Serena Introduces the Seder

Haggadah Section: Introduction

Welcome to the seder. Grab a pillow. Recline. Relax.

Perhaps you are sitting at a table with your family. Your friends. Your housemates. Or perhaps you are alone. At a counter, or a desk, or on a pile of blankets on the floor. Perhaps you are connected to your loved ones through computers. Straddling time zones or battling shoddy WiFi. Grasping onto togetherness. Holding tight to ritual in a time of free-fall.

As a child, I resented tradition. I thought, as so many children do, that custom was only a roadblock to new ideas and free spirits. 

We were taught as children to admire trailblazers and radicals! Rule-breakers! Even the story of Exodus is about a man eschewing a tradition -- the slavery of the Jewish people at the hands of the Egyptians -- and leading his people into the uncharted newness of freedom. No time for ritual. Take your bread unleavened. Run. This man didn’t even respect the rules of physics -- he got his God to part the waters of the Red Sea

What you never realize, as a child, is that your whole life is built on tradition. The comfort of ritual. A meal three times a day. A goodnight kiss. Being washed and dressed and held and loved by the people who wash and dress and hold and love you.

It is only through the steady hum of ritual, of tradition, that we acquire the tools we need to break the rules when the rules need breaking.

The Passover Seder has been with the Jewish people for thousands of years, evolving from an ancient celebration of springtime to a yearly retelling of the story of Exodus. Jews have held tight to the seder through times of hardship and prosperity. The Crusades, the Pogroms, the Holocaust. Through career successes, reunions, the birth of children. 

This year feels unprecedented. As many years do. There will always be something to mourn. There will always be something to be grateful for. 

The Passover seder is a thread that connects us from a rich past and into an expansive future. Here, now, we light the candles, close our eyes, and feel our bodies in space, held in suspension along that ever-present thread.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדֹנָ-י אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל יום טוב

Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-di-sha-nu bi-mitz-vo-tav vi-tzi-va-noo li-had-leek ner shel Yom Tov.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the holiday.

Serena Berman

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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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