Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Feminist Seder with Neighbors

Sam and I were invited to a Feminist Seder by our dear neighbors, complete with honoring Miriam (instead of Elijah) and having a large orange in the center of the Seder plate. Susan Heschel first introduced the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are included in Jewish life. The tradition morphed into being about empowerment for women.

Celebrating Pesach in a Jewish home is infinitely more meaningful. The prayers really spoke to me this time, in Ricki and Jane's living room, at the long table set on an angle, an extra foursome on the couch (with Seth on the footstool). We contributed bowls and five forks. The bed served as an extra buffet, covered in casserole dishes.

We make do with what we have, remembering our strength and resourcefulness so that we know we can handle whatever happens. We may have to struggle and endure hardship, but we will survive. The family Haggadah included remembering how we've grown and become more free this year and dedicating ourselves to pursuing freedom and wholeness this year. Here is part of the Haggadah: "We can use our own experience to accept ourselves just the way we are. We have in this Seder a chance to create a community of Jewish and non-Jewish people that will welcome and embrace all people."

Right before the Korech (making the sandwich), we recited a blessing:

For the times when we do not know which way to go, but move forward anyway;
For the times when immediate action is the easy answer, and we wait and let the truth ripen;
For the times when we have a hunch, a flash, a knowing that comes to us without our knowledge, and we use these things to guide us;
For movement, despite our fears, despite their obstacles and delays, in times when movement means growth and life.

Several families came together for this celebration of spring and freedom. Ricki was the only one of us raised Jewish, raised with a more traditional Seder where girls were relatively passive. Her most vivid memories are of running around, trying to find the hidden afikomen. This time, she and the children hid the afikomen so well that we had to play "hot and cold" to find it!

Thanks to Jane, Ricki and Marka for a beautiful Seder!

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