It came up casually, as part of a different conversation about Pesach, and immediately, it grabbed our 5th – 7th grade children’s attention: some Jews sell their חמץ chametz (leavened foods) for Pesach. What?! How? Why?
So we did what we usually do when children have questions: we started researching. We turned to the Torah, to find out what the Torah instructs about חמץ chametz. We discovered that Israelites were supposed to remove it from their homes, not eat it, or even own it, lest they be cut off from the Israelite people. (That brought up a ton more questions!)
We read the Conservative Movement’s instructions about חמץ chametz today. And we started to make connections: now we could see why some people clean every nook and cranny of their homes. Now we understood why some people don’t eat חמץ chametz for 8 days, not just at the seder. I mean, we still had a lot of questions:
Finally, we asked Rabbi Minkus to come tell us how the selling works for people in this building. He clarified a lot. But we also had a MUCH greater appreciation for what חמץ chametz is, and the relationship Jews could have with it during Pesach. Children offered many, many reasons that Jews might want to sell their חמץ chametz, or not eat it during Pesach.
And, typical for us, we still had a lot of questions. What is it’s someone’s birthday at school and they offer you a cupcake? Is it unkind to say no? Should you explain Passover, or just say, “I don’t want to eat that right now?”
How wonderful to grow up knowing that we get to keep asking questions and making decisions about how we want to be Jewish.