By Laura Seymour
Studies have proven it time and time again: Sitting down to dinner TOGETHER is one of the best things you can do for your kids and your family. And what better family dinner is there than the Passover seder? (Of course, you need to eat dinner together more often than yearly for it to make a difference in your family!) The seder is designed to open conversation and create an enjoyable learning (and remembering) session. This is how we pass on our traditions — through study, conversation, story and food! It is not too early to begin planning your Passover conversation — the story is really more important than the food.
So as you perhaps peruse a new Haggadah or plan to create your own, I have a book recommendation: “America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story” by Bruce Feiler. The book jacket alone grabs your attention: “The pilgrims quoted his story. Franklin and Jefferson proposed he appear on the U.S. seal. Washington and Lincoln were called his incarnations. The Statue of Liberty and Superman were molded in his image. Martin Luther King, Jr., invoked him the night before he died. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama cited him as inspiration. For four hundred years, one figure inspired more Americans than any other. His name is Moses.” This is our story — the one we tell every year — yet it is a story that inspires all. Read the book and add this to your table discussion. The story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt is a story about freedom, a story about an imperfect leader rising to the occasion, a story with lessons on remembering so that you don’t repeat the same bad ways; it is a story about us. Read this book and you may add a mini-Statue of Liberty or Liberty Bell to your seder table — that would definitely start a conversation!
Feiler concludes: “I will tell my daughters that this is the meaning of the Moses story and why it has reverberated through the American story. America, it has been said, is a synonym for human possibility. I dream for you, girls, the privilege of that possibility. Imagine your own Promised Land, perform your own liberation, plunge into the waters, persevere through the dryness, and don’t be surprised — or saddened — if you’re stopped just short of your dream. Because the ultimate lesson of Moses’ life is that the dream does not die with the dreamer, the journey does not end on the mountaintop, and the true destination in a narrative of hope is not this year at all. But next.”
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.