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.