Happy belated Pesach! Passover is definitely my favorite Jewish holiday. For one thing, it’s in the spring – who doesn’t love that feeling that things are starting fresh!? For another thing, it celebrates Jewish rebellion and self-liberation from oppression, telling the Exodus story that has been the basis and inspiration for many struggles for freedom both in our tradition and in many others. I love how rooted in song and story and tradition it is, and how there a million little ways and experiences to place yourself firmly in the narrative (like when else would you eat horseradish to feel the bitter pain of the slaves?).
Over the past few years, I’ve been to and helped build many many Seders, both in my family and in the amazing Jewish communities I’ve built around me. I’ve engaged in the Exodus story through the lens of workers’ rights, refugees, anti-racism and more. This year, I wasn’t sure what Passover would look like for me. Did most people go to family or would we build a seder together as olim? How would I relate to the liberation story differently as someone who had moved to Israel and committed her life to a socialist Zionist youth movement? How would Pesach this year feel different from past years and how would it feel familiar? We began to ask these questions together, and the result was a beautiful Seder that we built collectively. Everyone contributed in some way, whether it was cooking our incredible meal, making a photo-booth and a mobile depicting the 10 Plagues, or putting together our haggadah from the myriad haggadot and resources we each brought. As a result, our Passover was able to hold many things that each of us brought. We asked big questions about whether being in Israel actually makes us free as Jews, about what Jewish liberation means in the face of a 50-year occupation, about what each one of us wanted to liberate ourselves from. We shared our songs and traditions from South Africa, Australia, the UK and America. We also smashed a pyramid pinata and went on a scavenger hunt around our neighborhood for the afikoman!
I am attaching our haggadah, hopefully the first of many haggadot we build together: HAGGADAH v1. Below is the introductory paragraph that we used to open our Seder.
“Pesach is the Jewish festival of liberation. For thousands of years, Jews all over the world have gathered for Seders like this one to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. But on Pesach, we are not supposed to just retell a nice story that happened a long time ago; we are commanded to see ourselves as if we personally were liberated from slavery in Egypt. We are commanded to make ancient traditions relevant to our own lives and to balance retzifut and mered, continuity and rebellion.
For a lot of us, this year’s Seder is a break from the continuity of our family traditions and the ways we’re used to celebrating Pesach. But it’s also a chance to build something new together. We want this Seder to be a space that everyone can contribute to and learn from. It’s a mitzvah to elaborate on the story of the Exodus, and we are all coming in with different experiences and levels of knowledge, so we want to encourage everyone to bring your thoughts, traditions, and questions to our Seder.”