Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seder musings......

היום שלשה יומים לעמר
Today is the third day of the omer

תפרת שבחסד
A day of compassion in a week of loving kindness

I had three seders this year instead of the usual two. As it is with seders, they were all basically the same, and each one was different.

The first night I went to Bob & Ruth White's house for what has become my family seder. This is the third year Ken and I have been a part of their celebration, and I hope to be there for years to come. There is much joy and laughter as Bob leads the seder surrounded by his four children who always manage to get home for Pesach no matter where in the world they are at the time--New York, Madrid, Berkeley, wherever :) It is a complete seder, with lots of singing. All who attend are encouraged to contribute any food for thought--to go along with all the great food we eat :) This year I brought me two new insights into the haggadah text. First, the association between the 4 children and the 4 Marx Brothers--I invite you to figure out which is who. And I will never look at the song "Dayainu" in the same way again. Bob is right, there is irony in those words. As a people, do we ever say, "this is enough?" It reminds me of the Jewish joke:
*Q. How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
*A. (Sigh) Don't bother, I'll sit in the dark, I don't want to be a nuisance to anybody.
For second night, I was invited to the Mirvish's house, another family I know from Beth Sholom. The dad, Adrian, is a philosophy professor, and he lead us in text study of many parts of the hagaddah. I don't know that I've experienced a seder quite like that and since I'm a bit starved for good Jewish group study these days, this really resonated with me. It made for a long seder, but one that I found really satisfying.

Last night I lead another seder for my friends Robin and Darin with their two kids, Darin's parents, his brother and his girlfriend, and our friends Eli (Elizabeth), her husband Brian and their daughter. Darin is Jewish, but no one in his family has ever had any interest in practicing any part of the religion. Robin is not Jewish, but feels a tie to the spiritual nature of religion and wants to give her kids the experience of their heritage. Eli and Brian are not Jewish, had never been to a seder, but Eli wants her 5-year-old daughter who attends Catholic school, to have an appreciation for the different religious practices in the world. Some would call this seder watered down, but in some ways it might be the most important of the three. For it gives people who would not have any relationship to this story of liberation a way to show their children the importance of freedom for all people. It gives the adults a chance to appreciate the message as well.

One tradition--three different experiences. It made for a long start of the week, but helped bring the aspect of loving kindness into each day.

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