All Are Welcome At The Seder

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. 

Rabbi Michael Levy

The Four Children, Without Judgement, In The New Gateways Haggadah

Rachel was, by turns, enthusiastic, grumpy, silly, listless, sunny and full of pre-teen attitude. As the result of her childhood stroke, she used a bright pink wheelchair to get around, and she communicated through hand gestures, vocalizations, facial expressions and a communication device called a Dynavox (also pink). Rachel’s love of Judaism was unmistakable, but her parents told us they had always hated the Four Children in the Hagaddah.

Homophobes Win In Indiana

A reputation for homophobia that has dogged Republicans for many years got worse this week when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a new law protecting discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT).

His state's "Restoring Religious Freedom Act" gives businesses the right to refuse service to LGBT individuals based on religious grounds.

If Elijah Arrived In A Wheelchair, Could You Welcome Him To Your Seder?

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.)

Painting The Seder Table

With apologies to Shelley, “If winter comes, can Passover be far behind?”  And despite the never-ending snow and winter-like cold, Passover is indeed coming soon -- which makes this a great time to drop by The Jewish Museum for a view of Nicole Eisenman’s Seder (2010), the featured work in the Museum’s Masterpieces & Curiosities exhibition series.

Nicole Eisenman, Seder, 2010, oil on canvas. Courtesy The Jewish Museum

Where Are The Birthers Now?

Ted Cruz and Barack Obama may be poles apart politically, but they actually have a lot in common. 

Both are smart, articulate, ambitious Harvard Law graduates who decided to run for president after only two years in their first term in the U.S. Senate.

They also have foreign-born fathers and white American mothers.

Ted's father was born in Cuba and Ted himself was born in Canada.

Obama's father was born in Kenya but Barack was born in Hawaii.

Spy Vs. Spy

Before leaving for Washington to speak to the U.S. Congress at the invitation of the Republican leadership three weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would reveal information about the bad deal the Obama administration was negotiating with Iran but not telling the Congress.

When there was nothing new in his formal address, just a rehash of what he’d been saying for months, it was assumed that his pre-speech hype was just that, hype.

Jewish Exodus To GOP: Fuggedaboutit

Republicans are salivating over the thought of a huge influx of Jewish voters in the wake of new friction between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of this week’s Israeli election. 

The outcome of the election was deeply disappointing to most American Jews and most Democrats (most Jews are Democrats by a wide margin).  Not just because Netanyahu won but because of how he won, with racist campaign tactics and flip-flops on the two state solution. 

Jewish Disability Awareness Month: How To Keep The Message Alive

Last month, many people worked tirelessly to make congregations and communities across our country aware of the capabilities and aspirations of Jews with disabilities. What can we do to transform the message of Jewish disability awareness into meaningful changes that bring us closer to full integration into Jewish life the other eleven months of the year?

Dramatic and widely publicized events have their place, but how long will their message remain effective? The experiences of the Biblical stories of Moses and Elijah remind us that ongoing “small quiet voices” must be heard after the fanfare. Let’s look at some “awareness initiatives” from early Jewish history that can help to guide us.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Webinar This Weekend: Inclusive Camping Tips From Ramah

While there is still snow on the ground in parts of the northeast and most people are ready to transition from winter to spring, camp professionals think about summer all year long! We hire staff, recruit campers, host reunions, plan programs and participate in professional development. It is so important to share experiences with other camp professionals and to learn from them.

At Ramah, the camping arm of Conservative Judaism, we are excited to share our experiences in inclusive camping with colleagues from throughout the Jewish camping world.

That's one reason why the National Ramah Tikvah Network is looking forward to hosting an in-person seminar (which will also be presented as a webinar) entitled, “How Inclusive Camping Benefits Typical Campers, Campers with Disabilities, and Camp’s Bottom Line.

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