All adults face the challenge of balancing work and their personal lives. For those working in the Jewish community, the challenge can be even greater, and it’s one that I know we will be dealing with constantly as my husband becomes a rabbi and I continue to work in the Jewish community.
As students, it was pretty easy to maintain a balance. As a student leader, I was working for my own community, so any time spent would help either me or my friends. R’s work as a student mashgiach (food supervisor) also helped the student community. Things changed when we entered the workforce as Jewish professionals. Suddenly, my husband was responsible for the logistics of seders for hundreds of people, and although the Hillel had been in existence for 60 or 70 years, it was as though no one had ever done Passover before. As it turned out, this lack of preparation meant that I became a Hillel widow for the two weeks proceeding Passover. He’d leave the house by 8AM, come home for dinner at 6PM, and then fall into bed at midnight or 1AM. Neither of us had been particularly prepared for how the Hillel Passover preparations would interfere in our lives. That, combined with my relative inexperience doing Passover, made for a very bumpy ride that year. We barely got the apartment kashered for Passover, and we were so relieved to leave town to go to R’s parents house for the seders, it was a little ridiculous.
We both hated the way that first Passover had worked out. R made a commitment to make sure it didn’t happen the next year, and it didn’t. Knowing exactly how much work it would take, he started much earlier and all the knowledge he had gained the year before helped him. Not only that, he had a small group of interns to help him with the many, many tasks he would need to accomplish. It was enough that when the situation demanded, we agreed to host the seders in our home, hosting R’s parents. I’ll post more about that experience next week. It did take more than R being able to handle his work situation better, however. It took us being able to plan together, to realize that we needed to plan together, and that if we did, we could make something really meaningful for both us and our guests.
This year, the stress from Passover has been intense but manageable. As always, new challenges pop up and old ones resolve themselves in different ways. We finished our Passover shopping this past Monday, and we’re not hosting seders again this year. We get the opportunity to be with our parents again, for which I am very grateful. The best part of what we’ve learned in these last three years is that you have to deal with the known stressors. If Passover is always going be stressful, than it’s got to be something we plan for. We’re not perfect, but hopefully, the lessons we’ve learned in the last few years will help us as we go on to our next step.