Why should this year be different from all other years?

Because Good Friday and the first night of Passover fall on the same date.

It has always been a complaint of mine that Good Friday is a state holiday in Hawaii.  It seems odd to me.

When I taught at Wai’anae High School as an employee of the Hawaii State Department of Education I did not complain.  I was always willing to take a day off, even if it isn’t my holiday.

When I enrolled my kids in a private school that promotes itself as non-sectarian and that administration continued to schedule Good Friday as a school holiday year after year, I began to get a bit ferkrimpt (that’s Yiddish for annoyed).

A few years ago somebody told me that the legislature has it off to prepare for Easter. Huh? Prepare? What do they have to do? Could they possibly be spending an entire day dying eggs in pretty colors? or putting together baskets of candy? or do they have to catch up on their sleep so they can make it to an Easter sunrise service a few days later?

Forgive me if this sounds sacrilegious, but from my perspective there is not a lot of formal observance of Good Friday.  Easter Sunday is already a non work day and most of the people I know are pretty pagan about their rituals.

Which brings me to my next point. Good Friday and the first night of Passover are on the same date this year–today. Yet few in this wonderful state of aloha have the slightest notion that Jews in the islands, and around the world, are preparing for one of most important holidays in our heritage.

Why can’t it be a state holiday for us too? We actually have a lot of preparing to do.

Admittedly, some things have changed since I moved to Hawaii over 20 years ago. Local grocery stores such as Safeway and Times Market carry traditional Passover foods such as Matzah and gefiltah fish, even in Kapolei.

I no longer  have to order it months in advance at Temple Emanu-El to have it shipped in for us.

When I went to Kapolei Safeway the other day to purchase matzah I was pleasantly surprised. They have come a long way.

Of course the Easter merchandise bombards you as soon as you walk in the door and I did  have to walk around a bit before I could find the Jewish food section. But it was there. And it was decently stocked. Just as are we Jews on the island of Oahu.

They are set up for Jews all year round which is kind of nice since we are not just seasonal residents. I noticed that they sell Yahrzeit candles which means I don’t have to order them on eBay from now on.

I can’t quite figure out why they have included mince meat and Thomas the Tank Pez in this section. If anybody has any insight into this choice, please let me know. But I have decided not to complain, it seems fairly harmless.

I’ve been enjoying all of the Facebook posts from friends and family near and far about their Passover preparation. The brisket is cooking at my sister’s house. A local Jewish woman is looking for fresh horseradish and another woman in Honolulu posted that her house smells like Passover–yum.

It makes me feel like a part of a larger Jewish community.

What many people don’t realize, is that it takes days to prepare a Passover seder meal that tastes like Bubbe used to make. We should get a day off too.

Our Rabbi posted a fun article on the Temple Emanu-El Facebook page that was published in the New Yorker that I thought was hilarious. Here is the link.

And while I don’t always enjoy the You Tube videos people post, I really like this one that Lisa Block, my Temple Beth Ohr Hebrew School classmate who lives in California, shared.

And here is the Passover greeting from my friend Beverly who lives in South Africa.

While the State of Hawaii might not realize that our holiday is important too and that many of its local community are celebrating a holiday other than Easter, perhaps the enticing smell of the chicken soup simmering on my stove on this Good Friday and first night of Passover and all of the Facebook posts from Jews around the world might influence just a bit.

We always have room at our seder table for one more guest.

A zissin Pesach to all and Shabbat Shalom.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lauriehanan
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 20:05:50

    Thanks for another great blog. I, too, am a bit miffed at the non-sectarian private school listing today’s day off as Good Friday (public schools show it as teachers’ admin day). Almost as much as I’ve been miffed at the Christmas tree in their lobby and the Pictures With Santa fundraiser that my Jewish daughter has to work at each year.

    Last year there was an island-wide matzah shortage and we had to buy ours on the Kauai black market. It’s good to know Safeway has enough to go around this year. All year, I enjoy looking over Safeway’s kosher food shelves, and we usually pick up some Bamba as we pass by. I don’t think the mincemeat pie is kosher for Passover – or any time of year. No idea what Thomas the Train has to do with Passover, hopefully another one of your readers can enlighten us all. Not nearly as offensive as the canned hams they once offered on their Passover food display.

    Chag sameach.


    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Apr 06, 2012 @ 21:01:53

      Thanks, Laurie. There’s also the issue that hats are not allowed except during Christmas time when it is fashionable for both the staff and students to wear a Santa hat! What does a vegan eat on Passover?


  2. ken jones
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 14:28:46

    why don’t you just take a vacation day? I have a number of events pertaining to my religion, that are not “official state holidays,” and I recognize it and just take the day off, rather than demand that the whole state conforms to my personal religious views. it seems rather self-centered of you to ask that a state (in which something like less than 1% of the people are jewish), officially recognize jewish holidays as state holidays.


    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Apr 11, 2012 @ 16:16:53

      Thank you for your suggestions. It’s not about me taking a vacation day, it’s about the fact that a religious holiday is a state holiday. My concern is that in this situation there is no separation of Church and State, which is one of the foundations on which our country was designed. Everybody should have to take a vacation day to celebrate their religious holidays, not just me. In addition, very few people even celebrate Good Friday in any formal sense. Easter is on a Sunday so it is not an issue. Good Friday is not even like Christmas that has become a secular holiday. It is just a day off. From my experience, I find it almost laughable that much of the population of the State of Hawaii has almost no concept that the Jewish people exist, yet we are a viable part of this and every state in the nation and people are celebrating Passover all over the world.


  3. ken jones
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 11:27:31

    Thanks for the condescending reply. However, it would stand to reason that christian (yes, I’m using a small “c” for my own reasons) traditions would be honored in a nation comprised of between 60-75% christians. Just as in Israel, being comprised mainly of people of the Jewish faith, celebrate Jewish holidays. It always surprises me that Jewish people everywhere, seem to think that the world revolves around them. And yes, it may be true that people in this state aren’t as aware of Jewish residents, as say New Yorkers would be, but why is that surprising? Israel is half-way around the world from Hawaii, and as a matter of fact, this state is a melting pot, where most people don’t take note of other religions, because of our “live and let live” attitude. Unlike in the Middle East, Hawaii people just accept you for who YOU are, and not necessarily what religion you are affiliated with. It’s a lesson that most residents of the Middle East could stand to learn.


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