Monday, April 2, 2007

Passover Seder

I attended a Seder this evening for the first time in several years, and a Seder on the first night of Passover for the first time in many years.

I literally got a warm feeling thinking that as I was at the home of friends in Oakland, Shmeen and her family were doing the exact same thing we were doing: Telling the story of the Exodus. And it wasn't just us, my group and Shmeen's, but Jews all over the west coast were sitting down to the Seder. It seems that each Seder is a little different, depending on not just the kind of religious observance each group keeps, but also on the family traditions and rituals, new and old, that have become part of the Seder. Additionally, people add and subtract from their family Haggadah as they incorporate their own beliefs, practices, and parts of other Haggadot.

In the past the part of the script that has meant the most for me is in response to the wicked child or the wicked person, who asks, "What is this [celebration, story, observance] to you? [Why do you tell this story of being led out of Egypt?]" The answer is, "It is because of what G-d did for me when I went forth from Egypt." I'm not a religious person and I don't even believe in that God, but for some reason, it has always felt like the line between me and my ancestors is direct and tangible.

This evening, however, the piece that struck me was when I read (we passed the leadership around the table):

"...For it has not been just one person alone who has stood against us to destroy us;
but in every generation, groups and movements have arisen who have sought to destroy us.
In each generation, we have come together with the help of the Holy One and sustained each other and were delivered from their hands."

Perhaps because this is the first Seder I've attended that was specifically designed for a queer group, which we were, with our personal awareness of and experiences with oppression and freedom. Perhaps it was because I've read a couple of books about the Nazi era recently, about those who were not saved ("The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million") and those who were ("Schindler's List").

I will be writing more about this tomorrow when I have had some time to think all of this through.

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