Last night was the second night, thus the second Passover sedar. The word “sedar” means “order.” We read the Haggadah (spelling?) which describes Moses leading the Jewish slaves out of Egypt. They’d been building those pyramids for Pharoah for 400 years and were way tired!
Because we have a small extended family, we always invite friends over to celebrate. This time we blended several new friends from various walks of life with a few “old” friends. What was cool was that although each person was Jewish by heritage, their personal recollections of their childhood Passover sedar experiences were totally different.
In the 1960s and ’70s, Reform Jews grew up reading from the free but boring Maxwell House Coffee Haggadahs. Today, those are still available but really dry. Over the years, our family was fortunate to accumulate some beautifully illustrated Haggadahs with insightful discussion questions printed in the margin of each page. For example, “In what ways are we slaves today?”
But the rocking part of the sedar was the naming of the ten plgues G-d visited upon the Egyptians when Pharoah refused to let the Jews go. We distributed plastic frogs, cows, lions, lice, hail, etc., along with masks my artist friend, Tobi Abrams, made to describe each plague! Each of the ten participants held up that particular item when it was named. It brought some levity to the sedar. Definitely a new custom for everyone in attendance!
To our family, the whole idea of the sedar is not something to rush through so we can eat, but rather an hour-long oasis in which to reflect about our lives through various discussion questions threaded through the service. COMMENTS
4 thoughts on “A Rocking Passover Sedar!”
Thanks for sharing your celebrations. Today in Cyprus it is the day for making the religious breads for Easter. I love helping the ladies in the village twist the shapes and I am in charge of the sesame seed sprinkling. For a British expat, to be included in this is an honour.
(Sorry this comment is a month late…)
Jennie, your seder sounds like fun! Our family never used the Maxwell House Haggadah, which is written in archaic language (thou hath, etc.) and really more orthodox. The Haggadah we used is called Haggadah for the American Family and was written by Martin Berkowitz, who was the rabbi of a reform congregation in Merion, PA. It did also have a coffee connection though – it was published in 1958 and distributed as a premium by Standard Brands, makers of Chase & Sanborn coffee. While not beautifully illustrated (they were free, after all!), this Haggadah is well written and has an emotional connection from my childhood. I inherited a few copies from my mom which, naturally, were falling apart. A few years ago I was going to host a larger seder for extended family and was wondering if I could somehow get more copies. Although I'd never seen this Haggadah available anywhere, through the magic of the internet I discovered that the rabbi's son was now selling them from a website. (Only $2.95 each and printed on much better paper than the old free ones.) So a family tradition was renewed.
Thanks for such great information!📢
correction to ChiJrsyMs post, Berkowitiz was rabbi of a conservative congregation, though main stream (and Main Line) conservatives would argue that for decades…