Thursday, April 12, 2012

Passover Seriousness

I'm reading: Passover SeriousnessTweet this!

Jon Stewart has a great take on Passover vs. Easter (below) and notes that Jews take the holiday very seriously. We sure did. In addition to lots of cooking in preparation for hosting our first seder, DH and I spent a bit of time preparing our own haggadah for our gathering.

It wasn't until two nights before our big event that I found online resources that would have made selecting, cutting and pasting the content of our booklet a breeze, so I did it the old fashioned-way. I headed to the local library and poured over a bunch of books, as well as my small collection of haggadot.

The Women's Seder Sourcebook was the most intriguing book of the lot. In fact, I was so moved by much of the material in the book that I planned to host a women's seder. Then I realized I'd likely be tired from hosting dinner for 25 the night before, and we wanted to start demolition on our main floor bathroom after our seder.

Instead of hosting a women's seder, I created what my husband called a feminist haggadah.

That felt like an accusation to me, but it wasn't. He was merely noting that instead of sticking with the same old stories about Moses, the burning bushes, slaves and the parting of the Red Sea (though they were there, too) I'd mentioned women, by name, during our service: midwives that defied Pharaoh, Shifra and Puah, as well as Moses' sister Miriam. I might have mentioned Yocheved, their mother, as well.

I say egalitarian. He says feminist.

Tomato. Tomahto.

Considering that the Women's Seder Sourcebook was published in 2003, I was surprised to see how timely some of the readings are. For example, Sara Buchdahl Levine wrote:

In every generation, there are threats to women's rights, autonomy and reproductive freedom. Previous generations of women fought for and won many rights and freedoms for us. We should respect the feminism and passion that brought us to where we are, and we must sustain that legacy. But many of us have become complacent, confident that our rights and privileges will not be taken away. Today's political realities tell us that is not true.
She followed up with a call to action, that is even more true and necessary today than it was in 2003.

Zoe Baird wrote:

As we taste the maror (ed. note:a bitter herb, usually horseradish) tonight, we remember the bitterness of [our ancestors'] plight. The Passover seder calls on us to rededicate ourselves to alleviating the suffering of our fellow humans, whether it is from hunger, disease, oppression, or strife. While we are thankful for the bounty we are able to enjoy at this table tonight, we are also mindful of those who do not enjoy such privilege.
The seder is a powerful call to action, a reminder of how lucky we are to be free and how hard we must work not just to stay that way, but help others achieve freedom as well.

If only the holiday had a mascot and better candy.

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