Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Passover began this past Saturday night. By Monday morning there were many posts about it on blogs so I thought I would add mine as well.
Passover is a major Jewish holiday and involves themes of freedom, liberation, redemption, Spring, family, connection--many things we all hold dear. The "telling" of the Passover narrative is done through songs, prayers, rituals and stories around the dinner table. Seders takes place two nights in a row, while the holiday lasts a week. The concept of a seder is a hard to explain, it refers to the dinner and service, but actually seder means "order" as there is a prescribed order for all things at Passover.
The collage above is my attempt to capture one of the two seders I had the pleasure of participating in this year. It is a pleasure because it means reconnecting with an extended group of family and friends that I care so much about. Starting on the left, the table is filled with flowers representing Spring and the care and love that goes into the preparation for the evening. In the center is Jay, leader of the seder who has created our very own deeply personal haggadah or seder guidebook. He makes the seder meaningful and fresh every time by encouraging everyone who comes to share their own stories and experiences.
On the far right is the seder plate. One of the rituals of the evening is to explain each symbol on the plate. You can explore an interactive seder plate here. The washing of hands is also a ritual of the seder. In the center is a bowl of matzah ball soup one of the most traditional Passover foods (though it is also eaten year round).
Finally there is a picture of my darling nephew Noah, opening a gift he received in thanks for doing his part in the seder. Children play a very important role at the Passover seder. They represent the future and participate by "ransoming" a piece of matzah called the afikomen and singing or chanting the four questions. The number four is repeated many times in the evening--four questions, the story of the four sons and even drinking four cups of wine (don't worry, they are very small cups!).
If you have never had a chance to experience a Passover seder in person, I hope you will visit some of the other accounts of Passover on the web, there are some wonderful ones I discovered this year at Bay Area Bites, Eggbeater, the Amateur Gourmet and Tasting Menu. If you know of any other sites with Passover stories, or Passover stories of your own, please feel free to share in the comment section below.