The Artichoke on the Seder Plate
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The Artichoke on the Seder Plate
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? Surely a work of God's imagination! Many petals, with thistle and a heart. To me this has come to represent the Jewish people.
We are first of all, very diverse in our petals. We call people Jews who are everything from very traditional Orthodox Hassidim, to very liberal secular. We are Reform, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, traditional, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Renewal, and, of course, post-denominational. We are social justice activists and soldiers; we are Israelis and Jews of the Diaspora. We are young, old, single, married. Many are vegetarian, while others swear by Hebrew National. Our skin can be white as Scandinavian, dark black as Ethiopian, and we now welcome many Chinese and Latin American adoptees. Lately we add another category, that of interfaith.
Like the artichoke, which has thistles protecting its heart, the Jewish people have been thorny about this question of interfaith marriage. Let this artichoke on the seder plate tonight stand for the wisdom of God's creation in making the Jewish people a population able to absorb many elements and cultures throughout the centuries--yet still remain Jewish. Let the thistles protecting our hearts soften so that we may notice the petals around us.
Korech: Mixing the Bitter and the Sweet
One of my favorite moments of the seder comes just before dinner is served. It is called Korech. It is also known as the Hillel sandwich. It is the moment when we eat maror (the bitter herbs) and the charoset (the sweet apple and nut mixture) on a piece of matzah. What a strange custom to eat something so bitter and something so sweet all in one...
The Leader of the Seder only, now washes his/her hands from an ewer into a bowl held
by another celebrant, wiping them dry on a hand towel. We have accepted the need for
leadership, we wash the leaders's hands. This small, formal act of service is a symbol of
our recognition of their leadership. This is an ancient Jewish...
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Child labor in cocoa fields has been documented in the following countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, (leading supplier, accounting for around 40% of production) Guinea and Nigeria.
Hundreds of thousands of children work in cocoa fields, and many of them are exposed to hazardous conditions, where they:
- Spray pesticides and apply fertilizers without protective gear
- Use sharp tools, like...
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...
By Marge Piercy
The courage to let go of the door, the handle.
The courage to shed the familiar walls whose very
stains and leaks are comfortable as the little moles
of the upper arm; stains that recall a feast,
a child’s naughtiness, a loud blistering storm
that slapped the roof hard, pouring through.
The courage to abandon the graves dug into the hill,
Long ago, Pharaoh ruled the land of Egypt. He enslaved the Jewish people and made them work very hard building his cities. song: Bang bang bang
Phaoraoh was especially cruel to Jewish children. One mother hid her baby, Moses, in a basket in the river. Pharoah's daughter found him and took him home to live in the palace.
Moses grew up. He saw the slaves working so hard. He had a fight about it...
As we wash our hands for the first time this evening, we remember that we have the freedom to access resources that many do not. Ask yourself these questions:
In what ways are we free today?
What does freedom mean for Jews in America? For Jews around the world?
What does freedom mean for people of all backgrounds around the world? Are there many who are not free?
How is this night different from other nights? On other nights we are not obligated to ask the questions of what separates us from redemption. Tonight we are so obligated.
1) Why are women not yet universally recognized as being created in the divine image?
2) Why are Israelis still living in a state of war?
3) Why are millions of people still suffering from hunger?
4) Why are there...
On this night we retrace our steps from then to now, reclaiming years of desert wandering.
On this night we ask questions, ancient and new, speaking of servitude and liberation, service and joy.
On this night we welcome each soul, sharing stories of courage, strength, and faith.
On this night we open doors long closed, lifting our voices in songs of praise.
On this night we renew ancient...
God brought ten plagues upon the Egyptian people as part of the Israelites’ journey to freedom. Tonight we read ten modern plagues that result from unfair, inequitable, and excessive practices in the criminal justice system. As we read each plague we remove a drop of wine from our glasses to symbolize our anguish at the suffering these plagues have caused.
Pesach is many things to many people. Its customs are familiar and can be viewed with many lenses. The symbols are universal and are subject to almost any reading: social justice, class, the Holocaust, Middle East politics, American politics, agriculture, the environment, the list is endless, and the proliferation of interpretations is evidence that this is fertile territory.
A few things – maybe only two –...
The Third Cup of Wine
A cup to the freedom fighters
this is a prayer for all freedom fighters, a prayer for the tired, the burnt out, the heartsick, the cynical
this is a prayer for all freedom fighters brave enough to cry, for the reaching around of arms, the firm handclaps of comradeship, the sanctuary of bodies when we need to hide our faces.
this is a prayer for wordless...
Reader 40: In recent history, we have added an additional piece of matza in our Seder. This matza is set aside as a symbol of hope for the Jews of the World. It reminds us of the links that exist amongst us. While we observe this festival of freedom, we know that there are some areas in the world where discrimination towards Jews still exist.
"A Not-So-Serious Passover Play for the Classroom or the Dining Room" by S. Mitchell
CHARACTERS: Slave Narrator, G_d (as a voice offstage), Moses, Aaron, Burning Bush, Pharoah
SLAVE NARRATOR: In Egypt we Hebrews had a difficult life. All day we worked under the whips of the taskmasters, making bricks and stacking them into giant pyramids, using nothing but our bare hands and a mixture of apples, raisins...
The whole point of the seder is to ask questions. This is your time to ask about things that confuse you, things you don’t understand, or even things you don’t agree with. There really is no is no such thing as a stupid question, especially tonight.
- Joy Levitt (age 16)
Questions are not only welcome during the course of the evening but are vital to tonight’s journey....