Second Seder was a Night of Questions

2nd seder 2015 1Over thirty AARC members, family, and friends gathered in Rav Michal and Jon Sweeney’s living room, adding chairs several times as we evidently fulfilled the tradition of cramming as many bodies into a space as possible. Our second seder focused on the questions and the questioners: questions that are traditionally asked, questions we could ask, and why we ask. After the seder, I asked several people to comment on the meaningful moments for them.

On our name tags we included a self-descriptive word about what kind of child we were or are. Allison Stupka said, “It was so interesting to hear what kind of children people thought they were. I did not know many of the people I was sitting at the table with, and got to know them through interesting conversation.” Our questions led us to think about why we retell the same story year after year of the Israelites’ slavery and flight to freedom. We asked about transformations in how we tell–and how we hear–the story to give it contemporary meaning. Ellen Dannin said, “Our seder found us struggling with issues of slavery and freedom, of how to build and keep a just society, and of why year after year we should tell our children the story of Passover.”

We talked about contemporary situations of both slavery and injustice, the difference and similarities between the physical bondage of Africans in our country’s first 200 years and the low-waged jobs of people who supply so many of the products we use and depend upon. Martha Kransdorf said, “During the seder, I was struck by questions that drew parallels between the enslavement the Israelites experienced, and the experiences of Palestinians today.” One of our seder’s guests was Laurie White’s roommate, Manal, a Palestinian from Nazareth who is here at the University of Michigan on a yearlong Fulbright. “I appreciated the warm welcome Manal received at her first seder ever, despite years of doing Palestinian-Jewish dialogue work in Israel,” Laurie said.

Rav Michel also gave us a lot to chew on when she suggested that often we have thought of contemporary “plagues” as being the ugly aspects of our society such as racism, sexism, etc. But in the Exodus story, the plagues were decrees of God that challenged the power of the Pharoah. In this light, could contemporary “plagues” (that challenge military/industrial/corporate power) be more like unions, renewal energy and self-sufficient communities? An interesting turn! As Danny Steinmetz said of our second night seder, “Got me thinking about the incredible popularity of the seder and that rituals work best that are designed ground up to teach and to provoke curiosity.”

The potluck food was plentiful and scrumptious. And for those who wonder about my recipe for vegetarian stuffed cabbage, keep posted! Thanks to Rav Michal, Jon, and Sima for hosting our large group, and to Ellen Dannin for help in putting together our ritual.

Passover Planning Post

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The first seder of Passover is Friday April 3

As in past years, AARC will help match up members with home seders. If you are having a first night seder and have an empty seat or two that could be filled by AARC member(s), email Clare. If you’d like to be invited to a home seder for the first night, email Clare. I’ll do my best to match everybody up.

AARC Second Night Community Seder

Join us for a musical, thoughtful, interactive and delicious celebration of our story of freedom! The theme for the evening will be “Becoming Slaves, Becoming Free” and include explorations of personal, communal and international experiences and issues.

Our younger guests will have age appropriate fun and an opportunity to create something to share with us as we ponder more adult issues.

The meal will be a coordinated pot-luck to assure we have an appropriate mix of items as well as all the ritual goodies.

Location: TBD based on size of gathering.

Please RSVP by March31st. For more information contact Rav Michal

Mimouna, a farewell to Passover (and Shabbat) Saturday April 11, 6:00-9:30pm

We’ll celebrate the end of Passover with a Sephardic tradition of Mimouna (a hametz-laden Spring feast) and the end of Shabbat with Havdalah. The meal will include pizza for the children and Spring vegetables. Please join us with a dish to share such as fresh bread, beer, and Sephardic inspired dishes. At the home of Carol Lessure, Jon Engelbert, Avi and Deron.