem, we say. Next year as a Jew, say I. I am not my parents. This I believe.