Friday, April 06, 2012

What's Next? #BlogExodus

As #BlogExodus comes to a close, I ask the question...what's next? So much energy and effort dedicated to the lead up to Passover, so much work put into creating those moments of the Seder. And then we live in it. For a week, we live with the matzah and the macaroons, the special Coke and the cream cheese. For a week we share a solidarity with Jews around the world, and we all enjoy a sense of family not really shared any other time of year in quite this way.

So how can we hold onto it? How can we continue that feeling of Jewish solidarity after the matzah crumbs are swept away?

Wishing you and your family a sweet and healthy Passover holiday!

Thanks for sharing #BlogExodus with me. I hope you enjoyed following #Exodusgram over on my Tumblr blog too. A final wrapup will go up (bli neder) on my other blog after Seders.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Whadaya know? #BlogExodus

One of my favorite parts of the Seder is the Four Questions.
This year, I've been working hard with Sam to help him learn them so he can have his big moment. I had to convince Yael that she could wait until next year and then she would have her turn.

We've added the following section to our seder before the Four Questions. I no longer have the source, but I didn't write this.

The eldest reads:
Nobel Prize winning physicist Isador Isaac Rabi's mother did not ask him: “What did you learn in school today?” each day. She asked him: “Did you ask a good question today?”

The oldest teenager reads:
Why do the same questions get asked each year? I probably have more questions than the youngest, why does a child ask the questions? How come we ask these questions, but you rarely give a straight answer?

The leader reads:
Questioning is a sign of freedom, and so we begin with questions.

To ritualize only one answer would be to deny that there can be many, often conflicting answers. To think that life is only black and white, or wine and Maror, bitter or sweet, or even that the cup is half empty or half full is to be enslaved to simplicity.

Each of us feels the challenge to search or our own answers. The ability to question is only the first stage of freedom. The search for answers is the next.

Does every question have an answer? Is the ability to function without having all the answers one more stage of liberation? Can we be enslaved to an obsessive search for the answer?

Do you have the answer?

What do you think about the Four Questions? Who asks them in your family? It's hard when there aren't any kids present, but someone has to ask the questions no matter how old the participants, since they are the basis for the whole Seder! 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Counting Heads #BlogExodus

The conversation today turned to numbers.
How many people will be at our Seder?

Passover is so full of numbers.
I keep track of how many boxes of matzah to buy.
How many meals will we eat?
How many kugels will my mom make? (And how many will we eat!?)

And then there's the seder itself....the four questions, the four cups, the ten plagues...

So many Israelites came out of Egypt. Six hundred thousand.
Imagine each and every one of them.
Sons and brothers and fathers and uncles and grandfathers and daughters and sisters and mothers and aunts and grandmothers.
Each person who came out of Egypt existed in relation to someone else.
Each person who came out of Egypt mattered.
Each person who came out of Egypt counted.

And the same is true with us.
Each person who sits at a Seder table is a part of a relationship with another human being.
Each person who sits at a Seder table matters.
Each person counts.

As you set your table, as you prepare your menu, as you count out each piece of matzah....
think of all the billions of humans in the world....
how can you make a difference to just one?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Plague Masks #BlogExodus

Do you use these at your family's seder?
We do.

It does seem a little bit unfair to have so much fun with someone else's unhappiness.
The plagues should be the hardest part of the story to tell.
After all, we benefited from a moment that was probably very painful to our enemies.

Then again, there is so much to celebrate, and even as we take drops of wine from our cups, we find a sense of inner peace in even this moment.

How do you feel about plague masks, or plague toys, or plague puppets at your seder?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Karpas & Spring #BlogExodus

Have you heard of the "nature deficit disorder" that it seems so many of us suffer from?

I think that those of us who follow the Jewish calendar must suffer it less.

Consider, how many of our holidays revolve around the outdoors, around nature, around the earth and greenery?

We eat apples on Rosh haShanah, and we go to an outdoor, flowing body of water for Tashlich.
Sukkot, of course, we embrace the outdoors.
Even Chanukah, which we spend indoors usually because of the weather, requires us to display our chanukiyot to the outside.
Tu BiShvat, the Birthday of the Trees, can't help but draw our attention outside.
On Purim we traipse outside to deliver mishloach manot...
On Shavuot, we embrace the sunrise after a long night of study.

And of course....Pesach. The green springtime that we celebrate has sprung so beautifully around my home, with blossoms on the trees, gorgeous daffodils, and that soft sweet green of new leaf growth. To breathe the spring air, one can truly understand how a freedom festival must be in the springtime. Freed from the bonds of winter, we step forth into the freedom of springtime! We place the karpas, the green parsley leaves, on our seder table, to bring that beauty inside, to fill us with the newness and the glory of springtime.