Every year we are fortunate to have many friends who join us for our Passover Seder, and I am lucky to have married Ellen who plans, organizes, and works to make it a special event. My role is to find a bunch of quotes, see below, and lift and carry stuff up and down stairs and around the house.
One of the goals of the Passover Seder is to create, in whatever fashion makes the most sense to the participants, an evening of discussion and thought about the themes that flow from the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people as they left Egypt. Since I am not fluent in Hebrew, Ellen has allowed me to, subject to her review and approval, create an evening that I can understand better and more actively participate in, largely in English though singing some of the Hebrew prayers from a ‘standard’ Seder.
Each year we identify a theme that we want to focus on. To supplement the theme, I identify quotes from various sources associated with the theme. During the Seder a participant will read a portion of the Haggadah, literally in Hebrew “the telling”, the book which contains the fifteen steps of the traditional Seder, and then read the quote they have been randomly assigned. If the participant wants to they will then discuss what the quote, and/or any other aspect of Passover, may mean to them.
This year we return to expand on an issue we have touched on before, the uncertainty of change and how people react to the uncertainty. It felt to me that one of the driver’s behind some of the political events in the 2016 Presidential race and in the US in general derives from the great economic and social uncertainties that are impacting large segments of our country. In my most optimistic points-in-time, I hope, as is mentioned in one of our quotes, that it is not the end point of change that is the problem it is the situation in the middle when we have left what we are familiar with and not arrived at the next step in our journey. This was comparable to how I felt after Game 3 of the current Capitals-Flyers first round Stanley Cup playoff series. When I am feeling less optimistic, I worry about whether that next step is actually the problem and that we may be ultimately heading to a not so great destination. This is comparable to how I feel, like any long-time Washington Capitals fan thinks, after Game 4.
Regardless, the key aspect to me is the direction found in every Haggadah that each of us should consider ourselves as having been there at the original Exodus during that difficult transition and to consider the implications for us today in what seems an increasingly contentious time here in the not-so-United States and a complex and complicated world.
Here is a copy of the directions I will read from at the Seder: 2016 Seder Script. The quotes are organized into groups of ten, here are the three files setup to be printed (poorly) on labels: First 10 Quotes, Second 10 Quotes and Final 6 Quotes.
We reference a few external readings in the course of the Seder:
I find Passover perhaps the most accessible to non-Jews of all Jewish holidays, the theme of striving for Freedom and exactly what that means is a universal one and worth considering for all of us.