By Alyssa Gorenberg, Associate Director, MHWOW
I remember the first time I ever heard the words ‘Fast of the Firstborn’ and it was probably the only time I was not thrilled to be my parents’ first (and favorite) child. As I learned more, I found my suspicion was correct that this isn’t exactly the highlight of being the oldest of three. This less well-known tradition is a fast that takes place right before Passover (mark it in your calendars for March 25th, 2021 this year). You know, the plague where God was all like “yeah firstborns are gone!” and Moses went to the Jews and was like “put lamb’s blood on your doors to protect your firstborn.” What a throwback.
Judaism says that you can attend a religious feast and forego observing the fast, which is a pretty cool trade-off. Religious feasts can range from meals celebrating weddings, honoring mitzvahs, and more! Here are 3 types of religious feasts that you can host this year in order to observe this often forgotten holiday:
1. Do some good in the world! After completing a Tikkun Olam project with your participants, you can honor this act of goodness with a seudat mitzvah, or a meal in honor of a commandment. Still struggling with what kinds of Tikkun Olam you can do in our virtual reality? Check out our article last year about virtual Tikkun Olam programs! Ready for an in-person program? Nothing hits the spot more than an epic bagel brunch after a park clean-up!
2. Celebrate a Hebrew birthday! While normally the fast takes place on the 14th of Nisan, this year due to Shabbat it is scheduled for the 12th of Nisan. You can use this date converter to see if any of your friends or family (likely born in March or April) happened to be born on the 12th of Nisan and therefore obligated to eat cake and be merry that day.
3. Another religious feast that is commonly scheduled for the Fast of the Firstborn is one that takes place after studying a tractate, a set of chapters, of the Talmud. This could be a great time to get out of your comfort zone and try a Jewish learning session you may haven’t experienced before.
Got another idea? Let us know! Host your own program about the Fast of the Firstborn and be sure to tag us on Facebook and Instagram @moishehouse.