RBG pt. 2

Haggadah Section: Rachtzah

I am alert to discrimination. I grew up during World War II in a Jewish family. I have memories as a child,
even before the war, of being in a car with my parents and passing a place in [Pennsylvania], a resort with a
sign out in front that read: “No dogs or Jews allowed.” Signs of that kind existed in this country during my
childhood. One couldn’t help but be sensitive to discrimination living as a Jew in America at the time of
World War II. (U.S. Congress, p. 139)

The Passover seder is laden with symbols, many of which — like the bitter herbs (horseradish) that
represent the bitterness of enslavement and the vegetable (usually parsley) that's dipped in saltwater to
remind us of the tears of slaves — are found on the seder plate. In recent decades, there's been a new food
on many a progressive platter: an orange.

Some may consider the orange a symbol of women's rights, derived from a man supposedly telling
Professor Susannah Heschel that "a woman belongs on the bimah [in a leadership position in the
congregation, or reading from the Torah] as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate." But Heschel
herself has said that no such exchange took place, and the orange has a different meaning. Reflecting on
when she added the orange to her seder plate in the 1980s, she says it was to be eaten "as a gesture of solidarity with Jewish lesbians and gay men, and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community," including widows. The seeds, symbolizing homophobia, were to be spat out. Bottom line: There's room for more symbols on the seder plate — and room for more participants around the seder table.

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Passover Guide

Hosting your first Passover Seder? Not sure what food to serve? Curious to
know more about the holiday? Explore our Passover 101 Guide for answers
to all of your questions.


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