Tapuz – The Orange
Why do we have an orange on the Seder Plate?
Speaker 1: In our own day as in the ancient days of our tradition, an event becomes a story, a story is woven with new legends, and the legends lead the path into new teachings. So it is with the orange on the Seder plate.
Speaker 2: To begin with in the early 1980’s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist Haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (there's as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the Seder plate). Heschel felt that to put bread on the Seder plate would be to accept that Jewish lesbians and gay men violate Judaism like chametz violates Passover. So, at her next Seder, she chose an orange as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community.
Speaker 3: Heschel offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews and LGBTQ Jews' contributions as active members in Jewish life. In addition, each orange segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out – a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the homophobia of Judaism.
Speaker 4: We place an orange on our Seder plate to symbolize the affirmation of LGBTQ people, and to ensure we continue to cherish that growth of Judaism. Tonight all LGBTQ Jews take their full and rightful place in shaping the future of our people and traditions by placing the orange on its own Seder plate. Our two Seder plates represent the duality of symbolism as we sit here at our queer Seder; the Jewish traditions that we embrace since ancient days and our transformation as LGBTQ Jews into equal contributors to the growth of our people’s traditions.
Speaker 5: So why an orange? Because the orange carries within itself the seeds of its own rebirth. So have gay men and lesbians, bisexual people, transgender people, women, Jews by choice within Judaism given birth to their own inclusion.
Speaker 6: Also because an orange provides both food and drink – it alone could sustain life for quite some time. So have queer Jews and others on the outskirts of the tradition had, at times, to sustain themselves until others understood and chose to welcome and include instead of turning away.
Speaker 7: This year we’ll do more than let the orange sit upon the Seder plate as a silent symbol, unconsumed. Tonight we will say the blessing and taste the sweetness of our orange and use it to add flavor to our Charoset to remind us that we are all a part of the mortar that binds our people. Take note how the flavor of our Charoset changes when we are able to taste the sweetness of integration.
Peel orange and break into sliced segments to distribute
We make a conscious decision to recognize those who have not fully been seen by everyone in our society. We take a piece of orange and recite:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַעֵץ
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’Olam, bo’ray p’ree ha’etz
Blessed are You, Source, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’Olam, bo’ray p’ree ha’adamah.
Blessed are You, Almighty, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיָה בִּדבָרוֹ
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’Olam, she-ha-kol ni-h’yeh bid-va-ro.
Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the universe, by whose word everything comes to be.
Adapted from JQ International GLBT Haggadah
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