For many, Passover is the Seder, but indeed it goes on for the full week and as we eat our various matzo delicacies, it is a good time for us to continue to think about the meaning of Passover.
You can be overwhelmed by the number of websites and pieces of information available to us on everything Jewish. I have the wonderful job of sharing learning of Passover (and all the holidays) with my JCC family from the toddlers to the seniors. Therefore, I continue to look for new and different things to present to challenge our learning and experiencing.
Many of us are comfortable with our traditional Seder, only adding a few things very carefully. And many of us are out there bringing in wild and creative and sometimes strange things to add. May I suggest that wherever you are on the continuum of how to do Seder, before Passover ends (or even after preparing for next year), find something new to think about and talk about. In that endeavor, I bring you a little piece by Ruth Berger Goldston, a psychotherapist in Princeton, New Jersey, and a former chair of the National Havurah Committee.
As we teach our children the story of Passover and the story of our people, let us remember that each child is unique.
Four girls dwell within us.
- WISE GIRLS: At times, we are wise girls, strong and confident in what we know and in who we are, curious and eager to learn more, seeing clearly through tangled and complex dilemmas and able to make wise and appropriate decisions for ourselves and on behalf of others. Yet, as wise girls, we risk growing complacent in our knowledge, smug in the “superior” wisdom of the status quo, and so caught up in the pursuit of learning and producing that we neglect others around us and our own well-being.
- WICKED GIRLS: At other times, we are wicked girls: angry, rebellious, critical, and negative. We set ourselves apart from our community, feeling, perhaps that we don’t belong and not understanding that it is we, not others, who place ourselves on the outside. Yet it is as wicked girls that we are able to see our world from another perspective, to see that sometimes “the Emperor wears no clothes,” and to speak up and criticize what is wrong and what is unjust.
- SIMPLE GIRLS: At times, we are simple girls, relaxed and playful, enjoying life without questioning, analyzing, or examining deeply, loving others with passion that cannot be expressed in words, and being loved in return without any logic or reason. Yet, as simple girls, we risk missing the color and texture of our complex universe, and we may forfeit the opportunity to contribute to tikkun olam, the repair and healing of the world.
- GIRLS WHO DON’T KNOW HOW TO ASK: At other times, we are girls who don’t know how to ask, we don’t understand, we find that we cannot speak the language of the people in our company, we are struck dumb by a profound or strange new experience, or we are fearful because nothing like this has ever happened to us before. If we can remain silent, and tolerate our fear and our inability to speak for a while, we may discover worlds of riches we couldn’t possibly have imagined. But if our fear paralyzes us, if we lose confidence and withdraw from the world, or if it is fear of others that silences us, we truly need to be brought out from our slavery “by a strong and mighty arm.”
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.