An Orange on Plate for Women - And Spit out Seeds of Hate

Haggadah Section: -- Cup #2 & Dayenu


I love the Haggadah, the Hebrew text as well as all the special actions we take at the Seder; eating, drinking, reclining, discussing and debating. In my home, we immerse ourselves in the Haggadah in Hebrew and also in the centuries of commentary on each passage. While we carefully follow all the traditions, we also recognize that over the centuries, Jews have often added new customs to Passover.

At the height of the Jewish feminist movement of the 1980s, inspired by the abundant new customs expressing women’s viewpoints and experiences, I started placing an orange on the Seder plate.

At an early point in the Seder, when stomachs were starting to growl, I asked each person to take a segment of the orange, make the blessing over fruit and eat the segment in recognition of gay and lesbian Jews and of widows, orphans, Jews who are adopted and all others who sometimes feel marginalized in the Jewish community.

When we eat that orange segment, we spit out the seeds to repudiate homophobia and we recognize that in a whole orange, each segment sticks together. Oranges are sweet and juicy and remind us of the fruitfulness of gay and lesbian Jews and of the homosociality that has been such an important part of Jewish experience, whether of men in yeshivas or of women in the Ezrat Nashim.

Strangely, I discovered some years ago that an urban legend was circulating: Strangers told me they placed an orange on their Seder plate because of an incident in Miami Beach in which a man angrily denounced me when I gave a lecture, saying that a woman belongs on the bimah of a synagogue no more than an orange belongs on the Seder plate.

That incident never happened! Instead, my custom had fallen victim to a folktale process in which my original intention was subverted. My idea of the orange was attributed to a man, and my goal of affirming lesbians and gay men was erased.

Moreover, the power of the custom was subverted: By now, women are on the bimah, so there is no great political courage in eating an orange, because women ought to be on the bimah.

For years, I have known about women whose scientific discoveries were attributed to men, or who had to publish their work under a male pseudonym. That it happened to me makes me realize all the more how important it is to recognize how deep and strong patriarchy remains, and how important it is for us to celebrate the contributions of gay and lesbian Jews, and all those who need to be liberated from marginality to centrality.

And Passover is the right moment to ensure freedom for all Jews.

Susannah Heschel is a professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College. The above is an excerpt from an OpEd she published in the Forward 4/13/21

Source:  
Susannah Heschel is a professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College. The above is an excerpt from an OpEd she published in the Forward 4/13/21
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Haggadot
Table of contents
    Introduction
  • Passover greetings
  • Silent Meditation on Candelighting
  • Lighting the Holiday Candles
  • 9 Easy Seder Activities You Haven't Thought of Yet
  • Seder Plate and Ritual Items
  • A Seder plate for current events
  • Je Suis Juif, Parce Que... I am a Jew Because... by Edmond Fleg
  • LIBERACIÓN: Passover through a Latin-Jewish Lens of Liberation (English Version)
  • Prayer for Ukraine
    • Kadesh
  • Who Are You?
  • Kadesh Covid-19 Yahrzeit candle
  • Rabbi Abraham Pam on Slavery and Freedom
  • Woke Up This Morning
    • Urchatz
  • Algerian Passover
  • wade in the water
    • Karpas
  • What Do You Use For Karpas?
    • Passover Seder in Manila, Philippines, 1925
      • Yachatz
    • Uyghur Seder Insert
    • ENTERING THE BROKEN WORLD
      • Maggid - Beginning
    • Sunflower Seeds on My Seder Plate
    • Brombacher Haggadah Illustration
    • The Seder's Order
      • Commentary / Readings
    • Exodus 2022/5782: A Reading for the Seder
    • Lean Out / Lean In: A Meditation on Reclining, Connected to the Global Refugee Crisis
    • Winter is Over: Ukrainian Schoolchild's Poem, 1920, NLI
      • -- Four Questions
    • Four Questions in Fictional Languages
    • 4 Questions for Your Shabbat Table
    • New Questions for the Third Year of COVID-19
    • A Child Eating Matzah, Europe, NLI
      • -- Four Children
    • The Child Who Doesn’t Know How to Ask a Question
    • Golden Girls Wise Child
      • -- Cup #2 & Dayenu
    • The Exodus: Coming Out
    • Dayenu
    • Persian Passover
    • Dayenu—Finding Meaning in the Small Things
    • Dayenu, Disability Justice
    • An Orange on Plate for Women - And Spit out Seeds of Hate
    • Dayenu Cartoon, The Sentinel, March 24, 1977, NLI
      • -- Exodus Story
    • Lyric video: Wide as the Water (Mi Chamocha)
    • Dayenu "Moses in the Basket", The Sentinel, 1967, NLI
      • -- Ten Plagues
    • 10 Plagues, Amsterdam Haggadah, 1738, NLI
    • Red Sea
    • Makah/​Plague of the Binary
    • Ten Plagues of Fossil Fuels
      • Motzi-Matzah
    • Freedom Together
      • Koreich
    • Mixing The Sweet And The Bitter
    • Earth & Justice Freedom-Seder - The Blessings of Redemption
      • Shulchan Oreich
    • US Soldiers Celebrating Passover in Korea, 1953. Source: The National Archives.
    • Passover Seder at the Hannanshwili family, Tbilisi, Georgia (USSR), 1924
      • Rachtzah
    • Yemenite Passover
      • Bareich
    • Gratitude for the meal
    • Gratitude
      • Hallel
    • Fourth Cup
      • Nirtzah
    • Golden Girls Nirtzah
    • We Sing Your Song / Strong in Your Majesty
      • Songs
    • We Don't Talk About Pharaoh (Adapted From We Don't Talk About Bruno)
    • "The Uyghurs Must Be Free"
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