As we prepare for Passover, there is much to do.
Too often we get caught up in the cleaning and shopping and cooking and forget about the really important stuff — the learning at the Seder. Before you get caught up in all of that, take time to read, whether in a book or in the many opportunities online. Finding new meaning each year is possible because we are a different person each year — we change, grow, have new needs and new dreams for our future.
Family life around the Seder table changes and so your Seder changes as well. Some families have young children, some struggle with teens, some have a grandfather who always leads the Seder and some have to find someone new to lead this year. How will you change and challenge those around your Seder table this year?
Here is a quote by the former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks — it says so much about the Jewish people:
The Egyptians built pyramids, the Greeks built temples, the Romans built amphitheaters. Jews built schools. They knew that to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education. So Jews became the people whose heroes were teachers, whose citadels were schools, and whose passion was study and the life of the mind.
Learning and education is what has kept us alive as a people. The Passover Seder is about revisiting the story and reliving it. Asking questions is an integral part of the Seder. Most of us have been reciting the Four Questions since we were young.
It is one of those important Jewish rites of passage and we await each new child learning and reciting. What if we spend the weeks preparing with a pad of paper next to us and write down more questions for our Seder? What about inviting your guests to bring a list of questions to the Seder? The hope is that each ritual, each story, each food raises questions that help us learn and experience the Exodus and the Passover story. Remember — there are no “dumb” questions or unimportant ones.
In education, when planning curriculum, we use a process called “webbing.” We take the idea or the concept and put it in the middle and then continue to expand all the possibilities. Start your web with “Freedom” — where will that lead? What are the many conversations you could have at your table over everything from what freedom meant to the slaves in Egypt to what freedom means to you (and others) today? What are the possible questions and discussions that could bring your Passover Seder to a different level? (For those of you with young children, don’t dismiss this idea — you will be surprised at the questions children bring up and the many directions those questions might take you.)
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.