In your mind’s eye, look around at those with whom you have celebrated past Seders.
A contemplative girl is full of questions: How could a respected family in Egypt so quickly become an enslaved nation? Why was Pharaoh so stubborn?
There’s the "Squirmer." If he doesn’t declare outright that he’d rather not be at the Seder, his body language clearly broadcasts the message.
Seated next to each other are two frustrated guests. One is always losing his place in the Haggadah, and the other’s eyes often stray to the kitchen.
During its recounting of the Exodus from Egypt, the Haggadah “pauses” to consider Seder participants resembling those described above. They are portrayed as four sons: one wise, one wicked, one simple and one who doesn’t know how to ask.
If Elijah had a disability would he be welcomed at your Seder? During Passover we traditionally have a cup of wine at our Seder table for Elijah and we open the door to let him in. Could he get into your home or the place in which you celebrate the Passover holiday? If Elijah used a wheelchair or had other ambulation challenges could he get in? Would you invite him in if he looked different or sounded unusual when he spoke? Could he participate in the rituals of Passover if he could not read the Haggadah? (For people who do not read or read well there is now an adapted Haggadah.)
Acted-out Haggadah brings Exodus story’s forgotten females to the fore.
As a “new Jew,” a recent convert to Judaism, Desiree O’Clair was first exposed to the Passover seder a few years ago, at friends’ holiday tables. She then tried her hand at leading her own seders, and decided, “I have to learn how to do this properly.”
Recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I first came to Bonaire, a Dutch Caribbean island near Curacao, more than 30 years ago. I was treating myself to a vacation where no one knew me and I was far away from the stressful life in the “big city.”
This year’s anti-Semitism must have a place at the seder table.
Special To The Jewish Week
What will Jews do this year?
Passover is a time of joy and freedom, anticipation and redemption. And because we are strong and free, we can afford one pointed flash of anger. After the meal, we traditionally open the door for Elijah and say three biblical verses of vindictiveness that begin “Pour out Your wrath…” Shfokh hamatkha al ha-goyim. We crave justice. We seek revenge. We ask that our enemies get their just desserts for all of the irrational hatred we’ve suffered. We note the spilled venom of centuries that has taken innocent Jewish lives.
Something new to worry about: It began with the conversation with one of my oldest friends, who is a trustee of the Metropolitan Opera. She noted that ticket sales were down due to the fact that people do not like to commit to subscriptions, which requires them to be in attendance at a performance at a certain time on a certain evening. She also noted that her cousin, who is a director of the National Theater in London, had told her that all of the performing arts are in trouble because we live today in an on-demand world.
When we think of the challenges of hosting a seder, the physical – the cleaning and cooking – immediately spring to mind. Another challenge is negotiating the tension between the meal’s ritual requirements and the obligation to make the story actually speak to the participants who are there.