Passover, Grit and College

Written by Lisa Bleich

“I hate Passover!” is a constant refrain I hear from my girls when they are annoyed that they can’t eat bread, or pita chips, or basically anything they normally enjoy during the rest of the year for eight days.  (My middle daughter is particularly vexed this year since her 18th birthday falls right at the beginning of the holiday!)

Tonight is the first night of Passover where we will attend a Seder that recounts the story of how the Jews fled Egypt after years of oppression by Pharaoh.  We will hear about the ten plagues and how the Jews wandered the desert for forty years.  We will be reminded that since the Jews had to leave so quickly, they did not have time to let the bread rise, which is why we eat matzah or unleavened bread during Passover. (And hence, why we dread the eight days of deprivation!)

And even though we complain and joke about how so many Jewish stories are about oppression and how we ultimately overcome it, it reinforces the notion that no matter what you throw at Jews, we can and will survive.

At its core, Passover is a story about grit. In some ways, these stories that define Judaism are perhaps what drives many Jews to succeed because no matter how many Pharaohs, Kings, or Hitlers try to kill us, we find a way to persevere and rebound.

It is no surprise that “grit” is a popular buzz word in college admissions.  Colleges want students with grit because getting through four years (or in some cases five) years of college is challenging.  It requires perseverance (studying consistently over time with little ability to procrastinate); the ability to overcome challenges (leaving home and having to do your own laundry); the ability to rebound from failure (realizing that you can’t pull an all night drinking binge and still perform well on a test the next day); the ability to adapt to new people and situations (living with a perfect stranger and not being able to yell, “Mom” when he doesn’t do what you want).

For those who celebrate, Happy Passover!

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