Always a Process
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Always a Process
"For me, the recent meaning of Passover in my life has been a reclaiming of the seder ceremony away from the patriarchal tradition. My children may remember the seders of their early childhood, conducted by their grandfather entirely in Hebrew, incomprehensible to most in attendance, unvarying from year to year, except for how long it took until the children were sent away from the table for giggling. Before that, there were the Vietnam-era seders when we got into fights with relatives about the relationship (or lack thereof) between the oppressions of ancient people and those of our own era.
Our goal now is to create seders that reflect our awareness of the past and present, that change to meet our needs and concerns but remain connected to the positive aspects of our tradition, that welcome newcomers and offer comfort to the regulars, and that are stimulating, comprehensible and of interest to people of varying ages, religions and backgrounds. Always a process; always a challenge."
Egypt, no sleet or snow for sure, not even rain or the usually hail.
Nourished only from an ancient wide stream,
On which women secretly shared the boy of redemption.
Our Seder recalls the signs and marvels, the plagues, the costly victory.
We will honor our timeless bread and play with sweet mortar; taste bitterness and tears.
We drink past our fill.
God will split their...
The seder plate holds the main symbols of a traditional Passover seder-- the shank bone, egg, karpas, charoset, and maror. The Kabbalists of the Middle Ages added hazeret, another kind of bitter lettuce. And in recent years feminists have added an orange on the seder plate to symbolize women's leadership roles and full empowerment in Jewish life.
The artichoke however is a new development. What is an artichoke?...
Our sages took some pains to ensure a Jewish calendar in which Pesach would always fall in the spring. (They were operating in a northern hemisphere context; I don’t think the challenges of antipodean Judaism ever occurred to them.) In the northern hemisphere, Pesach is inextricably connected with spring.
As the earth shakes off the constrictions of winter, her frozen places thawing, so we remember our...
Back to basics, get rid of what is bloated and inflated
“Letting go means just what it says. It’s an invitation to cease clinging to anything- whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, or view, or desire. It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding. To let go means to give up coercing, resisting or struggling, in...
A discussion can take place regarding with which of the four children each guest identifies most, followed by a consideration of which populations are currently "unable to ask," who might be considered "simple," and more. Examples for a new set of four children may include:
One who sees the pain of others and works to relieve suffering.
One who cares only about him/herself.
One who cares only about...
Is matzo poor man's bread or the food of free men? Can it be both? If we regard it as the Bread of Affliction why did we carry dough on our backs out of Egypt, to let it bake in the hot sun without leavening and rising? Can one Matzo be both a symbol of wretchedness and deliverance?
Matzo is a paradox.
Not only is it so, but in breaking the middle matzo we also break with symmetry. There is...
Rumi, the Persian poet of the soul, understands the meaning of love in this way:
Your task is not to seek love
But merely to seek and ﬁnd all the barriers
That you have built against it.
The same can be said of freedom; we build barriers against it, barriers born of fear-fear of death, fear of not having enough, fear of not being enough, fear...
A Rabbi who came to America in the 1920's relates the following story:
"When I first came into the city, I saw a big store. I walked inside and noticed people taking shopping carts and going aisle to aisle, piling as much food as they wanted into their carts. No one said anything to them, and no one stopped them. People filled up their wagons to their hearts' content. This seemed very strange to me. Indeed, this...
In washing our hands,
we also think of those who don't get to share
in the basic human right of abundant, clean water
of people deprived of water
by the weather
in Somalia, in India, in Texas
and those deprived of water
by human action
in places like Flint, Michigan
as well as those whose homes have been ravaged
by wind and water
in Colombia, in...
This is a modern interpretation of an ancient standard, which is part and parcel of the Seder: the Four Children. By reading and discussing the Four Children, and then responding to it through modern themes, we can come to an understanding of who we are and our relation to the our Children. The source of this section are four verses from the Tanakh which briefly mention children asking, or being told about, the Exodus...
There is a word in Hebrew — Teshuvah — that means return. It is an acknowledgement that there is always a chance for forgiveness, redemption and change. Our traditions teach that Passover is open to all. Everyone is welcome at this table. There is always room. Because no one is ever turned away, there is always an opportunity for a rebirth of spirit.
As a sign of hospitality to all, we open the door to our...
Pesach is a time of inclusion.
On seder night, there are two moments where we metaphorically open our doors and invite others in. One is at the opening of the Magid portion of the seder, when we say, “All who are hungry come and eat.” There is a beautiful message here: we were once slaves; poor and hungry, and we remember our redemption by sharing what we have with others.
The other, comes towards the...
The world’s refugee camps are some of the most desolate backdrops against which people fleeing violence and persecution rebuild their lives. The Akre Refugee Camp in Iraq, which houses hundreds of Syrian families, was built out of the remains of a former Saddam Hussein prison. The Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, one of the world’s most populous refugee camps, consists of endless rows of beige tents and caravans...
More Clips from Mallory Cohn
Questions are not only welcome during the course of the evening but are vital to tonight’s journey. Our obligation at this seder involves traveling from slavery to freedom, prodding ourselves from apathy to action, encouraging the transformation of silence into speech, and providing a space where all different levels of belief and tradition can co-exist safely. Because leaving Mitzrayim--the narrow places, the places...
"Though my family would never admit it, one of my first lessons in oppression and resistance came at Seders. Sitting around the table with my grandmother, who survived Auschwitz; my mother, who was raised by two survivors; and my father, who teaches Holocaust studies -- Passover had a very political character to it for me. Resistance was portrayed as a natural and necessary outgrowth of brutal oppression. We always...
"For me, the recent meaning of Passover in my life has been a reclaiming of the seder ceremony away from the patriarchal tradition. My children may remember the seders of their early childhood, conducted by their grandfather entirely in Hebrew, incomprehensible to most in attendance, unvarying from year to year, except for how long it took until the children were sent away from the table for giggling. Before that, there...