Today is Nitzach she b'Chesed - a day of endurance in a week of loving kindness.
Most Jews participate in one or two seders during Pesach, depending on where they live--in Israel or not; what their affiliation is--Reform or not; or whether they associate being Jewish as a religion or a heritage. But I'm going above and beyond the normal seder attendance and will be participating in four seders this year.
I attended "family" seders on the first two nights of Pesach. The first night I was at Bob and Ruth White's seder. It's my third year there, and Ken and I are now considered regulars. It's great listening to Bob White-one of the top litigation attorneys in San Francisco--be questioned and challenged by his four children, now all adults. They get such pleasure in it, as does he.
The second night I went to the Hollander's seder. This is the first time since I've known them that the family--Henry and Katherine with their kids Ruth and Reuben--stayed in San Francisco for Pesach. Usually they travel to Rochester to spend Pesach with Henry's family. But the combination Ruth's Bat Mitzvah coming up this July and the lateness of Pesach this year so they kids were not off from school meant that they held their first seder at their home. So while there are no "regulars" for this seder, it was definately a Beth Sholom family affair with a lot of our Shabbat community coming together.
Those were the "official" seders, happening on the appointed days. So what's with the two extra events?
For the second year in a row, Kenny Altman and I were invited by Hilda Richards, a longtime Beth Sholom congregant, to lead a seder at the Sequoias, the assisted living facility where she lives. We were there last Pesach and this past Hanukkah. We lead an abbreviated seder, making sure we don't miss a dip, and lead the group in song. While some may say "why bother" this seder is important to these residents. Many of them came from Europe, some before the war, some survivors of the Holocaust. While they may not do much in the way of Jewish practice, bringing them this seder brings them joy.
Tomorrow night I will be conducting another seder for a family that has no religious practice but want to give their children a feeling for their Jewish heritage. I was going to do this as a second night seder but they had other plans so we decided to hold it tomorrow. Again, some would say "why bother" but again, this seder is important. Isn't it better to share some of the rituals of Judaism, rituals that may resonate with these kids later in their lives. It gives them a tie to the greater Jewish community--how can that be a bad thing. I am happy to share this with them.
Of course, this also happens to fall on a week when I have tons of video work to do on a project that is on a tight deadline. It seems that there are not enough hours in these days to accomplish everything I need to make all these things happen. But there I find the meaning of having endurance wrapped in loving kindness.